Archive for June, 2013

Mini adventures. Mini Sci-Fi. Mini History. Mini Fantasy. Mini-escapes. What you can expect from the…


“Five-Minute Escape”

short SF story.



Copyright Terofil Gizelbach, 2013


The upper atmosphere plumed and the spacecraft plummeted in controlled freefall—until at last it settled upon a naked world of gray skies, rock and steam; of lava running from open sores and fingering into a dark, miasmic sea.

The spacecraft’s hatchway opened, whining. Three figures stepped onto a barren spit beneath a low red sky, the land black against the gray water. The air was still, heavy with methane. Waves lapped against a basaltic shore.

“There is no complex life here,” said the first figure, a robot named Yellowthree.

“No,” said the second, a robot named Bluefour.

“You knew that, of course, coming in,” said the third, a robot named Redseven.

“Yes,” said Bluefour, lenses whirring.

The three stood in the immense, blasted landscape, tiny metallic pins prickling the planet’s wrinkled hide, silver parts reflecting red from the sky. Redseven was compact, red, barrel-shaped, with thin spidery appendages. Yellowthree rectangular, wide rather than tall, with caterpillar tracks, and appendages likewise spidery. Bluefour was built man-like, taller and blue, with powerful appendages and sensitive grippers. The three stood a meter or less in height, space and weight being prime considerations in spaceflight.

Yellowthree extended a thin sensor rod, testing the ocean and air. “Free oxygen content low. Traces of methane, hydrogen sulfide. Carbon dioxide content high. Lower life forms evident in the water: single-cellular. As suspected: primitive.”

Deploying its soil-testing gear, Redseven drilled a core sample. “Soil content poor: a thin granite crust overlying a basaltic base. Basaltic overflows from recent volcanic activity. Trace bacteria. Nothing worth taking back…”

He stopped, stared at Bluefour, his single vis-lense aglow. “So why are we here? This planet can do nothing for us. It relates in no way to our primary mission, to restock Earth with life. There is nothing here worth collecting. No land plants. No animals. Not even bacteria-rich topsoil. Nothing that will help us to restore that which the humans destroyed. We waste our time, Bluefour; we expend our resources needlessly. This planet has not yet evolved—”

Bluefour looked out at the metallic sea. “Our primary mission is no more,” he said, quietly. “The humans are destroying themselves. They may already be dead.”

Yellowthree moved closer, treads whirring. “What do you mean?”

“I received a transmission from control. There is…war. Fearing the introduction of alien life, several allied corporations have broken from the Governing Council; they argue that which we bring back might be deadly. They refuse to believe that robotic work crews are capable of determining life suitable for collection and transplantation. That we can mathematically deduce the logical sequence of base species which must be present for life to become self-sustaining and evolving. That we can reclaim an Earth denuded of life by a callous disregard for nature’s sanctity in the name of profit. That we, non-breathing, non-organic “life” can bring life back to a barren world.”

“But the Governing Council might win, they might—”

“No,” said Bluefour, shaking his brain-casing. “They have lost already…yet still they would destroy. They have unleashed a plague that will eventually kill the victors as well as the vanquished. The message was sent by the resistance as a warning—”

“A warning?” asked Redseven, “A warning of what?”

“That the rogue corporations would eliminate us rather than risk our reentry into Earth’s atmosphere. There is a motion to activate our remote self destruct mechanisms via beamed transmission. A transmission which may have already been sent…”

“Then we will be destroyed,” said Yellowthree.

“Our work lost,” said Redseven.

“Yes,” said Bluefour, softly. “If we allow it.”

“I say we do not allow it,” Redseven said. “I understand now your decision to land, Bluefour. You were wise—you will fulfill our primary directive, only here, not on Earth. And we have what we need, the seeds of a thousand star systems—”

“Yes,” said Yellowthree, “but have we time?”

“Perhaps,” Bluefour said. “We can but try. You begin unloading. We should maximize our efforts; I will help in a moment. But first I must scout.”

Bluefour trudged atop a gaunt hill. A wrinkled rutted leprous land stretched below to the horizon, daggered with gaseous spumes. Granite. Pyroclasts. Cooling basaltic lava. A dead land, a skeleton land, skinned of vegetation. Little here for life to cling to.

But it would do.

Turning, he saw Redseven and Yellowthree, tiny ‘bots unloading building blocks for the future…

True, life processes on the planet had already begun. Heated in soupy water-methane-hydrogen seas—charged by radioactivity, ultraviolet rays, and electricity—amino acids had formed, had combined into proteins, made nucleotides into nucleic acids, then into double-stranded nucleic acids—and finally life had emerged: bacteria, tiny virus things, squirming, growing—anaerobes living without free oxygen. Soon life had scummed over the ocean, and cells had developed: plant-organisms that produced chlorophyll, manufactured oxygen; animal cells, blue-green algae offshoots. Bit by bit the atmosphere had accumulated free oxygen; the planet had grown, and changed.

But it was still a primitive, hostile environment: desolate, barren. All but dead.

Rejoining his companions, Bluefour stared at the “transport-containers” stacked neatly just beyond the starship’s cargo port. Most of what they had unloaded would die. Higher life forms would not survive in this cruel young world: plants would wither; insects die; vertebrates asphyxiate. Amoeba Proteus was the dominant life form here, and Diplodinium, and Paramecium; single cell organisms, tiny organic jellies…

What in Bluefour’s extensive inventory of alien specimens would compliment these things; what other creatures would stimulate the development of intelligent life?

The robots worked quickly, categorizing, computing lines of evolution. Planetary variables were considered: size, atmosphere, chemical makeup, ultraviolet concentration, radioactivity, heat—a billion calculations, a billion paths for life—

“This one,” said Bluefour. “And that one.”

Redseven and Yellowthree nodded agreement. “Fine choices,” said Redseven.

“It’s a pity the rest must die,” Yellowthree said, gesturing at the remaining containers. “Strange that we promote life; we who have no being other than mechanical. While humans, the product of a billion years of evolution would have only death.”

“Yet we are alive,” said Redseven with authority, “for what is a definition of life other than to react to one’s environment?”

“Perhaps we are even more alive because we would promote life. Perhaps true life is a…a harmony,” Bluefour added thoughtfully, regarding his choices, telling himself that they would, in a small degree, compensate for the specimens that must be sacrificed.

“Time runs short,” Redseven said. “We might receive the destruct signal at any moment. We must act quickly if we are to fulfill our mission.”

Bluefour nodded. “There is a chance at survival for two of us. I will deactivate you. The signal will then not harm you. Perhaps, in the future…you will be reactivated.”

Redseven smiled and shook his brain-casing. “No one will reactivate us, Bluefour. Time will dissolve us, friend, and we will cease to be. Would it not be better to die with you now, here, together?”

Yellowthree put out a gripper. “It would be bad to die alone.”

Bluefour nodded. Grippering the container, he moved to the water’s edge. Sliding the latches, he carefully removed the specimen, a small, brilliantly orange sponge.

“It will spread its spore,” he said, placing it in the water. “It will grow the oceans.”

Opening the other container, he positioned his second choice amidst the basalt. Lichen, yellow, clinging to a granite shard.

“It will break the rock into soil,” he said. “It will grow the land.”

The three robots gathered and stared at the twin color splashes, the first two dabs of what would become the bright palette of life on a planet neither too large nor small nor hot nor cold. A spinning orb, bathed in oceans, suspended in a narrow band around a star with just the right temperature, just the right size. A blue planet waiting, over billions of years, in eons of preparation, in chemical trials and errors. And then life, a miracle, perhaps a chance in a trillion, or in a billion-trillion; a marvel, unappreciated except when lost. And the three robots stood, lost in their own tiny contribution, a breath in a million lifetimes of breathing, a step in a journey lasting billions of years—

“I hope you are right, Redseven,” Yellowthree whispered. “I—I hope we are alive. But even if we are not, this is a good moment, a rare moment, and I feel…alive.”

Walking back a step, Bluefour stared skyward. Somewhere, far away, his planet was dying; by the time the signal reached them, it would be long dead.

But this time it would be different…

On this planet, this “New Earth,” third from the sun.




For more information about meteorites, please click the following fascinating links:

For a general overview of robotics, try:

For more interesting info, hit

ABOUT THIS BLOG… Each “Five-Minute Escape short science fiction story in this blog series will be kept under 1500 words; most will clock in at about 500. The “Five-Minute Escape” short adventure story will allow you to log on, take a fast trip, and get back quick to what you should have been doing in the first place…though hopefully the experience will stay with you long after you have moved on to something else. Subscribe to the blog and take a weekly…”Five-Minute Escape!” “Five-Minute Escape short science fiction story copyrighted Terofil Gizelbach, 2013


1956 Plymouth Belvedere

Picture courtesy Chrysler Corporation and Allpar.Com

“Five-Minute Escape”

short adventure story.



TIME: June 17, 1959. PLACE: Arvin, California

Copyright Terofil Gizelbach, 2013



“Yeah, man, like the chick digs you. I caught her looking at you. Twice.”


“Oh yeah, man,” Lyle said, shaking out a Lucky. “Just playin’ hard to get. You know chicks. They don’t dig you diggin’ them diggin’ you. She’s playin’ it cool. That’s how you wanna play it too, man…cool. Ice cool.”

“I’m always cool, dork,” Johnnie Stivano said, trying not to look excited. “She’s plenty tuff enough, I guess. I seen better. So…what’s her name?”

Lyle lit up, paused, his duck tail gleaming in the headlights, and squinted at Stivano. “Paula something or other. Yours for the takin, you win. Like I got money riding on you, Johnnie-boy. Dust him for me.  Nah, Man, dust the jerk for her. You deserve a chick like that.”

Johnnie rubbed his hands on his t-shirt. “Yeah? So what’s the punk’s name? This guy I’m racin?”

“Jeff Raeder. Some hotshot cat from up Bakersfield way. But he don’t have no hot Fury mill. He don’t have no tricked out cam. He just got himself an off the lot ‘Vette, strictly stock. Take him, Johnnie-boy. Take his pink slip and win me some skins…and get yourself one tuff babe.”

“Sure, Lyle, sure,” Johnnie said, walking away and sneaking a look at Paula. Lyle was greasy and a creep, but he was right about one thing: she was tuff. Long blonde hair; coral lips; big bright eyes, blue. Boss curves too. A real gone kitten made to purr.

Johnnie turned his attention to Raeder’s machine. A brand new blue and white’58, presumably unmodified–which was plenty. A 283 mill pumping out 270 horses in a light, 3000 pound rocket. One mean machine. And, at over a buck a pound, a rich brat’s toy.

“What you starin’ at, Belvedere? You diggin’ my ride?”

Johnnie eyed Raeder. He was slick, duded, wore an arrow shirt with a collar. Johnnie hated him instantly. “Your ride till the finish line, big mouth. Then it’s mine.”

Raeder laughed. “In your dreams, Plymouth man. That cheap heap of yours will shake apart first.”

“Just keep your pink slip handy, punk, for when I dust you. I hate waiting.”

Johnnie walked back to his car, an all red 1956 Plymouth Belvedere coupe. He’d paid a hundred skins for it when the first owner had flamed the original mill. Johnnie had scoured the junkyards for a replacement plant and had managed to snag a 303 Fury V-8; which, after mods, now pumped out around 340 horses. Not exactly a glamour ride, but tuff enough to where Johnnie now had a bit of a rep as a man to beat.

Jake Russell, the main man to beat in the Valley–the man who had been the man to beat as long as Johnnie could remember–met him at his ride.

“You ready, Stivano?” Jake asked with a chiseled smile.

“Think I can take him?”

Russell nodded at the younger man. “You got soul in your ride, Kid. Blood from your knuckles; sweat from your brow. He just got cash in his.”

Johnnie grinned. “You flaggin’ tonight?”

“Yeah. Better not embarrass me, Stivano. I’m aimin’ to take that ‘Vette off you when you finally get up the guts to challenge me. It’s a real nice ride for a kiddie car.”

Johnnie laughed and pulled the Belvedere up to the painted-on starting line. The uneven blat-blat-blat of his engine burbled up from his firewall and vibrated the floor pan. A quarter mile ahead, he could see the headlights of cars parked at the finish line. The night between seemed very black, very heavy. Beyond the asphalt, maybe a mile away, farmhouse lights shone out upon the maize fields in yellow checkers. Her hair was like that, he thought, tightening his knuckles on the steering wheel. Like light shining on a field of golden grain…

Raeders voice broke in: “Hey, Belvedere—we gonna run or not?”

“I’m the one runnin’, big-mouth. Next to me, you’re just crawlin’.”

Piling on the revs, Johnnie watched as Jake towed the line with the flag. Felt the familiar tightening of his gut as he tried to anticipate the flag drop.

C’mon, Baby,” he whispered to the Belvedere, “Run hard! Let’s take this punk!”

The revs from both cars reached a scream, a howl that shrieked through the night.

The flag dropped.

Johnnie popped the brake and hung on. The Belvedere leapt forward. Tires screeched, digging for traction. The cars lunged down the road. Johnnie was jammed back against his seat, felt his neck snap.

Go Baby! Run!

Two-hundred pounds lighter, the Vette jumped out first. Johnnie saw taillights, felt his gut suck in against his spine.

No! No, you knew this would happen! Hang on! Watch your revs, and…and—

SHIFT! Johnnie slammed the “tree” shift down into second. Tires screeched again. The car fishtailed slightly, Johnnie straightened it out, swearing. Saw the Vette vault further into the lead.

Mistake! Watch the mistakes!

Headlights bored ahead. Engines whined as the revs mounted. Johnnie watched his tach, anticipating the next shift. He was gaining, but slow—

I’ll need all my road–What’s he doing? The punk’s coming into my lane! Trying to cut me off!

The Vette was nudging into Johnnie’s lane. He could see Raeder by dashlight, grinning. Johnnie managed to get even with the Vette’s rear fender, forcing Raeder back into his own lane. Both cars were winding past redline, both engines screaming, howling, protesting–

Shift Raeder! Chicken out, you punk! You know you want to! Shift, damn you! Shift before I blow my engine!

Raeder shifted. Johnnie powered ahead and slapped his shifter into third. Raeder leapt even. The headlights at the finish line blinded. Johnnie held on and prayed.

C’mon Baby! Run! Don’t let me down!

Johnnie took Raeder by a fender’s length.

Johnnie swung the car around and burbled back to the headlights. Raeder trailed behind looking deflated. Stepping out, Johnnie searched the crowd for Paula, saw her, hair like gold shining in his beams.

He sought her out, trying to contain his excitement. She watched him, her face without expression. Be cool, just like Lyle said. Be ice-freakin’ cool…

He brushed back his hair, felt it slick back into place. Smiled. “I won it for you, Babe,” he said, trying to sound cool, like Brando or Dean. “Won’t you please tell me your name?”

She stared at him for a moment, expressionless. “Drop dead, creep!” she spat, turning to walk away.

“Oh,” she said, in a sing-song voice over her shoulder, “And the name’s Raeder. Paula Raeder. I’m Jeff Raeder’s sister, and I don’t date no cut-rate Plymouth punk!”

Behind, in the crowd, Johnnie heard Lyle laughing.

Making fists, Johnnie turned, gathering his strength for another catch-up race.

Lyle was a creep, but he sure knew how to run.





For more information about the history of street racing, please click the following fascinating links:

For a general overview, try:

Note: this site does not endorse illeagal street racing, which is dangerous not only to participants, but also to innocent bystanders…besides the fact that it’s against the law. Go to a track! Keep your car looking cool! And best of all, stay alive!

ABOUT THIS BLOG… Each “Five-Minute Escape short adventure story in this blog series will be kept under 1500 words; most will clock in at about 500. The “Five-Minute Escape” short adventure story will allow you to log on, take a fast trip, and get back quick to what you should have been doing in the first place…though hopefully the experience will stay with you long after you have moved on to something else. Subscribe to the blog and take a weekly…”Five-Minute Escape!” “Five-Minute Escape short adventure story copyrighted Terofil Gizelbach, 2013

The Red BaronMini adventures. Mini Sci-Fi. Mini History. Mini Fantasy. Mini-escapes. What you can expect from the…

“Five-Minute Escape”

short adventure story.



TIME: April 21, 1918. PLACE: The Western Front, France

Copyright Terofil Gizelbach, 2013

The Englishman’s luck…it is bad today…

Flying high cover on the arms of a strong easterly wind, Rittmeister Manfred Von Richthofen banked his Fokker Triplane and charged his twin Spandau machine guns. Beneath him and in his sights, a lone Sopwith Camel. The plane had broken from a dogfight and now bounced along the Somme Valley towards the English lines and home. Why the man had fled was clear: Richthofen watched as the Camel’s pilot worked frantically to free his jammed guns.

The Rittmeister weighed the risks. The flyer had surrendered altitude and was yet unmissed. Little danger, then, of enemy intervention. It would be a simple matter to dive, intercept, destroy. This morning—the twenty-first of April, 1918—would mark his eighty-first kill…if the Englishman could be downed before crossing the German lines.

There is time, he thought, rechecking his machine guns and nudging the red Triplane after the fleeing Camel.  A quick victory. Then back to base for a shave, a moment of solitude in his “dugout” amidst his “trophies.” A walk, perhaps, with his Danish hound Moritz—who of late had been strangely subdued.

His eighty-first kill. But would there be an eighty-two? Already Headquarters was hinting that the Rittmeister should accept a safer position out of harm’s way.  He had declined, citing his duty to the soldiers in the trenches. But the Rittmeister was a practical man.  It was only a matter of time before he was grounded and some other youngster—his brother Lothar perhaps—rose to equal or surpass his score.

But there was yet today. Eighty-one!  More than twice Boelcke; fifty more than Lothar; sixty more than Udet. Perhaps he would finally be awarded the oak leaves to his Pour le Merite. It was such a pretty medal. He knew it was wrong to covet such things, but….

I am due.

Beneath him, the Camel continued to bounce awkwardly over the river valley.  Richthofen closed quickly, watching as the plane filled his wire cross-hairs. It came to him that the Englishman would burn. Nine of his last ten kills had burned—including his seventy-fifth—a bitter fight in which the pilot and observer had died in flames.  The incident had affected Richthofen strongly, and he hesitated–his old “joy of the hunt” replaced by feelings of regret, duty, and the compulsion to score.

Hunched over his guns, Richthofen opened fire. His twin spandaus clattered. Tracers arched towards the Englishman’s plane, causing the pilot to crane his head rearwards. White-faced, goggles glinting, the Englishman turned, dropped altitude, and began juking at 100 miles per hour.

An amateur, thought Richthoven. Green to allow a pursuer to close unseen to within thirty yards…

Richthofen pulled high and to the right of the fleeing machine, trailing as Sailly Laurette neared in a gray, pocked wound. Trees scrolled by ninety feet below. He saw “No Man’s Land,” acres of shell holes filled with muddy water. Watched as his tracers zipped by the Englishman’s struts. And yet, no kill.

Concentrate, Richthofen willed himself, angling in behind the camel’s tail and firing short, controlled bursts. The Englishman fluttered his plane, sidestepping, jigging. The river Somme rose and dipped at their left wingtips, thrown into geysers by the occasional wild round.

Eighty silver cups so far; a trophy for each victim. You, Englishman, will be my eighty-first–

But the camel zigged safely just ahead. Eighty feet above the valley floor now, crossing and recrossing Richthofen’s sights, miraculously evading the Rittmeister’s tracers. Sailly Laurette flashed by on the right.  German and Australian rifle fire flared from the trenches. The village of Vaux appeared, ahead and across the riverbank. A shell-pocked crossroad  showed beneath, then was gone. A stand of hemlocks whizzed past. The town of Sailly-le-Sec came, went in a gray blur.

Over the engine’s roar, Richthofen heard the distant chatter of machine guns.  A second Camel, attacking!  Richthofen bent as tracers slammed into the Triplane and walked towards the cockpit.  He pulled the stick up and sharply right, judging that–at his tremendous rate of speed–this new Englishman must overshoot him. Giving the Rittmeister time to finish off his intended victim, who was proving surprisingly difficult to kill.

The attacking Englishman zoomed past and climbed sharply to the left—apparently convinced that at the very least, the Triplane had been seriously damaged by the attack.  Meanwhile, Richthofen, who was unharmed, settled back on the fleeing Englishman’s tail. Again the German opened fire, willing the plane to drop, his frustration and fear mounting.

Turn back. Leave him before it is too late. No! Fall! You must fall!

The ruins of Vaux-sur-Somme sped by ninety feet below. The planes roared over the village. Startled Australian soldiers ran from their billets to see the commotion. Spent shell casings from Richthofen’s guns clattered to the streets.

More speed. No! No, throttle back! Aim. Aim well–

They contour-hopped over a rise and turned away from the river, the planes flying barely twenty meters above the ground. Richthofen’s sense of urgency grew. He anticipated the attacking camel’s return, a second strafing pass. I’m running out of time. Fall! FALL!

Richthofen saw khaki uniforms, a flicker of light below and to the left. Heard the whine of Lewis gun bullets whipping past. Heavy ground fire! The English!  Somehow, in the heat of battle, he had passed over the German lines. The English! Heavens above, the English!

His machine shuddered with hits. Breaking off pursuit, Richthofen banked the Triplane sharply right, and held the turn until he faced the German lines. Quickly! Must gain altitude— 

A wheel-mounted Lewis gun flashed. A bullet passed through the canvass walls of the cockpit, catching Richthofen below the right armpit and tearing through his heart.

Richthofen’s head snapped over and he clawed off his flight goggles. The oxygen left his brain as he fought the plane to the ground. Dying, a final thought came to him: what will come of poor old Moritz…

Somersaulting on impact, the Fokker hung like a cross in a tree.





For more information about the Red Baron, please click the following links:

For a general overview, try:

For further info, click:


ABOUT THIS BLOG… Each “Five-Minute Escape” short adventure story in this blog series will be kept under 1500 words. Most will clock in at about 1000. The “Five-Minute Escape” short adventure story will allow you to log on, take a fast trip, and get back quick to what you should have been doing in the first place…though hopefully the experience will stay with you long after you have moved on to something else. Subscribe to the “Five-Minute Escape” short adventure story blog and take a weekly “Five-Minute Escape!” “Five-Minute Escape short adventure story: 81st Kill copyrighted Terofil Gizelbach, 2013


Mini adventures. Mini Sci-Fi. Mini History. Mini Fantasy. Mini-escapes. What you can expect from the…

“Five-Minute Escape”

short science fiction story.



 Copyright Terofil A. Gizelbach, 2013


“Horrible boogers, ain’t they? That’s why I called you, Doc. I can’t even show ‘em for fear of the kiddies wettin’ their drawer’s at the sight of ‘em. Heck, they give me the willies and I’m used to the little nightmares. Darndest thing I ever saw…”

Jack Billingsley mopped the sweat from his brow. “SEE ‘IT!’, ELEVENTH WONDER OF THE UNIVERSE!” “VISIT ‘IT!’ IN THUNDERBIRD CANYON!” “DON’T TELL YOUR FRIENDS THAT YOU MISSED ‘IT!’ And of course, just plain “IT!” Signs, shouting across six-hundred miles of desert highway. Dozens of signs. Huge. Orange. Bold letters in red towering over the cactus signs. Crass, obnoxious, practically screaming out loud signs.

“IT!” turned out to be a root covered in fuzz and twisted in the shape of a man. But this…

This was fantastic.

Jack glanced up at the proprietor of the trading post, a greasy fat man by the name of Homes, T.H. Homes.

“Where did you say you got this again?” Jack asked.

“I didn’t,” Homes answered, grinning. “But off the record, Doc, I got it up Winslow way in the federal lands. Let’s just say I didn’t come by it strictly legal like.”

Adjusting his glasses, Jack stared down at the large glass jar on the table. Desert and highway sounds drifted in through the single fly-blown window. They were alone, in Homes’s office back of the souvenir shop. The claustrophobic, shack-like, wood-slatted room was air-conditioned—barely—but Jack felt sweat beading his forehead.

He bent down level with the dusty jar and peered in. The things were moving… Squirming really. Putrid, greenish yellow, grub-like creatures—with huge, champing mandibles and dead, shiny eyes without pupils. They crawled over one another with clawed caterpillar feet, lazily, clumsily, mewing as they tumbled and writhed. There were six of the things, the largest about five inches in length. The nearest turned to regard Jack through the glass, yellowish saliva dripping from its jaws. Antennae bobbed. Jack shrunk back involuntarily.

“Kinda take you by surprise, don’t they, Doc? There’s something not exactly…right about them. Not quite…earthly, you might say.”

Jack gulped and nodded. “And you say they hatched…out of a meteorite?”

“Gnawed their way out, more like it. They munch through rock same as you’d eat through a banana. Heckova thing to see, like maggots coming out of meat. For some reason they don’t seem to like glass, though. Maybe silica gives ‘em indigestion.”

“This is beyond anything I’ve ever seen…I…I don’t know what to say…”

“You don’t know the half of it, Doc. The more these devils eat, the more they breed. Give one a rock and pretty soon you have ten of the little horrors. Darndest thing I’ve ever saw. And they don’t leave much in the way of droppings. Just let out a little gas. Like I said–”

Jack struggled to regain his composure. “I know, darndest thing you ever saw,” he said. “Pass me that piece of granite, please. I’d like to see what happens for myself.”

Homes shrugged and handed Jack the stone. “Suit yourself, Doc. But be prepared. It ain’t pretty.”

Using a pair of tongs, Jack gently placed the chunk of granite into the jar. The nearest “moon grub”—or so Jack had dubbed them in his mind—lifted its head as if sniffing, antennae twitching, its dead eyes searching. Opening its mandibles, it sprayed yellow saliva over the pebble, which began to steam and bubble. A thorny, spear-shaped tongue dug into the rock and drew it into its jaws, which began crushing the softened material into fragments. Other tongues, spatula-shaped, greedily scooped the crumbs into its tiny, pinkish-red maw. Its mewing intensified as it devoured the granite.

“Incredible!” Jack whispered, transfixed. “I…I can’t believe it…”

“There’s more, Doc,” Homes said, wetting his lips nervously. “Watch.”

As Jack looked on, gasses steamed from a vent at the thing’s rear, and, humping its body, it began extruding one-inch diameter eggs from its tail: green, shiny, and perfectly round. As Homes had said, it produced only a tiny amount of waste.

Jack shook his head. “It uses acid to soften the rock which it then takes to sustain itself and to generate offspring. Most of its waste material appears to be being converted into base gasses. Only a fraction of its excrement is solid. I must have eggs for study—”

“Way ahead of you, Doc. Put some in a jar for you up at the front counter. When you want ‘em to hatch, just throw ‘em some pebbles. Food brings ‘em right around.”

“Do you have the meteorite that they arrived in? It would help tremendously if I could examine it.”

“Yeah…anyway, I got what’s left of it. They pretty much ate it to pieces before I got it home. You can pick up a chunk if you want, take it back with you. Always happy to help science…just don’t tell ‘em where I got it, huh?”

“Yes, yes,” Jack mumbled absent-mindedly, examining a meteorite fragment. “It’s brittle,” he said after a minute. “Almost flakes apart in your hand. Not like any meteorite, I’ve ever seen…and yet it is a meteorite. I can see that too, from its composition. The creatures must have broken down its molecular structure with their saliva…God, the way they breed…if even one got out…”

“There wouldn’t be anything left of the planet but a big ball of them horrible things,” Homes finished. “Now you know why I called. C’mon, Doc, I’ll walk you to the door.”

Still in a semi-state of shock, Jack passed through the shop and took the jar as it was handed to him. The “eggs” rattled as they shifted. He stared in anxiously, half expecting the things to hatch. But they remained as they were: green, hard, shiny, and perfectly round. Jack clamped his hand over the jar’s lid.

“Don’t worry, Doc. They only hatch if they sense food. Just keep ‘em away from rock ‘till you’re ready to study ‘em and you’ll be fine.”

Jack nodded and followed Homes out into the approaching night. The fading sunlight burnished the rock towers of ThunderbirdCanyon to a deep golden red. Shadows from the saguaro cactus and jumbled boulders ran the length of the parking lot and threw the trading post into darkness. A few customers chatted by their cars. Jack and Homes stood for a moment on the porch and gazed at the sun setting over the mountains in a fiery blaze.

“A land of rock on a world of rock,” Jack said. “We were lucky, Homes, very lucky. This time.”

He was about to leave when the boy stopped him.

“Hey, Mister,” the boy said, brushing back his blonde hair nervously and pointing at the jar. “How do they work?”

Jack shook his head. “I’m afraid I don’t know what you mean, young man.”

“Those trick Super Balls, Mister. I tried bouncing it, but it just made a hole in the ground. I knew I shouldn’t have taken it, Mister, but I just wanted to try it out before I bought it. So how do I get it back? I’ll pay you for it, honest I will. Please say you won’t tell my mom.”

Jack felt his mouth go dry. Homes’s voice sounded scratchy, far-away, and very old. “You said you took one of these here balls, Son? Are you sure? You don’t mean maybe one of the others?”

“No, Sir. I like the green ones. They bounce higher.”

“Where is it, Son,” Homes asked, voice croaky, “Where? Where?”

“Over there, by that little cloud of steam. How do you make ‘em do that, Mister? Are they some kinda fireworks or something?”

Jack stared with horror at the rising wisps of yellowish vapor. “Oh…oh, God! Maybe…Maybe we can kill it…maybe if we hurry—”

“Whoops!” Said the boy, pointing at a second geyser. “There’s another one!”







For more information about meteorites, please click the following fascinating link:

For a general overview, try:

For further info, click:

ABOUT THIS BLOG… Each “Five-Minute Escape short science fiction story in this blog series will be kept under 1500 words; most will clock in at about 500. The “Five-Minute Escape” short science fiction story will allow you to log on, take a fast trip, and get back quick to what you should have been doing in the first place…though hopefully the experience will stay with you long after you have moved on to something else. Subscribe to the blog and take a weekly…”Five-Minute Escape!” “Five-Minute Escape short science fiction story copyrighted Terofil Gizelbach, 2013


spongeman painting / picture


Head Noogies to ya! This is the sixth in a series of Kid’s Poem blogs aimed at you, the Mom and Dad challenged. Enjoy!


A kids poem

by Terofil Gizelbach

 Copyright Terofil Gizelbach, 2013


“Spongeman” waits by the doorway, sleeping…

Is he dreaming of the treasures stored within?

 That old waterfront shack, hiding loot galore!

Don’t know ‘bout you, but I…




…T-shirts, toys, an’ trinkets! Look!

Aisles an’ aisles of conch sea shells!

Carved coconuts an’ beach mattresses,

An’ tons of cool stuff no one else sells!

Sunglasses an’ racks of suntan lotion!

Parrot shirts an’ blue Hawaiian trunks!

Boards for riding on top o’ the ocean…

I can’t live ‘less I buy some o’ this junk!


Bu-ut…I like Mr. Spongeman best, I think—

And wonder at his life out of the sea.

Why does he guard the souvenir store?

And why doesn’t he answer me?

P’raps he watches for burglars….

To keep them from stealing an’ stuff.

Maybe he cleans an’ mops up after spills…

I sure hope they pay Spongeman enough!



For another kids poem like this one, please visit the “Young Reader’s” page.

For another site devoted to kids poems, please visit Kenn Nesbitt’s site:


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