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Previous Challenge Entry (Level 3 – Advanced)
Topic: Writing (01/11/07)

TITLE: A Narrow Focus
By Betty Castleberry


The high powered galaxy scope clicked and whirred as it turned, looking for a target. Its operator peered through the lens, squinting as the scope zoomed in on an object. “Qy, I’ve got something.”

A second diminutive being put the tiny craft on auto pilot. “Put it up on the screen, Lerian. “

“Aye, sir.” The scope operator pushed a button, and the object in the scope appeared in front of them in 3D.

“It’s a human. Interesting bunch, although there‘s still a lot we don‘t know about them.”

The scope had focused through the window of a bungalow. A man sat at a desk, his fingers tapping the desk top. He picked up a pencil and stared at it, then put it back down.

“Sir, what’s he doing?”

“I have no idea. Adjust the focus and let’s see if we can get a better view.”

Lerian expertly punched a series of numbers and the scope focused sharp and clear on the man. He reached for the pencil again, and this time touched it to a piece of paper in front of him.

A slight smile played at the corners of Qy’s mouth. “He’s holding an ancient writing instrument. It’s a wooden stick filled with graphite that makes marks when it’s drawn across its target. He’s writing on something called paper. It’s made from wood pulp. I saw some once in a museum back on Zarkane. We haven’t used it for hundreds of years. In fact, it hasn’t been available since the last trees were destroyed.”

“Very interesting. I’ve never seen either of those things before.”

The two small beings watched in fascination as the man put the pencil down again. He rose from the chair and went into the kitchen, then returned with a cup of coffee. After taking a sip from the cup, he placed it on the desk. His chair tipped back slightly as he stretched and ran his hand across the top of his head. A monitor came to life in front of him. He placed his fingers on a keyboard in front of it, but didn‘t move them.

Lerian peered intently at the screen. “He got his own beverage? I suppose they don’t use androids.“

“That’s right. They don’t use androids. They live a very primitive existence.”

“Now what is that thing he’s using?”

“It’s an antiquated device called a computer. It took the place of hand-held writing instruments and paper for a lot of humans.”

Qy leaned forward and sharpened the focus again. The man’s lips were pursed, and his brow was furrowed. “He appears frustrated.”

“Why? What is he trying to do, anyway? “

“I can’t be sure, but I think he’s trying to write something.”

“You’re kidding me. He could avoid all that frustration if he‘d use a cerebral facsimile generator. Oh, I bet they don‘t have those either.”

“That’s right. No cerebral facsimile generators. It’s my understanding that humans sometimes even use their limited brain power to write for enjoyment.”

Lerian looked suspiciously at Qy. “Enjoyment? Frustration is not usually enjoyable. I would think they would be trying to expand their knowledge instead of wasting time trying to write.“

They looked back at the screen. The man put on a pair of glasses, and began to type.

“Look, Lerian. He’s even wearing a type of ancient glass corrective lens over his eyes.”

“Yes, I see. No laser treatment?“

“Actually, they do use laser treatments, but it is all very barbaric. They are nothing like the refined techniques we have now.“

“Pity. I’m still confused as to why he is trying to write anything, unless, of course, he can exchange his writings for currency. Then it would make a little more sense.”

“The way I understand it, humans don’t often trade their writings for currency. A few do, but most don’t have anyone willing to give them currency for their work. Some simply choose not attempt an exchange.”

“Why not? At least then it wouldn’t be a complete waste.”

“Humans are a strange lot. Much of what they write isn’t even for technical or educational purposes. They claim it is for personal fulfillment.”

Lerian shook his oversized head in disbelief. "Look. He’s typing something now. I’ll zoom in a little closer, and let’s see what it says.

"Interesting. It’s about a space craft occupied by small aliens.”

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This article has been read 1030 times
Member Comments
Member Date
Pat Guy 01/19/07
I LOVED the ending! I don't like Sci-fi but this one is right up my alley. I loved the perspective and the dialogue - I loved the whole thing. Kudos for this story!
Sara Harricharan 01/19/07
You had me laughing at the end. I loved the feel of this piece, a VERY creative take on topic, I enjoyed the dialouge between the too aliens concerning the human below. It was refreshing and lots of fun to see it from this perspective. It was especially funny to think how close to the truth the last part is with writing=enjoyment+frustration. Great job!
Amy Michelle Wiley 01/19/07
Ha! I laughed out loud at this, especially the part about exchanging it for currency. Love it.
darlene hight01/21/07
unless, of course, he can exchange his writings for currency. Then it would make a little more sense.”

Okay now this line really gave me a chuckle! Currency? For writing? RFLOL Now isn't that a novel concept. This piece was alot of fun. I thoroughly enjoyed it!
Jan Ackerson 01/21/07
Oh, very cute! The ending really floored me--didn't see it coming at all.
william price01/21/07
Way Kool! You got me with the ending. Didn't see that coming. God bless.
Kathie Thomas01/21/07
Great creative piece, really loved it. Loved the ending too - very good!
Joanne Sher 01/21/07
This was completely a joy - lots of fun! I also ADORE the end! I truly enjoyed reading every word.
Sandra Petersen 01/21/07
This was really good sci-fi. An interesting twist at the end. Enjoyed the references to our 'primitive' ways of doing things.

Your title fit this story very well.
Donna Powers 01/21/07
I really enjoyed reading this one. It made me smile and I loved the unique names. Great ending, too!
Thanks for sharing it.
Leigh MacKelvey01/21/07
I'm with all the rest. It's a unique and creative piece on the topic and I bet it places!
CeCe Lane01/21/07
Love it!!! I laughed out loud at the end.
Crista Darr01/22/07
Writers are a strange lot, aren't they!? A very fun read. Great work.
Tabiatha Tallent01/24/07
Ha! Loved it. This was a fun read.
John Hunt01/26/07
Wonderful, clever piece, expertly penned.You possess a very honed craft.
Well done!