#writephoto: Final journey

For Sue Vincent’s microfiction challenge.


The wandering folk found a way in and built a door with stone posts and lintel around the gaping hole. They returned at the summer solstice and the winter solstice to light their fires and watch the sun move across the entrance and strike the sacred place within. But the wandering folk were not to inherit the earth, and one year they did not return. The warlike tribes that settled the area around the great rock had their own customs and their own stories. They ignored the sacred place of the wandering folk and let wild tangles grow over the stone door and hide it from sight. A mountain lion made its lair inside and then another lion. Later, bears and hyenas found its small inner caves warm and inviting.

When the fierce tribes and the waves of war they brought had washed over the great rock countless times, they finally settled and built towns then cities. The great rock was just a rock, unfit for agriculture and used only as a lookout post until even that function became defunct. The wild animals were driven further and further away from human habitation and deserted the caves within the rock. When the tribes turned into consumers and workers, the rock became part of a theme park. Construction workers invaded the silent secret passageways to reconstruct the Journey to the Centre of the Earth. Powerful lights chased away the secret darkness, the din of the excavations destroyed the silence, and mechanical vibrations stirred the soil and the rock. Something awoke.

Deep inside the rock, the sacred place that only the eyes of the first wandering folk had been able to see, began to glow and throb. The ancient passageways and tunnels took their original form of corridors and command rooms and sleeping quarters and missile bays and cargo bays and mess rooms and gyms. The vessel returned to life after a sleep of millions of years. Instruments began to tick slowly, analysing and recording. All the data were processed in the space of a night and androids sent the findings to the mother planet.

In their suspended sleep capsules, the crew did not stir. The androids made the final preparations and the exploratory vessel shut itself down for the last time. They had woken too late. The blue planet had slipped too quickly into irreversible decline. The terrestrial paradise was scarred and poisoned, and when the androids made their calculations, their logic told them there was too little of any worth left.

Published by

Jane Dougherty

I used to do lots of things I didn't much enjoy. Now I am officially a writer. It's what I always wanted to be.

30 thoughts on “#writephoto: Final journey”

  1. I love the way this is told–beautifully–as a legend. Or perhaps a cautionary tale. We can only hope it is not too late. Perhaps we will yet see the feathered creatures of another world. πŸ™‚

    1. The kind of story that starts off with its feet on the ground and wanders off with the fairies by the end πŸ™‚ I thought it looked weird too. A passage grave I always associate with a mound, but this really looks like a doorway into a fosslilsed space ship. To me, anyway…

  2. This indeed a wonderful wake up call to us all. So near to the truth I am afraid … Humans are so stupid ! It is a shame that the aliens slept so long , they may of made a better fist of things…. Or maybe not!

    1. Thank you! I think humanity has been on a self-destruct course since forever. There hasn’t been a golden age when we did things ‘right’, and we’re not approaching one now. We’d better change our attitude to the way we think of our fellow human beings and the billions of other inhabitants of this planet pretty damn quick if we want there to be anything left to save in a few years.

  3. I always figured that “they” stopped coming on a regular basis because we had messed it up so badly. Perhaps gave us a few pointers early on — pyramids, giant rock “paintings,” etc. — early on, then said, “what a batch of morons,” and stayed home. Your story suggests some stayed here, and their androids determined what morons we are.

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