Unidentified Bipedal Species

McKinnon, Leonard’s best friend, peers into the archaic darkness of the mountain fortress. His eyes sweep the whole picture: the snow, the runes, the door, and the lights within. His face is grim. He knows that this is all wrong.

“Leonard?” he says into his small communication device.


“I’m at the front door. Where are you?”

“Oh, just a few levels down. The people who lived here were big, man.”

“A few levels? I told you to stay close by.”

“Too vague, Mac. On a galactic scale, I am still pretty close.”

“Can you come back? I’d prefer to be together.” McKinnon scans the wall of the first room with some kind of, well, scanner.

“Yes! I would! Little lost right now, actually.”

McKinnon closes his eyes as stray snowflakes float into the room and collect on his eyelashes. “You have got to be kidding me.”

Leonard’s voice seems undisturbed. “No worries, I’ll get back. There is a lot of interesting stuff down here. Gizmos and things. You would be interested in it.”

McKinnon, mechanical genius that he is, raises his eyebrows. “Don’t touch anything until I get there.”

“Uh, right.” McKinnon hears a clank as Leonard puts something down. He quickly follows the hallway, casting a glance at the large chair as he does.

The yellow lights just aren’t bright enough for his liking, so he pulls out his own and sweeps the hallway with his beam. The technology is mysteriously advanced, the language is foreign in the extreme (McKinnon can’t even recognize it as being a human system of writing) and the carvings further on down reveal human figures of unusual artistic portrayal. They are a little too squat to be realistic. Their heads are unusually shaped, as are their chests.

McKinnon’s foot contacts something on the floor, and he picks it up.

It looks to be a machine fragment. Nothing about it stirs in his brain any resemblance of modern man’s creations. Strange pieces and parts interlock in astounding ways, but he doesn’t know what any of them are, or what they do. This is a new emotion for him, as interested in machines as he has been throughout his life. 

He holds his tablet over the device. Words appear over it as the object is scanned.

“10,000-65-000 years old. Technology level: sophisticated. Probable use: transportation machinery. Possible use: weaponry.”

McKinnon continues to walk down the hallway. It opens out into a much larger room with pillars. Machinery parts are scattered all over the floor, along with bones.

He kneels beside one of the shattered skeletons, scanning it.

“Unidentified Bipedal Species.”

McKinnon glances around the big room. “Leonard, I think we should meet up.”

“Hang on. I’m crawling through a little culvert to get to some gold. Almost got it . . . there! Oops, that’s a spider robot, that’s a spider robot!”

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