So doing something a little different. Following this little ramble will be the prologue to my book. Honestly I haven’t worked on it at all this year. It’s been a busy first couple of months. But I need to get back into it. I do still love the idea and the themes of it but I think it needs a big reworking. I’m not happy with a lot of it but I am happy with this bit. I think. Are creative people ever happy with their work? It’s unlikely. But have a read, give me some feedback (good or bad) and hopefully enjoy.
A Book with Still No Title
By Megan Ashby
7 February 2010 – Just beyond Jupiter.
Kate’s heart raced in her chest. Pounding against her strong ribs and causing her head to throb. Why did this job fall to her? Just because she was the leader of the Hiroc didn’t mean that she should necessarily be the one to speak to the planet first. She was sure that James would be much more well received. His english was far better than any other Hiroc. He had been the one to suggest coming here after all. He had been watching all the signals they sent out. Things called radio shows and TV programmes then soon a signal was sent out for contact from alien races. Well, he was listening. Now they were less than a hundred million miles away from the best chance they had for survival. Kate tried not to think about the 8 or so billion humans that would be watching when they took over all their TVs and computers.
Kate walked up to the cockpit where she would be broadcasting from. They had learnt so much about these humans. The Hiroc scientists had been trawling through their internet for years. They were violent race but they were also a race full of love. The one big worry that Kate had been about how they would react to them. They judged each other on the colour of their skin. What would they do when they saw bright pink and purple beings? The range of colours that the Hiroc came in was far greater than the humans. Looking back into their history, the Hirocs were concerned with their treatment of each other. For a long time in human history, some of them had even used others as slaves. That had been one of the words that Hirocs had no equivalent for. Kate was glad for that. How anyone could treat someone of their own species so badly was beyond her comprehension.
Over the past few days, an organisation on Earth called NASA had been issuing warnings about ‘UFOs’ being seen in the solar system. The Hiroc had made the choice to allow themselves to be seen when they got inside of the planet humans called Neptune. They hoped to give the humans a chance to get used to the idea that they weren’t alone before they made contact. So far, they had panicked. Kate had watched news stories about people protesting and others partying for the end of the world.
James approached her with a calming smile on his face. Kate tried to return it but she knew that it faltered. ‘It will be okay.’ He attempted to reassure her. ‘I know that all their entertainment says that they won’t react well to this but at least if they do react badly, they can’t actually get to us. With their technology it would take them over a year to get here. In that time, we would be in another solar system.’ He spoke quietly in their native language. Despite herself, Kate found that she was actually calmer.
‘Is the speech ready?’ James smiled and replied that it was. All set up on the crude autocue that they had copied from plans on the internet. They may be behind them on most technologies but sometimes humans had stumbled on some good tech. Kate looked around the cockpit. Everyone was quietly getting on with their jobs. Kate turned when she heard her real name called from behind her. Kate was just a normal human name that she’d picked to make herself less of a threat. James had named himself after his favourite human film character. Kate hadn’t seen any of the films herself but he’d told her all about a suave British spy and all about how he admired his ability to always keep a clean suit although recently he’d lost that skill. She didn’t understand all of it but apparently the series had restarted or something like that. Mainly Kate thought that James just wanted to be human. He loved all of human culture. He’d been watching it all for years on the journey here. Most of the Hiroc population were now and had been for a while. Since they’d decided that it was the planet for them, they’d all being trying to learn about the native species.
The Hiroc that had called out her name was her partner. He smiled at her warmly. ‘This is from your youngest son. He wanted to make sure that you were okay.’ Kate felt herself warm when she saw her son’s favourite toy. A small fluffy blue ball, that had once had been a ‘Kark’. An animal from home. Over the years, under his protection, the toy had lost all 6 of it’s limbs and become just a ball with a few stitched up holes. But he loved it no less. ‘He said that you can put it on the camera so he can look after you.’ Kate smiled at him.
‘If only he had any eyes left.’ She took the well-loved toy and gave her partner a pat on the arm.
‘Chief, we are ready to get started.’ One of the scientists in charge of the broadcast came rushing up to her side.
‘Lead the way. I’ll see you afterwards.’
‘Good luck.’ Kate turned and headed to the small room off the side of the cockpit. Inside were three scientists and James. A camera was in front of them pointed at a blank wall. Kate took her place in front of it. She saw herself reflected in the glass of the lens. Her dark hair fell around her face in soft curls. She had spent the morning trying her hardest to make herself look as human friendly as she could. Having looked up what humans liked looks wise, she had decided that curls were the least scary style she could manage. If she didn’t despise the idea so much, she might had considered dying her hair blonde to look friendlier. The idea of changing her appearance so dramatically and permanently was abhorrent to her, plus she hadn’t the first clue where to even start with changing her hair colour. She pulled her hair over her shoulders so it fell in front of them, around her face.
‘James. Do I look less scary?’ She asked in English. Getting her head into speaking the foreign language.
‘You look great. Don’t worry.’ He answered seriously. ‘You’re going to be perfect.’ He added with a smile. Kate tried to take a few deep breaths. She suddenly remembered the toy in her hand and placed it on top of the camera. The scientists fiddled around for a few minutes while Kate went over her speech in her head. She practiced the few words that she regularly struggled with. Species had always been one she stumbled over when she practiced.
‘We’re ready. Are you?’ One of the scientists asked when they were done. Kate told them she was and to just get this over with.
‘Okay in five, four, three.’ James counted out loud at first then finished on his fingers silently. When he pointed to her Kate allowed a smile to spread on her face, careful not show her sharp teeth that they’d discovered were a sign of carnivores on Earth. After a moment’s pause, and with the thought of 8 billion humans in her head and her son’s toy in her eyes, Kate began.
1 April 2010 – Somewhere inside the M25.
Edward Weller looked to his boss, Tim, stood behind the laptop to the right and then to his boss’s boss, Paul, on the left. Paul was also known as the new Head of Alien Relations whose only boss was the Prime Minister.
‘Are we ready?’ He asked hoping they weren’t. Even though he’d been named spokesman last month, Edward still wasn’t sure that he wanted the role. He wasn’t even sure how he got the role. One minute he’d been a professor at Kings teaching a mix of lazy and brilliant kids and then next minute he was brought in to a newly formed department of government, created for the purpose of dealing with the recently revealed race hoping to move in. Edward wasn’t entirely sure why he’d even been picked. He could speak 4 languages fluently and had a doctorate in Astrophysics plus a set of twins who had turned 4 yesterday. He barely had enough time before he’d got this new job but now that he was in the team charged with dealing with the aliens, he had missed saying good night to his children on their birthday. He had given them extra hugs and kisses this morning before he dropped them off at nursery but he still felt guilty. Hopefully the work he was doing was ensuring them a better future.
‘Yes, it’s all set up. You can call them when you’re ready.’ Over the past month, Edward had been emailing the Hiroc. His team had sent out a signal telling them to set up an email address then to email him. Edward felt the pressure of representing an entire race with every word he’d typed to them. He’d soon discovered that they took everything he said literally when he made a joke and got a serious reply. That would have to change if they were to live on Earth. Edward let the air out of his lungs that he had unknowingly been storing and hit the green phone icon. He’d managed to explain to them over email how to set up a blooming Skype account. The familiar ringing tone burst out. Edward knew that just on the other side of the wall behind him every member of his team were watching eagerly on a second screen. The ringing stopped quickly and the program tried to connect to the other side of the call just a few million miles away. Edward knew that he was breaking the world record for the furthest Skype call ever. The screen broke into colour and a grainy pink shape appeared.
‘Hang on…we’re just boosting…’ A second later the picture cleared up and Kate’s face came into focus. ‘Our signal.’ She smiled broadly. ‘Hello Mr Weller.’
‘Hi Kate. Call me Ed. Nice to meet you.’
‘You too. It is nice to put a face to the name.’ She said stiffly. Ed could see that she was apprehensive as her. ‘How are you today?’
‘I am good thank you. How are you?’ Ed tried to push away the absurdity in his head. He could hardly believe that he was actually speaking to a real alien. All his life he’d watched hundreds of alien films and read so many sci-fi books. Human-alien interactions rarely ended well. He hoped that in reality it would end happily.
‘I’m good too thank you. What did you want to discuss on this call?’ Ed glanced at Tim, who was staring at another screen which mirrored Ed’s. He gave him a thumbs up. Ed had no idea what that meant. For all his worrying and panicking about this call, Ed hadn’t given much thought to what they were actually going to talk about. He’d assumed that Kate would come up with the topic.
‘I guess we should just get to know each other first as we are going to be working together if we want this to work. Why don’t you tell me about why you are looking for a new planet? Then you can ask me a question about us.’
‘I doubt I’ll need to ask you about humans. Your internet is a wonderful invention, we’ve been reading it for quite a while. For such a small planet, you do make a lot of noise in your silent solar system.’ Ed smiled at her. She had mentioned this in their emails.
‘I forgot. You have got the edge on us there. So tell me about your species, how do you vary from us.’
‘Aside from the obvious…’ Ed let out a small laugh then fell silent when Kate started to talk. He listened enraptured while she listed off their differences then told him the story of why they left. He was on the call for over 2 hours before Paul gave him the signal to end it for today. When he’d said goodbye to Kate and the screen had faded to black again, he sat back in his chair. Inside his heart, he could feel that this was the start of something new and amazing. He couldn’t wait to tell the twins all about his talk with a Hiroc. They were already amazed by the whole thing, even at only 4 years old.