Widowbird

Widowbird Widowbird

Status: Finished

Genre: Science Fiction

Houses:

Details

Status: Finished

Genre: Science Fiction

Houses:

Tags

Summary

Short story. I wrote this after seeing a widowbird on display in the Harvard Museum of Comparative Zoology
Share :
Twitter

Tags

Summary

Short story. I wrote this after seeing a widowbird on display in the Harvard Museum of Comparative Zoology

Content

Submitted: March 30, 2010

A A A | A A A

Content

Submitted: March 30, 2010

A A A

A A A


Widowbird

Terry

Andrew  Felonti (Andy) : Space… is creepy for me.  It’s not being alone, it’s not being far away, it’s not being cold, it’s the ship that gets to me.  Ok. You and me, we’re on the ship.  Now picture this:

“You, and maybe whoever’s travelling with you, constitute maybe three people on average right?  Like the average size of any travelling group is three people. 

“Follow me.

“So there are three of you on a ship with a mess, a head, and three cabins.  That’s three people to five rooms, and you start to wonder what the hell’s going on in those other two rooms, ok?  Like, when the three of you are all in separate rooms, so you cover the maximum amount of rooms, there are still two that no one is inside.  There are still two rooms where there’s no one there.  Anything could be going on in those rooms.  Look at it this way, you have no idea what’s happening to 40% of your ship at any given moment.  And that’s assuming two things: A. that you can trust the other two with you, and B. that you’re all in different rooms.  Potentially, if you can’t trust the other two people, or if you’re all in the same room, you’re looking at, potentially, eighty percent.

“How do you not get creeped out?  I mean it’s like being alone in a big house.  You’re in one area, and the spooks are in all the others.  You got the creaky floorboards, the rats, the wind.  In space it’s the leaks, the machines, and then, the space.  The big open space that surrounds you on all sides.  That’s why they call it space.  And what the hell is in that space?

“Whatever.  [gestures broadly with hands]

“Nobody knows.  With error in flight navigation programs, the average amount of time that any vessel spends in space that has never been flown through before is 99%.  Actually basically a hundred but the statistics of the USTA are flawed, in my opinion.  Look at it like this: You might fly between Titan and Alpha Centauri.  Hundreds of thousands of ships have done it before you.  But the odds that Titan is in the same place and orientation for you as it was for them?  Next to nothing.   And the odds that Titan and A.C. are in the same space and orientation?  Definitely nothing.

“So odds are you’re in uncharted territory.  And odds are, like they always are in space, that there’s pretty much nothing of note anywhere near you.  But nobody really knows, you know?  There is just so much space, that anything at all could be right next to you.  Maybe there’s an alien killer squid right next to your ship, maybe there’s that meteor with your name written on it, and you don’t know it’s there.  No one does.  It could be no one’s ever flown by it before, could be on the move, and no ones ever run into this whatever-it-is before, could be friggin invisible, and noone’s ever seen it because of it’s cloaking device or some such crap, and now it’s got it’s shredder beam locked on you and ready to cut you up.

“I saw a great bumper sticker the other day:

“’Anal probes happen’

“Fucking aliens, They are right out there.  You know the ones I’m talking about. 

“It’s those other two rooms that freak me out.”

 - - -

Nedina McMarphe (Ned): “My name is Ned.  I’m a low profile reports and exotic locales columnist for Expedition magazine, and what the hell I’m doing on this ship with Andy the freakazoid and Blake the silent stone man is beyond me. 

“I know, I know.  Despite the fact that my name is Ned, I’m a woman, which may surprise you.  I get it all the time.  Yes, I do have a full name that is decidedly more feminine and fuck no, I’m not telling you what it is; get it off my license. 

“I put in a query to my publisher, right?  I wanted to check out the nice tropical spas on Earth’s moon.  They have been so underplayed, you know.  Any asshole with a couple billion dollars these days wants to check out mars, go to Titan, Go to Uropa, or just go cruising through space and try to see a good investment opportunity on some asteroid with a huge platinum deposit.  Earth’s moon is spectacular.  Since they fixed the atmospheric issues the whole place-

[In response to interviewer comment]

“What, huh?  What’s your problem?  You don’t think this is a good point for me to plug the moon, huh? Is that it?  You don’t think I might be a little stressed? You don’t think you might want to just let me say whatever the fuck I want, and maybe let me tell the god damn story at my own pace, huh? Nooooooooo, rush her along, is that it?  KISS MY-“

- - -

Andy: “She told you I was a spaz?  Right, whatever, I am a spaz.  She’s probably a freakin alien, man.

“So yeah, we all went to that planet.”

 

Blake Honengard (Blake):  “Yes, we arrived at the moon, Titan, at 400 hours, March 19th, 2083, Earth Eastern Standard time.

[In response to interviewer question]

“No there was not any incident of trouble with either the ship or it’s passengers.”

[Pause]

[In response to interviewer question]

“I don’t see what my opinion on Andy being a spaz has to do with what is happening, sir.”

{In response to interviewer question]

“This isn’t my decision, sir.  I’m not the one who determines who I can and can’t talk to.”

 

Nedina:

[pause]

“Howl.  Howl, We’re all going to die.”

 

Andy: I have a photographic memory, did they tell you that?  I see something, and it’s burned into my head, like an exposure. 

“But, no one who was on that ship is ever going to forget the sight of that planet.  It was like the death star.”

[Interviewer question]

“The Death Star.”

[pause]

“From Star Wars?  Seriously?  They are right, we will never win this war, and you know why?  People like you guys, man.  You all.  You have no fucking brains, man.  Go get some culture.

“The Death Star!

“Yo, I’m sorry, no one who hasn’t seen Star Wars belongs in a position of power in this government.  I’m sorry dude.” 

[interviewer question]

“How can I make you understand this?  It’s like you have no wiener right now, and you’re sitting in front of me with your pants off.  You’re an alien to me, man.”

 

Blake: The reason for the trip was a nessecary, friendly delegation of typical Earth personnel to visit the stage.  We were invited.  That is really all I know.  My orders come in emails about this long.”

[holds up fingers]

 

Nedina:  “You haven’t even heard, have you?  There are communications interruptions everywhere.  I wouldn’t be surprised if the blackout was total.  There are no communications on Titan, I’ll tell you that.

[interviewer question]

“You’re probably getting signals, though, right?  But they’re gibberish, aren’t they?

“It’s a decoy.”

[interviewer question]

“A decoy”

[interviewer question, cut off]

“I SAID IT”S A FUCKING DECOY!  GET OUT OF MY FA-“

 

Blake:  “Fine.

“Do you mind if I smoke in here?”

[lights cigarette]

“I’d be court marshaled under normal circumstances for talking to you about something I’ve been ordered not to without permission.

“Alright, I just wanted you to know.”

[pause]

“When we got there the second race had begun evacuating themselves from Titan.  Everyone was angry, yelling, confused.  There was nothing for us to do, really.

“You know those dangly things they have trailing behind them?”  Yeah, Singallers.  I saw a couple of them do it.  They drew a couple of patterns in the air with those things and just disappeared.”

[interviewer question]

“ No, no noise or light or anything, they were just there, and then they weren’t. 

[interviewer question]

“No, there was no explanation until a bit later, right before we left.  But the one they gave totally makes sense, in a sucky kind of way.  If you think about it they played this very well. 

“They built us huge weapons , incredible defenses, with our help.  Of course we gave them every resource we had.  We built all the weapons we could fit on our planet, and then we filled up another one.

“Filled another planet.  Can you even imagine a planet covered in weapons? A whole planet?  What about an asteroid belt that’s actually made of space mines?  A satellite perimeter that’s so convoluted and twisted it looks like a spinning spiderweb, a quarter the size of our own solar system?”

Andy: “ You know what we look like? We look like we’ve been preparing for an interstellar war for decades.  We look like some dangerous motherfuckers.”

[pause]

“We look like the type of people you don’t just turn around and fly away from.

“Do you think the cannons out there really work?  I bet they really god damn do.

“Not that that matters though.  I mean, if you know this big fucking guy, right, and the two of you are in a restaurant.  Follow me.

So the two of you are in there, and you hold the place up.  And you decide that you’re going to ditch your big ass, stupid friend to take the fall for you.  You don’t leave the door open on the way out.  You got me?  You don’t wait for him to figure it out, you make sure the cops get there in time to clean up your mess.

“Do you remember how few of them there were?  There were probably like two million or so right?  When they first got here.  And by this time, Right now I think there were probably about ten million of them.  That was compared to about 9 billion humans. 

“They know who’s expendable.  We should have known too.”

 

Blake:  When we landed we were informed that we would be sent directly back to earth, and asked to wait in the dock area until we were refueled.  Andy wanted to know if the war had started.

“And that was pretty much that.  We heard the speech and we left.”

[interviewer question]

“The speech must not have reached you yet.  Actually come to think of it they mentioned that.  Communications have been frozen.  Is that what’s happening right now?  You’ll get the video I’m sure, eventually, but yeah, I remember it.

The Mass Delegate from the second race took a podium and broadcast to the entire moon.  He spoke English to me but I’m pretty sure everyone understood it anyway like they always seem to.

“They have no expressions I can see, but he sounded apologetic to me.”

 

Andy:  Fucking jelly blob  gets on the TV and apologizes in the same breath that he tells us we are all going to be killed.  That fucking jelly blob was the TIME magazine fucking Jelly blob of the year 4 years ago.  I remember because I picked it up and I said: ‘Holy Shit! Jelly Blob of the fucking year! Way to go Fucking Jelly Blob!’

“It’s a big deal to me.  I liked that one.  That one blob.  I thought he was cool.”

 

Blake:  I was standing next to a man when we were in the lobby waiting for the Mass Delegate to come on screen.  The crowd was incredible.  The man was Japanese.  He spoke a little English, and he introduced himself as Kisuke.  We chatted for just a few moments, and then the speech started.  When the Mass Delegate started talking, Kisuke got pretty serious.  I mean, it’s serious shit all right, how could you not?

“Kisuke, though, after the speech finished, gave me this grim look.  Then he started walking toward the monitor.  He shoved people out of his way to get there, and when he finally did, he pulled out some kind of sword, and he cut the monitor in half.  I think it was a saber or something.”

 

Andy:  “I know, holy shit right?

“Actually, the sword thing wasn’t that surprising.  The atmosphere was so heavy, man.”

[interviewer question]

“Fuckin-a I remember the speech.”

 

Blake:  “actually, yes, I think I can remember it verbatim.  He said:-“

 

Nedina:

[pause]

[interviewer begins to speak but is cut off]

“My friends, my gracious hosts, my family: When we arrived on your world fifty years ago you agreed to help us.  You housed and sheltered us.  You helped us build defenses to protect both of our races.

“Today we are finished with these preparations, and not a moment too soon. Our persistent enemy draws quite near.”

[audience speaking quietly in background]

“We have worked together on this moon for fifty years.  You have proven yourselves to be helpful, trustworthy, brave, and you should be proud.  That is why it is so regrettable that today is the day that our invaluable trust in each other is broken.

“My brave friends, It is with a heavy heart that I inform you that we have worked together these long years under false pretenses.  We never had any intention of staying to fight with you.  We are leaving you, and going where you cannot follow.”

[Audience speaking loudly, shouts]

“We are leaving you the weapons we have made together, and though when our enemy arrives, you may rain incredible destruction on him, we know this position to be a hopeless one.

[animated shouting, rising voices]

“We are taking your children from you.  We are taking your culture and your future with us, when we go.

“We are leaving you to die, and you shall provide the cover that we need to escape, to rebuild our race, and to gain a fighting chance in our war.

“This was always our war.”

 

Andy:  “Fucking aliens.”

 

Blake:  “ We should have known, like I said.

“The moon was completely uncontrollable after the speech ended.”

 

Andy:  “The place went bonkers.  How would you feel after some asshole, alien blob of goo told you your children were kidnapped, you were going to die, and there was nothing you could do?

“Yeah.  The children were gone.  That part was true.  It was on the news right after the speech.

“And they’re pretty sure that the second race backed up a large amount of data from the internet before they left.

“Humanity’s remains weren’t fossilized; they were downloaded off of Firefox. How awesome is that?

“The communications should be back really, really soon.  You guys should probably go get some coffee or something, you’re in for a hell of a meeting.”

 

Nedina:

[Voices are yelling loudly.  The sound of furniture being thrown is audible]

“Good night sun

“Good night stars

“Goodnight humankind, my sweet little widowbirds.

“In your memory, we shall not fail.”


© Copyright 2017 Terry. All rights reserved.

Add Your Comments:

Comments

avatar

Author
Reply

More Science Fiction Short Stories