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.

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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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