FOR BEHOLD, something completely different. This is an excerpt from a “rock & roll science fiction” novel I haven’t touched in over a year. What follows is part of what Anne Lamott calls the all-important “shitty first draft,” posted here temporarily to get my juices flowing one way or the other. The main character drives a wretched ’57 Mercury, a wisecracking genetically-altered Rhamphorhynchus pops up at the end, and everybody must get stoned. Enjoy until I take it down! – JHF
Chapter Three: Eternal Dawn (First Contact)
Above the darkened land they flew, almost silently, their long gray-white wings moving in slow cadence. A tall volcano in the distance spewed glowing ash above a thin layer of clouds that flickered pink and orange from the blasts. Down below a ribbon of water flowed through dense green forests on the way to a vast grassy plain. Between the fliers and the ground at lower altitudes, smaller nocturnal airborne creatures criss-crossed singly and in groups as stars glittered above them in the heavens. The night sky was full of life of all kinds, as was the daytime blue.
The great beasts with crested heads and long pointed beaks turned slowly south and glided lower as they approached a coastline glistening in reflected moonlight. Drawing closer together in formation, the dozen reptiles aimed for a circular patch of sky that shimmered faintly golden over an ocean where no ships sailed. Shifting into single file, they flew through the portal with a crackle and a flash and disappeared, leaving only the hissing sound of distant surf behind.
The other creatures went about their business, on their way to daytime roosts in caves and canyons in faraway mountains, or in tall trees along the margins of the open spaces, where they fed on lesser prey in shrieking flocks throughout the night. In the daylight, others took their places in the air or running on the ground. Some moved slowly in the ancient forests or plodded in the marshes by the river and the coast. Day or night, everywhere was gnashing, bawling life and death in an undulating carpet from horizon to horizon, shaken constantly by surging Nature and migrating predators.
In an certain corner of the blue-black night, a tiny spot of light glowed brighter than surrounding stars. A thousand miles away, other gray-white fliers with folded wings stood erect atop a flattened mountain peak and watched with eyes betraying no emotion. For some time now they had gathered and observed the growing speck. No aftermath escaped their recognition, as they’d already lived it. One hundred million years into the future, another mountain glistened in the morning sun and pebbles shifted underfoot. They noted this the way they noted everything that came and went, including the small black car that followed Jaxon Bat.
For them the world was ever just beginning. They moved through time like water and lived everywhere at once, acting purely out of instinct. They were capable of thought but had transcended that dull need and rarely used it. Once upon a time they’d forced their will onto another species for a purpose long extinct and moved on. The subjects of this accidental evolution carried on the best they could under blue Southwestern skies, tethered to the single mind that flickered through the eons and gave sight beyond the veil…