Unplaced entry published in Microcosms Flash Fiction competition – Microcosms 161 – on 08/02/2019. The rules required a story in no more than 300 words in response to the following prompts.
Character – Space Traveller/ Location – Post-Apocalyptic Wasteland/ Genre – Sci-Fi
The story had to be written and submitted within a one day deadline.
‘This looks like a waste of time’
‘You’re right. Check with the ship.’
We’d hovered over the Louvre in Paris and recovered Da Vinci’s ‘Mona Lisa’. Someone had gone to a great deal of trouble to protect it in a lead-lined, air-tight case. They must have hoped that one day we would return to collect it. We’d transported it up to the ship with very little effort.
In Florence we’d recovered Michelangelo’s ‘David’. We found it inside the Accademia Gallery. Again, someone had thought to box a wooden casing around it like an upright sarcophagus. The timber had dried in the arid conditions and protected the contents. Not even termites could survive in this climate.
Information compiled on ancient memory sticks from before the evacuation showed us where to look. Once the colonists had established themselves they’d transferred all data onto a central network. Then successive generations could enjoy that collective human knowledge. Thus they had ensured that culture, amongst other things, could continue on New Earth even though the original art works were no longer accessible … until now.
Many buildings housing the art works had withstood the relentless sunlight and constant dust storms better than we’d expected. Some items had survived. Now we’d returned to recover what we could.
‘Control confirms that we’re in the Tate Gallery in London.’
‘What other info do we have?’
‘Not a lot. A small section of the record was corrupted during conversion. It’s supposedly an Installation work by someone called Tracy Emin. A private owner loaned it for exhibition but there’s no identifying image.’
‘Well, judging by this unmade bed, we’ve landed in the caretaker’s quarters. Let’s get the ship to lift us over to the National Gallery to see if we can find Van Gogh’s ‘Sunflowers’ instead.’
©David Lewis Pogson 2019