The Call : Part 3 – A Shory Story by Leona

I hesitated when I got to the door of the observatory. It was the evening after the K-Tig incident and I did not really want to work. I wanted to rest, maybe call my brother. Forget some of the dullness of my job and my existence. But I opened the door anyway and went inside. Swinging almost comically on its hinges, the door announced my entrance to whomever was inside. I looked but there was no one. Bridge must be late. I had timed my entrance just so as to miss the previous shift and minimize conversation with Bridge.  I started setting up for the evening shit, ardently pushing the record putting on the tape machine just to spite Jensen. If he wanted to listen to hours of silence, so be it.  Bridge bustled through the door.

“Hey Mary! How’s it going.” His greeting was more of a statement than a question. He was carrying far too many things; coffee, water bottle, a stack of papers and his glasses. Bridge slowly, and if I might add, comically started to rest his things on the desk by leaning way over the ledge and carefully setting each item down. I laughed. 

“Do you need any help, Bridge?”

He smiled and continued his process. “No, I think I am good. But I’m glad you’re in a laughing mood. I thought you might be more bummed after what happened yesterday.”

“Well, I am trying to not let it get to me.” Isaid. The reality of it was that K-Tig’s conversation unsettled me more than Jensen. 

“It’s because Jensen knows you’re smarter than him.” Bridge said, settling in a chair. He started rummaging his papers. “He’s afraid you’re out for his job and so keeps harping on your mistake cause it’s the first one you’ve made.”

I blinked and waited. Bridge continued, first taking a sip of his coffee. “You know, I always thought Jensen was full of himself. He is too afraid to admit that you’re a better scientist, Mary. Your lunar module stuff is pretty innovative. Might call you an inventor.” He smiled.

I had not heard compliments like this from my coworkers before so I sat in a moment of shock. Then I mumbled thanks and turned to my paperwork.

“It’s true” Bridge continued “And I like having you on my team.” That seemed to be then of Bridge’s thoughts and we settled into a comfortable silence. I couldn’t help thinking there must be an angle Bridge was trying to play. But maybe the compliment was genuine. As I made the regular logs for the evening, my mind started to drift to the previous night.

“My planet is very different from yours, I believe” K-Tig said. His voice had started to sound calm and conversational as opposed to the stilted beginning. 

“We have no atmosphere or polar caps, the way your Earth was said to have had. Our bodies have evolved to need less oxygen. So we have cites, towns and even farms. But our lives exist inside large caverns that were built underground. Only rich people live close to the surface where you need expensive gear to keep out the radiation.”

I marveld at K-Tig’s description of his planet. His world. I asked, “How do you retain and collect water? This has been the biggest issue I’ve found in constructing my lunar module.”

“Our water is constantly being regulated and our air is monitored. We do not breathe as humans used to breathe on the Earth. That is, freely. We have packs that are fitted to our bodies that supply us with oxygen and take out moisture from our bodies. Our bodies act as little engines and each day we collect water that is then removed during our sleep.”

I paused. Something was bothering me about the way K-Tig was talking about Earth. “K-Tig?” I said his name more as a question than a moniker.

“Yes, Mary?” K-Tig responded.

“Why do you keep referring to Earth in the past tense. I noticed you keep saying ‘had, was’ in Earth English that indicates something that has happened i.e. “is finished”. What’s that about?”

My hands moved around the microphone. I had been able to verbalize what was wrong with the conversation. As amazed as I was about learning about K-Tig, I had finally put into words my discomfort. The use of past tense felt like a bad omen.

“Oh” K-Tig said plainly, “That is because from my planet, Earth no longer exists. You are part of a star’s death and subsequent matter compression. As I said, my department is all about documenting historical galaxies. Even though we can see your destroyed star, it still exists because of the lightyear model. We use dying star energy to harness speed and velocity for our  message frequency and are able to make contact with past living planets.”

I didn’t respond right away. I shut off the mic. Was K-Tig telling me that we were talking and communicating in different timelines? No, the same timeline but at different points? K-Tig was talking about the future. I was the past for him. He had said ‘Historical Galaxies’.

I shivered. Took a shaky sip of my coffee and pressed the microphone to turn on again.

“K-Tig, do you happen to have a timeline on when the Sun, I mean, the star died?”

There was a long pause. K-Tig’s responses were usually quick and responsive. Surprisingly so because of the distance of their conversation. The speaker crackled.

“Well,” K-Tig sounded apologetic. “It is against my department’s protocol to tell past galaxies of their own timeline. We’ve found that it can cause a lot of, how do you say, turmoil.”

“So you’re telling me, that you can tell me about my galaxy’s death but not when it happens?” my voice rose in frustration.

“Precisely” K-Tig said. Short and sweet.

Part 1

Part 2

Part 4

3 thoughts on “The Call : Part 3 – A Shory Story by Leona

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