Exercise – “Start with the teeth, they’re the weakest.”

I got this writing prompt from this Tumblr post “Notes to me from my pants” by Soren Bowie, one of the writers for Cracked. They’re supposedly ideas  he has that he writes on a note, sticks in his pants pocket, and finds later with no idea of what he was thinking at the time. I thought they made some great writing prompts, so I may be going back to that well for more. Here’s the result of the first one I tried:

The furry, bipedal creatures approaching Varret and Poirot looked like they weren’t sure if they should attack the men or offer them some of the berries they were carrying. They carried them in the hollowed-out shell halves of the melon-sized nuts that dropped without warning from trees that Command had already imaginatively dubbed “widowmakers.” Ever since one dropped Lieutenant Hughes, the higher-ups had forbidden the Force from venturing out without their helmets, even though the atmosphere was ideal and devoid of harmful bacteria, according to the scans thus far.

Varret still refused to open his visor or stop using his rebreather, but Poirot thought it was more due to how nasty and scary Varret looked and sounded in full gear. The guy had obviously been nourished on tales of badassery in the Force since he was a kid. Poirot was just trying to rack enough experience to get a decent job back in the world. The President and Congress had signed in an act to give preferential consideration to veterans of the colonization push. With no real merits or skills aside from smashing shit up, Poirot took the option offered.

“Start with the teeth, they’re the weakest,” Varret said.

“How do you tell what the weakest point is on these things?” Poirot said, raising his rifle as the creatures edged closer. “It’s like trying to pinpoint the softest part of a pillow.” The natives’ teeth did look like glass, though. They were even transparent, though stained with that red berry juice.

“All they eat are berries. The teeth are practically vestigial.” Varret put the safety on his rifle and spun it so the butt faced forward. “Don’t waste ammo,” he said, and slammed the butt of the gun into the mouth of the nearest creature. The teeth shattered and it shrieked. Poirot shrugged and followed suit. That got a reaction out of the things: they dropped their berry baskets and ran. The ones the men already struck cowered on the ground, spitting out broken teeth and mewling.

“Can I waste ammo now or should I chase them down?” Poirot asked Varret.

Varret spun his gun back around and disengaged the safety. “Go nuts,” he said, and opened fire. He and Poirot sprayed the treeline for a few minutes and stopped when the guns started beeping. “Reloading,” a computerized voice informed them as the gun’s nano-replicators restocked them with bullets.

“This is gonna be the easiest conquest ever,” Varret said. He stomped on the head of one of the mewling creatures. Its mews cut off in a yelp and it stilled.

Poirot bent down and scooped up a handful of crushed berries. He couldn’t tell if it was berry juice or the blood of the slaughtered creatures that dripped from his gloved hand. It smelled delicious, either way. His hand was halfway to his mouth before Varret batted it away. The berry mess splattered the ruined face of one of the creatures.

“Don’t eat that shit. The eggheads haven’t even analyzed it yet. It could be full of toxins.”

They eat it,” Poirot said, kicking at one of the corpses. His boot knocked off a foamy chunk; they were starting to dissolve like shaving cream scum on the side of a sink. “Hey, are they supposed to decompose this fast?”

“Dunno,” Varret said. His gun beeped. “Ammo ready,” it chirped.

“Should we go after them?” Poirot asked. A few of the critters had escaped their hail of bullets and made it into the forest. “You think they’re going to get buddies and come back?”

“One way to find out. This is a scouting mission. Let’s scout.”

They were halfway to the trees when the rumbling began. “Earthquake?” Varret said. “I thought the scientists said this planet was tectonically inert.”

The trees lifted up before them, heaved up with the ground beneath which, as it turned out, wasn’t ground at all. It was some kind of enormous beetle, multiple mandibles churning like a thresher as it scuttled toward the men at a speed belying its bulk.

“Fuck,” Varret said.

“You had to say it was gonna be easy.”

“Shut up and run.”


~ by Amber on June 20, 2012.

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