We are in Week 20 of More Odds Than Ends prompts. Just like last year, I am being pushed in new and different directions with these prompts. It’s fun and keeps my mind stretching and in a creative mode. This is important for me as I’ve never really considered myself to be all that creative. I have had spurts in the past, but figured that was just sheer dumb luck. But now, with two books (that appear to be well-received) under my belt, I’m thinking that I’m more creative than I’ve given myself credit for. We’ll see.

This week’s prompt came from Cedar Sanderson: When the scientists decided they had to discover just why ___________ did _____________ they never expected to find…

My mind went back to Jake and Serena (the squashed bug that turned out to be a clump of hair). They live in a dome on a planet that when the terraforming is finally tweaked to the finish, will be able to easily sustain life outside the domes. The trick is finishing up the terraforming in a timely manner. What’s unexpected is the possible discovery of previous inhabitants.


Jake straightened up in his chair and rubbed the back of his neck in a futile attempt to make the ache go away. He stared at the computer screen still absently massaging his shoulder muscles.

“That is just so weird,” he muttered to himself.

“What’s weird, babe?” his wife and lab partner asked, gazing at her own data.

“This…this…pattern.” Jake gestured at a screen filled with what appeared to be warped Mandelbrot sets. “Do you have a sec? Can you look at this and tell me what you see?” he asked.

Serena rolled her chair back until she was next to her husband. “Sure. I need a break. Whaddaya got?” She gave him a quick kiss on the cheek and leaned over his computer screen.

“Remind me what I’m supposed to be looking at?” she asked.

“Well, when the first landing crew was surveying this planet from orbit, before they landed, they noticed some odd weather patterns. But they weren’t destructive and they didn’t seem to be caused by any sort of Carrington event, and the patterns were as predictable as anything weather-related can be. In other words, generally coincident with planetary rotation. They were planning on building these domes anyway, so they weren’t really worried about odd or overly harsh weather affecting the settlements. So, in the interests of getting everybody down and getting established, they decided to put off any investigation until later. That’s now…ten years later,” Jake started.

“Okay. Yeah, I remember that.” Serena nodded, still gazing at the almost-but-not-quite Mandelbrot sets on Jake’s screen.

“So, anyway, I’m looking at the patterns for the last ten seasons to see if we can figure out why the winter storms seem to follow a strange sort of checkerboard pattern,” Jake continued.

“Wait. I’m looking at things that resemble Mandelbrot sets. Where are you getting checkerboards?” Serena turned to stare at her husband.

“Those Mandelbrot sets are anchored at the poles and at four points around the equator. Something at those points is affecting the atmosphere,” Jake answered.

“So the weather isn’t natural…random…organic to the planet?” Serena asked. “And we’re just now figuring this out, ten planetary years in?”

“Yeah. I’m just the data analysis jockey, don’t yell at me for the delay. But…one of those anchors isn’t that far from here. Wanna go on a hike this weekend?” Jake smiled.

“Oh, hell yes! I knew there had to be a civilization here before!” Serena grinned at her husband.

“Somehow I knew I could entice my favorite xenoarchaeologist into an investigation of possible precursor settlements on our almost new home!” Jake laughed at the excited expression on Serena’s face.


My prompt: The birds stopped by to admire your new garden design went to nother Mike. Stop in to see what he did with it. For more mind-stretching prompts visit More Odds Than Ends. We don’t bite. Mostly. Usually.

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