Previous Challenge Entry (Level 3 - Advanced)
Topic: Write in the SCIENCE FICTION genre (05/10/07)
TITLE: A Parallel Place
By Marita Vandertogt
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Thunder rumbled in her ears. Xeera could feel the vibration through the thin floor. The airbus would not land, not here anyway, not while lightning bolted across the sky in silver stabs, shooting every which way. They could be in the line of fire from the electrical bolts, and the airbus was small, disconnected from the main ship.
“We are about to turn around. The weather on this planet is volatile. We do not have the proper equipment. Please place yourselves in the centre of your oxobox and close the lid. We will inform you when it is safe to emerge.”
Xeera felt the muscles in her body tighten. She was looking forward to this trip. It was a gift, a graduation gift from her father upon completion of her degree in Humanology, the study of homosapiens that roamed this particular planet centuries ago. Xeera was always curious about the little known planet, ever since hearing about it from her father, who shared her curiosity. Her father actually thought that somehow their lineage was tied up with an earthling, though he knew the possibility was remote.
“I regret to inform you,” the captain of the airbus spoke, “But we are having technical difficulties and are forced to land on this planet anyway. Please remain in your oxoboxes when we do. We will let you know when it’s safe to emerge”
Xeera felt a small jolt as they hit the surface of the planet. All the passengers on board were part of an excavation team, to scratch the surface of this little known planet and possibly pull up some clues as to the reason this once green life producing orb, became nothing more than a grey rock.
Her curiousity made her pop the lid of her oxobox and step out. The captain and crew were busy in the cockpit, waiting for brainwave readings as to the safety of the journey back. Xeera sensed the dialogue but pulled her mind away from listening. She took a step away from the box, and moved slowly to the silver curved door at the back. She’d waited too long to set foot on this planet. She wasn’t going to wait a moment longer. The pack on her back was filled with instruments to check the soil and the bottle of pills and water capsules would last her for many days in the event they left without her.
As she stepped down, the ground under her belched up a cloud of dust, grey in the eerie brown light of the sun. She felt the cold start to creep under her body suit, but it only excited her more. Where she came from, there was no cold, no sunlight, dull as it was here, nothing that wasn’t designed and built by the people from Threa, the planet she called home.
She continued to walk, away from the airbus, into a kind of nothingness. When she turned to see how far she’d walked, she’d lost sight of the airbus altogether. Or maybe they left her behind. In any event, her heart beat faster as she saw in the near distance, a tall black monument type stone protruding from the ground. She moved over to it, cautiously, and saw the smooth shiny surface stand there in the nothingness of the planet. A small puff of wind blew across the ground covering her boots with more grey dust. There were words on the top of the stone. In her excitement, Xeera reached out and touched the stone, fingering what was left of the letters, trying to make sense of them. She couldn’t. She memorized them in her mind, making notes and filing them in a section of her brain designed just for that.
Xeera retraced her steps, hoping that somehow the bus was still waiting. It was. She boarded again, as though nothing had happened.
When back on the planet Threa, she sent her stored brain waves into the memorypod and began to decipher the words. She couldn’t understand them. All it read was, in broken letters:
AN I CO V NIEN TR TH
She didn’t know what it meant. Only that somehow, it was the planet’s message. She’d think about it later.
Meanwhile, she stepped outside into their own created environment, her breathing mask in tact, and her sunshield across her eyes. Today was going to be a beautiful day, and she intended to enjoy it!
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