The Distant Proximity

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Digital drawing.  Two figures in silhouette stand in front of a car seen in three-quarters view from back.  The car’s headlights are on. The figure at left holds up a device.  They’re in an open field at night. The sky is full of stars. Before them appears a large glowing shape that extends out of frame.

“We’re receiving a Proximity alert, I take it.”  Jora walked in and leaned over the console, scanning the incoming stream of data.

“They really should have called it something else,” I said, as I started up the retrieval protocol.

“Yeah…”

“I mean it’s confusing.”

“Well.”

I swiveled my chair toward her.  “Does it mean it’s closer or farther away?”

Jora glanced over at me and grinned.  “If you don’t know that, how did you get assigned to this station?”

I shrugged.  “I’m sure the person who hired me knew what they were doing.”

She elbowed me lightly.  “I hope I did.”

I swiveled back to the console and continued handling the incoming data.  “You did.  Trajectory just came in.  It’s not headed to Earth…this time.”

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The Alien in My Headphones

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Digital drawing. Overview of a wooden desktop. Clockwise from top right corner, most of a cup filled with a brown liquid. A cell phone displaying a checklist with a few items checked off. A hand with a bracelet visible, holding a pen perched over a folded-over notebook. A crumpled sticky note. A pair of over-ear headphones. A cylindrical container filled with colored pencils. A partial view of a pair of glasses folded up. A folded-over notebook with notes written on the top half lying over a document affixed with a binder clip holding a note where the sentences are partially visible under the headphones.

I settled the headphones over my ears.  When I inhaled, I felt a little lurch in my stomach.

Every time I turned them on, I was afraid I’d lost the signal.  And every time I turned them on, I was afraid I hadn’t.

This was getting out of hand.  This…investigation that I’d gotten caught up in.  But if it was a prank, it was—I was going to say “epic,” but that word gets overused.  It was…extravagant.

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The Challenge of the Hand

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The Challenge of the Hand ImageIt had a name, but everyone simply called it the Company.  The Company was prosperous, prestigious, and pervasive.  Dominating all industries from sea to sea.  Exploring and founding even beyond the sea.  It was a coveted position to be a worker in the Company.  Those who attained the highest ranks were envied and revered all the more.  For in those ranks, one was not a mere “worker.”  One was a Hand.  The Company had many Hands.  And these Hands reached into every corner of the known world.  The Company did not tolerate weak Hands.  Only strong ones.

There was no great mystery about how one could become a Hand.  One had to meet and complete the Challenge of the Hand. Continue reading

The Saltwater Realm

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The Saltwater Realm

“Tell us a story first!” the boy said.

The grandmother had started tucking in the children for bedtime.  But she now glanced over at the eldest, who was sitting in her bed with her knees drawn up.  The grandmother had already indulged them by letting them stay awake later than they should have.  And yet…

How could she pass up the chance to tell a story?  Especially to such a cherished audience.  Still, she had to make them earn it.

“Ask me a question,” she told the eldest.  “If there is a story to the answer, I will tell you that story.”

She continued her tucking in and noticed that the girl’s siblings watched their elder sister with expectant eyes.

The girl thought for a while and then she asked, “Why is the ocean salty?” Continue reading