Latest Forum Posts:

Categories

This Night

What causes those little lights on the inside of your eyelids when you turn out the lights?

Every night, when she turned out the lights, the last things Hope saw were the amorphous ghosts of the curly light bulb pulsing against the darkness of her inner eyelids. Then they would fade and shrink and sleep would slip her away to countless bizarre and sometimes Freudian dreams; but not this night. This night the ghosts would not fade. Instead they merged and grew, coalescing into a pale green portal that beckoned her forward. Her weary mind rebelled briefly until, with a tired sigh, she slipped silently through the portal.

She opened her eyes to find herself in a long hallway, so white and uniformly lit that it appeared to be shadow-less; walls, floor, and ceiling, all merged into each other seamlessly. The cold crept up under her flannel nightgown and she found herself inwardly thankful that she hadn’t decided to sleep naked that night. ‘This is a dream’ she whispered ‘only a dream.’

“It’s about time you got here!” A voice behind her said. “We’ve been sending flares for weeks!”

She turned. The speaker was a tall, thin man with a pinched, sour look on his face and a scanty, grudging beard. He sighed impatiently and scribbled on his clipboard. Hope turned to the other member of her welcoming committee. She wore a white lab coat, as did the clipboard scribbler, but her face was open and friendly. “Welcome...” she began.

“Hope” Hope supplied.

“Welcome Ambassador Hope. My name is Moli. I’ll be your guide during your stay.” She turned to the clipboard man, her smile becoming slightly brittle and her voice hardening “This is Hector. He’s our Chief Administrative Office. He makes sure our projects stay within budget.”

“Do you know what the consequences are for using the outrageous amounts of energy needed to bring you to this world? It’s a good thing the return trip is included. This better be worth it.” Hector scowled at Hope.

“Do you know what the consequences are for abduction on my world?” Hope scowled back.

“You’re not on your world.”

“Hence the abduction” Hope snapped. “Now will someone please explain why I’m standing in a cold hall with two total strangers instead of sleeping in the comfort of my own bed?”

“I’m sorry for the inconvenience, Ambassador.” Moli gently steered Hope towards the far end of the hall. Hector followed, still grumbling and making furtive notes on his clipboard. “If there had been anyway to brief you before the trip we would have but, as Hector mentioned, the energy needed carried a huge cost to our world. We’ve been sending flares for years and you’re the only one who recognised them as the intergalactic invitation that they are. That’s how we know you’re the person most capable of understanding the dilemma, our dilemma really, since it involves your world as well as ours.” As they reached the end of the hall, the outlines of a hatch emerged from the blank wall. It swung outward and with a smile and a wave of her hand, Moli invited Hope to step through.

Hope stepped into a world so completely the opposite of the cold hallway that she nearly staggered. Her hand flew up to shade her dazzled eyes. It was warm and the light shone evenly over a jungle of vegetation flourishing in meticulously tidy raised beds. Flowers of astonishing size and form, in a riot of colour, scented the air while birds every bit as outlandish as the flowers, perched, flew, and called in a corresponding riot of sound.

“Please, Ambassador.” said Moli “I promise to give you a tour before you go home, but Govani is waiting.”

Hope turned. There was no sign of the hatchway or the hall. She turned again and found herself facing a new hatchway. Urged by Moli, she stepped into a large, wood panelled conference room. An old man stood and stepped from behind a large, highly polished, wooden desk.

“Ambassador Hope, may I introduce our planetary leader, Govani.” Moli said

“Ambassador, welcome.” He offered his hand and Hope took it politely. Govani smiled broadly. “Please, be seated” he drew her into the deeply cushioned chair facing the desk. Turning to the duo that Hope had internally dubbed ‘the welcoming committee’ he said “Thank you Moli, Hector. I’ll call you if I need you.”

“Govani, I’ll need to know as soon as...”

“Yes, yes, Hector, I know.”

As the door closed behind them, Govani sighed as he returned to the seat behind his desk. “You’re not Earth’s planetary leader are you?”

“No, I’m not. I can’t even get elected to the Student Council. Can you please tell me what this is all about?”

“I’m as bewildered as you are, Hope. We were supposed to be transporting your Head of State, your world leader. There must have been some malfunction.” He eyed her sadly “I was expecting someone older.”

“And I was expecting a good night’s sleep. Looks like we’ve both been short changed. Besides, we don’t have a world leader, who were you supposed to be transporting?”

“Well, the person with the most advanced reasoning skills. That’s who we targeted. That would have to be your planetary leader, wouldn’t it?”

“Yeah, well, you’d think so, but apparently not. You don’t know an awful lot about my world do you? Anyway, if you wanted someone else, why not send me back, why the pretence?” Hope nodded towards the hatch, where, she supposed, her welcoming committee waited on the other side.

Govani sighed “I’m sure Hector has already complained about the expenditure of energy. We simply can’t afford to transport another person and if it leaked out that we’d brought the wrong one here, it would cause global panic and chaos. You are our only chance.”

“Okay, Govani, cut the melodrama, just what exactly do you think I, or anyone from Earth, can do for an alien world full of complete strangers?”

Govani sighed yet again. “It’s a question of energy. Our world is very similar to yours, approximately the same size, climate, and composition. Our flora and fauna, while not identical, has evolved similarly and as you can see” he gestured towards himself “so have we; the dominant life form.

As our population grew, so did our need for energy. I believe this is also similar on your world. We’ve harnessed power from many sources; wind, sun, tide, rainfall, even heat from our planetary core. But when we discovered how to induce and harness micro wormholes we thought our energy needs would be met for eternity.”

“I have no idea what a micro wormhole is and I’m pretty sure you could explain it till you’re blue in the face and I still wouldn’t understand. But what’s the problem? It sounds like you have it made.”

Govani sighed a third time; so long and loud that Hope could almost see him physically deflate.

“We did, until we realized that it was a two way street. The technology needs another outlet. We can generate all the energy we can possibly use but if we don’t have a corresponding outlet to use the negative output it’ll back up and destroy us. I’m offering Earth that output, along with all the technological information necessary to harness it. If you could just use the mirrored energy at your end of the wormhole you’d be doing us the ultimate of favours.”

“Where’s the catch”

Govani’s eyes dropped to the bare desktop. “First, you’d have to do it soon. The amount of energy we used to bring you here has put us dangerously close to overload. And second... well, you’d have to abandon your fossil fuels and atomic power. I know you’re very fond of them, we’ve intercepted video and audio artefacts escaping your world; minute long testimonials on how wonderful your lives are using these fuels and I’m sorry to have to ask you to give them up but...” Govani raised his eyes and Hope saw the glint of unshed tears, his voice faltered. “...please, could you take this unlimited energy?”

...

Hope yawned. It was one of those mornings; really hard to wake up and drag herself back to the land of the living. She closed her eyes and yawned again. Tiny dots swam before her eyes. She reached for the notebook she kept by the side of her bed and started writing her morning pages. She’d been doing this chain of consciousness writing for years and was consistently surprised at the things she jotted down but today she felt possessed. Her pen skimmed over the page in what seemed like gibberish. When the pen finally skidded to a halt Hope looked down at a half page scientific formula.

“Weird” She muttered. “I wonder where that came from.”

Hope continued her usual morning routine; shower, dress, breakfast, pack a lunch, feed the cat. When she went back into her room to make the bed she saw the notebook lying open to the formula.

‘I bet I picked it up at one of those boring lectures’ she thought. She carried the notebook to her computer. ‘I wonder if I got it right.’

She typed the formula into the search engine and hit enter. “No Results. Oh well, just gibberish after all I guess.” She tore the page from the notebook, crumpled it, and tossed it into her trash can.

Four thousand miles away alarms began shrieking. An intense looking, lab coated young man stared at his monitor. Disbelief dissolving into joy, he hit the print screen button.

This story is protected by International Copyright Law, by the author, all rights reserved. If found posted anywhere other than storiesspace.com with this note attached, it has been posted without my permission.

Copyright © © Linda Studley all rights reserved

To link to this story from your site - please use the following code:

<a href="https://www.storiesspace.com/stories/science-fiction/this-night.aspx">This Night</a>

Comments (2)

Tell us why

Please tell us why you think this story should be removed.

Reason