Monday, August 17, 2009

For your reading enjoyment...

So we here in the Claytor family household have an established schedule to fit in all the going's on in this madhouse. Typically during the school year we have Tuesday "Happy Fun Night", because mandated fun...is well, mandatory. But being the wretched folk that we are, we determined that in the summer time, every day is fun (for the kids) and all the while, their little brains are rotting because they're not in school. Naturally then, Tuesday becomes "Educational Night".

My personal favorite is Writing night, where we've all helped come up with a few topics consisting of a Place, Thing, and Event, and we all pick one of each out of a hat. Even the Boy participated in Writing Night this year! So following are Colin's and one of Chris's stories. I've left mine out cause, well, my stories are too damn long for a blog.

Colin made a book, illustrated and everything. His topics were:
Place - Retirement Home
Thing - Tire iron
Event - Meteor Strike"Once there was a fifteen year old boy and his father were finding a retirement home. They heard on the news there was going to be a meteor strike so the boy made a tire iron laser to destroy the meteor and it worked. The end."

The symbolism of his aging father and death from the skies is profound, wouldn't you say?

Rosebud.

Chris had
Place - Saskatoon
Thing - A fuchsia colored rabbit fur lined sleeping bag
Event - Building the great wall of China

Smuggler

As Theo sped his ship through yet another gauntlet of their mines, dodging the very occasional, yet quite disconcertingly well placed salvos from his pursuers, he had a thought.

“Why again, do I do this?”

After all, this job didn’t pay all that well. And while the settlers escaping from the rising temperatures on Earth kind of “needed” a new place to call home, they certainly could have picked an easier, safer place to travel. The outer rim of the solar system, while cool, was getting increasingly well guarded by…you know…them. But he was good at it, a pretty good ratio of souls delivered vs. lost. And the way things were these days that would have to be enough.

This trip was unusual in that there was very little luggage to haggle over. Usually his modest, sturdy craft required his having to ditch many of the belongings his “passengers” expected to bring on their journey.

“I know this is a one way trip for all of you,” Theo would often say as they prepared to board. “But there is limited space aboard, and I don’t get paid for delivering luxuries…just healthy people.” There was the inevitable uproar of protest; some old lady just couldn’t go on living in the absence of some random kitsch. But he was always able to get them to see things his way. And the offending “naked-baby-holding-a-beer-mug statuette” was tossed aside.

But on this trip, there was a child. This in and of its self was strange, most people seemed to stay rooted on the dying Earth if they were successfully bred; as if a new generation would make a difference. And while little ones can certainly survive the rigors of space travel, no one; not even Theo; could bear the thought of a child’s fate if captured by them. This child clung desperately to a blank sheet of paper, an info storage disc, and a small bag inside if which was, quite possibly, the dumbest item Theo had ever seen anyone covet so. A small, fuchsia, rabbit fur lined sleeping bag. “Kid, it’s not THAT cold where we’re going” he joked to try to get this little girl to part with her treasure. “No…I need to keep it. I promised” she said. “And my name is Caitlin, not Kid.” Caitlin puffed up as best she could to seem tougher and more weathered than she obviously was. And somehow that did it, and Theo caved in. Knowing that this was likely the last days alive for this kid, he hadn’t the heart to deprive her.

One pod had been decompressed by hostile fire, it’s 50 occupants exposed to space, dead. They were luckier than those on the second pod that had been severed from the ship’s frame; it’s life support intact, the occupants captured. And while he had hoped that the 50 sacrificed to them might be enough to allow his escape with the remaining 1100, it wasn’t to be. He took more damage than he could afford to repair and lost another pair of pods making this a “break-even” trip at best. “Why again, do I do this?”

Theo’s thoughts turned to Caitlin when the next blast missed the ship’s nose by just a few yards. “Poor kid never had a chance, should have never come” and he begun to think of the wisdom of the new government in risking so many lives to populate the new settlement. But he stuck it out. Eventually as always his attackers lost heart, gave up, and let him go with his remaining, precious, human cargo. He had seen one of them once…in death, drifting in space. Probably a casualty of mutiny aboard one of their ships. “I wonder why they hate us so much,” he thought, realizing that only a few lucky chromosomes separated him from that fate. A fate of sickness and hatred; genius coupled with madness.

Upon unloading his payload for processing at the port of New Saskatoon, Theo fielded the usual complaints. Some were easy like, “why was the ride so bumpy,” “Well, that happens when one’s ship is being shot full of holes.” Others, not so much. “Why did so few of us make it?” “What happened to the rest of the passengers?” “Can’t you rescue them?” Where is my family?” “I want to go home…” And then he spotted her in the lineup. Caitlin; she had made it. He purposefully never pays attention to the faces as they settle into the 24 travel pods on the ship, lest those faces haunt him when he realizes which ones fell into their hands on the way. But he was glad to see this little girl survive the journey, seemingly fine. And with her stupid sleeping bag no less.

A few weeks passed. Repairs were proceeding on the ship. Settlers were assigned living arrangements, breeding assignments, and occupations (based on their education, skills, age, and of course the greater need of all.) Theo tried to relax and get some much-needed rest before have to face them on his return journey. And when it arrived he was not as surprised as one might think. The paper came by courier. And on it was a simple note, written in ink by hand.

Dear Theo,
Thank you for our deliverance. Thank you for letting me bring my things with me too. My Daddy is already here working on the project and he says all that stuff in my sleeping bag was really important.

Theo had heard of this project, some sort of protective barrier to shield the settlements from them. Growing concern of an organized, widespread invasion was not entirely unfounded; it had happened before. The new Great Wall it was called (most people left out the “of China” but that was the idea.) And it was all going to be possible because some sneaky kid had smuggled something past a smuggler. Theo was impressed, and wrote back to Caitlin;

Dear Caitlin,
Glad to see you and your things made it in one piece. You were pretty good at getting those things past me when we boarded. So I know I’ll regret asking this but when you’re old enough…want a job?