Thursday, October 17, 2013

Part 8: They Grow Up So Fast

(You are reading this story in progress. To start at the beginning, please click here. To view the Table of Contents, click here. This story is being written live, daily, and with some audience participation in October 2013)


Sorry about the abrupt ending: they came back to my room to get me for another round of training. But now I’m done. My eyeballs feel a little funny and I feel a little queasy, but I wanted to finish writing up what’s been happening the last few days, because if I don’t write it down, I probably won’t believe any of this ever happened.

I finally know what day it is, in case you noticed the date on this entry. It’s Thursday. I’ve been gone for almost a week now. Well, *we* have been gone. The kids are . . .well, we’ll get to that in a minute. First things first. Where were we?

Oh, yes. The first time I lost my temper with them. Well, they knocked me out cold. And I totally understand that, because I am pretty sure I was really trying to kill Glop.

I call him Glop because that is the sound he makes. Thankfully, they are not like cats, who all call each other the same thing and have the same “name”. Well, they might, but not to me. Each Theommi makes a unique sound so. . .

. . .So I was trying to kill Glop, until Blurp came up and stung me. The toxin works so fast you don’t feel the prick of the needles in their skin. You’re just zonked.

When I woke up, I was in my new room. I freaked out, of course, because a) I was in a different location b) I didn’t know how long I had been out c) the kids were missing and d) why hadn’t we started out in rooms instead of a damn hyperspace dungeon?

OK, it wasn’t a hyperspace dungeon, more like a hyperspace cargo hold.

I yelled a lot. And punched the mattress. I held my knees to my chest and cried. In short, I tantrumed like Juliette would. And thinking about Juliette still makes me a little weepy, considering what they did to the children. . .

But more on that later.

They came to see me, once my rage had simmered down to a low blubber. I’m not sure I did them justice, explaining what they look like, so I made a little sketch:

I realize I am not the world’s best artist. There is no nose, by the way, it’s just a flap of skin that serves no purpose that I can think of. There are gills on the neck that wrap all of the way down to the chest, and they can take in air directly or they can suck in in through their mouths. I learned this when strangling Glop, because he didn’t seem to mind not getting air (he kept breathing the whole time), he just looked terrified. Maybe I was cutting off his blood supply. Maybe the salt in my skin was uncomfortable for him. Their skin kind of reminds me of slugs: wettish, transluscent, jelly-ish.

Ha, they’re jelly fish. . .get it?

OK, not funny. Or probably not funny for you, because you’re probably still thinking we’re all in danger. And we are; we’re just not any kind of immediate danger.

You see, they want me to fly their ship. Yeah, like the video game. And the presentation is the same, with that same damn display I’m having them take out. And the same controls.

The whole cockpit smells musty and old. The ship has to be millions of years old. I don’t know how they preserved it, but I’m wondering if they can preserve food as well as this ship. I wouldn’t need a refrigerator anymore, or have to throw out bags and bags of brown mushy lettuce.

The cockpit is actually pretty sweet. Not as complicated as Star Trek, just simple and considerately dark enough to help out my eyes. And the kids (I still call them kids) move around in it like they were born there.
I have two hand-mounted controls, which look amazing like taking a PS3 controller and breaking in half for each hand. But they require more than three fingers to operate everything, and the Theommis don’t have five fingers any more. Nor do they have the fight response they had back in their prime (or so they tell me. I’m not convinced they didn’t just steal this ship and have me fighting to produce and empire, instead of saving an ancient empire like they keep telling me).

The kids are gung-ho about the whole thing, of course. Their bodies might be fully-grown, their reflexes and brains trained to handle complicated stimuli like an adult, but emotionally, they’re still children. They think this is all some adventure game. They don’t stop to think about their parents and worried they must be.

I have to admit that I’m probably partly at fault for this attitude. I am trying to keep things light, to keep us focused on “winning the game” as if this all were the same video game we played a week ago. I don’t want them to be as scared as I am, as sad as I am, as pissed off as I am. I hope they understand, when we get back. If we get back.

And if we get back, will the aliens put them back in their child-bodies? It seems so unfair, to disadvantage them after growing them up. But it seems so unfair to rob them of their childhoods completely.

When I woke up in my new room, the kids were gone. When the Theommis came to see me, I asked about the children. Well, I demanded information about them. I didn’t pull any punches, either, I made it clear that I would absolutely murder the lot of them if they harmed the children in any way. But they showed me six black boxes, and told me what they were doing to the children: growing them up, teaching them the physics and engineering and mathematics they need to be able to do their jobs on the Zeppelin-ship. And when I saw them, in their new shiny silver suits, I had to admit that the fish-aliens did a pretty good job. I could recognize each child, and the “them” inside their eyes was still there for each one.

Once they were out of their chamber, we all got a tour of the residential portion of the ship. The bathrooms were shown to us (although I didn’t have to go after I was knocked out. I hope I peed all over the place and they had to clean it up: it will teach them that mammals need restrooms).

It’s not that I dislike them. They are peaceful creatures.  They remind me a little of manatees, except slimier and thinner. But they have an innocence about them. Their big round eyes never blink, which I think makes them seem sincere. And they make cute noises when they “talk”.

They’ve explained to me why they want to quell the rebellions in their Empire. I’m just not sure I believe them.

I mean, would you?

But I have to help them. 

I have to help them, because it's our only way home.

1 comment:

  1. I'm loving this story so far! I've gotta check out the rest of the site on my computer. My phone does you no justice!