July Writing Challenge Day 28: A New Story

So I decided it was time to start a new story. My last one was kind of going nowhere. I’ll go back to it after this month is over, rewrite the parts I hate, trim it down, and then keep going with it. I just need to think about it more.

Speaking of needing to think about things more, I decided it was time to start a new story. This particular story is one I haven’t had for very long, just about a month or so, and I really have very little of the plot down in my head. So, honestly, I’m not sure where it’s going to go. I’ll outline the basic premise here in a bit, but first let me say that I’m not super thrilled with what I did today. It seems a little…I don’t know, shallow. Quick. Like I’m trying to get too much exposition out at once and sacrificing everything that good fiction needs. Or maybe I’m just still bummed out from the last story. I dunno. Not really digging my own writing ability right now.

For this story, I wanted to do a sci-fi story. The basic premise is that there is this world, one that is roughly equal to Earth’s technology about 400 years ago. So, basic gunpowder equivalent weapons, at maximum. Culturally they are…well, another culture, so it’s hard to draw parallels. Anyway, a few months before the story starts the planet is visited by “short, odd looking men from the sky”. Aka, aliens. And these aliens decide that they want to come to this world and exploit it’s resources. But instead of wiping out the local populace they decide to help them out, elevate them and invite them to become part of this intergalactic society. The story starts with a woman, one of the natives, being debriefed about a mission that she helped with. The world is small and has a lot of dense, dangerous jungles. The “aliens” (who, btw, are humans), fund this expedition into it’s depths because they’ve heard about something amazing. Anyway, long story short, things go terribly wrong, lots of people die, and only the main character and one or two others make it back. She tells this story to the humans in hopes that it will dissuade them from pursuing it further, but instead the humans shrug it off. They say that yes, hundreds and even thousands will die while they set up a way to exploit this wonderful thing (still working on what), but once they do it will make them lot’s of money. And besides, this is just how progress works. The main character is stunned that anyone could think like this.

Now, keep in mind that we do this kind of thing today. How many people died making the Panama Canal? The Transcontinental Railroad? Working in mines throughout the ages? This is just how humanity sees problems. Keep bashing away at something until it’s easier.

Now, a few other things. 1) Whatever the “wonderful thing” is that the humans want, it’s ridiculously small. Like a slug that creates a particular enzyme that could be incorporated into industrial grade lubricant and increase productivity by .05% across the galaxy. It is so small that the natives wouldn’t want it, and is the only thing really worth exploiting from a planet (I mean, water and other compounds/elements are all over space, and once your up there, you just have to mine it, so it’s nothing like that). 2) I envision the natives as deeply religious. Their planet is Mother, and the sun is Father. And they live within Mother and one day they know they must leave her. This lends a bit of religious fervor to the locals and makes them want to help the humans because the humans can help do just that. 3) The main character is smart, brilliant even, and resourceful, but something about her has made her shunned and distrusted all throughout her life, so she doesn’t really buy into society worshiping these space men like they do.

I played around with that third idea today. Basically the natives are human shaped chameleons. But they have hair, or something analogous, and the can’t change their hair color. Back when they were evolving they evolved dark hair that would blend in to their jungle environment, but every so often you might get an “albino”, someone with hair so bright that they can’t hide. In an uber-religious society this would be a bad omen at best and a mortal sin at worst.

Anyway, those are just some of my thoughts on the story. I know, it was all kinda rapid fire. Sorry bout that. Anyway, I really think I’ll just redo this section for tomorrow, leave out the whole hair part. Probably tone down the color changing aspect as well. It’s just…not the right place for it.

Okay, well, that’s enough from me. Now…here’s more from me. Thanks for reading, and enjoy.

Untitled
By E W Morrow
Word Count: 818

Kyeera had ceased being startled by doors opening themselves after a day on the ship, but this time she let out an audible gasp. The sleek, rounded gunmetal walls and brilliant blue lighting that seemed omnipresent throughout the rest of the ship suddenly gave way to a pleasant, familiar scene. The room she found herself in had been fashioned from the deep bluestone of her homeland, dark and cool and comforting. The furniture was beautifully crafted tynewood of exquisite quality. Tynewood trees grew for centuries before they attained that rich reddish hue. Often teams of men would venture through the jungles for weeks before they found even a single tree of sufficient age. Most breathtaking, and perhaps disappointing, of all was the view. It was breathtaking because the room’s right wall opened onto a tynewood veranda that looked out over a densely wooded mountain valley. Kyeera could even hear the call of chatterbirds in the distance and feel a gentle breeze on her cheek.

It was disappointing because she knew it wasn’t real. In the past few months, ever since the short, strangely colored men had come from the skies, she had seen wonders and marvels beyond everything she could have ever imagined, and she had learned enough to know that such a thing was not beyond the space man’s art. And if the view wasn’t real, then nothing in the room was real. She sat in one of the chairs facing the illusion, felt what felt like genuine leather against her skin, and she waited.

A few minutes passed before she heard the door hiss open. She turned her head slowly and saw a pair of men enter: space men. She sighed and realized she would have to stop thinking of them like that. In a short time her people, too, would be space men. It was difficult. They were not unlike her own people in appearance, two eyes, two arms, bipedal, five fingers on each hand, but sometimes the smallest changes are the hardest to deal with. What was it they called themselves, she wondered as she stood? Ah yes, humans.

“Kyeera, thank you for meeting us.”

The first man’s name was John Haverstrom, and he strode across the tynewood floor to greet her. He was short and round and pale. He extended a hand and Kyeera looked at it for a moment. Then she remembered that this was a typical human greeting. She took it lightly and let the man shake. As he dropped it she noticed the look on the second man’s face. She did not recognize him, but from what she could tell he was surprised, though it did not seem unpleasantly so. She looked at her own hand and realized that she had subconsciously initiated her own people’s greeting. She took a breath. The skin shifted from bright orange back to dark green.

“I’d heard about that,” said the second man. “Wasn’t sure I believed it until just now though.” He smiled, another human gesture she was getting used to, and his teeth shone against his dark brown skin. “Would I be right in thinking that the display and change of color plays a large role in your society’s cultural interactions?”

“You would,” said Kyeera. Her skin tone lightened a little and a moment later she nodded to let him know what it meant. “Very astute.”

“Thanks,” said the dark man. “Remind me to teach you people to play poker sometime.”

“I would advise against that,” said the John. He breathed in and out very rapidly and noisily. What was that called? Laughing?

“Ah, you’re no fun,” said the dark man, also breathing loudly. Kyeera’s skin soured. “Still, I bet it comes in pretty handy in the jungles, right? Camouflage.” He pointed a finger at Kyeera’s body as if to illustrate his point. Kyeera blued and nodded. “Can I ask something though?”

“If you must,” Kyeera said.

“Is it just the skin?” Kyeera turned a deep, angry shade of red. “Erm….I don’t know what that—have I said something wrong.”

“No,” Kyeera said, though her color did not change. “No, it’s nothing. Yes, it is just our skin. The pigments react to chemicals secreted by a series of glands throughout our body. The ability does not transfer to our hair.” Kyeera reached up and touched her own alabaster locks as she said this. “In ancient times, a child with white hair like mine would have been left for dead in the woods. Though, in these modern times that does not happen.”

The dark man’s eyes narrowed. “But,” he said, as if finishing her words for her, “there are still people who view it as a sort of stigma? Bad luck?”

“Yes,” Kyeera said quietly. The dark man smiled again.

“It’s like I say every time, no matter where you go, people are people.” He clapped a hand on the John’s shoulder and breathed—laughed—again.