So I thought I might post up that short science fiction story for today. As I've said before I am trying to expand it into a 150-160 page novella. I've been told that it is along the lines of a Heinlein book, which is incredibly flattering, but Robert certainly doesn't have the most vivid, in depth characters. They all seem to act like the same person. It's kind of weird, although Methuselah's Children was a damn good book. Anyway, here it is, the short story and soon to be novella, REUNITE.
I am not guilty.
“Jackson, I want you to meet Delilah.”
Jackson turns the key on his yellow Hoverec. He lowers the kickstand, propping the Hoverec inches off the ground and waits for the engine to die down before looking up. His jaw drops and Delilah smiles, the static in the air seemingly rising around them. Hundreds of honking horns reverberate between the buildings and the layers of rush hour, air traffic above the ground-level causes the sunlight to strobe upon Delilah’s jet black hair, the poof hinted with purple. Her red lips vibrantly stand out, contrasted against pale skin. And a slender, red dress. Jackson hasn’t seen a woman in a dress in a long time, skin-tight suits being all the rage. After wiping the moisture content of his palm onto his pant leg, Jackson holds his hand out. “Hi. Jackson.”
The introducer, Kyren, a bartender at one of the only ground-level bars left on Earth, looks at each of them, a smile smeared on her face. Her silver, skin-tight leotard flashing reflections onto the couple, hands still locked together and faces rushing with blood. “Sooo… do you two want to go in? First drinks are on the house.” She waves them in through the red door across the sidewalk, a neon ‘OPEN’ sign buzzing on and off above her head.
Jackson nods and nearly stutters. “Yea. Absolutely.”
His eyes never leave her.
“Jackson Harper, you have been found guilty of the rape and murder of Delilah Harper.”
A witness. A woman on the stand claiming to have seen me herself doing the deed that need not be said. My body shakes with sadness, boils with anger, shudders with repulsion. Soon all the emotions flooding my head melt and form into each other. My poor Delilah. She did not deserve this. I have never felt my heart sink so low.
The judge glares at me.
“You will be sentenced to life in penal colony 032986, Naphorim.”
And then it sinks deeper than I could have possibly imagined. I try to scream at the bitch upon the podium, obscenities ready to fly through the air and stab her in the forehead, but my mouth is paralyzed, injected earlier with a muscle number, keeping me from having “outbursts”.
The worst of the worst reside in Naphorim. It isn’t even Earth-exclusive. I am talking about the melting pot of the universe. The bottom-of-the-barrel scum, far worse than the most vile Earth-history-warlords you can think of. I try to close my eyes, the images of tentacle-wielding rapists and pedophiles flooding my brain, but the muscle number has done the trick. My eyes stay wide open.
And that’s just the inhabitants. Naphorim’s atmosphere is thick with sulfur, burning your nose with a goulash of eggs and shit with every breath. Seas of stagnate, infested waters pocket the landscape, making you hope to god someone or something here has figured out how to purify the rancid liquid.
“You will be cast in a hibernation tube, frozen in a paralyzed, conscious state, much like the paralysis you are undergoing now, for the duration of the journey, approximately 50 years.”
Son of a bitch.
“When you reach Naphorim, you will be quickly thawed to begin your sentence.”
I would cry if my tear ducts weren’t already bone dry. I have never been so aware as I am now of how much the judicial system relishes in the suffering aspect of incarceration. And another 50 years tacked on? For what, contemplating my actions?
“This is part of your sentence Mr. Harper. The hibernation tube will slow down your body’s ageing process while still allowing you to have partial vision and auditory use and a conscious state of mind. This will give you the time to think about what you have done.”
“Once you get to Naphorim, you won’t have time to think.”
The judge slams her mallet down.
Jackson’s index finger and thumb measure out an inch, displaying it in front of Delilah’s face. “I love you this much.”
Delilah giggles and shoves Jackson’s hand away. A smile forcefully makes it’s way between her cheeks when looking at Jackson‘s face. “Really,” she says. “Tell me. How much?”
They both lay naked, sweaty limbs entangled with one another. Jackson stares into Delilah’s eyes, both of their fingers running themselves up and down the slippery skin of each other’s back, legs and arms. Brushing hair from her face he says, “Your eyes are what pull me in. I find myself floating freely from star to star. That’s what you make me feel. Lost in the vastness and free from the constraints at the same time. Absolute freedom.”
Delilah grabs Jackson’s head and presses it against her own, their lips mashed into each other. Jackson smiles and holds up the measured inch between his fingers. Laughter ensues and they cover themselves up with the sheet as they begin to press their bodies against one another.
I can’t help but feel like I’m being buried alive as I slide into the red, coffin-shaped hibernation tube. I have never traveled off of Earth, so having no experience in hibernation is making this a nerve-racking moment on top of a shitty situation.
The doctor on my right begins to speak. A mad scientist sound. “Alright Mr. Harper, I understand this is your first time in hibernation. Once the lid shuts the process will begin instantaneously. There will be pain and then a state of being. Once thawed on Naphorim you will slowly regain all your senses in which time you will be held under security as for your protection.”
A state of being? What is this supposed to be, a vision quest? And why the security?
“Now, during the hibernation state, you will be able to somewhat hear and see, and you will be fully mentally conscious. Although you won’t be able to close your eyes (we will make sure they are open, with the right devices), your mind will go into shutdown if it needs to. The equivalent of sleeping. It could last for minutes and it could last for years.”
Let’s hope the latter is more prominent.
“Ok Mr. Harper. Keep your arms inside.” The doctor pushes a button on a panel in front of him and the lid to the tube begins to seal itself over me. Light continues to shine in my eyes through the clear panel inset into the lid, right in front of my face. With the sound of the locking mechanism comes the pain. Ice daggers stab and twist every inch of my body, instantaneously.
The pain demands for my mind to shutdown.
The pain decides for my mind to wake up.
My entire body aches but not nearly as bad as the experienced pain earlier.
Earlier? How earlier? How long have I been out for? I try to move my hands and legs and laugh at myself for even trying. All I can see through the glass panel is a metal wall, red lights giving it a bloody hue. Crew members and guards periodically pass through my vision. I can hear them talking to each other, though slightly muffled by the ice caked in my ears. I hear them referring to me as a rapist and murderer. And what they do to rapists in Naphorim.
The physical connection to my body is becoming less prominent already.
The solid red lights shining on the wall in front of me begin flashing, a siren reverberating off the metal. Crew members are racing back and forth. I can hear the automated female voice over the intercom. An emergency landing?
Maybe this is a good thing.
I can feel the floor vibrating. Subtly at first, then violently. So violently my coffin is disconnected from its base and topples to the floor. After hitting the floor, expecting the jarring to hurt, I realize that I barely felt it at all.
I am facing upwards, all I can see is the ceiling of the ship, but luckily a ceiling with a window. Through the window is heat. The heat is so intense it takes on a physical form, glazing over my window, the horizon of a planet spinning around the edge. We must be entering the atmosphere. Then another thought crosses my mind. We may be a space faring, human civilization, but the universe is still vastly unexplored. We could be stuck on this planet for years. I could be stuck in this thing for an insane amount of time.
My coffin is violently slammed against a wall as the ship comes to an immediate, crashing halt.
Delilah takes out a piece of paper and lays it on the table of their booth. On it are names written in ink. Baby names. “Oh really,” Jackson says, grinning.
The waitress arrives and pours Jackson and Delilah each a cup of coffee.
Beaming, Delilah says, “They’re just suggestions. Names that I’ve actually had picked out for quite some time. But they are here so you can look them over. I want you to pick your favorite.”
Jackson slides the paper from across the table and looks over the names. “I like them all, but gimme some time.” Delilah nods and Jackson folds the paper and slips it in his pocket. “We aren’t pregnant yet.”
Delilah looks down at her cup of coffee, the steam wafting up into her nostrils. “I know, but just the thought of starting a family with you makes me feel amazing.” She looks up into Jackson’s eyes, Jackson returning the gaze. “I just love you so much. You‘ve been there for me like no one ever has.”
Jackson grabs her hands. He smiles and says, “And I’m a damn good kisser.” He smiles and Delilah raises an eyebrow. “ Oh come on, you know I’m only joking. To the end of days Delilah. To the end of days.
They both grin. Jackson takes a sip of his coffee. ‘If you love me so much,” he says, “tell me something you would only know about me.”
Delilah looks around the restaurant, from the register to the windows. Her eyes move down to the napkin on the table in front of her, a knife, fork and spoon placed neatly on top. She grabs the silverware and holds up the spoon and fork. “You like small spoons and big forks.”
Jackson begins to laugh out loud, leans over the table and kisses Delilah.
Years pass. I am assuming. I have been in the pitch green depths of this planet’s ocean, little light reaching my whereabouts. Very similar to Earth’s sea water, but seems to be thicker, creatures move incredibly slow. And these are some of the largest, most prehistoric looking creatures I could have ever imagined.
My mind is no longer confined to my own body. I feel my limbs no more. My thoughts are trapped within this metal coffin with a window for my viewing pleasure.
Minutes feel like seconds. Hours feel like minutes. Days feel like hours.
No, years feel like hours.
A light shines through the glass panel and stimulates my physical optic nerves. Before me is a mass of bipedal humanoids very much similar to ourselves and the indigenous peoples of Earth, before we, the “sophisticated form of human“, exterminated them. They have me propped on a small stage made of various branches and stone. I hear them chant as they dance around a large fire, free from the fashion constraints of my own civilization, loin cloths being the hot item. I seem to be a worshipped artifact.
Wait, decades feel like hours.
I have no idea how long I have been buried. I witnessed a whole tribe grow and unify with their surroundings, only to be systematically destroyed by a neighboring, advanced race of the same humanoids. Funny how things work in the universe. My being a sacred piece of history to the clan, I have been tossed and erased from memory by the enemy, buried away from view.
Centuries most certainly have passed. My memories have become extremely faint and my mind has become a separate being from the physical form that bound it. My mind is constantly wrapped up in thoughts that take an immense amount of time to form themselves, my physical brain slowing down from the freeze. With nothing to stimulate my physical senses, time becomes an element of ancient history.
Once again, a light shines through the glass panel. Sand and dirt is brushed away from the window, allowing the sun to whitewash my vision. I am once again found and being transported.
I spend a bit of time in a large white room surrounded by these bipedal humanoids in white clothes. Sophisticated versions of the indigenous peoples that worshipped me centuries ago. A laboratory? I overhear them exclaiming that they are close.
Close to figuring out how to open this blasted thing.
Wait? Freedom? No. They will find out who I am. Who I am… I realize I haven’t used a label on myself in centuries. I have no memory of this. Why am I even in this tube? Do I want to be released? This is my world. This viewpoint is my world. Why would I want to leave it?
In the meantime apparently I have been put up for display in a museum. Men, woman and children… well, I guess I can’t really tell how many sexes there actually are in this species… they all line up, gazing at this strange box with a preserved, ancient human being inside.
The beings in white return me to the white room. This time they seem to have figured out how to unlock my world without destroying the contents inside, but the necessary tools are on a neighboring planet. Once again, I am to be shipped.
The night is brisk and the small lights along the path give the ground a slight, golden hue. Jackson and Delilah are jogging side by side. Delilah speaks between gasps of air, “How did I let you talk me into doing this?”
Jackson laughs. “Oh come on. It isn’t that bad. It’s good for you. Besides, you better start working out now before you get too far in your pregnancy.”
“I know, I know.”
As Jackson and Delilah trot around a small bend, a man in a skin-tight, black suit steps out from behind a bush, a steel pipe in his right hand. He begins to catch up to the couple, his speed picking up as he gets closer and closer. He raises his equipped right hand and the pipe slams across the back of Jackson’s head, knocking him unconscious. On an immediate backswing, knocks Delilah across the jaw. She stumbles and falls on her back. Immediately the assailant is atop Delilah, buttons flying as he begins to violently rip her clothing off.
Her shrieks ring out in the night sky.
Jackson slowly regains consciousness and is made alert by his wife’s cries. He looks over to the battered woman and runs to her side. Lifting her head to his lap, blood smearing on his hands, he positions her head so her eyes could meet his own. Tears well up in Jackson’s eyes. “Which way did he go baby,” Jackson exclaims. “Where did he go?!”
Delilah points into the darkness and Jackson runs, following her finger’s accusation.
A nearby woman sees Jackson run off and quickly makes her way over to Delilah. She takes out her communicator and begins calling emergency meditechs. “Who did this,” the woman asks Delilah. “Who was that man?”
Delilah whispers, “Jackson.”
Later I find out that the gargantuan size of the ship is due to the fact that by “a neighboring planet”, they mean a 150 year trip. Being that they don’t make these too often, a large amount of others will be coming. Especially for such a historical moment as cracking open a centuries-old piece of history. An arsenal is also required. Space pirates love treasure.
I’m curious if they will be able to restore my memories. Nowadays though, they are all but faint, blurry dreams. I believe they are hard to reach because of the slow processing power of my former body. If I am released and am placed back into my carrier, my memories might be restored. Then I think, do I want to go through with that?
I am placed against a wall and strapped down. A strange feeling, seeing guards and crew members walking back and forth. Almost like a déjà vu. A green light gives the wall in front of me a mossy hue.
75 years have passed. I know this because these humanoids have realized that I could still be fully conscious and started showing me current calendars and clocks through my viewing panel.
As a child humanoid is reading me a story, an adult figure runs up and grabs up the young one in his arms. Distress is all around. Faces look scared, sad, angry. The green light creates a strobe effect on the wall. It wasn’t long before an explosion rings out through a nearby hallway. The pressure drops and almost immediately I am ejected through a small puncture in a window.
As I slowly float away from the destruction, my view of the battle becomes a vista. Smaller ships fly in and around the massive ship. Some begin to board the vessel, others take more shots at the small evacuation pods. The ship begins to dissect itself.
I am not seen; overlooked debris.
I float indefinitely. The vastness of space before me. Stars sparkle in the distance.
A tear freezes over my cornea.
So I put this story away for a few months and now as I am reading it over I am getting really excited about expanding it. There is a lot that can be done, and I look forward to brainstorming his tragic journey.
Thanks for reading and I will see you laters!