Enjoying Scifi Blog

August 10, 2010

Ticket to the Future

Filed under: Stories — Stephen L. Thompson @ 3:58 am

(This was originally published as part of my 30 Stories in 30 Days Challenge in September 2008.  I think it is a worthy way to start this blog.)

Ticket to the Future

Part of Angelica Daffin’s mind told her what she was doing was illegal. The rest of her mind told her what she was doing was insane. But right now, she was listening to her heart. I. M. Allen was her favorite author and ever since she read his first novel Doomed to Repeat, she had wanted to meet him; to know what his motivations and influences were.

It was just something about the tale of human colonists landing on a world wiped out by a genetically engineered virus that struck a cord with her. To her it was so realistic that while trying to “learn” more about the virus and the technology behind it – for the good of all mankind of course – that the colonists ended up wiping themselves out. Angelica wasn’t an anti-technology, new-age, hippie type, but she always recommended Doomed to Repeat as a word of warning to anyone who felt science was the solution to every problem.

Unfortunately, the prolific author (three novels a year) was also extremely reclusive. He never gave interviews, or went to conventions, or even had a blog. His agent and publisher said their only contact with him was through email. Since his books were best sellers, nominated for and winning most awards, they allowed him his eccentricity.

For years Angelica lived with her disappointment. She would preorder his books and take a day or two off from work to read them. His stories and characters were always so fascinating. From the generational starship where each generation descends further and further into madness in Going, Going, … to the simplicity of building a time machine and the complexities that result in Today, Tomorrow, or Yesterday?

With each book her curiosity grew and morphed into obsession. The final straw was With This Ring, concerning the bigotry surrounding and interspecies romance. When she finally put the book down, she wiped away her tears, and vowed that she would meet him. For months she tried every legal method she could to track him down, all without success. In the end she had to date a hacker who hacked into his agents email and traced his computer.

So now, Angelica stood with binoculars in the woods surrounding a little log cabin in the mountains, fifty miles from the nearest paved road. Not wanting to give away her presence, she had parked her car at a motel and hiked three days to get here. She couldn’t see any vehicle or even a satellite dish, so she wasn’t sure how this could be the right place.

She had only been watching the cabin for about a minute when the front door opened and out walked a short, green skinned alien with large black eyes.

#

The next thing Angelica knew, she was lying on a soft bed. The air was warm and filled with a flowery scent she couldn’t identify.

“Are you all right, Miss Daffin?” a soft, musical, male voice asked.

“Yes, I’m …” She opened her eyes and saw the alien standing a few feet from her. She screamed and tried to get away, but the bed was against a wall and there was no where she could go. Turning back to the alien she saw him just standing, silently, watching her. A thousands questions jammed in her throat. She swallowed and asked the first one that could get out, “How do you know my name?”

The alien reached over to a table and picked up her wallet. Holding it up to her he said, “Your driver’s license.”

“Oh.” The situation was too weird for her to be disappointed but such a simple answer. “How did I get in here?”

“You fainted at my appearance. I couldn’t leave you to lie in the leaves, so I brought you in.”

Angelica nodded. “Thank you.”

The alien bowed slightly. “You’re welcomed.”

“Who are you?”

Holding his hands behind his back, the alien stood up straight and replied, “You couldn’t pronounce my real name, but you know me as I. M. Allen.”

Sitting down on the bed, Angelica nodded. “Really?”

“Yes.”

After a moment, Angelica asked, “What are you going to do to me?”

“Nothing.”

“Nothing? Aren’t you afraid I’ll expose you?”

“To whom? Yes, the people who wear tin foil hats would believe your tale that a famous author is really an alien, but …”

“All right, all right,” Angelica interrupted him. Taking a deep breath she asked, “What are you doing here?”

“It is far easier to remain inconspicuous in a place like this,” he waved his hands to indicate the cabin, “than, say, an apartment in New York.”

Angelica paused. Did an alien just tell her a joke? “I meant on Earth.”

There came the faintest of smiles to his tiny mouth. “I know. Your species has accomplished much in a short time, but you have barely scratched the surface on knowledge of the universe. You are at a critical point in your development where you not only have the ability to destroy yourselves, but also the mentality which makes such a fate a possibility.”

“Are you here to save us?”

Shaking his head, he replied, “No. My … charitable organization is probably the closest term you have for us, finds species in such situations and we try to help them save themselves.”

Angelica raised an eyebrow at that. “By writing scifi novels?”

The tiny smile spread. “That is not all we do, but my specialty is artistic expression. Most species have some form of art, but few have such a range as yours. We’ve taken special interest in your science fiction because it’s perfectly suited to our goals. What other art form forces you to consider how your species – and even you yourself – would react to First Contact? Or time travel? Or immortality? Getting people to think about the future is the first step in making sure that you have a future and that it is a good one.”

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