Prologue: The Tod


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The Tod

Mars was a sterile,  fairly abusive, planet. Everything was covered in this orange moss, spongy in some places, hard as rivets in the majority. Mars was the last place anyone on the crew wanted to be but the pay was decent. Not enough to buy a Micro Space, but enough to eat and get zoned out. Tod and the gang wanted more. They just needed to find something exrtaordinary that might bring in a hefty bonus that the company keeps dangling in from of them.

It had not been easy from the countdown. It just got worse from there.

The transport had a hell of a time finding enough flat to land on. Took awhile, since the majority of Mars was a land of craggy crags. It wasn’t easy.

They had broken three Scrambler units while collectings samples.  The fourth Scrambler made it the farthest before it, too, went to join Scrambler Heaven. Tod, Dave, and Hal had to push and pull to get it back to the ship.

Tod had found something unique. Well, he thought it was unique: a perfect round globe, white. No seams. It was lighter than he expected.  Dave and Hal argued if it was or wasn’t. Tod out-stubborned the two of them and made a deal for sharing rights, if it did turn out he was right. They all grumbled as the pushed and pulled the Scrambler.

Internal suit systems were supposed to regulate a lot of things to keep them safe and comfortable. His cooling unit broke down right after they got over the first hump of a hill. Sweat was pouring off of Tod, even more so than almost getting eaten by the man-eating space ducks.

Jim, his ex-captain, saved his life but made that life a living hell.  The mission on Anates was semi-successful, but no matter what Tod did-not even saving Jim’s life from the Duck Princess-was good enough. He was expelled from Rogue Fleet with no pension. He had to find a job, and fast.

Damn Jim, that passive-aggressive noodlehead. Tod was glad to be done with him.

He did miss Debbee though.

Which brought him here, a Basura Hauler. He’d spit if he wasn’t in a contained space. Tod commed the others if they needed a break. Both enthusiastically agreed-a first.

They secured the Scrambler the best they could and settled in. They sat together, leaning against their sampler. No one talked, trying to conserve air. They’d already used a lot, but they two more hours, give or take. Plan was to get as close to the pick-up, pin the Scramble down, and get out of the suits to refill the air tanks. Tod also needed his coolant system checked out.

Tod had been nodding off a few times, waking up with a jerk each time. The jerk, though, was not voluntary. He commed the others: neither answered. Getting up, Tod saw the depressions in the moss that Hal and Dave made. Just no Hal and Dave.

He looked around, called them again. A great big NADA. He went to the Scrambler, checking to see if they went inside for some reason.

When Tod opened the back of the Scrambler there was no sign of Dave or Hal. Just the unique, to him, white globe.

They had put in a crate. There was no crate now. The thing was floating in the middle of the space, turning colors in a slow rotation. Black, orange, green, and then…red. It began to pulse with the globe emitting light. Red light. Tod started to back up, thoughts of getting away, running as best as he could in the suit.

The crags under him shifted in a jerky motion (“Ah that’s what I…”) when his inner thought was cut off. A hole opened up under him so fast he had no time to do anything to save himself.

As he continued falling, he looked up and saw the hole seal up instantly.

“MARS BLOWS!!!” Tod yelled as he continued his descent.

Author’s Note:

I get a kick out of prompts. Right now, creatively, I need these jumping off points. That’s what you’re seeing here on Tale Spinning. I have a few projects of my own I’m procrastinating with that I hope I’ll finish and try to do something with them. We’ll see.

The above pic is one of them, created by Author Richard Kadrey. He has been posting, on Twitter, reworked/photoshopped covers of old pulp(ish) novels, changing them to show off his brand of humor. I just thought it’d be fun to write a few things from Mr. Kadrey’s posting: so, yes, this is my writing, not Mr. Kadrey’s.

Richard Kadrey is a writer, photographer, comic book writer, and an all-around interesting guy. His fiction straddles the Urban Fantasy, Science Fiction, Fantasy, and Cyberpunk worlds, and he’s pretty darn good with it all. I fell in love with his writing starting with his first Sandman Slim novels. Gritty, sometimes violent, often full of whimsey, worth reading. He’s not just another pretty face.

You can check out more fun covers by following him on Twitter @Richard_Kadrey.

To get into his body of work, visit him at his website: Richard Kadrey


Thanks for reading. I hope you enjoyed this.

6 responses »

    • I still have some of those paperbacks. They got me through a lot of “forced” reading in school that just bored me to tears. Yes, I’m talking to you “100 books everyone should read before you kick the bucket” lists.


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