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Footprints

This is Rob's third appearance in Daily Science Fiction. He has now had over 30 pieces of short fiction published in a variety of print and online magazines. The most recent of these can be found at kferrin.com. One of his early stories will be reprinted in a forthcoming anthology from Lycan Valley Press entitled: Revisiting the Undead.
The lead mission scientist started packing up her equipment. It was time to leave for her next assignment. A pity, as this world was one of the most beautiful she had ever seen, and she had enjoyed her time breathing fresh air after the staleness of deep space.
She closed her eyes and let the warm wind winnow through her hair and across her skin. Then she gazed out at the salty waves rippling in across the tidal sands below. A long line of her footprints stretched across the silty strand. A parallel set led back.
She tapped her boots on a rock to clean them and then she smiled.
Already the hot sun was hardening those prints. Tonight, when she would be far beyond this solar system, sand from the dunes behind her might blow across and fill them in. Then the tide would rise gently across the shallow beach and coat them in mud. On later higher tides, thicker silts would cover them over and they would gradually get compressed over deep time.
As she slept dreamlessly through the icy depths of space, it was possible something of her might be preserved on this wonderful planet. A world she would never see again.
There had been a big storm in the night. Roy Smith picked his way around the friable cliffs near his home looking for fossils in the newly exposed Jurassic rocks.
He was always excited by the thought of what he might find.
The End
This story was first published on Thursday, May 23rd, 2019


There is a lovely book called The Old Ways by Robert Macfarlane in which the author researches and uncovers old lost routes and tracks and then describes what he finds as he revisits them. In one of these he walks alongside some prehistoric fossilized footprints of a stone age man and woman, trying to imagine what they were like and what they were seeing. That sparked off the idea for this short flash story.

- Rob Butler
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