Friday, April 15, 2022

Dawn of Time • Episode 2: “Which came first—the chicken or the ergs?”

Written by Gretchen Tessmer

Continued from Episode 1

The story thus far: 32nd Century high school student Dawn Anderson needed a better grade in History, so she “borrowed” her father’s time machine to take a short jaunt back to the 20th Century. Once there, though, she made a perfectly innocent mistake involving a stolen handgun and a too-hot McDonald’s cherry pie, and now, instead of returning home, she has just made an amazing discovery: Tyrannosaurus Rex had

Feathers! But also, very sharp teeth. Yikes.

“Good boy,” I cooed, as if talking to my golden retriever at home. But “Rex” stomped forward (hungrily?) and I fled through the jungle, the dinosaur following too close for comfort.

Ugh, the Mesozoic Era was hot! I wished I’d worn shorts, but those weren’t really my style. More something our head cheerleader back home, Becky Heston, might wear, and the idea of wearing anything that might find its way into that smug and spoiled brat’s wardrobe was just—

          Wait, the gun! Oh yeah, that might help.

I stopped running abruptly, reaching for the .38 and pointing it straight up. I fired a warning shot into the sky. Rex took the hint, wary of the loud and unfamiliar noise. He veered off with a ferocious roar…

…leaving me in the late Cretaceous period, alone, without a McDonald’s in sight for like 65-80 million years.

But hey, humans are resourceful. And I was born lucky.

When I aimed that gun skyward, I noticed something up there that looked suspiciously like an asteroid hurtling toward Earth. Only hours from crunch time.

Talk about perfect timing.

I scrounged around the jungle for prehistoric fruit that might pass for apples or cherries. I was low on ingredients but found some ancient monocots to add to my fruit mash, hoping palm oil was an important one, power-source wise. I wrapped my pie filling in a leaf, shoved it in the compartment and hoped for the best.

The asteroid hit with the force of 7 billion atomic bombs. So. Many. Ergs. I went zooming forward through time, landing with a thud on a boat deck.


Calm sea, chilly weather, and people rushing by me. A woman in a nightgown and slippers, hair curled up in rags, reached down to help me up. The boy with her slipped a white canvas life jacket around my neck.

“Hurry, Miss, we have to get to the lifeboats. We’re sinking!”


Next week: “Episode 3: Have buckwheat, will travel



Gretchen Tessmer is a writer based in the U.S./Canadian borderlands. She writes poetry and short fiction, with work appearing in Nature, Daily Science Fiction, Cast of Wonders, and The Magazine of Fantasy & Science Fiction, among other venues.




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