While digging for resources on their polluted planet, Talus finds themself in a cave filled with hourglasses.

Talus’ optical system came back online, finding themself in a cave with calm, blue flames. No matter how efficient the Yellow Planet’s mechanicals were with recycling, the pollution that ravaged their home kept miners like Talus digging for raw materials. According to the data given by Eze, this cave didn’t exist. 

Glass popped in the distance, prompting Talus to stand up. Their body moved with ease and perhaps with more fluidity than before the fall Talus thought. They tested the drill on their left arm. It spun with no difficulty.

Another glass container popped.

Talus scanned the area. Golden hourglasses the size of basketballs lined the cave walls from floor to ceiling, spanning throughout the depths. On the base of every hourglass was a metal plate with a name written in binary. They watched as the pink sand drained from the top half of an hourglass and popped, spilling out the sand. 

Talus tapped on the networker on their wrist. “Call, Eze.”

The networker did not light up.

“I knew something must’ve gotten damaged in the fall,” Talus mumbled.

Accepting the situation, Talus wondered about the cave. Help would arrive soon, and they thought the cave might have valuable materials. Strangely, there were only hourglasses in the shelves carved out from the limestone and a golden door. Talus wondered why they hadn’t noticed the door until now. Talus walked over to the door and reached out for the heart-shaped knob when they saw a broken hourglass with their name on it. 

Talus turned at the sound of rope falling through the hole he created.

“About time,” Talus teased as Eze climbed down.

Eze did not respond. Eze had the mechanical body of a spider, making them an agile climber throughout caves. Eze got on four knees. 

“Are you damaged?” Talus called out, concerned.

Again, Eze did not respond. Talus walked over and saw Eze inspecting Talus’ own biped mechanical body crumbled on the ground with a metal bar piercing through the head.

“I’m so sorry, Talus,” Eze mourned. “This cave didn’t show on any of my scans.”

Broken Hourglass - art by Janine De Guzman at Design Pickle

I took a hard sci-fi twist for this week’s writing prompt-inspired story. The prompt was, “You’re a miner and one day stumble into a well-lit cave. The walls are lined with hourglasses, as you look around, you see a few run out and shatter. As you turn to leave, you notice a broken one by the door. It bears your name.”

I haven’t written any stories on the Yellow Planet yet, so here we go! Out of the Five Following Planets, the Yellow Planet is the least populated due to the harsh conditions. Mostly mechanicals call it home.

Thank you to Janine De Guzman at Design Pickle for bringing this scene to life.

Thank you for reading this week’s short story!