hwango: (hermit crab)
Or, technically, the prompt is [Ignorance is Bliss’ –“For the ailing patient, intelligence is a miserable burden.”]

693 words )
hwango: (hermit crab)
A warning to returning readers: this is not my usual brand of whimsy.

2,373 words )
hwango: (hermit crab)
Dr. Carson spoke several languages, and could read the script of many more. One might think that this extensive repertoire would serve him well as a world traveler, but such a notion was badly misguided. Nearly every language with which Dr. Carson was proficient belonged to a civilization long since dead. And so the task of talking to people who were alive often fell to Oswald.

Infuriatingly, he had been doing this for several minutes now without translating any of it for Dr. Carson.

"Oswald, I don't need a word-for-word accounting of this entire conversation, but could you at least tell me if you're making any progress? Why isn't our ship here? When can we expect it?"

"Ah," said Oswald. "Well, it turns out that there's a bit of a problem there."

"Oswald, that much is blindingly obvious. Could you be more specific?"

"It sank."

"Our ship sank."

"Yes."

"But it sank while we weren't on it, for a change. Do you have any idea how depressing it is that I find myself thinking of this as a stroke of good luck?"

"I'm currently trying to find out how we might arrange alternate passage."

"And even without a grasp of the local tongue I can tell it is going spectacularly well."

"It does look like we'll be here for a few days."

"And what, exactly, are we supposed to do in the meantime?" Dr. Carson accompanied this question with an expansive gesture that encompassed the empty pier on which they stood as well as the surrounding sparkling water, adjacent soft sand beach, and the rest of the tropical paradise on which they found themselves stranded.

"You could try relaxing," Oswald suggested with apparent sincerity. Dr. Carson considered hurling him into the water.

"Oswald, we were supposed to be in Aganter by tomorrow, calmly taking our time to inspect the ruins during that sliver of time that they aggrandize as the Dry Season. Now you're telling me that we're going to be even later than we already are because we can't even start the three day journey for another few days? And I'm supposed to relax?!"

"I'm just as disappointed as you are, Ted," Oswald replied with a frown, and Dr. Carson realized that for once his anger actually was misplaced.

"Of course you are. I'm sorry, that was uncalled for. It's just...I had so been looking forward to finally getting to see the ruins without getting soaking wet or swept away by mudslides. Or attacked by bog zombies, for that matter."

"Or bitten by the giant poisonous lungfish."

"Yes. The lungfish. I'd almost forgotten those." Dr. Carson unconsciously rubbed at a scar above his knee.

Seeing Dr. Carson's attention drift away for a moment, Oswald returned to trying to wrangle the pair of them a way off the island.

* * *


Another day lost. Dr. Carson sat on a bamboo chair and gazed at the crashing surf and tried to imagine what sort of insanity had to possess a person to make them fritter away their time like this on purpose. He heard the sound of footsteps in the sand behind him, which must have been Oswald's. The other locals had quickly learned to avoid him.

"Tell me you have good news," he said once the footsteps were close enough. There was a pause. "Oswald, the sunset here last night was one of the most amazing spectacles of the beauty of nature that I have ever witnessed. Nevertheless, if I have to see many more of them from this beach I think I may try to dig my way off the island."

"Two days. Three at the most."

* * *


The hole was visible from a considerable distance. Oswald approached it with a mix of amusement and genuine worry. Ted could be a bit...intense, now and then, but this seemed to be going a bit far.

"Ted, you realize you can't actually dig your way off an island, right?"

"Of course I know that. But I thought I might just do a bit of excavating. You know, to pass the time."

Oswald took in the squared off edges, the areas marked off with string, the tiny hand-written notes pinned to various areas.

"Of course," Oswald said. How had he even managed all of this in loose sand?

"As you can see, I've found something," said Dr. Carson. Oswald dragged his attention away from the marvel of engineering that was Ted's excavation and onto what he had excavated.

"Bones?"

"Yes. At first I thought I might have stumbled across a contemporary murder victim or some such, but as you can see these bones clearly don't belong to a human being."

"Well, that one is two feet long, so that seems like a safe conclusion to have reached, yes." Dr. Carson gave him a withering look and shuffled to one side so that Oswald could see the skull.

"Ah. So, dinosaur, then."

"Apparently."

"Ted...you do remember that you're an archaeologist, right?"

"Yes?"

"Haven't you veered over into paleontology a bit, here?"

"Well, if these were fossilized bones, yes. But these are still actual bone, and no more than a few hundred years old. And there are a few bits of leather and metal here that might indicate a harness of some sort."

"..."

"Oswald, are you alright?"

"I don't know, Ted. Are you suggesting that you've unearthed possible evidence of a previously unknown civilization of dinosaur-riding humans that existed within the past thousand years?"

Dr. Carson had returned to meticulously brushing aside sand while they'd been talking, but now he stopped. He slowly stood up, then carefully climbed out of the shallow pit that he had dug. He turned to Oswald.

"Oswald, would you be a dear friend and help me fill in this pit?"

It only took them about an hour to salvage their professional reputations.
hwango: (hermit crab)
1,509 words )

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