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jueves, 14 de abril de 2011

FALKIANS PHOTOS/ Dan Dalion



Three days later Malcolm’s sense of smell came to his aid. 
“Something is rotten”
“Are you Marcellus?”
“What are you talking about?”
“Hamlet, act 1, scene 4”
“Shit. I’m talking about something really…messy”
Malcolm wrinkled his nose again. 
“Wow”, he said, “something is dead”.
“Something big”  Grez agreed.  “A horse, maybe?”
“A horse, here? I don’t think so”.
“Well, then…a dead falkian?”
“Let’s find out”.
“ Do I look like a bloodhound to you?” asked Grez, hands up, like being robbed.
They left the aircycle near the pines by the side of the track. No one would steal it. As far as Malcolm knew, they were the only people for miles around. The two plunged into the woods, both of them carrying shotguns. Soon Grez realized that he, indeed, was no bloodhound. And tracking by ear or sight was not very easy. It was midday, but the dust flying in the air and the dark shadows of the trees, made the search more difficult than he expected. He tried to decide were the stench was stronger. Malcolm, however, looked like he was on a field trip. He had gone off in another direction and was out of sight.  Grez thought about Abby. Remembering her, right now, was really distracting. He couldn't help it. He was in the verge of quitting. He wanted to return to the base right now, but then, from the edge of the meadow, Malcolm called, “Grez, I found it!
He ran toward him, his heart thumping. “ It’s a…?" he asked.
“See for yourself”. Malcolm pointed to a lump of meat that lay among the grass and weeds.
“ Looks like a dead falkian. Let’s get out of here” said Grez, softly.
“C’mon, first you started talking like Hamlet or whatever, and now you want to leave this, without even taking a photo? Are you fucking crazy?”.
“No shit. There are fucking shiny blue flies still buzzing above…it”.
“ And horned beetles”.
The truth was Grez had a sensitive stomach. He liked to find falkians alive. Then he could take hundreds of photos, return to the base and make a confirmation: yes, there are some falkians out there. He really didn't care that much. It was just his job. Those mutant ugly bitches were really fucking lizards walking like humans. You couldn't even eat them. 
“Why do you want to leave?” Malcolm asked.
“Well, this... thing is dead, and as far as I know it means there could be living things around. Maybe the one that killed this one is still near”.
“How do you know this… thing was killed? Maybe it was sick and…”
Grez walked out to the falkian. “Look. He has a huge wound in the center of his chest”.
“HIS chest?"
Grez started to ger nervous. “What's with the questions?” He asked.
“I’m just…curious”.
In fact, it was not very easy to determine male from female. It was not still clear if falkians were there before the terraformation. That was the point. Maybe they were part of the zoo engineering project. Maybe not.  Anyway, they were elusive as hell. It was very difficult to study them alive. Killing was not a good idea. Maybe there were a million of them. Maybe a hundred. Who knows.
Both were sweating heavily, although the day was mild. As it has been for the last 103 years. The dust was still there. Humidity was extremely high. Grez started to feel like ants were crawling over his bones. Malcolm said something and Grez didn’t understand what was he saying. 
“What?” he asked. 
“Man, take some photos, please. Do your job. It will only take a minute”. 
“Damn! OK!” answered Grez, leaving the shotgun in the grass and taking out his camera.
He realized that it was the same camera he had used two weeks ago to take some beautiful pictures of Abby. That was a very cool time. It felt good. And then, less than a week later, she just wrote to him. “It’s over. I can’t stand it anymore. I love him”. Three days ago, she just vanished. 
Now he was here, about to take photos of a dead falkian and Malcolm was right by his side, looking peacefully toward the meadow. Grez approached the corpse as close as he could. For the first time he could hear birds singing. This meant it would be night soon. He shot some random photos and then used the zoom to concentrate on details of the dead thing. Six, seven stills. Suddenly, he felt like winter had just arrived in a second, freezing his entire body. The dead falkian had a thin gold chain still attached to its neck. He wanted to vomit. “Jesus fucking Christ” was the only thing he could say. He felt Malcolm’s presence, just having a good time by his side. 
“Sniff, sniff. I smell fear” said Malcolm.
“How can you do that?” 
“What? Oh, C’mon, you two could do that, and I can do this. If you were in my shoes, you would do the same. Don’t worry. It will be flyblown by this time next week. What the hell? Your work will keep her memory alive, you motherfucker” Malcolm said, smiling, aiming the shotgun to Greg’s chest. 
“Malcolm, we were just flirting”.
“And now you are flirting with death”. “Man, this feels really good”, he added.  “Can you take a picture of me, right now?” 
Grez didn’t answer. Malcolm repeated the question putting the barrel of the shotgun to Grez’s forehead. This time he said yes, quietly. Malcolm took two or three steps back and stood still. He saw the flickering red light of the photo being taken. “Nice. And now I have to finish my job”. 
“ Please, don’t kill me”.
Malcolm lean onto the corpse, keeping the shotgun aiming the other man. He took the gold chain and put it into a little plastic bag. “Now, keep taking photos motherfucker. It is a dead falkian, indeed. I knew you two were having an affair.  Hey, it’s cool. That’s life under the sun and under the dust”.
He kicked some rocks, with disdain. He looked at Grez with a smirk on his face and start talking again.
“You see, in isolation there is a risk of making the trivial essential. She told me a week ago. Then she left…out of guilt, or just tired of all this shit. She left her little golden chain in my room”. Apparently, Abby, Dr. Layla Abraham, biologist and a pretty good singer, took a stress leave and flew to the InterStation for medical treatment. Grez's mouth fell. He felt  like he was melting from inside out. Could he believe what Malcolm was saying?
“I have finished my labour here” said Malcolm. He started to walk back to the aircycle. Grez ran toward the shotgun he had left on the grass. Picked it up and prepared to rip Malcolm’s head off.  He pulled the trigger. Nothing happened. He just heard Malcolm’s voice: “Grez, your shotgun has no charge. It isn't loaded. I’ve everything well planned”.
The man sat on the floor in disbelief and heard the sizzling sound of Malcolm’s aircycle going away. He waited for a long time, thinking random thoughts like how the centrifugal compression cools the aircycle or how Abby beat him every time they played chess. It was a pitch black night. As usual. He cleared his mind. He would stay there, quietly. In the red morning he would walk slowly but steadily toward the base. He will be there in five or six hours. “No reason to be pessimistic.  Maybe Dr. Merbold will find me. He'll be looking for rocks and things in ancient river beds” he joked to himself. He closed his eyes. Major Grez, the finest pilot in the world, couldn't stop thinking about why he was there, in the middle of a slow terraformation, working as an overrated photographer. He had started doing it because Abby needed help. When the late Dr. Falkian found those strange creatures, Abby was just an apprentice. She took the photos. When a creature tore the doctor apart Layla Abraham, bravely (weirdly) took his place. The creatures were named after the deceased. He, the pilot hero of the Last War, became a monster paparazzi. 
He tried to be cool. Noises. Distant cracking sounds. A sizzling. He stood up, just in time to see the glowing eyes of a falkian, running towards him. Then he did a strange thing. He took his last photo. Not bad at all.


Dan Dalion es un escritor de ciencia ficción. Actualmente reside en Toronto, Canadá, donde administra un negocio de expendio de licores.

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