January 17, 2017


Each Tuesday, rather than a POSSIBLY IRRITATING ESSAY, I'd like to both challenge you and lend a helping hand. I generate more speculative and teen story ideas than I can ever use. My family rolls its collective eyes when I say, "Hang on a second! I just have to write down this idea..." Here, I'll include the initial inspiration (quote, website, podcast, etc) and then a thought or two that came to mind. These will simply be seeds -- plant, nurture, fertilize, chemically treat, irradiate, test or stress them as you see fit. I only ask if you let me know if anything comes of them.

SF Trope: “One Big Lie: Authors of works in this class invent one (or, at most, a very few) counterfactual physical laws and writes a story that explores the implications of these principles.”

Badria Al Busaidi shook her head and said, “If you could make one thing true about real space, what would it be?” She squirmed in her tiny tube. The two of them were the only ones awake in their pod and the side of the transport device pressed against her, massaging muscles that hadn’t moved in…she stopped that line of thought. They’d been in space ever since they left Earth. They were two among ten thousand who were on their way to the nearest star system to the Sun, Alpha Centauri A.

Mehrdad bin Abdullah squirmed as well. The transport device that held each of them was only transparent at the top. She could tell from the look on his face that he was pre-occupied at the moment. Eyes half-closed, she sighed and turned away, blinking up a three-dimensional image of what the ship looked like on the outside and where they were in relation to Earth and AC-A. Lots of stars.


Badria found herself wishing that she could sleep the entire trip away. But the biologists had already brought everyone on the ship as close to death as possible. If they stayed that way, there was evidence that they would simply stay dead. After a short pause during which Mehrdad managed to keep his breathing regular until the very end, he said, “All right. Sorry.” She was about to tease him, but he said instead, “The one thing I’d change is that there’d be aliens waiting for us when we got to AC-C.”

“There ARE aliens, Mehrdad! Haven’t you been listening to the broadcasts?”

“Not aliens just like us! Real aliens. Something that’s different.”

“Different how?”

He shrugged and it made a squelchy sound she could have heard from a mile away. Another thing the ship’s captain-psychologists had made sure of is that when you were awake, you were supposed to have every sense stimulated. She’d already experienced the pain of a broken toe as it was set then healed. Mehrdad was nervously waiting for what was going to happen to him to stimulate his sense of pain.

She’d been lucky in that, though. She’d been assaulted by the smell of newly-mown hay. Mehrdad had to endure the smell of burning Human hair. He’d also experienced another version of things coming out of his body when he barfed not long after he’d had his olfactory senses overloaded.

Suddenly another voice broke into their conversation. Badria rolled her eyes and immediately decided she wasn’t going to talk when she heard the American accented English. She could speak English just fine – all of them could. The American could speak Arabic as well, but the ones who’d been awake when she was usually didn’t. Which was not exactly a bad thing – American English had absolutely no music to it. Arabic sounded so flat and dull whenever someone else tried to speak it. The voice said, “Hello? Anyone alive in here?”

She held her breath, hoping that for once, Mehrdad would hold his tongue.

“We’re all alive here, dickhead. Otherwise why would be going to AC-C?”

There was a long pause and the American voice said, “مهلا، أنا آسف. لم أكن أقصد أن تكون مهينة.” He was almost understandable and there was a sort of cute tone to his voice as he said, “Hey, I'm sorry. I didn't mean to be insulting.”

“Well, you were,” said Mehrdad.

Badria liked to keep her own counsel, but something compelled her today. She said in Arabic, “You say you want to meet real aliens – but you can’t even keep a civil tongue in your head when you talk to an American! Our civilization is twice as old as his – ours is the one that should be graceful and forgiving. Ours is the parent, his is the child.”

She wondered briefly if the American was going to object or act offended or whatever she expected a child of a self-centered, declining civilization to do. But he said nothing. Mehrdad muttered under his breath and she was about to say something when she abruptly felt tired. “Oh, no!” she managed before she began to drift off into her interstellar slumber...

Names: ♀Afghan, Oman ; Afghani, Oman

Image: https://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/4/44/Soyuz_TMA-14_liftoff.jpg

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