Depend On Your Feet You Can
Climb the Highest Mountain

by Victor Giannini
forum: Depend On Your Feet You Can Climb the Highest Mountain
speculative fiction for the internet generation.

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Depend On Your Feet You Can Climb the Highest Mountain


           Crimpston Wixbie is catching an oxygen buzz up on Arcturus like any reputable Venusian mountain climber does. Generator tanks working on cold fusion make oxygen conversion easy in a tight atmosphere at a crazy altitude, some one-half million feet from the Venusian surface. Crimpston depends on his feet, that's how he climbed Arcturus. His hands were greatly instrumental in his progress as well. Crimpston never trusts machines and does not depend on them. Crimpston's oxygen converter is shooting too much into his system. Now he's high on oxygen and thinking about jumping off.

           "I would go splat," Crimpston says. "Lightbeam mush on the ground."

           "Damn sure you would," a voice answers. It sounds like metal gears grinding sheet rock.

           Crimpston Wixbie turns around and sees a small robot hovering behind him, framed in the dark red of the mountain and deep blue of the plants.

           "Where'd you come from?" Crimpston asks while his skin tingles.

           "I'm a native of Venus, been here for ages," the robot answers. "I live inside Arcturus, up there."

           The robot's small round body rolls to the side and gestures up to a cave near the top of the mountain.

           "Hi," Crimpston says.

           "Seems like you are," the robot says. "Look, I'm gonna be honest with you."

           "Ok, thanks," Crimpston says as he sways to the side and sits down in a heap.

           "I'm going to cut off your hands," the robot says.


           "To make stew."


           Crimpston likes his hands and puts them behind his back.

           "I don't have any hands," Crimpston says.

           "Yes you do," the robot says. "I need to make a stew, and human hands are perfect. You are a human and you have hands. I saw them."

           "You're a little round robot," Crimpston says as he stands up. He likes oxygen a lot right now. He wonders why they don't have more of it on Earth. "Little round robot, I'm gonna smash you!"

           The robot is about the size of a metallic soccer ball. Its bottom opens up, and metal rods and wires shoot out. They wrap around each other, coiling in intricate preset patterns, until they form a much more intimidating frame.

           "You're not going to smash me," the robot says.

           Crimpston tells the robot it is an asshole and then jumps off the mountain. The robot catches Crimpston with a mighty mechanical paw.

           "I'll just take these for my stew," the robot says. He uses a high temperature laser beam that lops Crimpston's hands off real quick, cauterizing the wounds. The robot catches the hands and drops Crimpston.

           Crimpston bounces off the face of the mountain many times, landing on an outcropping a good distance below. His suit is tough and durable, but banged, smashed, and dented. He feels a little nauseated, and his arms hurt a lot. He's not dead but feels like he should be. The suit's life support system responds with a morphine intravenous river, making Crimpston's oxygen high seem like a small rodent compared to the ferocious jungle cat opiate that invigorates him.

           With great difficulty, Crimpston rescales the mountain with just his dependable feet. It takes a long time and Crimpston has to take a different route, one that accommodates sturdy feet and useless stumps. The whole time, Crimpston's eyes are cracked and peeled, peering for the cave that the robot called home.

           He reaches the plateau he dropped from, and smells something thick and sumptuous… with a hint of garlic. Hands! Crimpston follows the sickeningly appetizing stench around the face of the mountain, realizing how hungry he is. There he spots the cave, and continues his shambling ascent, his stomach growling in anger. He reaches the cave, where the smell of hand stew is quite strong, and sees the robot. It has become little again. Crimpston still thinks the robot is a jerk, but he has to respect fine culinary skills.

           "Mind if I join you?" Crimpston asks. "The climb back up left me famished."

           "I don't see why not," the robot says. "I have to say, I am embarrassed. I didn't realize your hands were quite so big. There is more than enough for two. Please, have a seat."

           Within a half hour the stew is ready. Crimpston and the robot enjoy it together in the peaceful cave on Venus. Crimpston tells the robot the stew is good.



copyright 2006 Victor Giannini.

Victor Giannini
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