To celebrate Archon 35 this weekend, here's an extended excerpt from my latest science fiction tale, Unalone.
“Don’t try to move,
,” the mother-image commanded. “Your neck isn’t broken but it’s severely bruised and there could be some other injury to your spinal cord I haven’t yet been able to determine.” Cali
“Mom?” Calinda heard herself feebly utter. “Is it really you?”
“Of course, dear. Who else could I be?”
With that the mother-image turned back to what she had been doing, assembling a portable shelter dome and air lock. Her mother a mechanic, too? The thought intrigued her. Her father had always been more of the handy-man.
Calinda blinked. Her eyes were playing tricks on her again. Where once stood her mother, now stood the image of her father. Turning forcefully from his assembly work, he barked in his all too familiar fashion:
“Lie down, girl! I told you there could be more extensive injuries. I have to get this dome together before I can attempt any more. . . any more healing.”
“Father?” she pleaded, “What are you dong here? You and Mom were killed in an explosion at Spacestation 12. I had your remains cremated and scattered over Alta-9 as your will requested. I—”
“Be still! Or will I have to put you over my knee like I did when you were little?”
Calinda immediately obeyed. This has to be my father. No one else besides me and Mom knew how he believed in that ancient method of punishment.
Eyes closed, but acutely aware of the image’s every movement, she summoned the energy and courage to speak once again.
“You still haven’t answered by questions, Father, if I may call you that?”
“You may,” it replied without taking its attention from the task at hand. “Hmm—I’m not too certain where this little bit goes.”
So it wasn’t infallible whatever it was. “Bring it over here. I may be able to help. I once had to use one of those things when our all-terrain transport broke down on Daros-2.”
The father-image laid aside the troublesome piece and approached slowly. Calinda’s fear became engulfed by a luminous mist.
I had not seen that memory before—the trip to Daros-2. I see how the parts fit together now.
What is happening to me? Calinda cried, the thoughts echoing in her mind. I don’t see anything but the mist, but I hear a voice speaking to me? It isn’t my father or my mother….
Do not worry, Calinda. I will not harm you. The voice is mine—or what your mind interprets to be a voice since I have no vocal apparatus. I could only grasp a minute amount of knowledge for the preservation of your species on my world while you lay unconscious, but now that you are awake perhaps I will be able to discover more.
Who—or what—are you?
I am the mist, Calinda. It is beyond my current capability to explain further. Rest assured that when I have fully grasped the complexities and nuances of your communication process I will reveal all that I am to you. It would be better that you sleep now. Your body is healing and will be for some time.
She forced herself to stay alert, but the fatigue quickly overwhelmed her. How can I sleep? I’m alone on a strange planet, dying for all I know, and this strange disembodied voice is telling me to relax! I have to know more! I need more information. . .
Know this then: You are not alone. I am here. I am your friend.
Unalone available in e-formats at Devine Destinies: