Andromeda and the Moon : Part 3 – A Short Story by Leona

The alarm buzzed. Sparky shouted. Andromeda groaned. 

She had to be up two hours earlier than her normal schedule to join Dad at work. Her excitement from last night didn’t feel as powerful when she really wanted another few minutes in bed. 

“Time to GO!” Sparky shouted and liked her face. He needed to be let out so she could get ready for the morning. Andromeda turned over in her bed. “A few more minutes.” But sparky wasn’t having it. Hewas jumping on her and sniffing in her hair, making it so uncomfortable that in fact she was very much ready to rise.

“Gettof Sparky” she said. They both got down and their morning flew by. Andromeda took Sparky out. She changed and helped her mom get breakfast ready. At one moment her dad made some comment but Andromeda didn’t  hear. She was a mix of too tired and excited. She drank her cappuccino, a special treat from mom.

“Alright daughter of mine, let’s head out.” Dad said. His wrist com buzzed with incoming messages from his team. He touched his ear.

“Danny, I’m on my way. Bringing in my daughter with me. Show her the ropes that kind of thing.Okay. Andi? It’s time to go.“Dad said. At that moment, Maffei walked sleepily into the dinning room. Dad caught him up in his arms, gave him a squeeze and set him down. He headed toward the door with Andromeda and Sarky close on his heels.

“Ani,” her mother called. “You really going to bring that dog?”

Andromeda and Sparky looked back but her dog responded first “Of course I am going! I’m going to see a tree today!” Andromeda shrugged her shoulders and they were off! She and her dad (and Sparky of course) went to the large elevator on the base. This was new territory for her and she couldn’t wait to see more. In her short time on the base, Andromeda had been able to explore only very close to the family unit. That meant she had seen the hallways, her neighbors and even the unit garden area where she took Sparky. But beyond that, she hadn’t been allowed to go any further. Since the base was an outpost, there were certain protocols that had to be followed. Andromeda noticed that certain rules felt like old rules from the days when the military was in charge of the base. Currently, the Scientists of the Allied Nations (SAN) were in charge of the base.Hence why her dad was given the opportunity to work there for a year. 

The three of them worked their way through different hallways and rooms. It seemed like a maze. Sometimes Dad would use his ID to access different doors or stairs. By the time her father said, “We’re here” Andromeda had lost all sense of direction and couldn’t tell which way was up. She blinked.

“Here” referred to the large farms that her father helped maintain. It was the largest room she had seen on the base yet. She and her father stood in the doorway of a huge open space. It reminded her of the gymnasium at her school on Earth except this space was at least 4 times that size. 

“Dad! It’s huge!” Andromeda said. She loved how high the ceilings were here.

“Yeah, I thought you might like how big this place is,” he said.

Sparky couldn’t contain his excitement. With a quick “The TREES!” He had bolted from the door and was wandering through the rows of vegetables and crops. 

“Sparky!” Andromeda started to chase after her dog. He had just snuck between two rows of tomato crops. She heard her dog start to growl. A voice from farther down the row said, “Now look what the cat dragged in. Oh come on pup, you don’t think you can hurt me, do’ya?”

Her father laughed from behind. “Hey there Danny!” he called out. “That’s my daughter’s dog Sparky and this is Andromeda.” Danny had come into view between the rows and was smiling down at the dog who was circling his feet. 

“Hiya there Miss Andromeda. Welcome to have you.” Danny said. He was a big man with a friendly smile. Andromeda didn’t believe that it was possible for humans to be that big, but there Danny was standing in front of her. She smiled up and noticed a slight blue tint at the tip of his nose and ears. She wondered if it were the effects of the antiviral medication that everyone on base took. Apparently if your skin was light enough and you took the medicine long enough, you could develop discoloration in areas where there was low blood flow. On people with darker skin, such as her family, you wouldn’t see such results. Andromeda had read about this happening in books, but it was a surprise to see it happening in real life. 

“Hi Danny. It’s nice to meet you.” Andromeda stuck out her hand for a handshake. Danny looked at it a bit confused and then awkwardly shook her hand. 

“Don’t worry Danny, you didn’t just sign your soul over to be cursed for a thousand years. It’s just that on Earth we still do handshakes for greetings.” Dad said.

Danny smiled and said “Yeah, I remembered your Earthen ways. I find myself to be a cultured man. So here I am shaking your daughter’s hand. Now that we’ve done the Earthen greeting let’s do the 678 one. Come-on Philip, let’s show her.”

Andromeda didn’t know there was a separate greeting for this planet. She watched as her dad and Danny faced each other. They lifted both hands , palms facing forward. Then they each bowed their heads and lowered their hands. 

“Comes from the old “I see what you are holding in your hands, you nasty bastard.” Danny said and her father laughed. Then motioning to Andromeda he said,“Let’s go an-get round this old place so we can show you everything.” 

Andromeda realized something. “You were born here. Weren’t you.” she said

Danny sheepishly shrugged. “Caught me red handed, miss. Born ‘n raised on 678 It’s why I got a touch of the ‘blue’ and an accent that I’m told sounds like I’m from a place on Earth called ‘Tex-ass’.”

Andromeda giggled. She had never heard someone pronounce Texas like that. Hearing Danny, the biggest man she’d ever met say it, made it all the more funny. 

Her dad, Danny and Andromeda walked through rows of crops. Every few yards, her father would inspect the robotic sprinkler arm. Sometimes he made notes into his wrist com. Sometimes he and Danny discuss mechanical things that didn’t really make sense to Andromeda. Luckily Sparky seemed a bit spooked by the large expansive space so he stayed close to her. Andromeda marveled at the rows and rows of food. Each crop had its own irrigation system and monitors that helped maintain the quality of the food. It was a huge operation. She had not thought about how important it was to make sure the food for the base was properly maintained. 

“Who picks the tomatoes when they are ripe?” Andromeda asked. Danny turned and said “Luckily we have robots who do that. We might even meet one later today. Bez-ez, I call ‘um. Cause they are busy Beez.”

Sparky barked. Then Andromeda felt a buzz from her wrist com. Both Danny and Dad were looking at their wrist com’s too. She tapped her ear.

“Attention all residents of base 678. Code AGAVE. I repeat Code AGAVE. Return to your family  units until further information can be supplied.” Andromeda gasped. Something was wrong. The message in her ear repeated “Attention all residents-” it said. She looked at her Dad and Danny. They were both still listening to their message, apparently given a longer explanation due to their security clearances. 

Danny swore. Her father swayed. 

“Alright, Cap” Danny said. “We’ll expedite the harvest Beez and let you know the total. Not sure there is much else we can do. Over and out”

Her father looked at Andromeda then glanced at Sparky. “I need to get you home asap.” he said.

“But Dad” Andromeda said as she and her dog followed her father back to the entrance. “What’s happening?”

Danny had followed along. “Something that shouldn’t have happened for another 500 years. There’s an asteroid on a collision course with 678.”

Her Dad looked back at Danny. “I’ll leave it up to you boss. I’ll take Andromeda home and then back to help.” he said.

Danny clapped a hand on his shoulder. “This is a first for you Philip. Make sure your family is safe. Come back when the Captain announces the code CAPER.”

Her dad shook his head and they headed out the door. 

An asteroid headed to crash into Planet 678? Andromeda couldn’t believe it. Sparky followed at her heels, aware of some sort of danger. He had said nothing. What did this mean for everyone on the planet?


Part 1

Part 2

Part 3

Part 4

Part 5

Part 6

Andromeda and the Moon : Part 2 – A Short Story by Leona

The alarm buzzed. Sparky shouted. Andromeda groaned. 

She had to be up two hours earlier than her normal schedule to join Dad at work. Her excitement from last night didn’t feel as powerful when she really wanted another few minutes in bed. 

“Time to GO!” Sparky shouted and liked her face. He needed to be let out so she could get ready for the morning. Andromeda turned over in her bed. “A few more minutes.” But sparky wasn’t having it. Hewas jumping on her and sniffing in her hair, making it so uncomfortable that in fact she was very much ready to rise.

“Gettof Sparky” she said. They both got down and their morning flew by. Andromeda took Sparky out. She changed and helped her mom get breakfast ready. At one moment her dad made some comment but Andromeda didn’t  hear. She was a mix of too tired and excited. She drank her cappuccino, a special treat from mom.

“Alright daughter of mine, let’s head out.” Dad said. His wrist com buzzed with incoming messages from his team. He touched his ear.

“Danny, I’m on my way. Bringing in my daughter with me. Show her the ropes that kind of thing.Okay. Andi? It’s time to go.“Dad said. At that moment, Maffei walked sleepily into the dinning room. Dad caught him up in his arms, gave him a squeeze and set him down. He headed toward the door with Andromeda and Sarky close on his heels.

“Ani,” her mother called. “You really going to bring that dog?”

Andromeda and Sparky looked back but her dog responded first “Of course I am going! I’m going to see a tree today!” Andromeda shrugged her shoulders and they were off! She and her dad (and Sparky of course) went to the large elevator on the base. This was new territory for her and she couldn’t wait to see more. In her short time on the base, Andromeda had been able to explore only very close to the family unit. That meant she had seen the hallways, her neighbors and even the unit garden area where she took Sparky. But beyond that, she hadn’t been allowed to go any further. Since the base was an outpost, there were certain protocols that had to be followed. Andromeda noticed that certain rules felt like old rules from the days when the military was in charge of the base. Currently, the Scientists of the Allied Nations (SAN) were in charge of the base.Hence why her dad was given the opportunity to work there for a year. 

The three of them worked their way through different hallways and rooms. It seemed like a maze. Sometimes Dad would use his ID to access different doors or stairs. By the time her father said, “We’re here” Andromeda had lost all sense of direction and couldn’t tell which way was up. She blinked.

“Here” referred to the large farms that her father helped maintain. It was the largest room she had seen on the base yet. She and her father stood in the doorway of a huge open space. It reminded her of the gymnasium at her school on Earth except this space was at least 4 times that size. 

“Dad! It’s huge!” Andromeda said. She loved how high the ceilings were here.

“Yeah, I thought you might like how big this place is.” he said.

Sparky couldn’t contain his excitement. With a quick “The TREES!” He had bolted from the door and was wandering through the rows of vegetables and crops. 

“Sparky!” Andromeda started to chase after her dog. He had just snuck between two rows of tomato crops. She heard her dog start to growl. A voice from farther down the row said, “Now look what the cat dragged in. Oh come on pup, you don’t think you can hurt me, do’ya?”

Her father laughed from behind. “Hey there Danny!” he called out. “That’s my daughter’s dog Sparky and this is Andromeda.” Danny had come into view between the rows and was smiling down at the dog who was circling his feet. 

“Hiya there Miss Andromeda. Welcome to have you.” Danny said. He was a big man with a friendly smile. Andromeda didn’t believe that it was possible for humans to be that big, but there Danny was standing in front of her. She smiled up and noticed a slight blue tint at the tip of his nose and ears. She wondered if it were the effects of the antiviral medication that everyone on base took. Apparently if your skin was light enough and you took the medicine long enough, you could develop discoloration in areas where there was low blood flow. On people with darker skin, such as her family, you wouldn’t see such results. Andromeda had read about this happening in books, but it was a surprise to see it happening in real life. 

“Hi Danny. It’s nice to meet you.” Andromeda stuck out her hand for a handshake. Danny looked at it a bit confused and then awkwardly shook her hand. 

“Don’t worry Danny, you didn’t just sign your soul over to be cursed for a thousand years. It’s just that on Earth we still do handshakes for greetings.” Dad said.

Danny smiled and said “Yeah, I remembered your Earthen ways. I find myself to be a cultured man. So here I am shaking your daughter’s hand. Now that we’ve done the Earthen greeting let’s do the 678 one. Come-on Philip, let’s show her.”

Andromeda didn’t know there was a separate greeting for this planet. She watched as her dad and Danny faced each other. They lifted both hands , palms facing forward. Then they each bowed their heads and lowered their hands. 

“Comes from the old “I see what you are holding in your hands, you nasty bastard.” Danny said and her father laughed. Then motioning to Andromeda he said,“Let’s go an-get round this old place so we can show you everything.” 

Andromeda realized something. “You were born here. Weren’t you.” she said

Danny sheepishly shrugged. “Caught me red handed, miss. Born ‘n raised on 678 It’s why I got a touch of the ‘blue’ and an accent that I’m told sounds like I’m from a place on Earth called ‘Tex-ass’.”

Andromeda giggled. She had never heard someone pronounce Texas like that. Hearing Danny, the biggest man she’d ever met say it, made it all the more funny. 

Her dad, Danny and Andromeda walked through rows of crops. Every few yards, her father would inspect the robotic sprinkler arm. Sometimes he made notes into his wrist com. Sometimes he and Danny discuss mechanical things that didn’t really make sense to Andromeda. Luckily Sparky seemed a bit spooked by the large expansive space so he stayed close to her. Andromeda marveled at the rows and rows of food. Each crop had its own irrigation system and monitors that helped maintain the quality of the food. It was a huge operation. She had not thought about how important it was to make sure the food for the base was properly maintained. 

“Who picks the tomatoes when they are ripe?” Andromeda asked. Danny turned and said “Luckily we have robots who do that. We might even meet one later today. Bez-ez, I call ‘um. Cause they are busy Beez.”

Sparky barked. Then Andromeda felt a buzz from her wrist com. Both Danny and Dad were looking at their wrist com’s too. She tapped her ear.

“Attention all residents of base 678. Code AGAVE. I repeat Code AGAVE. Return to your family  units until further information can be supplied.” Andromeda gasped. Something was wrong. The message in her ear repeated “Attention all residents-” it said. She looked at her Dad and Danny. They were both still listening to their message, apparently given a longer explanation due to their security clearances. 

Danny swore. Her father swayed. 

“Alright, Cap” Danny said. “We’ll expedite the harvest Beez and let you know the total. Not sure there is much else we can do. Over and out”

Her father looked at Andromeda then glanced at Sparky. “I need to get you home asap.” he said.

“But Dad” Andromeda said as she and her dog followed her father back to the entrance. “What’s happening?”

Danny had followed along. “Something that shouldn’t have happened for another 500 years. There’s an asteroid on a collision course with 678.”

Her Dad looked back at Danny. “I’ll leave it up to you boss. I’ll take Andromeda home and then back to help.” he said.

Danny clapped a hand on his shoulder. “This is a first for you Philip. Make sure your family is safe. Come back when the Captain announces the code CAPER.”

Her dad shook his head and they headed out the door. 

An asteroid headed to crash into Planet 678? Andromeda couldn’t believe it. Sparky followed at her heels, aware of some sort of danger. He had said nothing. What did this mean for everyone on the planet? 


Part 1

Part 2

Part 3

Part 4

Part 5

Part 6

Andromeda and the Moon: Part 1 – A Short Story by Leona

“Sparky! It’s time to get back to the bunk! I want dinner!” Andromeda called to her dog. Sparky was sniffing at a green shrub close to the walkway. He turned and spoke through his “Speech Collar” 

“Missy, I want to sniff this one last shrub. I gotta see who’s been here. Hmph!” Sparky turned to keep sniffing.

Andromeda rolled her eyes. She loved Sparky but ever since she bought the speech collar, she was learning how stubborn her terrier really was. 

“Want some food? A treat?” Sparky’s head quickly turned to Andromeda.

“I want a TREAT! Treat treat tre–eat!” Sparky was singing a little jingle. Andromeda laughed as they both made their way back to the base. She and Sparky had just moved there with her family. Andromeda’s father was a Space Engineer. These people helped to maintain different parts of the machinery that made it possible to have outposts on different planets. Andromeda and her family had just arrived at Planet 678. It was called this because it took 678 days for this planet to get around the Sun. But Andromeda liked to call this planet Aquarius. She felt that this name suited the planet better. After all this hunk of rock was just floating through the air, no special rings or moons and no atmosphere either.

Andromeda’s earpiece buzzed. She tapped it and glanced down at her wrist com. It was her mom.

“Hi mom,” she said.

“Ani, it’s time for dinner! We’re all seated at the table!” her mom said.

“Got it mom! Sparky was just being stubborn.” Andromeda looked down and Sparky winked at her. He was still humming his “treats” song. “We’ll be there asap.” Andromeda tapped her ear piece again.

“Alright Sparky Mom just gave the okay to make a dash back to the house.” Andromeda said and started to run. It felt good to let her legs move fast down the hallway. Sparky was shouting after her.

“Run! Run! Run!” His little leggs quickly gained on her and he sped down the corridor to her family’s unit on the base. When she arrived at the door, her brother, Maffei, was holding open the door. Her brother was 3 years younger but just as fiercely competitive as her.

“Hurry up!!” was her brother’s “Welcome Home” and he turned and ran back to the dinner table. It was a rule in her family that they always waited until everyone was at the table to start eating. Her mom mentioned manners, dad said it was tradition, Andromeda always thought it was nice, unless you were the one keeping everyone waiting. She unbuckled her boots and went into the dining room.

“Ah Andi,” her father said with a warm smile. His shiny bald black head reflected the light from the light over the dinner table. “Let’s get started, everyone,” he said.

Andromeda took a seat and started to pass the food so that her mom could start to serve Maffei. She noticed that they had mac and cheese and some green beans. Yum! The food here was surprisingly good. Andromeda knew her dad was part of the team that made sure the agricultural plants were fully functioning and producing top quality foods. She crunched on a green bean.

“You know hun” her mom was saying to her dad. Mom’s curly black hair looked purple in the weird lighting of the room. Her mom’s skin was lighter than her father’s but they were both proud Afro-Earthers with strong ties to their ancestry. Back on Earth, Mom had been a professor at a college in London. She taught physics. So when Dad had the opportunity to live on Planet 678 for a season, mom couldn’t wait. 

“Hun, I think that you should take Andromeda out on your parole tomorrow. It would be a good way for her to see more of the base. Since I have to teach remote and everything, I feel like she and Maffei haven’t been out of the house that much.”

“True true.” Dad said, rubbing his forehead. “Parole tomorrow should be pretty straight forward. What do you think of Andromeda? Do you want to see where these green beans are grown?”

Before she could answer Maffei cut in “Hey Dad! I want to go too!” She and Maffei hadn’t started school on the base. Apparently there was some paperwork that needed to be sent through. So they both had ample time to get bored of their family unit.

“No bud, you need to be at least 16 years old to enter a worksite farming zone.”

Andromeda smiled. “Yes! I would love to go! I have been wanting to explore more of the base. Maybe even see the flight training deck!”

Sparky joined in her excitement beneath the table. “Yes! We can see the whole place! And Run Run run!!”

“Ani,” her mom said. “Can you turn off the speech thingy while we are at the table?” Her mom said. Her mom hadn’t thought the newest Speech Controller was such a fun device.

Andromeda tapped her  wrist and spoke into her wrist com. Then all you could hear was Sparky’s yips which weren’t as bad as hearing him go on and on about running fast. 

“It’s settled then” dad said. “Let’s get out tomorrow first thing!” Andromeda couldn’t wait! She and her family finished their dinner and retired to their bedrooms. Andromeda picked up Sparky and set him on her bed and then she climbed into the bed. It was a cozy bunk that was in the wall. She turned Sparky’s speech back on.

“What do you think we will see tomorrow bud?” she asked.

“I want to see a bush and a tree.” Sparky said. She giggled and pet his head.

“I don’t think there will be any trees there bud.”

“But maybe I will see a squirrel and I can run fast, fast, fast. Faster than a fox. Faster than a bunny. Faster than a-”

Andromeda smiled and switched off the light, slowly lulled to sleep by her dog’s continuous ramblings. She couldn’t wait for tomorrow


Part 1

Part 2

Part 3

Part 4

Part 5

Part 6

Claire and Grandma – A Short Story by Leona

“Halmeoni” Claire called toward the front door. “I’m coming!” 

She slipped on her sneakers and grabbed her rain jacket. Earlier, Claire had heard from Pa’s radio that there was “a high chance of rain in the greater Chicago area”. She tumbled down the stairs carefully to slow down right as she landed on the entryway. 

“Claire!” Her grandmother said, waiting for her, “You need to slow down when you go down the stairs! One day you’ll trip and fall and end up who knows where.” 

“Yes Halmeoni” Claire looked down at her shoes. Oh shoot! One of them needed tying.

“You ready to go? Our lunch date is all ready.” Her grandmother smiled and turned. Claire carefully followed her grandma, trying not to step on the loose shoelace. They got in the car. Every 3rd Saturday of the month, Grandma and Claire would go out to lunch and chat. Claire enjoyed spending time with her halmeoni and telling her all about school. But today she didn’t want to talk about school or her friends. She wanted to eat yummy food and watch kpop music videos on the big TV at the restaurant. The previous day at school had been one that Claire wanted to forget and especially not talk about. She looked out the car window and fogged up the glass, trailing her fingers to create a sort of pattern. Claire and her grandmother did not exchange words in the car. They were even silent as the waiter sat them down at a table. Her grandmother smiled and looked at the menu.

“What would you like to eat, Claire?” she asked.

“I just don’t want to even be his friend anymore!” Claire said crossing her arms and leaning her head down. “I don’t need friends,” she mumbled.

Halmeoni knew this was how Claire processed difficult things. You just needed to give her space and then she would talk. Her granddaughter was at an age that required freedom but also guidance.

“I think I’ll order us both Yok Gae Jang and then you can tell me about how you don’t need friends.” There was a pause. “Do you really think so? I’ve always found friends to be valuable, in my life.” Halmeoni said. She ordered the food and even a soda for Claire who was still sulking with her head in her arms. Claire sat there, enjoying the darkness that her crossed arms provided. It shielded her from all the feelings and thoughts she didn’t want to acknowledge. She wished she could stay in the darkness forever.

“Your hot tea and cherry coke.” a voice said above Claire. She looked up. Cherry Coke? That was her favorite! Halmeoni smiled. Claire scooted the cup closer and took up the straw and started slurping. The yummy fizzy taste of  the cherry pop made her feel a little better. 

“Halmeoni, you know how I have my friend Sherlock?”, Claire asked.

“Yes, he’s one of your good friends at school. I believe you met this year?” Halmeoni cupped her hands around her tea mug. She knew full well how good of friends Claire and Sherlock had become. Always hanging out together after school.

“Yeah, he was new this year, and well I don’t know how we started hanging out. But you know he’s so…so DUMB. A stupid boy person. And I don’t want to be his friend anymore.” Clarie said with gusto and then emphatically took a gulp of soda. The carbonation caused her to cough and she ended up looking and feeling ridiculous. But Halmeoni didn’t seem to mind, instead she pressed in with the questions.

“Why don’t you want to be James’ friend anymore?” Halmeoni always used Sherlock’s first name. 

“Well, you see we were at school and he basically just said we’re not friends. So there.” Clair took another gulp of her soda. She then decided it was worth telling Halmeoni about Sherlock. She went on.

“You see it was the last period of the day and I had just had a terrible time in English class. Somehow I couldn’t find my homework from last night. My teacher let me go into the hallway to look for it in my locker. Mrs. Bell believed that I did it but she still wanted me to turn it in on time. So I was in the hallway going through everything. I took almost every book out of my locker and was flipping through all the pages to see if it had gotten lost there. All my stuff was stacked a certain way so that I could remember how it went back in my locker. Sherlock came down the hall from his other class and asked what I was doing. I explained how the homework was finished but lost. He started double checking the books I had looked through just in case. You know, a second pair of eyes kind of thing. I thought it was kinda a dumb thing to do but I let him help me. I know Sherlock probably didn’t want to be in class, that’s why he was in the hallway. Then Ptooey came down the hallway and kicked all my stuff!” 

“Ptooey?” Halmeoni asked.

“Yeah “Claire shrugged. “ It’s just what we call the bully in the other class. I don’t remember his real name.”

“You should try to call people by their names, Claire. It is important.” Halmeoni said.

Claire took a long sip of coke; she didn’t want to tell her grandmother that she wasn’t sure that Ptooey even had a real name. She continued “So I yelled and was kinda upset and the bully just laughed in my face and said ‘What are you gonna do about it? This guy help you?’ He laughed in a mean way that is so annoying!! But you know what Sherlock did?”

“James” Halmeoni interrupted. 

“Yes, James” continued Claire. “He didn’t say anything. He just looked at me, stopped looking at my books and didn’t answer. Ptooey asked him straight out. ‘Is she your friend?’ he was pointing at me. And Sher- I mean James said ‘She’s not my friend, I was just helping her pick up things.’ At this point I was really upset, Halmeoni, and I almost started crying. Sherlock, I mean James, says dumb things but it has never been that dumb. Ptooey laughed at us and walked away. He made sure to step on my books as he left. And James just handed me a piece of paper, which amazingly was my lost homework and didn’t say anything!”

Claire had pushed herself to her feet and was standing up. At that moment, a server walked over with their meals, set them down and moved quickly away. Claire stood for a moment longer and then slowly took her seat. Halmeoni handed Claire chopsticks and a napkin. She prayed a blessing over the meal and then said to her granddaughter,

“Do you think James had a reason for not answering this person? As you mentioned, he isn’t kind to other students.”

“Well,” Claire took a bite of food. The yummy spices warmed her mouth. She ate a few more bites of food. The meal was making her feel better. 

“ I dunno, Sherlock just doesn’t want to be friends with me anymore. He didn’t even wait for me in the pick up bus line. So I guess…” Claire trailed off. Her thoughts were so jumbled. She was upset at Sherlock but more at the fact that he was now avoiding her at school. 

“Maybe you and James need to have a conversation.” Halmeoni said. 

“Yeah, about how Sherlock is being a big JERK.” Claire said.

“No,” Halmeoni said. “I think you need to ask James what is really going on. It seems like there is more to the story. You can be upset, but before you think you aren’t friends, you need to hear his side of the story.”

Claire didn’t want to listen to her grandmother. She was angry and sad. She thought of Sherlock as her best friend so it hurt her feelings when he didn’t say it. But as she ate more of her food in silence, Claire realized that her grandmother was right. She wanted to still be friends with Sherlock. She wanted them to explore that house at the end of the street. Sherlock was surprising and it was always fun when they got together. She sighed.

“Halmeoni, I’ll talk to him on Monday.”

“You promise to ask James his side of the story?” Halmeoni wanted to drive this point home.

“Yes I promise. I just want to be friends again.” Claire said, looking out the restaurant window. Hopefully Sherlock would be willing to talk to her.

The Call : Part 4 – A Short Story by Leona

“Hey Tim, give me a call when you get the chance. I’d love to catch up.” I said into the telephone. I put the phone back on the receiver and leaned back against the wall of the phone box. I had tried getting in contact with my brother but we seemed to be playing phone tag. Always leaving messages but never talking in person. I wanted someone familiar to talk to. After my conversation with K-Tig, I felt out of place and disjointed. Was the sun going to explode in my lifetime or centuries from now? I had no idea. 

The phone rang.

“Uhh, Hello?” I asked

“Hey, sis” A familiar voice said “ I finally caught you.” It was my brother Tim. “What’s going on? Why the sudden calls?”

To be fair Tim and I only chatted on holidays and birthdays. He could tell something wasn’t right. 

“Uhhh” I started. Trying to think of a way to explain how I talked to someone lightyears away. And said person told me our sun would explode sometime in the future. 

 “I think I need to get away from the observatory.”

“Some time off, you mean?” Tim sounded surprised.

“Yeah, something like that” I said. “Time to get away. Maybe even more permanent.”

“I mean, we all need time off. You’ve been so focused the last 5 years, it will do you some good!” Tim said reassuringly. It was what I needed to hear.

“Maybe I could visit you and your family. Get away from this jungle.” I paused. “I am just not sure I want to think about the stars anymore.”

“You’d love it out here. West coast is the best coast, as they say.” Tim responded. “And Mary?”

“Yeah?”

“Is everything at work going okay?” he asked.

“Yeah” I lied. “It’s just some time off that I need.”

“K’ay” Tim said “Cause you know that wherever you go, there will always be stars. You can’t get away from them.”

I repeated “Never get away.”


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Part 3

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.


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The Call : Part 2 – A Short Story by Leona

“You what?!” Jensen said, his voice aggravated.

“I turned the recorder off after the first response cause I thought it was a prank.” I said. It was the morning after I made contact with K-Tig and the other scientists were just starting the day shift. I had felt like a fool for not following protocol but it was annoying to keep changing out the recording tapes so I had developed a bad habit to shut off the recorder when I thought nothing was happening. When you’ve been in the job for as long as I have, you develop some bad habits. Whatever we’re all human, well at least those of us on Earth are human. I looked at the frequency receiver. It blew my mind that I had a conversation with someone out in the universe.

A speaker crackled and I heard my voice repeat the official welcome statement then silence. 

“It is, Hello Arebico” the recording cut. On a second listen, I noticed that K-Tig’s voice sounded somewhat distant, almost alien if you will.

“That’s ALL WE HAVE?” Jensen shouted. His fraying gray hair swung limply around his face. He had been in the business of space for a long time. I could see that he was worse for wear. Jensen cluched his hands to his head. 

“Never mind you didn’t follow protocol. We actually have a response from whomever is out there. You were smart enough not to stop the recording then. I can analyze the voice patterns and see if there are any similarities with accents known to us on Earth. I can hear somethings off about that voice but I don’t know what.” Jensen turned to me.

“No more solo night watches. You’re with Bridge for the remainder of the month.”

I sighed. It seemed reasonable enough but I didn’t really want to be chumming with Bridge for 8 hours. Bridge had a way of snoring through the job that made it more annoying to have him there than if he just wasn’t present.

“I would do it myself” Jensen said. “But I have just started tracking a new object and it only is in the sky during the late morning. And Mary?”

“Yes?”

“Do please be a dear and turn on the recorder next time.” Jensen turned to go, his hair slightly flapping in the wind of his exit. I rolled my eyes. Unfortunately for me, I would not hear the end of this mistake until I left Arecibo. Since I didn’t plan to leave Arecibo anytime soon, I figured I would hear about this incident forever. I got up, left the observation deck and walked back to the dorms. The sun had already risen and the air was humid and still. I could hear the sounds of the rainforest all around as I walked from one building to another. My conversation with K-Tig swirled around in my mind.

“Where are you from?” I asked. 

“We have a relative position of about 2.5 million lightyears away from your location. It seems from my log that your civilization may have referred to my galaxy as Andromeda.”

“Andromeda?” I gasped “How are you able to speak to me?”

There was a pause. Then K-Tig responded, “You see the research from my facility is harnessed by different galactic outpurings of energy, hotspots of matter. We map out these moments in space and use them as springboards to send our message to other galaxies. Our goal is to make contact with past historical galaxies and potential civilizations. This allows us to build a better timeline of life existence within our universe”

I figured K-Tig was referring to black holes and supernovas when he said “hotspots of matter”. “So you didn’t mean to make contact with us?”

“In a way yes, in a way no. My department is part of the Research Through Time: A Record of Historical Galaxies. My team had been trying very hard to make contact with your galaxy but to no avail. As I said, we had thought that the fourth planet was most likely to hold life. It was my theory that planets closer to the star could still have a high probability of success for life. And I was right.”

Some of the things that K-Tig had said didn’t really make sense. But our conversation continued.

“Are you human?” I asked. Unsure if this was a proper question.

K-Tig responded “I am human. But not in the way you may think. Time has changed our species. My mother’s line were direct descendants of the First Voyagers and so my family history has a strong bloodline. But Arebico, tell me about your Earth. What is it like?

I had forgotten that I had not introduced myself. “I’m Mary. My name is Mary McAllen. Arebico is the space satellite that I am on.”

K-Tid almost sounded as if he was smiling “Hello Mary, it is nice to meet you. Tell me about your Earth.”

“Ha!” I started and leaned back on my desk. “What is there to say? Earth is blue and green. Lots of oceans here; 71% to be sure. We have cars, airplanes and trains. People here love to move around and recently we went up to the moon.”

“And the food?”

“Oh! The food here is great. Burgers and fries. Well anything you want fried. Then of course you could go anywhere else in the world and have a ton of other different foods. Earth has a lot of people on it.” 

“And your family? Do you have family?” K-tig asked.

I stopped. It seemed almost too personal of a question. A memory of my mother flashed before my eyes. “Well,” I said. “I have family. Just a brother in San Francisco. He’s working for an engineering firm out there. Development and such.”

“What about your parents?” K-Tig asked.

I sat in silence for a moment. “You know,” I said, “We’ve talked alot about me and Earth. Tell me K-Tig, where’s your planet? What’s your world like?”


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The Call : Part 1 – A Short Story by Leona

For me it all started that fateful Friday morning. I was getting a cup of coffee from the brakroom before checking the logs on the computers. Here in the Arecibo Observatory facilities, it was important to ensure that all the computers were functioning and making proper computations. It wasn’t the fancy job people thought I had, but it was what I wanted to do. The space program had just finished the construction of this observatory andI made sure I was one of the first female scientists down here. Did that mean sweet talking and bloating my resume? Maybe, but it was worth it. Even in the sticky climate, it was worth it to search for life outside our solar system. 

I placed my coffee down next to the whirling tape recorder and started to write down in the daily log book. I could see that Jenson had been in during the day shift along with Davies and Bridge. I always liked night shift best because I would be by myself. Able to be alone in my thoughts. All systems looked normal. I brushed away a cobweb from the transmitter screen. This machine lets you pick up sound waves imperceptible to humans but potentially made by extraterrestrial life. Davies loved screwing around with the machine and fine tuning it.  It was surprisingly powerful which meant that sometimes it picked up transmissions from on earth. If you weren’t careful you could think Miss Sally Jane was the next scientific discovery. 

I smiled to myself. That had happened to Bridge. And the team and I never let him forget it. He had rushed into the break room explaining that he had found life on Mars. After we all rushed and crowded the main computing room, it became clear that some punk kid was playing a funny joke. Bridge was less than pleased and started cursing at the poor kid. We quickly shut off the mic and started laughing. But all in a day’s work when you’re searching for aliens. Because really I do think kids are the most alien creatures we will ever meet on planet earth.

The silence of the room was comforting to me. I pulled out my journal and notebook. As an intern at NASA I had been working on a lunar life module. Something that could be the beginnings of a colony on the moon. Although the project dissipated after the 1963 disaster, I still kept up with the work so I could be the first to patent it. 

I noticed that the air was particularly oppressive tonight. Why had I made myself a piping hot cup of coffee? Habit I guess. Then I heard a slight crackle from the transmitter machine. A button turned from red to green. This was not too unusual with all the possible radio noise. Probably just some air traffic interference. I went over to follow observatory protocol.

I switched on my mic and pulled the log sheet in front of me. The log contained the official conversation I was to read out in case there was actually a being on the other end of this signal.

“Hello” I said “ This is the Arecibo Observatory with NASA. I represent the United States of America and all encompassing assets therein. Have we made contact?”

There was a silent hum. Pretty typical response. But just as I was going to switch off my receiver, I heard the crackle of a microphone. A faint sound started to buzz.

“It is…Hello Arecibo”

I gasped. I had a transmission go through? Was it just some prank? After the incident with Bridge, the team made sure the transmitter was recalibrated to avoid any normal “Earth” frequencies.

I grabbed the mic. My hands shook a little. “Uhh” I said at first. Then I remembered the script I was to follow.

“As a representative of the United States of America and Earth, do you come in peace?”

I paused. The speaker crackled again.

“Yes.”

I blinked. Could this really be happening? I decided to break from protocol and go off script. The reason being that I had my doubts that the recalibration worked. It could just be more punk kids.

“What’s your name? Where are you speaking from?”

This time there was almost no pause, the response was immediate.

“My name is K-Tig 003. I am speaking from my flight deck office in the GH-98 observation deck.”

I responded “No really where are you on earth. Stop making things up. It sounds really fake.”

The voice said back “I don’t know what you mean. Am I speaking to a planetary being from the Hathar galaxy?”

I paused. What kind of question was that? Surely some kids wouldn’t be making that up. Would someone keep up the joke this long? I proceeded with caution.

“I am from planet Earth. We are located in the Milky Way Galaxy.”

The voice asked “Were the the third planet from the star?”

“Uhh” I said “Yes, we are the third planet from the sun.”

A pause. Then I asked, “so K-9-”

“Its K-Tig” the voice said.

“Oh” I stumbled “uh, yes, well K-Tig. Are you saying that you weren’t sure where Earth was located?”

K-Tig responded “From my department’s calculations we were unsure if you were the third, fourth or fifth planet from the star. You see our calculations had that this highest probability for a life source was on the fourth planet from the star. But we are testing all possibilities.”

I sat up straight in my chair. Took a sip of my coffee and decided that even if this was a prank it was more interesting than trying to figure out how to streamline my lunar life module prototype. I dug in.

“Very interesting for sure.” I said wondering what in the world was happening.


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Time to Fly- A Short Story by Leona

The PA system cracked. “We are now boarding for flight C576, Dallas to New Brunswick. At this time we would ask all active military personnel to board the plane. Thank you.” 

So it begins, thought Keith. He had been sitting at gate D4 with the rest of the flying passengers. This would be an interesting flight for sure. Keith had noticed among the fellow air travelers there was a group of musicians (evident by their larger instrument bags) there were 3 babies on this flight and a gentleman with a bright yellow suit. First class? Keith wondered.

He had always thought flying was a microcosm of society. You saw people’s true colors when flying. The waiting, the lines and the uncomfortable seats made it so that it was hard to keep up social decorum. Keith could always tell who was a frequent flyer though. They seemed to seamlessly drift from one place to the next. Used to the mundane aspects of flying. For Keith, he was always a lover of air travel. 

“Now boarding all basic economy passengers,” the airline assistant spoke. He had missed the other boarding calls because he was deep in thought. The man with the yellow suit was apparently traveling economy with the rest of the plebeians. Man in a High Castle? Kieth shuffled into the line with the other travelers somehow finding his way behind the many with the yellow suit and the musicians. The musicians were Texas born and bred. He heard them talking.

“Do ya’ll think there’s gonna be enough space for my tuba? I feel like I shoulda bought just a separate ticket.” The drawl extending the vowels. 

“Ticket sir” the attendant said. Keith passed the flight assistant his ticket. She glanced down and said, “Are you two together?” indicating the man with the yellow suit. 

“No”

“Interesting,” she said “You have seats next to each other”

The man with the yellow suit must have heard the attendant. He turned back and flashed Keith a wide grin. Did he know this man? Keith raised a hand in a “hello” gesture, took his ticket and walked down the gangplank. He looked to make friendly conversayion with the yellow suit but the man wasn’t in front of him.  Somehow he must have already got on the plane.

Weird, I thought he was just ahead of me. 

After smiling at a flight attendant, shuffling down the aisle, Keith finally found his seat at 28C. It wasn’t a window seat but he would take it. To his surprise was there an empty seat nextto his. Where did the man in the yellow suit go? Keith removed his bag, stowed it away and settled into his seat. He had better things to do then wonder about that guy. He remembered the man’s smile, it was a bit disconcerting for some reason. 

“Ah, can I get around you?” a voice said to his right.

Keith looked up. Yellow suit, yellow watch, even yellow dye in the beard. The yellow man.

“Ah” Keith mumbled, “sure thing”

The man slipped past and settled into the seat next to keith. Keith was still slightly unsettled by the brightness of the color. People in the other rows seemed to turn and look as the man in yellow sat down. Keith took his seat.

“You know where this plane is headed right?” the man in yellow said. Keith turned. Up this close he noticed the man had a gold tooth. This guys is something else.

“Uhh, we’re headed to New Bruwnswick. That’s what’s on the ticket” Keith said, slightly confused.

The man laughed, his gold tooth glinting in the dull light of the airplane. 

“I wish that’s where we were headed. But you know that’s just not the case. Not this time.”

“What are you saying?” Keith asked, annoyed that this man was being cryptic and sly.

“We’re headed for the past. Time to say goodbye to the future.” The man turned a ring on his finger. A gold ring glinting. “Time to fly”

At this point, Keith felt unsettled by this weird traveler, so he turned to ask the flight attendant for a seat change. No matter what it costs, I don’t want to sit next to this guy for 5 hrs. 

But as he looked around, he noticed the plane was dark. Seats were empty. There was no one else on the plane.

The man laughed next to him. This time it sounded menacing and terrible. 

“You think flying is about the destination? You’re wrong my friend. It’s about the journey.”

Keith, still sitting down, felt the plane rumble and shake as if about to take flight. He felt the surge of momentum as the plane picked up speed. But where was he headed?

Horses- A Short Story by Liyona

There I was standing on the precipice looking at the way the horses ran across the horizon. 

“Tara!” I called my sister. She was farther behind and collecting edible weeds. 

“The horses! Come quick and see!” 

Tara looked up and dropped the greens from her hands. She scrambled next to me. Her hair whipping in the windy breeze the ocean brings. 

“Ana!” she cried “It’s just as we hoped!” 

My sister tore down the dune in pursuit of the horses. They were galloping right on the serf. Splashing and whinnying filled the air. I bolted after my sister. She was fast but I was faster. My legs are longer and used to running long distances. I quickly came nearer to the beautiful beasts. One animal turned its head toward me. Sizing me with its dark brown eyes. I stopped. My breathing hard. A wave swelled and swished across the horses hooves and my feet. It felt as though I could touch the beast. 

Then the moment was lost as my sister started howling and hollering from behind me. She ran past me and tried to catch the horse. But the beast was too quick for Tara. It turned and bolted, causing the herd to move quickly across the beach. They started slowly but then the whole group picked up speed. Tara falling far behind. 

“Tara, don’t hurt yourself. We have to be quiet with them, I think” 

I had no idea how to wrangle a horse. But my sister and I knew it was the only hope to get to the capital, back to our family. Tara had sunk on to the ground letting the small waves crash against her legs. I walked over and rested my hand on her head. 

“You ready?” 

She looked up and a smile spread across her face. 

“I can’t wait to catch one of those beauties. First person gets to name the horse!”

She started to run ahead of me, laughing. Now that we had made it to the sea, now that we had seen the horses the tightness in my chest had started to unwind. I knew it would be alright and I picked up speed to catch up with my sister, howling along with her as the waves crashed into our path.