Once Upon a Lightyear
A Short Alien Bedtime Story
by Robert G. Moons
"Notruhk, could you please come up here and read your son a bedtime story!" his wife shouted.
Her husband had fallen asleep with his head inside the holosphere entertainment unit again. "Yes, dear - coming," he managed to blurt out in a groggy daze, not quite sure what was going on. Last he remembered, he was watching a sector level gnilruc game. No wonder he fell asleep. A gnilruc game is just a little more exciting than watching vegetation grow in slow motion.
He got up; shuffled his four feet up the white stone ramp and into his son's nest chamber.
"Read me a story, daddy!" his son shouted gleefully as his antennae made little circular motions of excitement.
"OK, OK, calm down and let me think... What story haven't I read you yet? Have I read you Golden mandibles and the three Xoak grubs?"
"How about The three tiny crustaceans?"
"Yes, two times."
"What about The swamp-fly who cried arachnid? - that's a good one."
"Daaaaad, you read that to me a mega-qua-zillion times!" his son threw his claws in the air in frustration.
"Wait a minute... I know a story, but it's not in any reader chip. A special story my dad used to tell me. I think you're old enough to hear it," Notruhk said slyly as his son started to beam with pride.
"Tell me dad, pleeeeease."
"OK, let me think...."
"Once upon a time, a long time ago, and many lightyears away, a spacecraft from a planet called Earth was sent to a nearby star. They were the first humans to travel to a neighbouring solar system. When they finally reached this new system, they picked up a strange signal coming from the fifth planet, so they followed it to investigate."
"What was it dad?" his son asked impatiently
"Just wait, you'll find out, just let me tell the story."
"Now, where was I? Ah yes. So they landed on the fifth planet; the signal led them to this small object, and they could tell it had been made by another intelligent life form. It was purple in colour; shaped like a cube with what appeared to be some form of hieroglyphs over its entire surface. It was easily picked up with their appendages; the object's surface looked like some type of metal, but was remarkably light in weight. The humans were very excited about finding this object as it was their first proof they were not alone in the universe. They explored this planet for a long time looking for more evidence of the civilization that made it, but found nothing else. When they brought it back to Earth, their world welcomed them back like heroes; their whole planet was very excited about this discovery. But what was it; what did it do, if anything? It was made of materials they didn't know; it had a power source they didn't understand. They studied it for a long time, taking it apart piece by piece, and finally they thought they knew what it was."
"What was it!" interrupted his son
"Hold on, I'm getting there... They thought it was some sort of new power generator. The humans were all very excited. They decided to recreate this alien device, but to make things easier, they would build it on a much larger scale. The planet Earth sought out their greatest scientific minds, their greatest engineers, and experts in other fields. The humans worked on it for 23 ellipse durations."
"Wow, that's a long time - Those scientists must have died of old age!" exclaimed his son in shock.
"Aaah, no. I'm 35 durations young, and plan to live quite a few more," said Notruhk with uncertain confidence.
"A-ny-way, they finally recreated this power generator a thousand times larger than the original object. They didn't have the materials that the original was made of, so they had done the best they could with what they had. Unfortunately, their version was very crude in comparison, but they were eager to see what it could do. Maybe it could make their space ships go faster, or power a huge weapon to defend themselves against unknown future enemies."
His son interjected - "Like the outpost cannons of Mapzorp - they can destroy an entire planetoid with one shot!" his son bragged with delight. "PAAAH-BOOOM!"
"OK, we can do without the sound effects please. Can I continue?" In reply, his son nodded with extreme exaggeration.
"So, the big day came; the whole planet was very excited, and there was much rejoicing. The President of their world had the honour of pressing the button that turned on this alien power source. He made a speech about what a great day it was in human history; that this day would be remembered for all time, or something like that. You know, blah-blah-blah." His son frowned impatiently at his dad's mockery of a politician - his left antenna began to twitch.
"OK.... So after his speech, he pressed the button. The gigantic purple cube started to glow slightly, and then began to hum loudly." Notruhk picked up his son's slurpy-cup to demonstrate the rest. "Next, it lifted off the ground and started to spin. It spun faster and faster; shot up into the sky and into space. It hovered up there above the planet for a short time; came down at an incredible speed, and destroyed the planet. THE END."
"How did it destroy the planet?"
"It's too complicated."
"You're to young to understand."
"OK, OK. Do you remember what happened when that asteroid hit the moon orbiting Phautogue?"
"Wow, that's soooooo abominable!"
"Yes, I thought you'd like that," Notruhk said looking bored. "Anyway, there's more."
"More to the story?"
"Yes. You see, this is a true story, and do you know what the object really was that the humans had found?"
"Was it a secret-super-duper-ultimate-planet-killer-weapon from the evil Taelrok Empire?"
"Aaaaah, no. It was... a child's toy!" The pause for effect was a nice touch, he thought.
"NO DUNG!" his son yelled.
"Hey, watch the language. Yes, a child's toy from the most advanced world in our galaxy - Z'va Prime."
"So the moral of the story is..." he waited for his son's answer.
"Don't... build, a really big toy, on your homeworld?"
"No, not exactly.... Never mind. Go to sleep now."
"OK, goodnight dad."
"Goodnight, son. Don't let the humans bite."
His son smiled. It was the bestest story his dad every told him, and one he would never forget. Funny humans, he thought, but that President of Earth was right about being remembered. He retracted his mandibles, and went quickly to sleep.
Once Upon a Lightyear