Friday, May 6, 2022

Dawn of Time • Episode 5: “The cave that time forgot”

Written by Alicia Hilton

Continued from Episode 1 | Episode 2 | Episode 3 | Episode 4

The story thus far: 32nd Century high school student Dawn Anderson is having a really bad day. Needing a better grade in History, she “borrowed” her father’s TimePak to take a short jaunt back to the 20th Century, only to make a perfectly innocent mistake involving a stolen handgun and a too-hot McDonald’s cherry pie. Now, instead of returning home, she is bouncing from disaster to catastrophe, each one worse than the one before. After being chased by clowns, narrowly avoiding becoming a tyrannosaur’s snack, jumping out mere moments before the Chicxulub extinction event, making a new friend and rescuing her from the Titanic, being found by her worst enemy and being forced to rescue her, too, from a robot uprising, the three of them have at last landed in someplace calm, quiet… and cold. Very, very cold.    

Icy flakes pelted my face.

I didn’t see Santa’s castle, reindeer, or elves. There were no landmarks in sight, not even an igloo. No polar bears, foxes, snowshoe hares, or birds. Except for a green light in the distance, all I could see was snow.

My mouth opened in a bark of hysterical laughter. We must be in Antarctica.

When I’d calmed down enough to talk, I said, “You still have that pie?”

Becky pointed to her backpack. “Yeah… but it’s… frozen solid.” Her teeth chattered.

Becky was obnoxious, but I couldn’t let her freeze to death. Her uniform was sleeveless.

Maybe I should’ve yanked the TimePak from my jacket before I gave it to Becky, but I was afraid I’d damage the hardware.

We trudged toward the light. I had to slow down so Stella could keep up.

As we got closer, I realized the light was coming from a cave, a big hole in the snow that looked like it had been made by animals. Bears?

It was a relief to find shelter, but the cave smelled like a wet dog that had rolled in rotten fish.

“Did you hear that?” Stella said.

“What?” Becky said.

I tensed, listening, and heard bubbling. I said, “There must be an underground stream.”

“Warm enough to flow,” Stella said.

We ran toward the sound.

The tunnel opened up to a cavern with rock walls. Shimmery, emerald liquid poured from boulders, forming a pond, the light source.

I bent to touch it. Fluid flowed up my arm, defying gravity.

I jerked my hand away and shook it. The slime wouldn’t come off.

The pond quivered and changed shape, becoming a monster.

I stumbled backward.

The creature’s tentacles writhed. It opened its mouth and said:

“Ph’nglui mglw’nafh Cthulhu R’lyeh wgah’nagl fhtagn!”

Next week: “Episode 6: Tick tock, drip drop”


Alicia Hilton is an author, law professor, arbitrator, actor, and former FBI Special Agent. She believes in angels and demons, magic and monsters. Alicia’s recent work has appeared in Best Indie Speculative Fiction Volume 3, Daily Science Fiction, Demain Publishing UK, Departure Mirror, DreamForge, Litro, Sci Phi Journal, Space and Time, Vastarien, Year’s Best Hardcore Horror Volumes 4, 5 & 6, and elsewhere. Alicia’s website is Follow her on Twitter @aliciahilton01.



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