Chasing the Frontier

beach

Credit: MorgueFile May 2018 1365256807kyjpp

Kara Cooper sat on the sand watching the afternoon sun. She came to California to say good-bye. Divorced, no children, parents dead, she had nothing to keep here anymore. Her brother’s family wanted nothing to do with her, her sexual orientation, gender identity, and politics.

She’s spent most of her life hopping around from place to place, but California was home, or it used to be. Weeping, she remembered her childhood, but that was before the revolution. Strictly speaking, being straight and conservative wasn’t illegal, but it was difficult to get a job or housing, unless the employer or landlord was sympathizer.

“Enough. I’m not going to wallow in self-pity anymore. Screw them. Let them turn the planet into a cesspool.”

She stood defiantly, took one last look at the ocean she’d loved as a child, turned around, and headed back toward the parking lot. She felt the ticket in her pocket. In a week, she’d enter the Vandenberg Spaceport for the first and last time. The shuttle would take her up to where the “Windrider” was parked in orbit. Then, with nearly 500 other colonists, she’d begin the interstellar journey to a new life on the frontier planet “Outlaw.”

I wrote this for Week 30 of the Flash Fiction for the Purposeful Practitioner photo challenge. The idea is to use the image above as a prompt to craft a piece of flash fiction no more than 200 words long. My word count is 199.

Once again, I decided to wage a liberal, progressive revolution in the first world nations, so that political and social conservatives became the marginalized population. I know a lot of people on the left side of the aisle either don’t believe this could ever happen, or if the do, believe that it would be a good thing. However, as I’ve stated previously, ANY ideology that forces its beliefs and practices on unwilling people becomes a totalitarian regime (and I suppose a lot of people feel like that’s what they’re living in right now in the U.S.).

Fortunately for Kara, there’s another option, and it’s on a frontier planet where free, independent, and pioneering people can forge a new life and make it anything they want.

To read other stories based on the prompt, visit InLinkz.com. Oh, and I’m happy to see this linkup has finally gotten some traction. Good work, Roger.

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Is There a God in the Moon?

dark moon

Photo credit: Duks Visuals

Tristan Schaefer wasn’t sure if this was magic or just the drugs kicking in. Vixia’s single moon Tatis always seemed unusually large in the sky when it was full, especially compared to Earth’s, but now it was impossibly reflective, as if the forest were perfectly mirrored and inverted on its surface.

“Izola!” Where was she? His wife had been with him just a second ago, but she had vanished and so had their campsite.

The Ambia Country spiritual excursion was supposed to be the highlight of their tour of the colony planet. Only one person out of two who entered the park were allowed to inhale the Mist to seek out the Way, the conduit to the spirit realm. Izola was supposed to keep him rooted in the physical plane so he wouldn’t lose himself in the vision. She promised she would be with him every second, but it couldn’t have been more than fifteen minutes since he first inhaled the psychedelic they’d purchased with their tickets at the park entrance . Where could she have gone?

“Merhaba, Traveler.”

He’d been staring at a flight of birds crossing the gray and black moon and hadn’t noticed the man approach. He was an Indigenous. No one knew what they called themselves, and the colonists had to call them something.

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The Elephants of Yesterday

elephant

© C.E. Ayr

“Which end is the face?”

The class started giggling at Dao’s remark, and Gima laughed so loud that their teacher Mr. Ji scowled at her.

“That’s her tail, but you’re right, it could be her trunk.”

“What are they called again?” Merilyn looked down at the small sign next to the reconstructions. “Elephant. That’s a funny name.”

The twenty six-year-olds were milling about the “mother and child” exhibit. It was their class’s annual field trip, and this year, Mr. Ji had chosen the Mother Planet Museum in the capital city of Colima.

“All of their names will sound strange because we aren’t familiar with them, just like the appearance of these animals seems so odd.”

The excitable redheaded Merilyn circled the “elephants” again and again, trying to imagine what they’d be like if they were alive.

“Do they still exist?”

“It’s difficult to say. They were an endangered species when our colony ship was launched three-hundred years ago, but we can’t communicate with Earth over so many light years.”

Their teacher started guiding the class toward another exhibit, but Merilyn stayed behind, looking into the eyes of the smaller representation. “I hope you made it, elephant.”

I wrote this for the Sunday Photo Fiction Challenge for May 13, 2018. The idea is to use the image above to inspire crafting a piece of flash fiction no more than 200 words long. My word count is 200.

I just finished submitting a nearly 10,000 word science fiction short story for potential publication in an anthology, and part of it included Mr. Ji’s first grade class (in a flashback). Since I have Merilyn and her classmates on my mind, I thought I’d include them in a museum tour on their colony world, trying to learn more about their “mother planet” Earth.

To read other stories based on the prompt, visit InLinkz.com.

Cut Off

communication

© Nicolas Bruno

“I think we’re going to make it, Peter. Both our pods are headed toward Sanctuary.”

“It seems that way, Elsa, but it’s a big planet, and we have no manual guidance control. Each of our onboard computers will handle the descent, but for all we know, we’ll land thousands of kilometers apart.”

The Colony Ship Frazier had done its job admirably. 3,268 colonists made it 99.9999 percent of the way from Earth to the new planet code-named Sanctuary. Then, on orbital approach, the Langstrom-Edwards fusion drive experienced a catastrophic malfunction, resulting in the destruction of the majority of the crew and passenger sections. Only 512 people made it into their one-person lifepods and safely evacuated the Frazier, but as far as Peter and Elsa knew, they were the only two headed for the new planet. The rest of the ship’s complement were most likely lost in space.

“Keep talking, Peter. I feel so alone in this metal bubble.”

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What I’ve Always Dreamed Of

venus airships

Artist’s concept of a Venus cloud city — a possible future outcome of the High Altitude Venus Operational Concept (HAVOC) plan.
Credit: Advanced Concepts Lab at NASA Langley Research Center

“Don’t look for what you don’t want to find…”

“So this is it; this is what I wished for; just isn’t how I envisioned it…”
— Eminem, from “Careful What You Wish For.”

Genaro tried to remember what happened. He’d been sleeping a lot lately but it wasn’t a natural sleep. They were trying to keep him quiet so he wouldn’t be a bother. Why couldn’t he see? Why were his arms and legs so heavy?

He tried to stand but although he could find the floor, he couldn’t find his feet. Something at the end of his leg was touching something below and to the side of him, but it wasn’t a foot. It was…was… What was it? What had happened? He realized now he couldn’t move his fingers. What was at the end of his arms? Why was it so hard to breathe?

He opened his mouth but couldn’t scream. He felt like he was suffocating. His head, yes he still had a head, was aching. The pain spiked and then there was nothingness.

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Daedalus One

rocket

Image: Space.com

August 29, 2064, Cape Canaveral, Florida

“There it goes. All our hopes for the human race surviving on another planet.”

Chester Menkin put his arm around his wife Helen’s zaftig waist as they watched the launch of the Daedalus One probe together. It was quite literally a “hot August night” as the Orion rocket’s enormous engines erupted with man-made fire, so like the gift of Prometheus, thrusting the space craft away from the launch pad and the surface of our world.

“We’ll eventually go extinct here on Earth, Chester, but we send the best part of ourselves to the stars.”

Dr. and Dr. Menkin were a brilliant Genetics team and responsible for successfully encoding human DNA onto bacteria so “we” could be sent on the long interstellar voyage to the new planet.

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Desire

the kiss“I think it’s working Gregor. I’m beginning to feel something.”

“Me, too. It’s kind of strange, embarrassing even.”

Gregor and Aabha were in bed together in a small, spartan, dimly lit room. They were sitting up, their backs resting on pillows pressed against the headboard. A blanket chastely covered them both up to their collar bones. If anyone had been watching them, it would have been clear they had never been together before.

Aabha turned toward Gregor, looked into his green eyes as if seeing him for the first time, then slowly reached out to caress his cheek.

She giggled. “You need to shave.”

He reached up and pressed her hand against his face. “I suppose I do.”

“It’s really affecting me now, Gregor…the Desire.”

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A Boy and His Dog on Mars

space hab

Image: Bryan Versteeg / spacehabs.com

Seven-year-old Timmy Robinson threw the tennis ball as hard as he could, sending it sailing over the Martian surface. Rusty, his pet terrier, scrambled after it, his paws spewing little clouds of red sand into the air behind him.

“Go get it! Go get it, boy! Timmy was screaming at the top of his lungs as the dog followed the now bouncing ball.

“I think this is the last one, Timmy. We’ve got to go down into the gravity lab now.” It was the voice of Joyce Robinson, his Mother. In all the excitement, he hadn’t heard her walk up behind him.

Rusty returned skidding to a halt at the little boy’s feet and obediently deposited the slime covered ball near his left shoe, a red high-topped Converse all-star.

“Ah, Mom. Can’t I stay out a while longer? I’m having so much fun. I never get to play with Rusty except when we’re on Mars.”

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Leaving Mother

planet

Image: hongkiat.com

“But we don’t want to leave you, Mother. We love you.”

Shawna was the leader of the people from the NorAm Contingent. There were four Contingents on the generation ship, NorAm, SouAm, EurAsia, MedAfrica. When their ancestors left a dying Earth some two-hundred years ago, it was with the single hope that their descendents would perpetuate a thriving humanity on the second planet orbiting Proxima B.

It had worked. They had arrived. Thousands upon thousands of human beings were ready to occupy an Earth-like planet, this time turning into a garden instead of a cesspool. The lessons taught by their parents and their parents’ parents about living with a planet and not exploiting it were well learned.

The problem is, no one wanted to go.

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