Mostrando las entradas con la etiqueta sun. Mostrar todas las entradas
Mostrando las entradas con la etiqueta sun. Mostrar todas las entradas

jueves, 8 de septiembre de 2016

The desert and its creatures

   Alexa had always been very fascinated by the desert. She had studied all types of animals from it and had done her final thesis back in the university about all of them. So it was very natural, when she finished studying, that she joined a team of proper biologists in order to go to a remote desert region to discover new species. She was fascinated by the fact that a whole bunch of life forms could be discovered just like that, even in these times. She was, without a doubt, the most enthusiastic person to ever work in such a difficult environment.

 Not only was it hard for everyone because of the food and the general living conditions, but because looking for anything meant having to submit oneself to the very hot temperatures of the desert and the dangerous creatures than lived within. In her first week, Alexa was almost stung five times by different scorpions that appeared out of nowhere, every time exactly where her hand was.

 She had become quite aware of those little creatures and was now very capable to know where the animals would appear and also how much time she could stand under the sun before she started feeling really bad. Alexa was a strong woman, willing to resist whatever was necessary in order to achieve her goal of discovering something new in the name of science. She wanted to make history and there was no doubt she could seriously achieve her goal.

 The food was also a big problem in the camp, always tasting a lot like the sand of the desert but she knew never to complain. If she didn’t like something, she just didn’t eat it and tried to exchange with others for things that she had like energy bars. And every guy in her group liked her because she had been careful enough to bring so many energy bars it seemed she would never run out.

 They stayed in the same part of the desert for a long time, without having any success in the discovery front. They had classified many differences between scorpions of the same type but not much more than that. They had also taken numerous pictures and had studied the possible ways that snakes and other creatures could survive the hot temperatures. It was a big revelation to see an actual snake move around the hot desert sand.

 The trip was really fun but the first week went by too soon and they had permission to stay in the desert for three weeks. After all, it was a national park that was protected by a series of rules and regulations in order for people not to alter its stability in any way. The permission they had been granted was very hard to get and they really needed to take advantage of it.

 However the first week proved to be a deprived of any real discoveries. They were all really worried that maybe they wouldn’t be able to fin anything knew. They changed their camp’s location drastically, in order to be closer to an oasis, where some animals may thrive because of the “easier” conditions. However, they found nothing there either except more snakes and scorpions.

 The water, however, was crystal clear. They grabbed some into bottles in order to test it once they went back into their labs and regular work lives. It would be interested to see how many bacteria would be able to live in such a hostile environment and to know if the water was as pure as it seemed to be. Alexa even drank some directly from the pond because she was very thirsty and thought that even catching a disease from the water would be more fun that what she was doing daily, which was nothing.

She was very disappointed in her first trip. She thought that maybe it had not been the best idea to go to the desert in this first time. Maybe it could have been better to get to the forest or even in a boat to some corner of the ocean. She was trying to come up with different alternatives but the desert was the ecosystem that had always fascinated her, maybe because her parents had been born so close to an actual desert.

 Although not nomad or anything of the sort, her parents had the tradition to get fresh dates from the desert when it was the right season for those. They would roam the desert in order to pick them from the trees and Alexa would love it because she really loved the taste of the dates but also the feeling of adventure she had when she was around her parents.

 They weren’t’ scientist or anything like that. As matter of fact, she was the non-artistic person in her family. She had some skill while drawing but that was it. Alexa was a terrible singer, even in the shower, and couldn’t properly paint, write or anything like that. For some strange reason, she had been born without that very characteristic gene that most of her family had. However, she was very good with numbers, so she never felt too bad in school.

Another week ended the day they changed locations in the desert, once again. They were trying desperately to pick up anything. Their walks every day were getting longer and longer and people were getting desperate, even to the extent that everything they saw was a reason to cheer and get excited and then realize they had just seen a rock or a dead scorpion or something like that. By the beginning of the third week, no one was very happy about the results they had come up with.

 However, good things come to people that wait. In one of their long walks, a good friend of Alexa’s was the one who discovered some markings on rocks who had never been registered. By the way they were painted, it seemed the artist had lived a very long time ago, probably when the rock was really above the desert and not buried in it. Although they were mostly biologists, they were all very excited about such a discovery because it was something that could change the understanding of the place they were in.

 The most interesting part of the drawings was that it depicted humans and also other creatures hat seemed to represent the ecosystem of the desert. There was a drawing of a scorpion, another of some kind of bird and also snakes. All of those were pretty common. But then, there were drawing of several insect like creatures that had never been registered in that desert. So from that day, the biologists decide to help and clear the rock formation from sand in order to see if they could find something interesting to their field.

 And that’s exactly what happened. Four days before living, one of Alexa’s partners found the rotting body of a huge beetle the size of an adult’s hand. Several pictures were taken and the specimen was treated with a special solution in order to put it in a box and take it to the laboratory. The most interesting feature of that insect was the color: it was golden, just like the sun and the sand. Nature was very bright.

 Some other insects were discovered in the area and those were actually alive. There was a big thick worm it red antennae and some kind of really big green ant. They were all preserved carefully in boxes and jars for further study. In a few days, the would be back in their usually work attire, not shorts and shirtless like in the desert, typing in to computers and using several machines to understand what they were seeing.

 Alexa’s discovery came on the very last day and it happened to be a very dangerous one because it was a total accident. The creature was basically a scorpion but the difference was it was as big as a human baby. Its eyes were bright red and its body was very white, probably because it lived beneath the sand. Sadly, the creature had to be killed in order to take it back to the lab. But not only because of that but because it had almost stung Alexa with its tail.


 She took a picture of the creature and would later print it and put it in her workstation in the lab. She was very proud of her discovery but she couldn’t help wondering if what she had discovered was a natural creation or if it was some kind of mutation. She was really looking forward to solve that problem too.

martes, 28 de junio de 2016

Through the unknown

   The fleet was moving at full speed. The sails were working tremendously well and the wind was taking them exactly where they wanted to go. Everything was going according to plan. The only thing that worried them was that, in order to go unnoticed by the enemy, they had to around the other side of the world to properly surprise them. That meant navigating through water no one had ever sailed before, which could be extremely dangerous, as they held no maps of the region or information regarding its potential inhabitants, whether they were permanent or nomad, like pirates.

 They had not seen any land for the past week and they were beginning to think there was going to be no land until they reached their destination. Some of the sailors were very nervous because there was a strong belief, among men and women of the sea, that the world was not connected on both sides. In other words, that they were heading for an enormous waterfall or “the end of the world”. In their minds and in their legends, that area of the world was inhabited by vile monsters that ate boats and sailor whole, leaving no trace of their existence.

  However, they had been convinced by their new masters with money and other riches they could enjoy once they returned home, if the battle was gentle enough with them. They were fierce and very driven, known for raiding ships all over the sea in the course of many years. But this was not a raiding expedition but part of an invasion army that planned on attacking hard and taking back their homeland by force. The new masters plan was to defeat their enemies in the hardest and most definitive way possible, in order to rebuild from scratch.

 The world would never be the same after all that, nothing could be the same. So many things had already been done that had changed the world, including the fact that they were passing through an unknown region. Alliances had also been made that were not probable before. The Yix, also know as the new masters, had reunited all pirate forced in the known world and had proposed to them to join their army or be destroyed. The pirates thought they were coming for bounty but the truth was they were surrounded the whole time the conversations took place.

 Finally, half convinced by the payment but also the threat to their existence, they accepted. By doing so, they were technically turned into slaves but with a much better relationship with their masters. The Yix were only cruel to those that deserved it and the pirates had done the right thing by allying themselves with their faction in the war. In that case, they wouldn’t hurt them at all. However, if they ever rebelled or thought they had any choice on important matters, they would how to pressure the men and women of the sea to make their will.

 The ocean was beautiful every single day of that long week they had already spent in it. The experts the Yix had brought in, had concluded that a week and a half was necessary to get halfway through the world, which meant the whole trip would make almost three weeks. These made everyone a bit uneasy because, even as big as the ships were, there couldn’t be enough food for so many people for so much time. The rations were small for everyone on board, both the pirates and the Yix and they were limited to only a couple of meals a day. That was not what either of them was accustomed to but traditions don’t really matter anymore when you’re trying to make history.

 Everyday, it was some kind of rice with fish. There was a group that took care of the fishing every single morning in each one of the boats and they were essential in order to have an orderly life in each one of the boats. Sometimes the fish tasted awful and some other times it was delicious. They could have it raw or roasted on a small fire created on a big bin to prevent the ships from burning down. Those moments, when they all ate, were the ones when all of them really looked the same, no matter their uniforms or their accents. They were all men trying to survive a horrible journey through an unknown region. They were brother and sisters, even if they had no real exchanges of words.

 After the first week, some of the sailors noticed something on the horizon, which was on starboard. Just when the sun set, the whole line above the sea appeared to be on fire, especially where at sunset. Some of the people said it was an illusion commonly associated with the sun but others swore they could see things happening in the horizon. No one really believed in the people that said that but even with the few instruments they had to see such a phenomenon, they couldn’t see a thing. The sun was exactly the same as always, except for that band of fire that seemed to appear every afternoon, just as they prepared for a new night.

 Nights were the most terrifying part of the whole experience as many men, even the sceptics, felt something was wrong when they couldn’t se the water they were navigation on. Besides, the moon and the stars were always veiled by a strange thing that happened every single night. It was as if the region was condemned not to look directly at the sky, instead having only some blurry vision of every part of the cosmos. This was frustrating for all of them, because the ships depended on the stars in order not to get off course. They could be seen enough in order to follow them but it made them all feel as if something was not right about those waters. Some thought it was haunted and others were still expecting to arrive to “the end of the world”.

 But they never did. They did, however, saw a small group of islands. They were located roughly halfway between the two continents they knew well. The islands were named Summer Islands, because of the weather of the region. Two of the ships got near them and used some rowboats to investigate if they were inhabited or not and whether they could get food out of there, something that had nothing to do with fish or rice, which was getting ruined pretty fast.

 The rowboats carried twenty men into the land, mostly pirates. They walked on the largest island and disappeared into its jungle just after arriving. From the ships, the Yix waited for them to return. After the first two hours, everyone felt something was wrong. From the apparent size of the islands, it was not very possible that someone would take longer than an hour in order to walk around them, much less to go across it. They have had an accident or something like that. Yet, no one did anything to go and help because of fear.

 They were right not to act on their suspicions. The jungle began to tremble after three hours. The palm trees and other plants began shaking and some birds escaped the place in order to fly to the smaller islands. Out of the jungle, a gigantic animal emerged. And then, another two. Everyone on the ship was horrified. The animals looked like scorpions but were much larger than the ones you would fin in the known world. They were huge and were covered in blood in their pincers and over their bodies. The two ships that had grown close to the island, decided to join the rest of the fleet and forget what they had seen.

 For the remainder of their journey, the sunset brought back memories of those assassinated by the creatures on the islands. If the world made something like that, if those animals existed, then worse things could also exist somewhere. That’s what was in everyone’s minds and what made them stare at the sky or at the roof every single night, no matter where they were trying to sleep. They stopped looking at the sun and decided to rely only on the veiled stars, even if some felt they were being tricked by the cosmos and lured into a trap.


 Almost a month to the date of their departure, they arrived to the continent they had intended to invade. Everyone was exhausted but they had advantage of numbers. Day after day, they took a little piece of land from their enemies. When these realized what was happening, it was too late. The Yix now owned the world and they soon freed their “slaves”. They let them have their corner of the world and they agreed on never revealing what they had see in the Summer Islands and how that place was maybe not unique but it should remain “non existent”.

jueves, 16 de junio de 2016

Below

   The walk couldn’t be too long. They were allowed to reach a big boulder on the top of the hill and then go back almost instantly. There was no way to really enjoy the moment, although no one got out for a walk to enjoy themselves. They did it because it was necessary to walk, to train for longer walks in the future. The funny thing was that the distance had not change in a year so they couldn’t really know if they were able to do more in the suits or not.

 Helena arrived at the Boulder and looked up, to the sun. The veil that covered the sky was especially thick that day, blocking most of the sunlight from arriving to the ground. The sun appeared to be cold, as if it didn’t care of what had happened. And he certainly didn’t because everything that had happened had nothing to do with the sun but with the planet and its inhabitants. They had always been a real danger but no one ever thought something might actually happen.

 The alarm begun. She had enough oxygen to go back to the Hut and couldn’t waist more time looking at the sun or at the reddish sky. She wanted the oxygen tank to be bigger, she had asked that several times. But they couldn’t do it. They had no materials and also no interest in letting anyone wander to far off. The truth was that the government of the Hut was not interested at all in reconquering the surface, only in surviving for a hundred years or more.

 When she stepped into the entrance and the airlock decontaminated the chamber, she felt sad. The world outside was no different than in the books and the images she had on her computer. Yet, there was death and desolation all over the place. As a team of people cleaned her outfit with a variety of chemicals, she wondered if the human race could ever be what it once was.

 As she removed the suit in the next room, Frank came to talk to her. He was the person that controlled every walk outside and had some questions, the same questions they always asked people. It was some kind of an obligatory test for every single person that asked to have a walk. There weren’t many who did, not all wanted to go back and see what their house was like now or what the world looked like. Some had actually moved on.

 She answered the same as always: there was no plant life, no animal life, the concentration of particles had not changed and the deterioration of the different materials was advancing as scheduled. She was obliged to take pictures but this time she hadn’t taken any. She told the man it was because her earlier walk had only been a week ago and nothing had change out there in such a short time.

 Frank wasn’t happy about the pictures. He wasn’t really the boss and he knew someone else would get all over him because of that. But he didn’t insisted. Helena was one of the few people that dared to go outside and walk around, they needed her more that she needed them or at least that was the way he saw it. So he wrote in his report that the camera inside the suit was damaged and that they hadn’t realized before she had stepped out. That way, the questions would be less.

 Helena thanked him and, walking slowly, she went directly to the food court. According to her mother, that wasn’t the term they should use but it was the one promoted by the government. They wanted people to feel they were in a safe and fun environment, even if it was below ground. And “food court” was one of those terms that reminisced something good, or so it seemed, from a long time ago. Everyone ate there although they didn’t have many options, only one.

 As always, the young woman did the line and the cashier scanned the code on her wrist to check that she hadn’t eaten earlier. She received her tray and some minutes later she had hot food and was looking for a place to sit down. Luckily, her friend Patricia was finishing her meal so she sat down with her. Patricia was alone, as it happened very often. Many people thought she was obsessed with the outside.

 During the following twenty minutes, Helena discussed with her friend every single thing she had seen outside. Of course, it was nothing new for the scientific team but it was new to Patricia, who was not allowed to go outside on mental health grounds. She had always wanted to do it but from the first time she asked for permission, it was denied. And after many times trying to apply, they finally told her why they wouldn’t let her out.

 She loved to hear every detail about the outside and Helena knew how much her friend like her tales so she tried to make as entertaining as she could. The tale ended when she arrived at the boulder and looked at the sun. Patricia was smiling and her eyes were full of water. She told Helena she was very lucky to have seen that because the world, as she knew, was very beautiful.

 Helena did not really know if the world was beautiful. In theory, it was. The millions of pictures available to them seemed to tell the story of a bright world were people were happy and lived very complete lives. Yet, those same people had been the ones to destroy it, her parents for example. So she always had problems processing that. Besides, the world outside was dead and no sign of that beauty remained.

 After lunch, both women went through the Market. It was a large and long corridor filled with different stores. Each one of them sold something different, so there was no competition. And the amount of things each store sold was very limited. Yet, most people loved to stroll around to check if they had pulled out something new from their vaults or something. People still had hope that things would change suddenly, even if they hadn’t changed at all for so long.

 But that day, the fifth store on the left was filled with people in front of it trying to look for something the vendor had put in display. It was the store that sold paintings and pictures and such things. Most of the things the man there sold were made by him or his family. But the little image in the transparent urn he had put on display was something another walker, the people that go outside, had found in a recent walk.

 When they were able to get closer, Helena and Patricia realized the image was very small. It was a black and white photography, probably a very old one. It pictured three baby boys, or so it seemed. One of the babies was crying, while the other two held hands and were apparently playing with some cubes with letters. The most intriguing part of the image was a shadow behind the crying baby. It seemed to be the arms of an adult, or maybe the legs.

 They could only see the picture for a while before those who had just arrived pushed them aside to have a look. They talked about the picture all the way to the dormitories, wondering if the shadow behind the babies was really another person or maybe even an animal. It was a very weird picture too: who would take a photo of a crying baby instead of taking a look at what he needed.

 Patricia concluded that it might have been a fake. Maybe the vendor had taken the picture and he said they had found it outside. That was very hard to do, thought Helena, but not impossible. They separated in a corridor, as Helena lived further ahead and Patricia lived one floor below. They committed to see each other the next day and then parted ways. Not a minute had passed when Helena fell to the ground.

 A very large, very powerful earthquake was shaking every single part of the complex. It had been built for that but that didn’t mean people wouldn’t get scared. It was the first one in a long while. Helena could hear screaming behind the doors, where people lived. When it stopped, she stood up fast and ran towards her home. But she never made it there. A general alarm was issued: the compound had been breached.


 No one knew what that meant. Was it toxic gas or something like that? What did they mean with “breach”? Helena wasn’t sure she wanted to find out but, instead of going to check on her mother, she decided to turn around towards the laboratory. She had to know what was going on.

sábado, 11 de junio de 2016

Beaches

   As the weather report had indicated, there wasn’t a single cloud in the sky that day. There was just an infinite blue space, with birds and planes crossing it every so often. The beaches were packed. There wasn’t even a small place by the showers they could use. Maybe everyone had thought of the same plan once they had seen the weather report or maybe it was tradition to escape to the beach every Sunday. After all, the city was partially dead on those days.

 The couple walked along the first beach, the one closest to the metro station. It was obviously the most agitated one. There weren’t only a lot of people but there were also a lot of vendors and bars and women offering massages and even DJ’s blasting music that cut off every single conversation anyone wanted to have in the area. Besides, you had to really watch were you walked, unless you wanted to step on somebodies hand and never hear the end of it.

 It was a bit frustrating not to fin a single space there. They didn’t really want to keep walking but there was no choice. One of them said that, at least, there were more options. If it had been only that beach, they wouldn’t have been able to stay at all. A walk could be a good thing if, after all, they could find what they had come to find. So they kept on walking, to an area covered with palm trees were people also occupied every single centimeter there. They used some stairs behind the palms and returned to the ocean walkway.

 There were many people skating and riding bikes too. One of them thought it should be illegal to ride bikes so close to may people lying on the ground. He thought it was the most stupid idea there was but he couldn’t blame the city’s institutions for having to put bicycle tracks all over the place. There was really a lot of cycling going on, so they walked a little bit faster, through a flea market and then by a large marina, filled with very luxurious yachts.

 Both could see themselves riding one of those someday, even without any knowledge of sailing. It seemed like something that was incredibly exclusive and an indicator of wealth and power. Somehow, and they agreed on this two, to watch someone on a yacht was very sexy, even if being in a boat for more than one night was not the most enticing concept ever.

 They stood there like lamps, watching men with white shorts and sunglasses bard their yachts. They would all dress exactly the same. They both wondered if there was like a rulebook that stated how people should dress in a yacht. Everyone was wearing white: socks, skirts, pants, shorts, shirts, shoes,… It was very repetitive.

 They moved on to the next beach, just on the other side of the marina. This one was much larger than the one that was packed a few blocks back. Besides, this one wasn’t as filled with tourists, which was a good thing. They were tourists too but they hated to go on those groups, doing lines with those stupid hats and the leader of the tour with a flag as if they were all dogs following their owner. A normal tourist always wore the same thing, would always go to the same places and behave in exactly the same way.

 They were two young people and didn’t want to have anything to do with that. So they dressed a little bit more casually and had decided to walk around a lot, discovering special places of the city by themselves and with the help of the map in their phones. That was much more fun and they could even get lost and discover incredible new places and people, so they really liked their way better.

 Sadly, the second beach was also packed. Not so many tourists but many locals. The first section of the beach was covered by three volleyball field where several groups of people were throwing balls at each other with an incredibly strength. The couple practically ran past they, as they had always been rather unfortunate with any kind of sport that involved a ball. Somehow, if they were nearby, the ball would always land on their heads.

 The next section was, oddly enough, occupied by lots of families with small children. Both of them stepped on, at least, a dozen of little shovels and buckets and rakes. And the kids that ran around trying to catch each other would often use them as shields against other kids. To be honest, it was a very annoying thing specially because they didn’t really like children. They did enjoy them from time to time, but couldn’t stand them for more than a few minutes.

 So they walked a little faster and then arrived to the last section of that beach. They were happy to see a spot: it was closer to the sidewalk than to the ocean, but at least there was a place for them to finally sit down. Their feet hurt as they were not very used to walking on warm sand for such long times. It was like a mirage that, effectively, disappeared almost immediately. Another couple arrived out of nowhere and sat down on the spot fast, as if they had always been there.

 Frustrated, they arrived at a place with no sand but with a concrete surface. There was some kind of gymnasium there, with lots of shirtless men showing off their physical attributes. It was a bit distracting, so they moved on the next beach. On the one side, the beach had the ocean. On the other side, it had a large sand bank, almost a hill, covered with trees.

 The couple wondered what that was about but kept on walking, passing an information sign and walking along the sand bank. This small section by the hill was not as packed as the other beaches. This one had some spots they could use, several to be honest. It took them some time to realize what made the beach so special. They found a spot, a big one, just in front of the ocean. They ran towards it, taking out their towels and putting them fast on the ground in order to claim the space.

 They sat down, a bit tired but also happy they had finally succeeded. Then, a woman passed in front of them, totally naked. It wasn’t uncommon to see one going topless. It was actually very common for that to happen. But full naked? Not so much. They didn’t think much of it as they checked their bags for food and sunblock. As one of them put some of it all over arms and face, another naked person passed in front of them. And then another one.

 So they both stood up and took a hard look at their surroundings. Most people, all adults, men and women, were naked. Totally naked, without a single piece of clothing on their bodes. Some were sitting on their towels, reading. Others were trying to tan their bodies with the potent sunlight of the day. And some walked along the beach, even jumping into the water as they were.

 The couple looked at each other as they sat down. They didn’t really stop putting on the sunblock or having a bite of some bread they had brought with them. They just did it more slowly, thinking about the fact that they were in a nudist beach or at least the nudist section of the beach. Then, it became obvious that, if they hadn’t found that area, they wouldn’t have been able to found a spot in which to sit down and enjoyed their day at the beach.

 The two of them had been together for about two years. They had been intimate several times and had shared their views on practically every subject they could think about. It wasn’t their first trip together either, they had done it before at least two other times. They knew each other well and respected each other in every single aspect. There was nothing they wouldn’t say or discuss or go into. They were young and open to the world that they travelled.


 So, of course, both of them removed their shirts and then their pants and then their underwear. They were naked as they applied sunblock all over their bodies. They helped each other with the back and shared a big bag of chips they had bought, chili flavored. They decided to tan for a while first. Later, they hopped into the water. Eventually, they would remember that day as their favorite of that trip, pictures included.