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Submitted for the November 2023 prompt: Feasts with the Beasts

New York was too damn elusive. We dug the hardened, sun-bleached earth for months, never found it.




That lunchtime, still digging holes to nowhere, Lim, Maya and me threw down our shovels and gorged on flame-grilled mammoth burgers drowned in Martian wasp relish. Mm-mm, I can smell those sweet charcoal fumes just thinking about it.


We got a surprise visit from Doug, the expedition suit. Dig Dug, as we sometimes call him, cos why wouldn’t we? He’d dropped this morning from Arkship 3. Not the one with the mammoths squeezed shoulder-to-shoulder — that’s Arkship 33. There’s still mammoths on Earth too, only they’re shorter and fatter than ours, scampering around the Pittsburgh desert like porcupines.


Anyway Doug told us this was our last day, last chance to hit pay-dirt. The Good-Time Girls in Ark 1 were pulling the plug — 6 months and not one lousy archaeological trophy to bring back. I could see their point but it still sucked. No more barbeques on a hot summer’s day; back to life crammed inside a beef-stew tin can. Shoulder-to-shoulder.


But what the hell do I know?


Doug said we belong up there now, seeing how we evolve real fast in space, all them rads and no gravity, though there’s hardly no pull down here either, not like it was. But fact is, we don’t look nothing like our granddaddies no more, NYers would think we’re space aliens: tall and thin, like cardboard cut-outs waving in the breeze.


Then he flew off, took three burgers with him the greedy bast, and I grabbed my shovel, pounded dirt. Time to make it count.


But how’d the world even get like this? Doug explained it to me one time, not sure I grokked it whole, but the universe keeps on expanding, I mean like atoms inflating, then the expansion accelerated suddenly.


Only, Planet Earth didn’t get the memo, see? Some big sciencey experiment smashing particles and BAM! this world and everything on it’s outa step with the expanding cosmos.


So I’m digging. Three hours later my shovel broke through some kinda barrier and hit something with a clang. It echoed real funny. Hey guys I yelled, they gathered round. Before long I’d exposed a metal snout and I knew it straightaway — the Chrysler building. I whooped. Iconic, historic, symbolic, ancient, whatever dog, to us it meant more al fresco dining—planetside for at least another year, and I’m the one done found it.


Why did those guys bury their city, anyway? Hiding, I guess, from what’s always gonna get em eventually.


I reached down and tugged. Maya grabbed my waist, Lim behind her, and we pulled and pulled til the structure tore out from its roots and we fell back cheering and hollering. I got up and ran in circles, holding the Chrysler tower over my head like a toy rocket. Inside it the people were small as ants, scurrying and squealing and dropping like snowflakes out them tiny porthole winders, while Maya and Lim dived under, tongues outstretched, catching em in their mouths.

Copyright 2023 - SFS Publishing LLC

I Dug NY

An archaeological dig on an unhinged future Earth

Matt Mordecai





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