Saturday, March 6, 2010

Excerpt from The Unearthlings by Kara Bartley

Back in the fifth grade, Emma had been told to bring in a “piece of nature” to show the class. All of the other kids had brought in leaves, pinecones, or acorns. But Emma was different. She was looking for something that none of the other kids would have. She was naturally drawn to the ‘unusual’ parts of the world around her – fascinated with things that were different.

When she went to school the next day, she was elated.

Mrs. Randall, her fifth grade teacher, asked with a smile, “What do you have to show the class today, Emma?”

Emma opened up her backpack and took out a long piece of tin foil. She stood at the front of the room and placed the object carefully down on the teacher’s desk beside her. Slowly, she opened the foil and took out an object that was tightly wrapped in bathroom tissue. All of the other students in the room stood up and moved towards the teacher’s desk.

Emma unrolled the tissue and smiled as several small ivory pieces appeared on the desk. She gently placed the pieces together and looked up at the baffled expressions on the kid’s faces. “It’s a snake skeleton,” she said confidently. “I found it in Lundy’s Park behind my house.”

The class was speechless. Most of the kids had never seen a real snake before, let alone a snake skeleton. Yes, Emma knew it was an interesting find and all the kids seemed excited about it, except for one, Jerry Telson, the fifth grade bully.

“That’s stupid,” he laughed. “And I bet it smells funny too…just like you, Emma. Emma’s a weirdo!” A few kids laughed along with him, but most were silent.

Mrs. Randall quickly ended Jerry’s snide remarks with a harsh glare and a pointed finger that directed him down the hallway towards the principal’s office.

Later that day, when all the kids were outside during recess, Jerry approached Emma in the schoolyard. “Principle Matthews says that I have to apologize for what I said. So I guess I’m sorry.” Jerry looked extremely uncomfortable as he spoke the words. Just before he turned to walk away he leaned towards her face and said, “Emma’s a weirdo and she’s ugly, too. What a weirdo!” He laughed hysterically at her. All the other fifth grade kids were now laughing along with him.

Emma felt so embarrassed. She looked at his freckled face and suddenly felt a flash of anger race through her young veins. She lifted up her right arm and clocked him in the nose. Instantly a pool of red liquid gathered in his hand as he held it underneath his nose.

“That’s what you get, you bully!” she yelled at him.

A group of kids quickly surrounded Jerry and laughed as he now held his head back. They chanted, “Jerry got beaten by a girl…Jerry got beaten by a girl!”

Jerry jumped through the ring of students that surrounded him and ran inside to the boy’s bathroom.

Although Emma felt much better for what she’d done, she was worried that Jerry was going to tell one of the teachers. But she never heard a thing about it. And from that day on, Jerry never bothered her again—or any other student for that matter.

That was the day that Emma had realized how strong she was both inside and out. That day she’d learned never to let the bullies win and that being different was something she should never be ashamed of. So she never was.

Now Emma opened her eyes and looked down at the sink. This new skeleton was definitely in the category of “different.” When the time was right, she would be happy to inform everyone of her find. But although she lived for stunning the scientific community, she was not about to do that just yet.

Turning on the taps, she ran her fingers through the water. It was soothing to the touch and it felt good. She lifted the water to her face. She then grabbed a towel on the rack beside her, patted her face and turned off the taps. Looking back at her reflection in the mirror, she sighed. She had a long night of work ahead of her and should get started soon if she wanted to make any headway.

Just as she was about to brush her hair, the phone rang. She ran over to the bedside table, sat on the bed and lifted the phone to her ear. “Hello? ... Hey John, how’s it going?”

“Emma – I don’t know how to tell you this, but the bones are gone.”

“What do you mean, they’re gone? Where are they?”

“I don’t know. You were here when we put everything into the truck. We dropped you off at your car and then went to the museum. That’s where we are now. We got out of the truck to unload everything and when we turned around – they were gone!”

Emma got up off of the bed. “You mean they’re all gone? Did you guys walk away from the truck and leave the bones alone?”

“No – we were with them the whole time. We jumped out of the truck and when we went to open up the hatch, they were just gone. And no, not all of them are missing, just the primate or whatever the hell that thing was. Everything else is here.”

Emma couldn’t believe what she was hearing. “That’s impossible – check again!”

“We did – like a million times. They’re definitely gone!”

“I’m sorry, John, but bones don’t just get up and walk away!”

“Well, these ones did!”
Kara Bartley has a Master’s degree in Vertebrate Palaeontology. She is the author of ‘The Siamese Mummy’ and ‘Call of Adhara’. In 2007, she released The Unearthlings, a thriller about the unearthing of a global threat on an unsuspecting world. Check out Kara’s website here.

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