A future glimpsed

handwaist

I rest my hand on the curve of her hip.

It doesn’t belong there. She knows it. I know it. The hand that should be there holds a drink while its owner tells a story of ours. We three have been friends for ages, the legs of a stool that sits a friendship. But two of those legs, he and she, have always been a bit closer than to the third. I didn’t mind.

My hand fits unexpectedly well there.

The two of them had come together before I’d met them. Any look I shared with her, and she with me, had always been congenial. We were friends. I adored her company. She smiled, honest and true, when she saw me walking on our way to join him. He and I were fast buddies. She held his attention and I held both of theirs.

My hand cups the slope where her waist rounds out and down.

I am there to to leave. I’m going away. Opportunity strikes and one must submit. Not to would be foolish, we all know it; what a great time you’ll have, they say. And I say it to myself. Other friends and family are here to say goodbye to me as well. In the warm summer air we wear shorts and sandals, breezy shirts and tops.

I settle my hand on her bare skin there at the swoop of her femininity.

My touch there, forbidden but suddenly right, exceeds the shock of a million volts. My eyes lock with hers and I am transported in time and place as I watch a future unfold. A future of love and laughter, of marriage, kids and silly times and sad times; of homes and travel and schools and transitions and experiences a perfect, loving couple would have. I see all of this in an instant. And I know she sees it too.

I lift my hand from her hip, lean in and kiss her cheek, my eyes never leaving hers.

She gives me her friend-smile and then a touch of melancholy saddens her face. The tiniest of pouts pushes out her lips. I return a forlorn smile. I back away and whisper to her “farewell.” And I mean it, in every sense of those two words, fare well, I mean it with all my heart. For in that instant, and every one since, until this very moment, I have wished her well.

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Random Setting Number Two

From: http://writingexercises.co.uk/create-a-setting.php

  • You’re in a forest.
  • It’s the middle of the night.
  • There’s a storm brewing.
  • There’s a peaceful feel to the place.

I’m quite certain these are my footprints. I place my foot as a mate to the one in the snow. Yup, it’s mine. I think back and can’t recall if I’ve ever walked in a circle before. You might forgive me, it is the middle of the night, no moon, no starlight; and I’m sure the overcast clouds are brewing a foul weather stew.

Wandering in the dark through a foot of snow, one must admit, could be the result of a desperate search. Or a faulty mind. I cannot discount this last theory. I’ve tried. My faculties have assembled the facts, a sack of hard-won evidence but with a tear in its side; and one by one my nuggets of insight dribble out. If I’d used them as a crumb trail they might have afforded my salvation from the pending blizzard.

I chuckle at the thought, my pouch of clues hangs loose and empty. No matter, I think. The night is, so far, calm and pleasant, in a stiff and frozen sort of way. You could say I’m a born adapter. Baking desert, sweltering swamp, wind scoured tundra — if I found myself there I could, once upon a time, survive.

It’s cold tonight. If I could see my breath in this abysmal gray night, I’m sure my puffs of steam would freeze in shape: puppies, wizards and elephants drifting translucent up into the branches of the forest to split and fragment into tails and trunks and things.

I believe I’ll sit a while. Walking in a circle can be tiring. The snow is not so cold as to reach its icy fingers into my seat. I will admit though, my bum might already have gone numb. Which would be a blessing. Although a survivor, no one likes the feeling of frigid air, the penetrating grasp of winter, like reaching into the downstairs chest icebox and its fog of crystalline haze burgeoning to spill like spooky smoke onto the basement floor.

You’d think that the snow under any night sky would glow. I would have thought that. It seems that closing my eyes produces no difference; darkness either way. And closing them does keep them warmer.

And it’s funny, I’d have thought, too, that I would be colder by now. This one tree I’m leaning against does afford a nice backrest, its trunk leans just so. I’m sure it won’t matter if I spend a few more minutes out here, as peaceful as it is.

Hmm, I have a sinking sensation that I’ve read about such a situation before. No worries, I’ve left a wide trail of me wandering around, some scout or rescue must surely be on their way. I wonder if they’ll be following the circle I etched in the snow. I hope they bring hot cocoa…

City Afloat – Part One – a teaser

City Afloat

Part One

~ Flood ~

barrelRaft

“Baba, tell us again.”

The wee ones scurried about the woven planks like hermit crabs. Every night it is the same; Baba, tell us the story of how we came to be. Only the little ones beg so. The older ones, those more than seven or eight, slip like eels from the hut when I begin the story. They know better. They know the why of it. And that knowledge has settled in their hearts like stones. Stones to drown them.

“Once there was earth, rich and brown, almost black, like night, like a shadow beneath the high, bright sun. And this earth was like the sea; it stretched further than you could see. And on this earth, and in it too, grew the food. Life. Well, life of a different sort, life made from green not silver.”

The wee ones knew that life was silver and fast. And catching life was their job. Beneath the floating city, it was their job to catch the flashing silver fish that fed us. Sustained us. The silver flashing fish were life. But before, on the land, life was green.

Murki burst into the hut of sleep, interrupting my story.

“What is it Murki? Have the Blue Hills come in the night to bump our town?”

“Yeshi was diving for ghosts. She went in and, and she didn’t come up to the hole.”

I frowned openly. “Patta declared night diving off limits while Maloon is bright. You know that.” I got up pushing Niffi off my lap. “You wee ones ride easy.” I poked my head out of the hut, “Sinta, can you watch the wee ones for me?” Not waiting for a response I followed Murki. “Perhaps she’s teasing you boys? Hiding under the picca floats — making you ache for breath yourselves while she laughs at your struggles, your frantic pattering?”

“She doesn’t know about the picca floats.”

Damn.

I reached the open rectangle of water where the children were allowed to dive. “Yeshi! Come out child. Murki is terrified that you have drown and are now a ghost who will haunt him until he too, swallows the big water.”

Murki, a boy of perhaps nine, punched my arm. “Baba, not funny!”

“Yeshi! There is sweet ahi for you if you come now. Else there will be cuda lashes for your brown butt!” I’d had enough. The Patta set the rules for a reason. Shaark hunted at night and young wander-ones provided no more than a snack for the great saagar baagh, tigers of the sea.

A high tinkling laugh lifted up from the algae storage bins.

“There you are! See Murki, your worrying earned your adversary a strip of sweet tuna. And what did you get? A wounded ego.” I padded over to the bins and grabbed the lithe Yeshi from between the bamboo walls. “Murki will not be happy with you you slippery darter. You had better share your treat.”

Returned to the sleep hut the wee ones were incessant.

“Alright, alright. Where were we? And you, Murki, Fli and Yeshi, you will listen to the tale again, as punishment for disobeying Patta’s rule.”

They complained but, as expected, settled in amongst the wee ones and became enchanted by my story of the Flood.

The Gribble’s Eye – a teaser

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~ 1 ~

She bent down and carefully scratched away the leaves and roots that littered the tunnel’s entrance.

“Is it lonely in there?” she asked, with a mild frown.  

A low murmur rose from the gloomy passage. “I like my solitude…”

“I know the light is bright. Too bright for your eyes perhaps?”

The voice inside the cave agreed. “Yes, but I do enjoy a midnight stroll.”

“Shall I come back?” the girl inquired. “I have red glass to shade my flashlight so it shouldn’t hurt your eyes.”

Scrabbling and shuffling sounds echoed up through the darkness. The girl pulled back warily, expecting the inhabitant to crawl forth, or worse, rush out. The dusty smell of dry earth tickled her nose. A trio of oak leaves drifted down from the pile she’d excavated. They settled onto the tunnel floor, just inside the light.

Her eyes brightened as a sapphire blue marble rolled up from the shadows and came to rest within one of the leaves, glinting in the half-light like the eye of a creature.

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“That’s for you,” said the voice,  spoken from deeper down.

She responded properly. “Why, thank you! Um, should I take it now?”

“If you leave it there the Gribble will find it and steal it back!” the voice said sternly.

She reached down and snatched the blue orb, its cool surface pleasing to the touch. “It’s heavier than it looks.” Gribble? She thought. What’s a gribble? I must have misunderstood.

“For a human perhaps. I find the Eyes lighter than breath, heavy as a sigh.”

“The Eyes?”

A pattering echo worked its way up. The girl waited for a reply. The autumn sun slipped behind a lone cloud. A furry bumblebee, black as coal, its waist painted yellow, looped around her head, its thrumming half warning, half invitation to follow.

“Hello?” she asked politely after what seemed more than enough time for a reply.

“Midnight. I’ll be waiting at midnight,” the voice finally returned, distant as if from down a well. “Be sure to lock up that beast of yours.”

“Harry’s no beast!”

“Midnight!” came the final reply fading up through the dangling roots and dried worm casings.

~ 2 ~

“There’s something about a child. They innocently suspend all judgement. Children have few predispositions or prejudices. They’re open and inquisitive. Adults, on the other hand, even teenagers, are crammed so full of their learned and self-imagined views of the world they can’t possibly be taken in by the concept of whimsy or the spurious flight of a fairie creature, or even, wishes made upon stars. Only starlight wishes, evoked by children, carry weight. A wish by one such as you or I is nothing but a careless desire brushed aside as impractical. But, to a child, a wish upon a star sends shivers into the world. Vibrations through existence. And deep within, entities exist, beings that listen to such vibrations, beings who hear the wishes of children.”

The Professor’s mustache twitched repeatedly in the time it took for his words to penetrate.

After the full meal of dumplings and stewed oxtail, its remnants dotting the napkin at his lap, Richard, realizing he’d allowed his thoughts to wander, his silence now drifting toward the impolite, blurted out, “If wishes were fishes, and all that. Is that what you’re getting at Professor?”

“Richard… How much of my brandy have you consumed?”

Richard raised his eyebrows in alarm. “Only as much as you, I believe, sir. Three or four drams I’d wager.”

“A dram too much is my guess.”

The Professor’s grim expression bore down on his guest, his grey eyebrows converging. He shoved the soiled plates and cutlery onto the red tablecloth. Pushing his chair back, he stood and pressed his hands down on the edge of the table and, leaning forward, stared through the dim candlelight at his guest. “Richard, have you not heard a word I’ve said?”

“I…I’ve heard every word, sir.”

Richard, distracting himself, dabbed his napkin to his lip and youthful beard. He leaned away from his looming host, a parallelogram tilting to match; his own chair starting to tip. Disturbed by his master’s raised voice, the Professor’s Irish wolfhound entered the salon and whined up at the Professor.

“Ah, Harold of Ire, have you come to beg and intimidate our guest?” said the Professor. “Richard has a plate for you, I think.”

The great beast circled the table and plopped his massive muzzle onto Richard’s lap. Richard lifted his arms and hands in self-defense. The dog, its long snout nestled in the folds of the napkin, whined piteously.

“Shall I leave him my plate then?” asked Richard, as the dog’s head shifted deeper into his lap.

“I doubt you could do otherwise.” The Professor retook his seat, reclined and stitched his fingers across his vest, a faint squint of mirth easing the tension in the room.

TheGribblesEyeHarryLicksPlateShrunk

Richard, relieved, set his plate on the floor and stood to stretch his legs, wandering about the dining room.

Harry’s mop-wide tongue made quick work of the leftovers. The dog slipped from the room, tail wagging, to seek out the Professor’s daughter, whose company it preferred. The clicking of its nails echoed down the hallway.

The Professor wasn’t finished making his point. “Richard. Wishes, not fishes, cast by children, have power. Haven’t you felt that yourself? Or imagined it? Yes, a child’s dreams can influence them their whole life. But beyond that, I’m saying that a wish, made by a child, seeds the universe with a desire. A desire that, gone unfulfilled, will fester into an evil. A malfeasance that will simmer and eventually, boil over into our world bringing discord and chaos with it.

“Speaking of chaos, unpleasant situation that earthquake in Chile. Nine point three I believe it was.”

Richard nodded solemnly. “I hear one of the larger volcanoes in Indonesia has begun to signal a pending eruption.”

The Professor shook his head. “You see. Signs of Chaos rising.”

One of the candles flickered and went out. The Professor frowned as the light dimmed. “I wish this damn school would get this house sorted out. This is the third time this month the power has failed. And I’ve got to get that wi-fi figured out.” He got up and rummaged through a cabinet retrieving another storm candle which he lit from one still burning, setting it in a vacant saucer. “Many thanks, Richard, for catering this fine meal. Send me the bill, I’ll forward it onto the college.”

“As you say, sir,” said Richard, making to leave.

“We’ll call it even on the brandy, eh?” quipped the Professor, showing his guest to the door.

Random Setting Number One

From: http://writingexercises.co.uk/create-a-setting.php

  • It’s twilight.
  • You’re on a train.
  • There’s light snow falling.
  • There’s a hostile feel to the place.

I found myself stumbling along the platform; the rosy glow of twilight belied the day’s events. If the mud and filth that covered my clothing didn’t convince you, then the flecks of blood might. He was so far gone, I couldn’t imagine him surviving; by then I couldn’t believe he was even alive. Yet he coughed spraying my face and jacket with bubbly crimson specks, the wound to his lungs frothing his spittle. A sip of water, a comforting lift of his head and his stare fixed on a distant spot in the sky; a pink foamy dribble leaked from his mouth like melted strawberry ice cream.

Stepping across the gap and up into the one car with most of its glass intact, I felt the pressure of eyes unseen shift away from the back of my neck. Being hunted left me exhausted. This whole town felt like an omniscience had selected it from dozens specifically to loom over and sneer at. I even avoided glancing up into the grey clouds, now beginning to drift white wet flakes. I’d flick my eyes upward and then snap them down again, wary, weary of that sense of foreboding.

Yeah? Well curse you and your whole damn family.

Strewn predictably about the car the trash stank less of rat or coyote feces and more of mold, old steamer trunks opened in musty attics. The blue upholstery had rotted where the sun had burned it. The shady side felt moist. A few of the seats were a blend of both and I settled sighing loudly into one of them. All along the car’s length, above the windows, ads and maps gave the impression that the end of your journey, which might be the next stop, promised tasty food, swank clothing and a happy family waiting to greet you. I closed my eyes and imagined hot creamy coffee, the aroma first, both tropical and temperate, then the silky heat as it coated my mouth and slipped down my throat.

I expected to be alone. I hadn’t seen anyone else, aside from the dead guy. How had he been wounded? I thought. A nearly imperceptible rocking motion drained my dream coffee. Someone else had boarded my train. I remained still, somewhat hidden by the high backed seats. Then the whole car jerked, tugged by a child god yanking on its string. Screaming squeals erupted from the wheels and axles. The train, after having sat for decades, began to move down the track. West. The snow fell heavily now.

What the hell, I figured, west was fine by me.

 

 

Fly fishing for Faeries

“No. No! They won’t chase it if it’s laying lifeless in the weeds.” My instructor had been swishing effortlessly. Me on the other hand, I’d let my old fishing habits dominate.

“You’ve fished for salmon on the Tweed have you not? Well, imagine that instead of targeting a slip in the water, aim for the air just above it.”

I knew how to feed line. I knew how to get the tens of yards of green-glo dancing above my head. But every time I got the length just right — I went to unroll my loops, lay them in a perfect line — on the surface.

“Up. Up! Keep it up. Faeries only eat live flying insects. Did you not attend my morning field lecture? Well, then, what’s the problem?”

Fine! I thought to myself, I’ll just pretend I’m conducting an orchestra, a concerto that never ends.

And then the motions fell into place. My backcast unfurled elegantly. My forecast peeled out with grace. The barbless fly, like a lurid grasshopper, floated lazily in the air, back and forth, back and forth.

From the ivy near the base of an old elm, I watched a brown body, like that of a skinny bat only with flashing gauzy wings, zoom out just as my green hopper made its furthest loop. The earth-tone faerie snatched the faux insect from the air. I felt the tug and reared back sinking the hook into its tiny body. It faltered for a moment, and then shot straight up into the branches of the tree. I watched it wind my line around and around a limb. Perching now on the branch, I saw it extract my hook from its body and stab it down into the wood. Its head lifted in a scoff of disdain and off it flew.

“Lesson number three, cast clear of trees.” I heard my instructor lament.

The Green Fairy

The ash settled thick on the tent, weighing down the sides, bowing out the struts like whale ribs. Rhonnie, nestled in a sleeping bag , back-handed the roof above her sending the sheet of grey pumice sliding off with a skurr of descending grit. “How long until we can leave?” She licked her lips, a pattern of clear skin showed as a kiss around her mouth.

“This last activity spasm has slowed. As long as the fuming remains steady, you know, no explosive ejecta — like with rocks and stuff — the eruption should quit in about a half a day.” Bissa Magouti, a grad students from OSU studying volcanism on a grant from the Alaskan Department of the Interior, re-scrunchied her voluminous hair, each strand, she could feel, coated in the microscopic dust of Mt. Finfalla’s eruption.

“I”m down to my last four canisters.” Rhonnie hefted the sack of sealed screw-on mask disks. She dropped it abruptly. “You said this wouldn’t happen. You said we were just going to camp under the stars and take some seismic measurements.” A childhood friend of Bissa’s, Rhonnie struggled through the six years it took her to get through undergraduate classes in ergonomic design. Bissa and she would spend nights as children re-imagining the glimmering star patterns as their own Greek heroes and heroines.

“I’m sorry. I had no idea this would happen.”

Rhonnie blew her pale lips out in frustration. “I know. I’m sorry. It’s just that the Pleiades meteor shower is like, full bloom right now. ”

“If it makes any difference, none of my teammates have ever been this close to an active eruption. If we live–”

“What? Don’t tease me Bissa–”

“If we live, we’ll have a story to beat any lame-o tale Ben or Terrance could bring to the table.”

“Damn, but I could use one of those good Bridgeport brews right about now.” Rhonnie smacked her lips again, grit catching on her tongue. “Pptuuh, god I hate this dust.”

“Pumice, or more accurately tephra.”

“Screw you Bissa. It’s dust and I wanna get out of here alive.”

~~~

“Here, I’ve got a spare canister.” Bissa pulled her last can from her stash. She offered it to her friend without a second thought.

“How did this happen Bis’? How did we get trapped up here? I, I don’t wanna die up here.” Rhonnie took the canister and swapped it for the grey coated one she removed from her mask. She couldn’t wipe her tears through the mask, nor would she want to. The abrasive sand that covered everything in their tent, despite the enclosure’s seals, would have ground into her delicate lens and eyeballs and over time, rendered her blind.

“We’re not gonna die. It’s almost over, Rhon. We’ll be okay. We just have to hold out a little while longer.” Bissa’s words felt canned, like a soap opera starlet placating a dying costar. “I, I don’t know why it won’t stop. The tremors are over. The rumbling has stopped. We just need a good wind to blow the last part of the cloud away.”

“But it’s nighttime now. We can’t risk walking out now even if it did quit.”

Bissa shifted her own mask, tapping the filter to free some of the caked on tephra. Flakes fell into her lap and she brushed them off carelessly. Their LED lamp would last much long than their air. In its glare she studied her friends face, her dirty blond hair, the purple garnet stones in her earrings. She’d given Rhonnie those earrings when her friend had finally graduated.

“Do you remember the night we drank all that absinthe?” she asked while rummaging through her pack.

“The green fairy had one wicked punch.”

“Yeah, she kicked our ass.”

Rhonnie chuckled silently. “Kicked it down the street and into that gutter, what was his name?”

“Curt.” Bissa found the flask she’d been saving. “Here, hold your breath and take a sip.” She unscrewed the cap and handed the curved, leather encased vessel to Rhonnie.

Rhonnie gave it a sniff, and frowned. She tilted back the flask and swallowed a hefty drought. She immediately began to cough, but snapped the mask back tight. “I hated the taste of licorice before that night. And I still do,” she said muffled through the rubber and plastic.

“That’s funny,” Bissa took her own hit, “but I recall you perfecting that ice water drip over the sugar cube technique. Got pretty good at it I believe.” Learning to talk through a mask had taken Bissa a number of trips up to volcanoes of the Aleutian Islands. She did eventually discover than one had to talk more slowly and enunciate.

“Yeah, well. My sweet tooth would not be denied.” Rhonnie gestured for another swig.

“Nor would your libido, right, am I right?” Bissa took her turn at the flask.

The pair of them swapped the bottle back and forth, reminiscing their recent and ancient histories. The sagging tent pressed lower and lower, touching the tops of their heads. A good five centimeters of ash covered their camp. From the outside, if you knew where to look, all you would have seen was a mound of boulders, with one larger, out of place in the middle.

The mountain’s voice spoke, murmuring into the night. The winds that cast the ash cloud back over the ridge on which the two woman camped, shifted south in the early morning before the sun rose. The yellow rays scratched at the ash that covered the collapsed tent, but could not penetrate it. The south wind now began its job of clearing the grey piles from the crest of the hill. Eventually the bright orange skin of their tent shown through; the sharp points to either end springing up when enough of the volcano’s tephra had dispersed. The sides of their tiny pavilion now flapped energetically in the growing breeze.

Inside a pair of green fairies slept.

 

Yoda’s grandchild – Toko

Yeah, you’ve heard the human Jedi story — like a goddamn broken hologram. Always the humans, always the Force is with those losers. Well, let me tell you, Yoda kicked all their asses. Kicked ’em into orbit and then saber’d them into tiny, chewy pieces a trock wouldn’t even try to swallow.

But what you haven’t heard. Haven’t ever, never, farkin heard, is that Yoda was a busy Jedi. That little green ass-kicker couldn’t keep it in his wee-little shorts. I’m tellin’ ya, Yoda was a playa! He got all up into the business of thousands of sweet alien booty. Oh yeah! Those Jedi mind tricks… Buddy, if he wanted to make it wit’choo you had better grease your ports because the Yoda conductor was gonna take your ticket and punch it ’till it was nothing but holes.

Uh course his seed never took. He was one of them rare types. Like his whole race got wiped out by some sort of squirming plague or nova-gamma-pulse or somethin’. But, here, keep this quiet right? Yoda’s race didn’t get annihilated. Not all the way. There were a few pointy eared green Yodas stuck in the odd port around the galaxy. And you know what? Yeah, that froggy green Jedi hound-dogged his own kind wherever he could find them. And when he did, uh-huh, uh-huh, he got busy. Like a machine he was. He knew his race was dying. He knew it was up to him to keep it alive. All-up-to-him.

And here’s the thing. It worked. I mean, he worked. He spawned a shuttle load of Yoda offspring. But every one of those cute springy Yoda-poles, their tails wriggling in the mucky ponds where they were born (hey, don’t ask me, I just watched it on a crystal I bought at a mop-swap, no, it was legit I tell ya.)

Anyway —

No, really! Ya gotta hear this, it’s gonna make a universe of sense if you’ll just sit there and listen. Alright, alright, I won’t touch yoos no more. But hear me out.

Anyway, everyone of Yoda’s spawn fizzled. No Force in any of them. Except for one. Yeah, see. What I tell ya? One of those booty hook-ups he did while out seedin’ the galaxy with his Yoda Yippee — took. And boy did it ever take! Whoever the chick was he found, she definitely had the goods. The Force Goods, if you know what I mean.

So you go on and talk about your human Jedi and all that Empire and Resistance and Rebel Alliance shit. But what you gotta know is this: There’s another out there. Another Yoda. Maybe a more bad-ass Yoda. It’s Yoda’s grand-kid. I don’t know why the son didn’t have the midi-chlorian count? It’s like it skipped a gen or something. But I tell ya. This kid, this Yoda grand-kid has the Force squirting out his ears. Yeah — squirting!

Where is he? How the hell should I know? But I heard his name: Toko.

Hell, I don’t know. I figure he probably looks like the old Yoda. But, you know, without all the warts and wrinkles and shit.

Well, if this Toko is as frisky as his grand-daddy was, I figure we’re gonna be seein’ a bunch more green froggy Jedis hoppin’ around the galaxy.

What? Yeah I heard of Kermit. This ain’t he. Kermit was no Jedi man!

Toko’s the buzz. He’s the cure. The light-ray-uh-death into the heart of that DarkSide nastiness. That black mask still gives me the chillies, sheeesh! Give me a green, dog-eared, three-fingered ass-kicker any day over one of them Darth freaks.

Oh, hell, it’s late. I gotta go. You keep an eye out for news of this Toko fella. He’s gonna shake the shit out of the Jedi-Nation, I tell ya.

District 10 (a District 9 sequel)

A long elevator pitch for the sequel for the movie District 9

[NOTE: This is an outline. Not a story. There is no “showing” in what you are about to read. Only “telling.” This is intentional.]

On a trail of tears the chiton-skinned “shrimp like” aliens, three million strong, march from Johannesburg north into Botswana. The aliens of District 9 have been evicted by the South African government and “sold” as wards of the state to the corrupt leaders of Gaborone, the capital of Botswana. For 1.5 billion US dollars, the SA president has transferred the inhabitants of the alien slum city to those who will take “better care” of them in their purposefully created AlienCity, west of the capital in the barren Kalahari Desert.

Upon arrival they find that conditions are far worse there than anyone might have expected or would be prepared to endure. Yet the “shrimps” are industrious. Resigned to their fate, they form a government modeled after the democracies of old Earth in concert with their own variety of parliament.

Concurrently, an internal resistance grows within this new AlienCity, of which Wikus van de Merwe becomes an unwitting part. They begin to raid towns around the state and around the country — stealing humans. They imprison their captives in a private, hidden jail they call District 10.

The leaders of AlienCity realize that their ship, which should be returning within the Earthen year, if what Wikus says is true, may be undermanned and under equipped. And, due to their continued oppression and inability to leverage their technology (being denied access to the oceans), they find they must create some collateral with which to bargain — when the time comes and their ship returns. So the alien leaders condone the kidnapping.

Wikus learns how he was transformed. He infiltrates the rebels who are stealing humans and plots to travel south to Johannesburg to steal back his wife. To what end we can only imagine.

~~~

The alien ship has transited the spiral arm of the Milky Way galaxy to arrive at a planet where politically neutral species are neither helpful nor a hindrance. However, during the journey, which takes eighteen months Earth time, Christopher, the father alien, discovers his son has hidden a secret in their ship: a human girl of about eleven. She’s tiny for her age but wicked smart, a prodigy, who can sing and instantly create music from odds n’ ends in the ship. Tsara enchants Christopher and when they reach the distant planet she entrances the leaders there as well. They’ve heard of Earth and Humans but have waved off approaching them (us) as we continue to exhibit overt aggression.

However, Tsara convinces them that most Humans are friendly like her, worthy of acceptance and welcoming in nature. They elect to fix the ship and man and fuel and equip it so that it can return to Earth, hopefully, to test for human forbearance. But if hostilities prevail, they would then rescue the remnants of Christopher’s race.

~~~

Wikus’ raid is successful.

But his wife has moved on and being coerced and then poisoned, and slowly turning into a shrimp, she turns bitter and resentful toward Wikus and the aliens. Her hatred of her new race festers.

But her hatred of her father for abandoning her is far worse. She accepts her fate and with Wikus as a complacent accomplice plots to poison the surrounding human populations of Botswana and Johannesburg, turning them into aliens. The rebels avoid the Bushmen who are peaceful and helpful to the aliens. One, who has felt the bigotry and hatred against his culture and race, helps them infect the other Africans around them.

Internally, the infection is a DNA attack; the DNA of the shrimps is more virulent and reactive, but compatible with human DNA, so it infects and then converts.

There are now more than five million aliens living in and around AlienCity. The UN, the WHO, the WTO (which is benefitting from high-tech the aliens are allowing to escape) in collaboration with world governments begin to implement policy, already on the books, regarding the eradication of the alien race.

~~~

Tsara, meanwhile, has taught the neutral aliens and the few shrimp aliens her native languages, including English. She’s figured out how to command the great ship’s information systems. She’s been able to present to the crew much of the recorded human television, which she tries to explain as best she can. Many idioms escape her, “I’ll be back,” “you had me at hello,” “Frankly Scarlet, I don’t give a damn,” she tries but fails to explain.

The ship enters the solar system and NASA, China, Russia and the ESA all detect the returning space craft.

~~~

The response is not favorable. Earth’s defensive and offensive systems go on high alert. This returning ship, they imagine, must have brought reinforcements and invasion plans knowing that Earth is habitable for the returning shrimp species.

A new Terran satellite system, launched after the ship appeared in the sky those six years ago, stands ready to repel planet-bound boarders with lasers and rocket propelled nukes.

~~~

Tania, Wikus’ wife, leads the alien rebellion now. She’s beating the warpath to expand alien rights and proposes a march across the remaining desert, through Namibia, to the ocean where their species can then thrive and live well on the bounty and opportunities the seas will provide.

District 10 has grown to nearly 7,000 humans. The rest of the world is now aware of this prison within a prison and finds itself incapacitated. The threat to these people’s lives is overwhelming, but the expanding threat of the shrimps borders on the catastrophic; an invasive species of the worst kind. Do they send in massive airstrikes and destroy AlienCity — including the humans trapped there? Or do they work a deal, hostage exchange, trade negotiations? The situation is compounded now by the arrival of The Ship.

~~~

Throughout all of this, the corrupt Botswanan president has been rendered impotent, circumvented by world authorities. But he plots his own revenge. He’s stolen a supply of this alien virus fluid and now threatens Paris, Moscow, Washington, and Beijing with the release of this DNA catastrophe.

~~~

Finale Scenario #1

Christopher makes contact with the Earthbound alien leader who explains the dilemma of their plight and that of District 10. Tsara composes a message to the world, which the ship broadcasts explaining the peaceful mission of the two alien races that are now onboard the ship. Her message is interpreted as a purposeful manipulation, a covert plan to invade, and the Earthen powers-that-be release their weapons (to protect earth) and simultaneously try to destroy the ship and bomb the AlienCity out of existence.

Wikus and Tania and thousands of other shrimps make it to the coast and swim away into the ocean where they can survive without issue. Safe.

The ship, being attacked, attacks back and destroys the weapons and all the satellites around the planet, including the ISS, thereby rendering Earth incommunicado. They descend in shuttles and retrieve the few aliens who remain after the bombing, and retreat. Tsara remains on the shore, waving goodbye to Christopher and his son, the wreckage of what the humans did to AlienCity and their march to the sea a stark reminder that humanity is just not ready yet.

Tania and Wikus and the others make it to a distant island where they secretly set up home. The End.

~~~

Finale Scenario #2

The Botswanan president’s plan is foiled but before he goes under, he releases the trigger that releases the alien DNA as a virus into the water supply of those cities threatened. People begin to change.

The alien ship arrives and opens up channels to Earth to discover that their DNA is now changing millions of humans into their species. The UN pleads with the aliens (both races) and with the added leverage of District 10, the aliens work a deal to establish certain areas of Earth for prosperous alien habitation in return for reversing the human to alien DNA conversion and releasing those in District 10.

However, during their clandestine march to the sea, Tania and Wikus and a number of them, before the treaty is agreed to and signed, are gunned down on the beach — a spillover from the bombing. Christopher, having landed, is there and tries to save Wikus. The little alien boy and Tsara, hold Wikus’ hand as he dies. The End.

~~~

Finale Scenario #3

The ship is fired upon as it arrives in close geostationary orbit. Its systems are destroyed and slowly it begins to sink the two hundred kilometers where it eventually lands at great speed in the Indian Ocean, which causes a massive tsunami.

Before it crashes, it sends off a distress signal back to the politically neutral planet and most of the crew are shuttled down to Madagascar. Christopher, his son and Tsara, however, make it in a shuttle to the Namibian coast where they meet up with Wikus and Tania.

The Botswanan president has been killed and that threat rendered inert. But the alien council still holds District 10 hostage. And now with their ship destroyed, they need to leverage it to the hilt. In return for the release of the humans, many of which have opted to be converted to shrimp like aliens (it turns out aliens live for hundreds of years (REF: lobsters)), the Earth government has agreed to annex to them the coast of Namibia (a barren place anyway).

Christopher has brought with him the antidote that will return Wikus and Tania to human form. Tsara is there, who’d always been an orphan, and the ending scene is Wikus holding the bottle that, if he drinks it, will convert him back. The End.

Inbetween

“You’re new here I see.” The glow from this spirit had barely faded from the bright orange that cast every inter-quantum object around us in glaring relief.

Not fully in control of its collective energy the being undulated in amoebic pulses. “Where am I? Am I dead?”

“Dead? No, you’re not dead. But,” I paused to shift to the side away from the blob of crimson light that formed this person’s current expanse of fear. “You’re not technically alive either.”

The two of us sat, if sitting it be called, on a park bench along a path bordered with daffodils and crocus flowers, buds from the willow trees just starting to show above us; spring was busting its green head up and out of a dull grey winter.

“Where then?” she asked. It was female now I could see, her pulsing glow tapering off.

“This is Inbetween. A kind of quantum limbo your soul shifted to when your body died.” She reacted badly to that last word, as I knew she would. It’s better to shock them hard at first I’ve found, otherwise it takes them eons to adjust. Pow! You’re dead — but not really! Sadistic? Hmm, I prefer to think of it as being cruel to be kind.

“I remember… Wait. I can’t remember anything!” In her reaction she’d expanded her quantum perimeter enveloping the path, flowers and a tiny finch pecking at the bare dirt amongst  green stems. “I feel sunlight, and a breeze, and I have wings! And I smell the loam and pollen and, I’m floating!”

Her adaptation level surprised me. Most folks can’t interpret the sensations of the sub-atomic energies streaming out from all life’s physical matter. If it lived, it leaked.

“Slow down there sister. I want you to concentrate on the bare hum you feel. Can you hear it? Can you feel that susurration deep within your being? Focus on that.”

Her flare-up dwindled, she shrank back to a roughly humanoid shape. “I’m dead. I really am dead.” She held out her hand and found she could gaze right through it.

“No, not dead,” I corrected. “Once life, always life. What you are is transformed.” I could see her fringe starting to vibrate again, so I sped up my speech. “But that’s a good thing. Some say the best of things. Yeah, I know you can’t remember anything. Yet. But you will. The energies of your past experiences will catch up with you. They’re,” I searched for a phase that would be meaningful, “spread out.”

Around us humans walked and jogged and rode past, unaware. Mallards swam in a pond behind us, dipping their heads to browse. Gold-black bumblebees thrummed in the throats of flowers. The sky shown achingly blue. Once you got used to it you could concentrate and see past the air and clouds and see out into the galaxy, the universe. I sometimes drifted out that way. But lately, during my wait, I’d taken some solace in helping the newly arrived, adjust.

“Follow me,” I said and willed her quantum state to parallel mine. If you remained in limbo, as I have, you learn you can control more than just your own subatomic tunnels.

She continued to amaze me.

“This can’t be the afterlife can it? You said this was some sort of limbo.”

“Quantum limbo. Exactly. We’re in between attachments of our life state. You could call it ‘after body’.”

Her orange glow had shifted into a warm yellowish hue. She moved what she imagined as her feet in a walking fashion and noticed that I simply glided along. She quit her stroll but continue to keep up. “Wow,” I said, “you really are a fast learner.”

“I’m a teacher. I mean, I was a teacher.”

Her memories began to stream in now. Her color shifted yet again, now into a vibrant green.

“You’ll find that what you remember from your past life can be pared and shaped to suit what your current spirit finds pleasing. Forget the bad. Remember the good.” We’d drifted up above the tree tops now. The skyline of buildings and roadways fading as we moved out of town, out across the surrounding hills and out over the nearby mountains.

“How long have you been here?” she asked. “I mean, if this is in between, then what’s next? Are you stuck?”

I’d paused our passage at the top of a surrounding hill. I looked down and witnessed the millions of spirits, souls if you will, escaping their physical confines, lives ending, lives continuing on. From the tiniest insects to the largest mammals, from the smallest blade of grass to the immense oaks and pines. It had taken me enormous effort to learn to see these threads of energy. I doubt very much she could see them, as fresh as she was.

“I don’t know why I’m here. Or how long I’ve been this way,” I admitted. “I’ve tried, as best as one of my kind possibly could, to rationalize my situation. I’ve determined that at some point, after I’ve assisted as many people like you to assimilate, I keep a running count, I’ll move on as well.”

“Move on? To where?” Her questions now formed the telltale sign of the first stage of enlightenment. Her time here would be brief.

“We’ll that’s the question isn’t it. I’m pretty sure I’ve come to this spot having traversed thousands of physical bodies. Each one contributing nuances to this collection of quantum energies that exists before you. But to what end?” Without her realizing, or maybe because her own awareness had already subsumed the event in its entirety, we had lifted high above the planet surface floating out to where we could enjoy the graceful curve of the sphere below us.

Her color throbbed deep blue now. Her time, near.

“Will I remember this? Talking with you?”

“Perhaps.” I shaped my arms as an open hug and with my influence guided her aura into my embrace.

“Oh,” she exclaimed at last. “We’ve met before haven’t we? Many times before. I remember now.”

As her color shifted off the scale, through indigo and beyond, I guided her on to the next universe in her circuit. As we separated I pinched a tiny bit of her spirit to keep as my own. She’d never miss it; she headed off to gather vastly more of her own. “Yes, we’ve met often. On your next return you’ll almost be ready.”

“Ready for what?” Her whisper fading with her transcendence.

Six-million, seven-thousand, three-hundred and ninety-one, I counted to myself. “Ready to take my place (I hope).”