Sunday, August 9, 2009

DARA - The Forward

A little explanation is in order for the following experimental "Twitbook," published on Twitter in late July and early August 2009, serial fashion, one chapter per day. I decided to write it within the restrictions of the 140 character format on Twitter. The result is a form which contains 14 chapters, each with 10 passages, and each passaage containing as close to 140 characters as art would permit. A total of approximately 3,360 words. The form was as much a part of the exercise as the story. The whole experience was fun, and I encourage you to try it yourself, or invent a new form that fits. The one proviso is that it has to be published on Twitter, not linked to it. Have fun!

The story itself begins in the future and ends in the very far future. It follows the experiences and consequences of a "first contact" between 10 year old Dara Branson of Earth; and a young alien from a distant galaxy, ultimately named Bloo by his new friend. The story follows them, and eventually their respective descendants through several centuries of co-existence, conflict and eventual trust and friendship.

I hope you enjoy reading this as much as I enjoyed writing it. Let me know what you think; your comments will help me grow as a writer, and that's what I'm looking forward to the most!

Maren Wryn
OregonMJW on Twitter

Chapter 1 The Discovery

When you say the words out loud, “57 years” seems like a long time. It’s no time at all in the scheme of things. I know. I’ve lived them.

It was July, a week after my 10th birthday. I received a Barbie doll and an Erector Set. Barbie seemed more complicated; I choose the Set

Cool in the shade of the County’s version, the Set & I were wasting time dreaming of the bridge we’d build across the stream.

The water was at its summertime low & made crossing easy. I was about to do just that when I noticed the deepening red stain in the water.

“A fish kill” I thought. A trout or a gar had met its fate in the claws of a hawk, or one of those elusive cougars that I had yet to see.

As I picked up my toy and hiked up my jeans to cross, I noticed that the red stain was getting much bigger – way too big to be fish blood.

I wasn’t scared. I’d seen a deer bleed out when it was dressed by my Dad and, even though it’s not a pretty site, it seemed natural to me.

“Some stupid city-boy hunter!” I thought in disgust. They never paid attention to their kill; just “shoot & hoot” as my Dad used to say.

I didn’t step into the water. I just stood there waiting for it to clear. But it didn’t. It was then that I first heard the sound.

Even now, all these years later; being accustomed to that sound, as we all are, I still feel the terror it ignited in me that first time.

Chapter 2 The Gift

My name is Dara Branson. For 57 years I’ve lived with the knowledge that my act of kindness on a day in July 2024 cost mankind its freedom.

Terrified as I’d been by the bloodied waters of our stream, and the horrifying screech I’d heard, my child’s curiosity got the better of me.

I made my way upstream following the still evident blood. The screeching stopped after three painful bursts. I was a little scared now.

At the first bend, I smelled an odor like the lavender in our field; but not like exactly like it. The smell was soothing and I pressed on.

Suddenly, I was overwhelmed with strange emotions: grief, fear, rage, loneliness, pain. I recognized the pain; it nearly crippled me!

I felt myself drawn to a small gully which, in winter, drained the field above. There lay the most beautiful creature I had ever seen.

Its arms & legs looked like my own. Its torso was very long and slender, its head rather too large and its skin a pale opalescent blue.

Without understanding how, I heard its voice! “Help me.” It turned its head & I saw its enormous lidless eyes. I must have fainted.

When I came to, it was standing above me. I felt calm and fearless. “Help me” came the familiar sensation. I got to my feet and complied

It held out its hand. I gently took it and led my new friend up the gully, across the field and into out house. My mother fainted.

Chapter 3 The Kindness

My new friend had gradually become stronger as we walked together to the house. My mother eventually recovered too. We called him Bloo.

Mother was scared of Bloo, but she knew I wasn’t & tried to show off her confidence. I think Bloo understood; he avoided looking at her.

Looking back from my present perspective, I recognize the arrogance of thinking Bloo was a male. turned out I was only half wrong through.

I didn’t know how to care for Bloo. He didn’t eat; didn’t really seem to have a mouth either. Brushing my teeth definitely frightened him

We didn’t talk but I often felt like he understood exactly what I was doing or wanting. Once he picked an apple before I knew I wanted one

Soon it was apparent that he was trying to communicate with me. We sat for hours just looking at each other. Eventually, I heard him.

He was a “Cray.” They had come very far across the universe to find a world of humanoids. He didn’t say why. He admitted he was a child.

Something had gone wrong with a method of transport from their ship to the Earth below. His parents died. “They had red blood?” I thought.

He had no way to call the ship above. His father was their leader, and now dead. They would be angry with Earth if Bloo didn’t return soon.

I gave him my iPhone. It took two days but he finally figured out how to make it signal his ship. It was many years later that we met again

Chapter 4 The Transformation

In the summer of the year 2025, the Earth experienced a series of upheavals that caused the catastrophic death of nearly 60 million people

Worldwide natural events, such as volcanoes, tidal waves, extreme storms on land and at sea, plus the inescapable panic, wreaked havoc.

By December of 2026 it became apparent to many of Earth’s remaining scientists that the events had not been random. Had it been an attack?

Silently and without their militaries, trusted scientists gathered together to plan against what they felt certain was an alien incursion.

By early summer 2027 the scientists concluded that it had been an attack; that there were aliens in the vicinity of Earth. They had no idea.

In the meantime, a steady, nearly universal drop in the human birth rate had further debased
not only the gene pool, but the world economy.

By the last days of 2030, the world’s population was less than a third of 2025. Remaining humans had gathered into 2 roughly similar groups

In five years the Cray had orchestrated a relatively simple terra forming plan of a populated world. All the assets remained, including us.

It was then the Cray came to Earth to “rescue” us. We welcomed them as liberators and friends!

They were pretty, and they smelled good.Standing on bridge of the Cray ship as it drifted lazily over the barren land once called the “USA” was an especially tall young officer

Chapter 5 The Trade

Brad Avery entered the President’s office with his usual panache. He crossed to the desk and said, “Sir we can’t allow this to continue!”

The handsome young SecDef emphasized his agitation by using a little more force than necessary to set down the papers he’d been clutching

“Calm down, Brad,” Pres. Branson replied in the silken tone he used to pump money out of sow eared donors. “And, sit down, boy, sit down!”

“Sir, the Cray commander has left us with no options.” “Son, the door is closed” the President replied. The younger man looked relived

From his coat pocket he slipped a slender, hand-sized device which most people over 50 might have identified as an antique iPhone

“Dad, Cray 47 has to be returned tonight.” He handed the phone to his father, who pressed the speaker icon. As he did so, they both flinched

“I am Cray 93, Commander of the Northern District!” Even in the Translator, the tone of the Cray was aggressive. “Cray 47 will be released!”

“Brad, he’s not even a triple digit! What the hell?” “Dad, he claims to have Dara!” The President’s head fell forward into his hands

“Dara!” he whispered. “Is this true?” “Yes Dad, Dara’s been uncounted for two periods.” “Release him then! Release him now,” he commanded

Chapter 6 Blasphemy

“Sec. Avery?” “Here, Raina. Do you have them?” Even in the dark of the outer air lock, Raina’s blond hair glowed as if by its own light

Yes. Sir!” she responded. “I brought 3 apples from the central repository. The Prelate was not pleased.” Brad smiled at her revelation

As she spoke, striking young Raina Doll glanced up at Brad Avery with a knowing smile. His unusual gift would be costly. This pleased her

The hiss of escaping air alerted the young couple to lower their headsets & masks. The human face was offensive to the Cray; as were humans

Brad and Raina advanced the required 3 steps then stood with their eyes averted. The airlock cycled closed. Each was shaking just a little

Raina’s hands, palms up, tight against her waist, held the precious gift. A Cray assigned to greet them advanced to face her. He struck!

The apples flew from her hands onto the ground. Her training failed & Raina uttered a short gasp and stepped back once. The Cray cried out

The Pattern of Three was broken! 3 steps forward, a trio of identical gifts, 3 as yet unspoken words of greeting. Raina’s fear damned all.

Cray 47 had returned; now Raina had insulted the Cray’s obsession with numerical order. Dara’s safe return was at risk.

Their suit translators were not designed to handle the load of multiple Cray rending the air with screams of rage. Neither were human ears