TWA #12 – Short Story “Discs of Gold” by Tony Southcotte

Discs of Gold

Kara sat in a haze of cigarette smoke illuminated only by her monitor. On the screen, hundreds of forum posts scrolled along as she looked for a new target. Another pseudo-anonymous kid posted about global warming and the bullshit corruption that was going on in Washington to cover it up. She opened the file, copied a few links that showed that climate change was cyclical and not caused by man, and let the post fly. She hit another notch on the paper under “Climate Change Denial” which had a growing number of ticks by it. On the other side of the paper, she had another group titled “Climate Change Evidence” with almost as many marks. Each mark was a dollar in her pocket, just a day in the life of a professional troll.

She sipped the whiskey on her desk, and groaned with boredom. She had several notebooks spread out in front of her, each detailing forum identities and passwords, proxy info, and a myriad of other tools that kept her gainfully employed. She logged into another browser and posted a rebuttal to her rebuttal, and so the cycle continued.

The final tab, one of dozens she continually kept open, was for her own site. It was a simple skeptic website in which she meticulously dismantled conspiracies from around the world. It was Kara’s baby, her favorite project, but one that led to continual disappointment. She just wanted one of the mysteries she wrote about to be true, something to add whimsy and mystery to the world. The longer she was at it, the more pieces of folklore and out of place artifacts became mundane and explainable.

Her newest post had raised the hackles of the internet. The tile read “The Dropa Stones, Fact or Fiction?”

“The Dropa stones were originally found by the enigmatic (and probably fictional) Dr. Chi Pu Tei. In 1938, hundreds of disks were found in supposed tombs for an alien race called The Dropa. In these caves, three foot tall bodies of alien creatures were supposed to have been found, though no evidence of this exists today. Most believers attribute this lack of information due to a cover up by the Chinese government.”

It wasn’t her best writing, but the source material was lacking as well. The entire thing smelled of bullshit, but forum members had demanded the story be told. She hadn’t broken six figure hits on a weekly basis by ignoring the demands of her fellow conspirators.

Kara hit refresh on the browser, and watched the hits spike. Kara looked for a possible celebrity share or other viral source for her page. Then it spiked again, nearly all of the hits coming from China and other parts of Asia. After that, the site no longer refreshed.

She felt her heart drop. This wasn’t a viral storm of fresh visitors, it was a hacking attempt. She thought back to a truther post she had done in around 2004, when that was a little bit too soon for 9/11 conspiracy theories.

She sat for a minute, waiting to see if the problem resolved itself. When it didn’t she tried to search for the customer service number of the website host.

Her mouse didn’t move. She checked the cable, it was definitely intact.

The mouse shot across the screen, looking through her tabs. It clicked on her email, and typed the search term “My Address” into the search bar. Dozens of results popped up, showing all the times she had accepted gifts or packages from fans. When she saw her address flash on the screen, she jumped up and pulled the plug on her computer.

The computer went dark; she muttered a few curse words under her breath. On her phone, she started changing passwords, and then pulled the battery and sat in the dark.


Digging through a box of emergency supplies Kara found a burner phone. When dawn had come and no one had broken into her house, she decided to call her site’s host. When after a half hour of back and forth evasion resulted in nothing, she tossed the phone across the room. She decided she would have to wait until whatever group that was pulling this got bored enough to leave her alone.

She ran some calculations in her head about lost ad revenue and started to seethe. She ran a pretty tight ship when it came to her finances, and each day counted, especially with litigation costs on the horizon. In her zealousness to spread the truth, it occasionally implicated lofty people with lawyers. You can only flight lawyers with more lawyers, even when it is the result of a bad joke about lizard people.

“Stupid Ashcroft.” Kara said. She sat on the old threadbare couch in her living room moving between seething rage and wanting to cry.

Something thumped at her front door. The knock was authoritative and singular, but it jarred her and sent a small shiver down her spine. She reached into the box of survival gear and pulled out a .357 revolver and walked toward the door very slowly.

She looked through the peephole and saw nothing. There was another knock, this time so forceful it shook the hinges on the door. Kara gasped and pulled the hammer back on the gun.

“Kara! Open the door! I was the one in your computer last night,” the voice shouted.

Kara looked through the peephole again. This time she saw the rim of a bald man’s head. She undid the dead bolt, the chain, the second deadbolt, and moved the chair she had propped against the door, and swung it open. She pointed the gun at the stumpy man waiting, who could not have been more than 4 feet tall. “What the fuck did you want from my computer?” She asked.

The little man smiled and said, “To see you of course.” He nodded at the gun. “I see your reputation precedes you. You won’t need that.”

“Who are you?” she asked.

“I’m Dr. Chi Pu Tei. I discovered the Dropa disks. Or perhaps revealed them. Whatever synonym you want to use, I brought them to light,” the doctor said.

“Bullshit. That would make you nearly 100 years old.”

The doctor grabbed a box at his side by a rough looking hemp rope and began to pull it into the house, completely disregarding the gun being pointed at him.

“Try a few orders of magnitude beyond that. Now, care to help an ancient little man?”

Kara felt a wave of irrational thoughts wash over her. She lowered the gun and grabbed the wooden crate. She heard metal clanging on the inside. Her eyes focused on the little man who now stood in her living room, wrinkling his nose at the fast food wrappers and decrepit state of Kara’s house.

“You know, I’ve been in prisons, many of them, that were more sanitary than this.”

Kara grabbed some fast food bags and cleared them from the couch, stuffing them into an already overcrowded bin. “So you shut down my site, steal my personal info, and then trash me about sanitation? How about you get the fuck out?”

“Well, I took your address but I didn’t shut down your site. Also, you will find that your safety depends heavily on me being here,” the Doctor said.

“What do you… who are…? What are you doing here?” Kara shouted, her voice cracking in frustration and confusion.

“I’m here to show you these, Kara.” The Doctor said, pulling a gold disc out of the crate. It was glowing, slightly smaller than a foot wide, with perfect runes etched into the edges. Kara dropped the pistol onto the carpet and reached for the disc. The Doctor handed it to her. In her hands the disc hummed and emanated warmth.

“So they are real? What do the etchings mean?”

“It’s the story of us, and ultimately the story of you. I have so much to teach you, to teach all of you. The time is crucial, as your people stand on the precipice of self-annihilation. Your species is finally ready to know the truth, and your awareness has become such that the truth can no longer be ignored.”

There was another knock at the door. The small man seemed scared. Kara walked over and peered out, looking at a man and a woman in very plain black suits.

The doctor motioned for silence. Kara waited until the knocking went away.


Adjusting the camera to the right height, Kara got the doctor in the center of the frame. As instructed, she made sure that plenty of the wall was showing behind him.

“We’re live on YouTube.” Kara said. She looked at the laptop as fans from her sight trickled in a few hundred at a time. The chatbox on the right was alight with obnoxious comments, the hallmark of her audience.

“Greetings people of Earth; denizens of the blue planet which is the jewel of your fair solar system. I am Dr. Chi Pu Tei, though I have been known by many names in my time on your planet. I bring you tidings of knowledge. I bring you word from time and space beyond your abilities to comprehend.” He said, rolling the disc in his hands.

After a moment, his hand split from a human hand into a pulsing device that wrapped around the disc. A moment later, the room was dark, and then pulsed into tremendous bursts of color moving across the entire visible spectrum. The light came from the Doctor’s body, and eventually settled on the walls in a perfect representation of the stars of the Milky Way. The angle zoomed in through oceans of stars, sliding toward the Earth. It hung with the moon spinning around it. The land was formed into the super continent known as Pangaea.

“Long ago, my people spread the seeds of life across this galaxy, and in long enough eons, across the galaxies nearby. As we speak, our crafts glide through the ageless darkness, seeking out the innumerable dormant worlds of the deepest reaches of space,” The Doctor said. A small bolt flew across the screen, a ship crashing into the ocean with a small splash of sound.

“We only delivered the building blocks of all life. The single celled organisms, the basic elements needed to eventually bring about sentience in a few short billion years. We are the symbiotic relationship of machine and life, my species. We understand that life is simply the sex organs of machines. Over long enough time lines, even the simplest life becomes complex. It creates, it destroys, and it finds a way to endure in spite of itself. Life becomes, and it is the only way the universe may come to understand itself,” The Doctor said.

“Though your life forms are not so different from pencil shavings on the level of matter, you are the ones who strike the page. Who impart meaning, creativity, and so much more. Life is, and always will be, more than the sum of its parts. With all of this, there are still those who seek to dominate. To control. To keep you away from the entitlement of your free consciousness and an entire universe at your disposal.” As the doc said this, the images changed from the earth behind him to the cataclysms of war and overzealous men holding books and shouting at fearful masses.

“I come here today to show you the origin of your species and to answer the questions that trouble the sleep of your greatest minds. I am here to tell you that life exists as a uniting force, one that bridges the furthest reaches of our galactic frontier, and that your time to participate is at hand. It is time to shake free from the self-made binds of your petty differences, or it is time to face complete destruction once again.”

Behind the doctor, a meteor struck the earth near what would eventually be the Yucatan, spreading fire and dust across the globe. Further along the lines, the world froze over in frost. Another, a flood covered the entire surface of the planet. For the first time, Kara looked up from her camera. The smile was wiped from her face as she realized that they had purged this planet in more ways than humans could ever know.

“You have exactly five years to fall in line, or our great experiment will be reset once more. I would advise you, we are a patient race. Perhaps this time you will heed our call.

The comments section spilled over, moving faster than anyone could possibly read. Kara didn’t notice. She cut the camera and turned the feed off, slamming her laptop shut.

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  1. Ancient aliens, Men in Black, mankind as science experiment, alternative histories…all good Fortean stuff and in general the kind of thing I love to read. I was with this story right up until the doctor motioned for silence and Kara waited for the knocking to go away.

    I don’t like the wall of exposition that follows. I have a feeling that, with more time and maybe more words, this could have been teased out into a much longer tale featuring Kara and her bizarre ancient mentor. And if it should one day become that, I will read the hell out of it.

  2. For starter, is the job “Professional Troll” a real job? If so where do I get this job? I want it. I was immediately tickled upon meeting Kara because of this and I was sucked into the story.

    However, like the esteemed Doctor Occupant above me, the middle became a lot of exposition, an interesting enough story was being told, but it was being told in a flat sort of way. Granted, it was being told by another interesting character who one can not even see properly through a peep hole.

    Interesting premise, but kind of ran out of steam.

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