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— by Brendan, 10th Grade


Close Encounters With An Abalone Shell

            This abalone shell is unfinished.  It’s not the highly polished, gleaming surface most associate with Abalone.  This particular shell is a hybrid of churning metallic surface, and a sickeningly organic outer shell, that is not unlike a pale, melted pile of human flesh.  Disturbing, yes…but also daring.  It seemed to be a maze of canyons; mazes and switchbacks, all rolled into a landscape of some alien planet.  The twisting surfaces of the outer shell beg to be used as some sort of backdrop in a science fiction race.  Against time, foes, or perhaps just death (should the hero stumble).  The scene it brings to mind is a roiling, charred atmosphere, stuck in a perpetual twilight, lit by an orange sun, and many moons, and a sky that is awash in blues, purples, and azure greens, all back lit by a setting sun.  The kind of place and events that would suck the breath right outta your chest; assuming you’re that type of person.
            The thought of some hero, racing at hundreds of miles per hour in a small but agile craft, pursued by insectoid ships of an “evil” design, not unlike the works of H. R. Geiger is brought to mind.

            Rocketing through the vast and mazelike canyons, you are gripped not by fear, but by the many, many G’s you are currently pulling.  The shadows seem to creep along with you, as you blaze faster and faster.  Those damn insect ships seem to not so much be gaining, as doing something even more despicable.  They don’t.  Holding off at a certain distance, mocking you, as if to let you know they are just toying with you, and that at any given moment it will end.
            You worked hard to get here, and you are not about to let these things have your hide for a wall piece.  You flip down your sun visor nonchalantly, and reach over to your left.  That big red button that says “Mega Thrust” is just begging to be pushed.  Not one to turn down a great button when you see it, you give the thing a good smack, and then grip the throttle firmly in your left hand.  You push it up, until the engine is about to redline, hearing the engine roaring in protest of this insane amount of speed.
            Reflexes of a cat, agility of a thought, you whine through the canyons, shooting up over mesas, only to come falling back down, ducking, jiving, juking, using all the tricks and skills that got you here in the first place.  At a time like this, the weak get shredded into a fine mist, usually at the walls’ doing.
            The reddish sandstone flies by, you only have a mere second to plot what you do next.  Outrunning and outsmarting these things at the same time is no easy task.  Speaking of they…those things are now right up on your posterior, and it sounds like they too are pushing their ships to levels that were never quite intended to push upon.
            It’s at this time, you see them peel off in a sharp V.  This can lead to no good.  These things only give up when they are dead; which unto itself is miraculous.  Then you see why.  It was once said that it’s not the big guys you have to fear.  It’s the little quick guys that boss around the big guys you have to worry about.

            This thing is half the size, and twice as ugly, and it wants YOU for a hood ornament.  War it is then.  You look into the rear monitor, and see the thing in the pilot’s seat.  Immediately wishing you hadn’t, you revert your eyes to the treacherous terrain in front of you.  Lucky you, you know what to do in a situation like this.  Like the boss always said, “If you’re being chased into a wall…run into it!”  At the time, it seemed pretty stupid, but in retrospect, you see why the saying had some merit.  Looking straight ahead, at a towering mesa, that was easily three miles high.
            You race at it, dead on.  At this point, you are really praying that this works.  Not that the bug thing will care, but you always kind wanted to try this.  Banking up at the absolute last possible microsecond, you avoid that wall.  Of course, not by much.  The belly gets scratched as you fly up.  Looking down, you think you’ll see some groaning, gnarled hunk of flame and metal.  Instead, you see that butt-ugly face looking right back at you.  And now the guy thinks he’s a pimp!
            Of course, this is still plan A.  You slam the ship into reverse.  The ship about ejects the engine after that little stunt.  The Bug is visually surprised as you pass it going the other direction, waving as you go.
            Then it looks up.  The edge of the mesa has a very large overhang on it.  The kind that would stop a ship going 350 miles an hour.  And, it does.  Rather violently.  The twisted hulk of torched metal falls like a 2-cent pair of socks; straight to the canyon floor.  Leaving the hunk of grotesque metal and biomass to writhe in its own failure.  No brewski for him if he ever gets pieced back together.

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