The Hand That Bites The FeederThis is a short story I wrote my senior year of High School. Yeah, it is a bit loooong, but get over it :) The Pargo-Farkers were named after this oh-so-spiffster guy named Derek Fargo-Parker. Hehe, dunno why ya'll needed to know that, =) O'well...here you go :)
A loud but muffled explosion shattered the serene afternoon in the Washington Cascades, reaching Sallie’s idle ears. She glanced up, peering out her bay window as it trembled uncontrollably. She jumped to her feet, stumbling madly out the front door, the very earth shaking beneath her.
A brown head turned around slowly with an enormous, smug grin upon his lips.
Sallie watched the sturdy old cedars and evergreen sway and snap violently.
"What are you doing?” she shrieked, her eyes scanning the long, desolate ramp.
“But they forbid-”
“C’mon Sal. You don’t honestly believe that a little thing like an act of Congress would prevent progress, do you?”
Her smart reply was cut off as she caught sight of a huge bulky object hurtling toward her. She grabbed Kyle’s arm as the quaking grew stronger and stronger by the second. Sallie felt her brain liquefying as it shook back and forth in her skull. She frowned hoping the damage wouldn’t erase her grad schooling.
“Sallie, I warned them you’d be here. They didn’t want anyone, especially you in the area today.”
Her eyes riveted on the vessel as it shot past her, beginning its sharp ascent. Sallie ground her teeth, her hands white-knuckled as she gripped Kyle’s shoulder. Her most vivid nightmares flooded her conscious mind, and as the ship left its launch rails Sallie felt the Reaper’s cool gaze upon her soul.
“Oh...my...God...” she gasped as it left her vision. Salvadora Moncrieff, ace-reporter for the Global News Service, out-spoken Environmentalist, and generally typical twenty-six-year-old, was for the first time in her career, completely at a loss for words; actually it was the second time for the now ex-ace-reporter.
“She’s a beaut.”
Sallie turned to Kyle,”She’s amazing. But Kyle, where did you send her?”
Taking her hand he lead her into the house, the rails still glowing with white-hot intensity.
“Same place you denounced us for considering.”
“The SUN? That’s insa-”
“I cannot believe you’d send it to an atmosphere as unstable as Jup-”
“PLUTO!” Kyle was exasperated.
“Oh. Well there isn’t much out there to disturb, I guess it could have been worse.”
“What?” Kyle frowned,”You wrote an entire lecture series explaining in detail why we should not send it to Pluto! You, one woman, managed to delay this entire program for more than two years!”
Sallie nodded. She’d been fired from the GNS following an article that blatantly ignored all impartiality with a flagrant condemnation of their plan; there were horrible, graphic scenarios discussed within the report as well as grim predictions of failures and explosions.
Her top-notch, eternally infallible sixth sense felt a Pulitzer winning exclusive in her midst. Perhaps she would return to journalism after all...
“Well, Kyle-Hon, whyn’t we trek on over to Seattle and discuss it all over dinner?
The ship was manned. Two people guided the vessel of death on a one-way journey to the outer most planet. Cosmonaut Irene Drake-Thompson smiled at her best friend and lover, Cosmonaut General Jerome Thompson. In the throes of their final good-bye neither noticed the enormous, whirling meteor careening directly at the ship. Inadvertently, a misplace hand groped the destination controls and as the ship shifted course abruptly, the meteor passed harmlessly.
Irene jumped up as their vehicle began to shudder. Her fingers brushed the chair’s back as she was thrown backwards. Jerome tumbled with her, knocking Irene against the door. Suddenly the ship went into a nose dive, breaking into Pluto’s atmosphere.
Irene grabbed hold of Jerome as the barren planet below grew closer. Swearing viciously Jerome pulled himself across the cabin and pressed the button labeled, “Transmit”.
“Duvall, we have a problem...God, that sounds dumb, why couldn’t we just launch from a real place like Houston, or Kennedy or-”
Salvadora Moncrieff-Worthing glanced over at her sleeping husband, whose arms held gently their soft infant daughter. Once again she was an ace-reporter, out-spoken Environmentalist, and generally typical thirty-two year old; that is, typical aside from the fact that she’d won a Pulitzer prize for her expose on the shuttles launched only feet from her home, done the talk show circuit following her marriage to Kyle Worthing, chairman of said project and developer of the technology employed in said project, and had been suffering from severe insomnia for almost three weeks.
The only thing upon her mind, other than the fact that her daughter, Fiana, was almost one month old, was that it was just about time to celebrate, or mourn, the sacrificial deaths of two of the world’s greatest cosmonauts. Unfortunately, following the first launch many of Sallie’s fears had been destroyed. It was unfortunate because she’d then endorsed the project, celebrating it and marrying its founder. Now, however, she was having second...third...even fourth thoughts on the matter. When, all those years ago, the world had closed all of its nuclear reactors and consolidated all the waste materials into one enormous bin in Nevada, those in charge had declared that never again would the global nation have to take such an enormous risk. They had promised that no more nuclear waste would be created, and therefore no further shuttles would be necessary. Sallie, had doubted they’d be able to keep their promise, and true to her top-notch, eternally infallible sixth sense, she was correct. Three years later, three African countries developed nuclear power plants, then China re-instated theirs, and within months, almost half of the 183 nations who’d signed the Anti-Nuclear Waste Pact which officially ended nuclear reactions on Earth had been taken from the list and were working with nuclear reactions again. Sallie felt defeated. Now, once again, every nation on the face of the planet had agreed to end nuclear power. All of the plants had been closed and were being demolished as of last Thursday. All of the waste had been transported to Nevada to await its convoy to the small, sleepy region of the Cascades where, with the exception of the launch rails, Sallie’s only neighbors were ten miles in any direction. Tomorrow, she fretted, they would load an even larger shuttle and shoot it off in the same direction...headed toward Pluto.
It was the gnawing feeling from her top-notch, eternally infallible sixth sense that kept her awake, fearing the worst.
“Sal, it’ll be alright. They haven’t let any other media within ten miles, everyone thinks we’re vacationing in Jamaica, and I’ve checked the devices myself. Nothing is going to happen from this.”
“Nothing huh?” Sallie frowned, her eyes searching the sky for any obstructions. It was a perfectly harmless blue sky with but a few clouds marring the sheer perfection. Besides that, the airspace was specifically restricted for ten hours on either side of the launch.
The familiar rumbling began again at exactly noon. Fiana didn’t cry as the trees rocked and cracked around them. Sallie, however did. She closed her eyes, praying that there wasn’t any explosion this time. There was triple the amount of radioactive materials in this shuttle as there had been in the last. Should it explode, most of North America would be rendered uninhabitable.
“Its not going to blow up Sal,”Kyle held her hand tightly, his eyes following the ship as it began its sharp ascent. Both raised their heads, watching its every movement. Suddenly a second, similar object came into view, on a collision course with their Death Ship.
“Kyle!”she cried as the two ships neared each other. Simultaneously they dove for cover, peering out from under a steel table. The experienced couple inside were Cosmonauts who would return following their drop, should they survive the lift-off. Sallie wondered briefly what they could possibly be doing that would prevent their steering.
Suddenly both shifted course, narrowly missing the other. In fact, they seemed to have tipped each other.
The ship was landing, slowly and methodically. Kyle crawled out, shading his eyes from the glare. Sallie pulled herself up, cradling Fiana close. The second vessel seemed familiar.
“What’s the name on the side?” Kyle stepped forward. “Its one of ours.”
“What do you mean ours?”
“The U.S.S., uh...Cri- it can’t be.”
Kyle smacked his forehead, recoiling,”Crisis.”
Sallie nodded for a second, then the realization hit her like a slap. “B-b-but...” Her top-notch, eternally infallible sixth sense was active again and Sallie handed the baby to her husband, pulling out her pocket camcorder. It had caught the entire scene.
“The same ship we launched from here exactly six years ago, today?” Sallie asked in her most professional voice.
“Yes. It is amazing,”Kyle looked directly into the camera,”It seems that after six years in deep space, our original vessel has returned home, an entirely unexpected and...surprising act.”
The door upon the ship melted away into a puddle of metallic liquid and from within the hull three figures emerged. Sallie was taken aback, zooming in to catch their faces. Vaguely humanoid in shape and form, each was approximately five feet tall, with shocking blue hair, illuminated green eyes, and long, flowing white hair. Their arms seemed a bit too long, and their heads were somewhat pumpkin shaped.
“That door didn’t do that when it left,”Kyle whispered.
“Hey.” The tallest of the three said, stepping down the transparent stairs.
“Those stairs weren’t there either,”Sallie frowned. “Um...Hello.” Sallie began. “Who are you?”
“Bluntness. Good thing. We like it.” Its voice was high, but nasal, though they really had no prominent nose, only two drop shaped holes in the center of their faces.
“We have an ultimatum.”
“Ulti-...why?” Kyle asked.
“We have nearly run out of our main life-sustaining materials. We believe you possess them.”
“But what are they-”
A second alien moved up,”Not important now. We must speak with all members of your planet.”
“Mass media,”the third chimed in. This one was distinctly different in appearance and voice. Sallie noticed the buds beneath the black gown and suspected that the third alien was a female.
“Oh yes,”Sallie fumbled with her camcorder and tuned it to her GNS emergency frequency, a perk of having been reinstated as GNS ace-reporter. “Hey Stan. I’ve got a hot story.”
“What else’d ya expect in,”he winked,”Jamaica.”
“Look at this,”She flashed the camera in the direction of the aliens, who waved congenially.
“I know. Let’s take over every frequency in every country, get translators on the spot, this is big, huge...enormous.”
“Do we smell a second Pulitzer?”
“Just get on it Stan!” She hissed, smiling at the aliens. “He’ll be ready in a few minutes. Are you ready for the speech?”
“Yes. Which language shall we speak?”
Sallie hesitated,”How many do you speak?”
“We speak your English and Japanese, and our own dialects of English.”
“You shall come to know the reasons as intimately as we do.”
Cosmonaut Jane Gibbons and her brother, Cosmonaut Lieutenant John S. Stanford, Ph.D., stared blankly at each other. They could not believe what had just happened. The damage sustained was minimal, laughable in fact. They’d probably done more harm during the launch than during the collision. Except, of course, for the small fact that they had gone nose over tail, flip flopping through space, barely able to stand the motion even in zero gravity.
Now they were hopelessly careening out of control in an unknown direction at near the speed of light. Jane feared they’d explode with every twist and cartwheel. John feared they wouldn’t.
Still within the confines of the Milky Way galaxy, they passed the enormous Jupiter, and the lovely blue-green Neptune, Saturn and even Uranus...they were approaching Pluto. Together they fought to steer the craft toward the small outer planet. A bit of luck gave them the strength to dive into Pluto’s atmosphere and blast retros.
“Um, John?”Jane whispered as he furrowed his brow in concentration.
“What is it Janie?”
“Are we supposed to have a welcoming committee?”
“We come in peace.”
“We ask only one favor of you.”
“But first, we thank you for your sound minds in choosing your creation site.”
Sallie stepped into the camera’s view. “Would you mind explaining to us, exactly who you are?”
“We are the Pargo-Farkers, born of the planet you call Pluto. Humbly grateful to our creators, the afore mentioned Human race, we ask a favor.”
“How, exactly, did we create you?”
“We know little of our own development. Our first generation were human, exposed to extreme amounts of radiation following the crash of a certain vessel, the very ship that we’ve returned to you, the Crisis."
“That is amazing, that two of your people are actually, Cosmonauts Irene and Jerome Thompson?”
“At one time, they were. In six years, they reproduced, their children spread, their grandchildren spread. Our population is currently hovering around the hundred thousand mark.”
“That is amazing.”
“Yes. We, however, are in danger of extinction.”
“How so?”Sallie leaned in, staring the leader in the eye seriously. Kyle smiled at her from behind the camera, giving her the O.K. signal.
“Our race was created on the basis of radioactive materials. It is all we possess on Pluto to sustain this type of life. Without it, we will perish.”
“That is terrible.”
“Yes. We have almost exhausted our supplies.”
Kyle started,”You’ve used up almost 70 years worth of spent material?!”
The second alien nodded,”We require more.”
“There is none left.”
“Pardon?”The female whispered,”There must be more.”
“None at all,”Kyle shook his head,”We had gone back to nuclear power for only three years, and now all of the reactors are dismantled. There is none left on Earth.”
The leader raged, tossing the heavy steel table easily. His comrades murmured to him softly, pulling him aside. For a brief moment they conferred. Eventually they separated, standing in a straight line, their spindly arms crossed over their thin chests.
“Then we have no choice but to give our final ultimatum.”
“Either you supply us with all of the material we require, every six years for all eternity, or we destroy you, and the entire planet.”
Sallie and Kyle exchanged glances. “We cannot give you what we do not have.”
“Then you two have just chosen a fate for all man-kind.” The aliens retreated.
“But wait! Isn’t-”
“No more talk. Can you promise us the material?”
Kyle shook his head sadly.
“Then you shall die.”
The invisible steps were still in position as the three ascended into their craft. The puddle rematerialized as a sealed door. Sallie patted her husband on the shoulder as he began to weep, clutching Fiana to his chest.
Her top-notch, eternally infallible sixth sense gave her one final instinct.
The aliens shot out of the Earth’s atmosphere, floating innocuously above the small blue-green rock.
“Prepare the cannons.”
The captain shook his head in disgust and waved his hand to signal the beginning of the firing. Within seconds their laser cannons had torn the Earth in two and was frying it from the inner core to the crust.
Approaching his crew, the captain smiled. “ I believe that we have accomplished our mission.”
“We have no supplies to show for our work.”
“I have the instinct that we will track their rogue vessel.”
A pregnant pause.
“Besides,”the leader reasoned,”It isn’t as if we’ve bitten-”He stopped, dropping his head in shame.
The female rolled her eyes,”And what does your top-notch, eternally infallible sixth sense tell you now, Vorkon?”
Moral --- Don’t bite the hand that feeds you.