Links for this episode:
- This story first appeared at scifi.com in 2004
- Get Pat Murphy’s work on Amazon.com
- Discuss on our forums.
- For a list of all Escape Pod stories, authors and narrators, visit our sortable Wikipedia page
about the author…
from the author’s website…
I’m a writer, a scientist, and sometimes a toy maker.
All of my stories and novels have a hint of the strange. Some have been called science fiction, some fantasy, and some neither one. Most of my work falls between categories. I think that the most interesting events happen at the edges, in the borderlands where the lines are fuzzy.
My fiction writing has won a number of awards, including the Nebula Award for Science Fiction, the World Fantasy Award, the Philip K. Dick Award for best paperback original, the Christopher Award, and the Theodore Sturgeon Memorial Award. I also co-founded the James Tiptree Memorial Award.
about the narrator…
I’m an Special Education English teacher in Texas who also works with various audio production companies. I have worked with at least 6 different companies in the past, but I am head of production at Darker Projects and an actor in DP’s Quantum Retribution, Gypsy Audio’s Tamlynn PI, and Giant Gnome Productions’ Star Trek: Outpost. I’m a parent of three and after this year empty nest will set in (I think). I am currently working with Jerry Robbins at Colonial Radio Productions – at present producing Powder River, season 8. I thoroughly enjoy what I do and I’m glad that I can share it with everyone who is interested in any type of audio production!
by Pat Murphy
There was a man asleep on the sand.
He should not be here. It was my island. I had just returned to my mechano and it was time for me to go to work. He should not be here.
I studied the man through the eyes of my mechano. They were good eyes. They worked very well beneath the water, at depths down to fifteen hundred meters. I had adjusted them for maximum acuity at distances ranging from two inches to five feet. Beyond that, the world was a blur of tropical sunshine and brilliant color. I liked it that way.
There had been a big storm the night before. One of the coconut palms had blown down, and the beach was littered with driftwood, coconuts, and palm fronds.
The man didn’t look good. He had a bloody scrape on his cheek, other scrapes on his arms and legs, a smear of blood in his short brown hair. His right leg was marked with bruises colored deep purple and green. He wore an orange life vest, a t-shirt, a pair of shorts, and canvas boat shoes.
He stirred in his sleep, sighing softly. Startled, I sent the mechano scuttling backward. I stopped a few feet away from him.
My mechano had a speaker. I tested it and it made a staticky sound. I wondered what I should say to this man.
The man moved, lifting a hand to rub his eyes. Slowly, he rolled over.
“Bonjour,” I said through the mechano’s speakers. Maybe he had come from one of the islands of French Polynesia.
# # #
A sound awakened him—a sort of mechanical squawking.
Evan Collins could feel the tropical sun beating down on his face, the warm beach sand beneath his hands. His head ached and his mouth was dry. His right leg throbbed with a dull, persistent pain.
Evan raised a hand to rub his eyes and winced when he brushed against a sand-encrusted scrape on his cheek. When he rolled over onto his back, the throbbing in his leg became a sudden, stabbing pain.
Wiping away the tears that blurred his vision, he lifted his head and blinked down at his leg. His calf was marked with bloody coral scrapes. Beneath the scrapes were vivid bruises: dark purple telling of injuries beneath the surface of the skin. When he tried to move his leg again, he gasped as the stabbing pain returned.
He heard the sound again: a mechanical rasping like a radio tuned to static. He turned in the direction of the sound, head aching, eyes dazzled by the sun. A gigantic cockroach was examining him with multifaceted eyes.
The creature was at least three feet long, with nasty looking mandibles. Its carapace glittered in the sunlight as it stood motionless, staring in his direction.
Again, the mechanical squawk, coming from the cockroach. This time, the sound was followed by a scratchy voice. “Bonjour,” the cockroach said. (Continue Reading…)