Tuesday, June 28, 2016

The Woman in the Blue Spacesuit Part 13

Meredith tried to put aside what the man at the bar had said. She had many things to accomplish that morning anyways that she must focus on. She had tea in Lady Geneva’s garden where they would have an exhibit of alien plant species, and she must run into town and get the dress she had made for it. Her daughter Elena had decided to join the soccer team at school, a disgracefully boyish hobby that her mother could not dissuade her from. It had put Meredith quite out of temper.
            She bathed at eight and smoked while reading the newspaper. She was about to start breakfast when the doorbell entered and her maid brought in a tall unusual gentlemen.
            “What can I do for you sir?” Meredith said civilly. “I apologize for my disarray.”
            “Not a problem, kind lady. I came to discuss a woman on the run that you might help me find.”
            “A woman on the run?”
            “An alien on the run. A criminal.”
            “Why, that is disgraceful! Do you mean to tell me that she’s on earth of all places? Running wild here? What has she done?”
            “I did not mean to startle you ma’am. I assure you we have the problem under control.”
            Meredith hadn’t noticed it before, but recognized the man’s subtle, blank uniform, the faint black mark of a cross on his chest.
            “Do you mean your people lost her?!” Meredith cried.
            “We did not lose her—“
            “But you don’t know where she is.”
            “Not yet. I was hoping you might be able to help us with that.”
            “You do realize it’s your duty to protect the citizens of earth from alien life forms? They bring diseases and dangerous cultures to the planet! You have put my daughters at risk—“
            The man with the dark red hair looked coolly at Meredith for a long moment until the weak-willed woman grew silent until her voice trailed of to a thin squeak. “I know it is my duty,” he said darkly. “That is why I am here.”
            “I have not seen anything of what you’re talking about in this area, no,” Meredith said as strongly as she could. “How do you even know that she is here? The earth is a lot bigger than you realize.”
            Meredith scoffed, but by then the man had already turned towards the door and his long stride had already taken him half way away.
            Back on the street again, he found himself surrounded by walking people and passing cars and flashing lights from every window and street. He walked briskly, almost angrily, away from Meredith’s flat and down the road. He had Home base’s list of others who might know of any transportation happening in the city, most a lot more intelligent and helpful then this dumpy spacy mother. He grinned as he walked away, for he realized how his little deed probably did more good than it seemed.

            After he had turned his back, a long face appeared in the window and watched his back for a few seconds as he wandered away. Then the curtains were snatched close again. Meredith found her friend and called a friend, and she stayed on the phone for many hours on her very busy morning.

Tuesday, June 21, 2016

Woman in the Blue Spacesuit Part 12

“Here’s the list, Anagan.”
The man with the blood-red hair woke up. When he opened his eyes all he saw was the cold grey surface that he had made as his bed the night before. He sat up and looked at his Estute; the small monitor burst into life, with white flashes bouncing across the street.
Anagan was on the edge of a river, under a bridge. The surface of the water had frozen solid and a thin, sparkling layer of ice lay on the concrete around him. Above him he could hear the cars and trucks passing along the bridge overhead.
            He touched the screen faintly and a small picture came up on the screen: Meredith Mehiggins, East Street. It showed a thin-faced, well-dressed woman who clearly did not belong to this century at all. She dressed with the elegance of lace and bows and delicate, intricate beauty that had not been invented yet. The paragraph below her said that she kept a record of those about town who did not belong, there, for social purposes mostly, as a directory for secret societies that the rich and foreign thrived on to enjoy this city.
            He wiped the snow off of his jacket and pants and briskly headed up to the road and towards East Road.

Tuesday, June 14, 2016

Woman in the Blue Spacesuit Part 11

“Okay, so I have a few questions for you.”
            “Fair enough. I probably have answers, and I owe you a favor.”
            “What were you accused of stealing?”
            Jun looked sideways at Martha. She had spent the afternoon trying to think up an appropriate answer to that question, one that Martha would accept. They were inside now and the sun had gone down; Martha had just gotten home and collapsed on the couch, exhausted.
            Finally Jun answered, very slowly, “The stealing wasn’t the problem.”
            “Stealing is wrong, that’s a problem.”
            “You are very quick to judge something you admittedly do not understand.”
            Martha fell silent, indignant. She did not understand at all, and hated it; she could not decide what to believe, and what was real. Yet she said nothing.
            Jun spoke, after thinking long and hard about how much truth she should tell. “I did steal something.”
            “What was it?” Martha said faintly.
            “I stole the Estute to get here. I knew that they suspected me; I can tell when someone’s framing me.”
            “Now they will suspect you even more because you ran.”
            “You’re an observant one.”
            “Another question then, Jun: how can you understand me?”
            “The internet. Travels across space.”
            Martha looked very skeptical, but Jun nodded reassuringly. “I’ve got a facebook account even.”
            “You’re kidding.”
            “No, but still it is a bit primitive. I’m one of the people who study your culture, you know. I work at an alien version of University; we call it roughly translated, “Great Library,” where we study all day and then go into the library attic for sleep. And professors hold lectures in it. Good fun. I write books about your culture though.”
            “So you’re a researcher,” Martha said. She felt as though she knew that somehow.
            “You know you still haven’t answered my question. What were you accused of stealing?”
            Jun’s face fell quickly and she turned away. “Information,” she said finally, with a huff. “Now I do not wish to speak of that.”
            “Fair. Then if you can’t answer that, tell me how you can know if someone is following you? Have you received a signal or something?”
            “Why do you keep asking questions about things you cannot possibly understand?” Jun said sharply. She looked Martha full in the face, her eyes glowing. “Do you really expect me to explain all of our technology to you, technology that is more advanced than yours by several hundred years? I would have to get maps and papers out for you, it would take many hours of you time to learn it. Suffice to say I know what I am talking about.”
            Martha looked steadily back at Jun. “I meant no offense. I just want to understand what was going on. This is my home; I value its safety.”
            Martha was smaller than Jun. As Jun stood now, her shoulders hunched over and her head forward, she was still three inches taller than Martha, who stood straight as an arrow. Still at that moment Jun looked carefully at her rival for seconds and then relaxed her posture and smiled. “I know you mean no harm,” Jun replied. “Forgive me. You have been very hospitable. Now may we be done with questions for tonight?”

            And Martha fell asleep at eight, for the second day of an alien in her house.

Tuesday, June 7, 2016

Woman in the Blue Spacesuit Part 10

After Martha left for work Jun worked on her Estute. She could not leave the house until it was repaired, and the sooner she was out of Martha’s hair and heading towards her destination the better. She ran her fingers gently across the panel and it buzzed weakly to life. She closed her eyes and probed inside it. She slid her mind over the memory storage, the energy source, the wires and the air-cleanser. All seemed to be intact and felt whole, but only worked faintly, as if they were out of energy. She wondered with sharp fear what would happen if she could not get this thing to work. What sort of diseases would she be exposed to, she thought, remembering the reports received from the first explorers to different planets. Someone made a terrible mistake with their air-filters and they received twenty-three diseases between the five of them and three of them died a long, painful death. If Jun did not get her Estute to work properly she may suffer the same fate. The little machine was also her only route home.
            What could have caused this? The people who made Estutes deliberately made them fool proof. They had their own energy source, a created black hole the size of a pin hole. They had a force field twenty-feet around that humans didn’t have weapons to break. It had an endless chemical process of cleaning the oxygen and breaking down and cleanly storing any discharge, eventually expelling it in sacks. It cleaned her body once a day. More than that, it had the teleportation that had brought her to this planet. It had dissolved her body into atoms, carried those atoms within it and traveled at twice light speed across the universe for eight years. How could it get broken? What would she do without it on this strange rock?
            She carried it to the balcony for better lighting. Martha’s porch had potted plants and a metal rocking chair; Jun placed the Estute on the railing and looked at it long and hard. She had only one explanation for this, though she was afraid to face it. She thought of the fires that they had escaped from, eight years ago and what felt, like her, for a day.
            She looked down at the street. This was the first planet she had ever been to. Of course as a child she had visited their moon, back home; it had trees, like this planet, and a blue sky, but from the balcony could not see any trees and the sky was a dull, metallic grey.
            She really had thought that, coming to a different planet, she would have a feeling of revelation and purpose. She felt nothing but loneliness and worry for her Estute; this was a great deal more boring then she had thought it would be.
            And of course a part of her was waiting.
            She knew he followed her. He always kept his promises.
            She wondered if she had broken the Estute in the fire; she wondered if something had happened to them during the flight that had messed with its materialization. Maybe a chunk of it was missing. She wondered if it was safe to use; in the meanwhile she would figure out what to do.

            She fixed the Estute in one way: now she didn’t have to look like she was wearing a spacesuit. She engaged a small force field for diseases, with safe anti-biotics in the air and air cleansers engaged. She tightened a wire inside the projectile, a minor repair, and the spacesuit dissolved into a pair of neat straight jeans, black flats and a white T-shirt. She felt much more comfortable, and the air felt cleaner and the force field protected her a little from the noise ad smell. Slowly she sank into a chair and waited, her hands crossed across her lap and her eyes wondering among the huge grey towers of downtown Minneapolis.