AUTHOR’S NOTE: The draws for the May Flash Fiction Draw Challenge were
Involving a Bear Trap
Set in an Alien Palace.
Here’s what I came up with…
by Jeff Baker
How the hell am I getting out of this?
Tomas stared at the stone walls, the large greenish jewels glowing in the corners of the ceiling, the window looking out on the alien landscape.
Long, long way from Albuquerque, he thought.
It was going to be easy, they had said. In and out of the Imperial Palace on Gruvanor, find the bag and get out and become rich.
It had been easy. All they had to do was bribe a few guards, sneak past a few more guards and sabotage the security system.
The Old Imperial Palace was considered a Historic Site and the brochure Tomas and Victor had downloaded noted that the security measures were tougher than at the current palace.
Finding out where the Old Documents Room was located had been the hard part. The Government of Gruvanor had regular guided tours during the tourist season. But this was the Sacred Season and so there was only a skeleton crew guarding anything. And Tomas and Victor had also copied the program that provided extra information on the tours of the Palace to their savers so it wouldn’t register their presence. Then they simply avoided the tourist route because the Old Documents R room was not on any published diagram of the palace.
The bag in question was not supposed to be in the palace. It had been stolen on another world and brought to this one. It had been hidden in the palace because the thief had the opportunity and Tomas and Victor had intercepted the message.
But the thief had never been found.
The contents of the bag, old-fashioned information chips, nonetheless had new and valuable information on them.
The word “valuable” was why Tomas and Victor were risking so much to steal the bag.
The two of them were walking through a back hallway with a big window when Victor must have triggered something; a thick steel door slammed shut between Tomas and Victor, blocking Victor’s way to the Documents room.
More for me, Tomas thought.
Tomas walked further down the hallway until he came to a shadowed patch of floor, partly illuminated by the glowing green jewels on the wall rumored to be a long-dead emperor’s gallstones. There was a window further down the hall.
Tomas stopped dead; there was a huddled something on the floor.
A body. Maybe another treasure hunter. Maybe the one who first stole the bag.
Tomas looked up at the ceiling for a booby trap and stepped into the shadow.
There was a sizzling sound. A pattern on the floor glowed green. Tomas found his feet stuck to the floor.
Inside his boots his feet stung.
The corpse was also within the pattern. That was probably what happened to him.
Tomas looked at his saver; no signal.
Tomas remembered reading about ancient Gruvanor. This was what scholars of Gruvanoran technology called a “Bear Trap.” Tomas had seen an old Earth bear trap in a museum. A brutal device. This one was no less deadly.
Tomas glanced at the rotting corpse. The trap would go dormant once it no longer held a living thing.
How the hell was he going to get out of this?