October Short Fiction: The Battle For Science by John Richardson

November 16, 2015

This was my entry to the October Short Fiction contest held by Michael Brookes over at the Cult Of Me. The stories can be of any genre. They just have to be inspired by the month’s image and comprise of no more than 500 words. Congratulations to the winners, Chad Lutzke, Tim Robson and Rose Thurlbeck.

Giles strode toward the large door of a normal looking house in North London and purposefully rapped it with his cane. He’d had quite enough of Foster and his preposterous suppositions and wanted to get to the bottom of the matter in earnest. Giles had long been considered the expert in his field and everyone in astronomy considered him above reproach. This little upstart Foster was undermining his authority and he simply could not stand it.

Image inspiring the work

Image inspiring the work

The door opened, “Giles!”, he exclaimed pleasantly, “Do come in, we must discuss this at once!” Giles scowled as he entered the hallway and made his way into the conservatory that adjoined the study. Seated around a small table were his peers Hargrove Spinder and Manfrid Cockrill, both on the board of the Royal Astronomical Society and clearly more accustomed to being in Burlington House than this North London abode.

He nodded to each and at the invitation of Foster took his seat. “Gentlemen!” The annoyingly pleased beam stretched all the way across Foster’s face. Scowling, Giles decided to listen. “We’ve long since wondered what comets and meteorites were and have assumed these are physical astrological objects. I have proof that we have been labouring under a false paradigm, these objects are in fact…” Foster paused dramatically, pulling a curtain aside showing a diagram of the solar system with biblical verse numbers he blurted, “…Spiritual!”  Everyone gasped. Giles wondered, was it through genuine astonishment at this conclusion or the audacity of the man? Spinder was the first to regain his composure enough to speak, “Good God man! How the Devil can you come to that conclusion? I must hear an explanation for this outrage at once!” Cockrill was nodding in affirmation and Giles found himself growing rather pleased with the way this was turning out.

“Gentlemen, let me explain. God created the Earth, we know this to be true.” The assemblage nodded uncertainly. “Ergo, comets and meteorites are also God’s creations.” It was at this point the men fidgeted. Arguably they could be classed as God’s creations but spiritual? Giles was a man of science and while he firmly believed in God he was having a hard time believing in true Creationism. “Allow me to summon one as proof!” With alarming rapidity Foster began chanting in an unfamiliar language, the lamps flickered and a glow appeared from outside, gradually it moved toward the window, the men stood transfixed and then horrified as an orb of light entered the room. “Behold! A spiritual comet!” As he spoke the orb appeared to grow, the curtains took light and flames licked at the walls. Foster continued to chant, the men screamed and the orb engulfed them.

***

Foster entered the hallway at Burlington House and strode toward the presidents office. He entered and sat at his new walnut desk thumbing through the list of board membership applications, looking for familiar names as he gazed through the window at his next scientific target, the Linnean Society of London.

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