Monday, September 15, 2014

The Frog of War

My latest entry in the 2000AD forums short story competition, The theme is "Whatever happened to?" and I've always been curious about this Brian Bolland cover which was never related to any story in the comic. I tried for a deliberate Ray Bradbury vibe on this one.

It’s a jungle out there. A real jungle. I’m the first human to land on an earth like planet and it’s all jungle. Hot and humid and hateful.

The first human to set foot here. I’m famous. Maybe they’ll put my face on a stamp or a magazine cover or something.

I've got things to do, machines to set up, readings to take ... but the jungle ... it wants me.

And it feels like there’s something in my suit. Something squirming behind my knee. But that’s impossible. The environmental suit is a completely sealed and self supporting unit. Maybe one of the servo motors is twitchy. I’ll run diagnostics when I'm back in the ship.

The atmospheric monitoring station is a hefty device and it takes a while to assemble. It’s getting hot in here. The suit should be able to cope with the temperature but the jungle presses in on me. It’s started to rain and large drops of water are falling from the leaves, at least the spectrometer tells me it is water. If I could open my helmet that would cool me off. I want to feel the rain on my face. The jungle wants to see my face.

I must stop daydreaming, I've got work to do before the satellite uplink is ready for my first message back to earth. Back to the checklist .. but it’s so hot. I want to stop and rest a moment, and there is definitely something in the suit with me. Something small moves by my waist. It’s climbing higher.

I look up and all I can see is jungle. It’s so dark, and hot, and heavy and I want to open my helmet. The jungle wants me to open the helmet. The jungle wants me ...

I look back and my ship is obscured by leaves and branches. My landing must have cleared more space than that. Surely the undergrowth can’t grow back that fast?

Why can’t I think clearly? This is what I did all those years of training for. I’ve got to get this mission back on track. My suit thermometer reads a steady 20 degrees but that can’t be right. It’s so hot in here. So hot I could melt. I’m sweating and the thing in my suit is at my neck now.

It’s on my face. I can feel small hot feet on my skin but they don’t feel alien, they feel like human skin, like a loved one’s fingers brushing my face.

It’s a jungle in here, the jungle wants me. I open my helmet and turn my face to the sky as the rain takes me and makes me a part of it.

I am the jungle out there.

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