One day, a scientist from Earth disappeared into space. She had just gone further than anyone had been. She was there, then…she wasn’t. Her headphones went out and then the picture went static. She screamed…
Abigail Mully was chasing comets. Well, she was chasing where the first one had come from. It had crashed into earth, and she had been chosen to go investigate the cosmos in search for more the cosmos was a dangerous place back then. radioactivity would fry you in a heartbeat. if you didn’t have enough food and water and plants, you would shrivel up in the zero gs pretty fast.
well, they mastered all that. but even with all the planning, their worst fears were realized on october 19th of 3014, when she didn’t return the transmission sent from mission control.
and that was it. they closed down mission control. and everyone went home. The end.
but there was a few that stayed and kept on eye on the sky.
His name was boro mully. over the thirteen years he kept the telescope on. always on. his new mission was finding his wife, listening with all his might at the certain spot in the sky where she’d disappeared.
Boro turned off the telescope and computer and closed the door to go.home. it was cold outside, but he didn’t mind, he had a beard, and a potbelly gut. he was fat enough to go naked if he wanted. Boro laughed to himself and cranked up the truck.
At home, a girl was waiting beside the fireplace. she was asleep. A blanket lied over her and the pig lying in her lap.
This girl was dreaming she was flying over a cliff, running from some huge ants. She kicked out and jumped over the edge, and when she saw the ground rise up in front of her she bolted awake and screamed.
The pet pig flew from her lap and almost landed in the fireplace. the pig grunted angrily and tritted away his pink butt in the air.
Sorry, Bullo. yawned azra. What a weird dream.
god, how long is dad going to be at the observatory! she got up and looked out the window. it was dark outside. near midnight. he would be here in about twenty minutes.
the observatory was on a mountain top. below was forest, black and rangy. and lakes spotted the surrounding country. a regular paradise where it never sun shined and rained all the time.
why the hell they had decided to move to this depressing part of the united states of Merica was a divine question. azra didn’t have any answers as she popped some popcorn into her mouth.
There was a knock on the door and Azra got up to answer it. a man in a purple turtleneck sweater, thin rimmed glasses, and a shiny wet face stood in the doorway.
“yes? said azra through the screen door. can i help you sir?
maybe. the man said. my name is scrio gorman. i know your father and i have some very important news for him.
he’s on his way back from the observatory, said azra looking at the man’s sweating face–it looked like he’d swam here.
i know. i know. i have some amazing news for him…do you mind if i stay until he gets here.
sure. said azra after a couple of seconds. she opened the door and the man immediately started looking around the for something. she lead him through the foyer and into the living. room. he could not sit still it seemed, but kept turning his head this way and that, scanning everything with intense interest.
Do you live her with him, do you?
what a strange question. of course she did.
you want some water or something? Azra offered.
the man nodded. please.
when she came back he was standing in front of the fire
he had been looking at the pictures on the mantel. he smiled vivaciously and pointed at one of them.
this one. he said. this is your mother…I knew her very well. brilliant mind. and….stubborn.
Azra set the water down and stared hard at the man.
what do you want? she said. she was beginning to get nervous. this guy, claiming to know her dad and then, saying he knew her mother.
oh, I don’t want anything. smiled the man and then he sat down in the chair. thank you for the water.
Boro Mully came into the living room and stopped dead. his boots hit the floor when he saw the man in the turtle neck.
scrio. what are you doing in my house.
your very lovely daughter invited me in. don’t worry i am here just as an informant. i have news that you might find interesting.
Like, we have found a second comet. coming to earth. Right now it flies faster and further than the first. It is the size of texas and will be here within the week. We wanted to invite you to the facility to lend us your knowledge on tracking its descent.
boro stood motionless. the fire licked the room.
Another comet is coming to Earth, and you want me to work for you. after all that you pulled after abby disappeared, all that you did when all you wanted was that damned stone.
that…waved scrio…is in the past. i do not seek what never existed.
that’s bologna. you sent your goons after me! chasing me to this godforsaken piece of the earth! now you expect me to come work for you? how dare you–!
boro! do not get angry. i am here as a messenger…only. the real person you should talk to about making all that money, and getting your space observatory up and running is here, only a phone call away.
scrio placed the card on the table and got up and finished his water.
wonderful water, my dear he said savouring the last drops like a camel.
boro stood beside azra and put his hand on her shoulder.
Thanks, Scrio, but we don’t want your help. we have everything we need and ever will. Now get out of here and out of our lives and if we ever see you again, there will be more than words that pass between us.
scrio left without another word. His trail of silence was more than screaming though. Slowly, he walked down the door steps and stepped out into the night. But Azra noticed he hadn’t driven here…had he?
Just then, lights came from the air. They landed on the ground in front of scrio and he stood in the doorway and glared back at the house with a look of complete, unhinged insanity. He flashed la serial killer smile at Azra, and then the car lifted him up into the night and disappeared into the darkness.
who was he dad?
he looked on into the sky
since azra was only thirteen she couldn’t drive but that didn’t stop her from having fun. her favourite thing to do was skateboard. a testament to how boring life can be if you don’t watch it.
she pushed and rode the board goofy stile across the asphalt of the skatepark. a ramp came up and she went up the curved surface without a hitch. she twisted the board around and came back down the opposite way and bent low to grab the board’s nose.
hey cool trick! yelled a boy with yellow hair. but get your back leg off a little and you can go fagster.
faster! not fagster!
it’s a new trick, give me a break!
Azra ollied the board over a trash bin and landed with a clack in front of the yellow haired boy.
Not bad for a little girl. he said laughingly. i don’t care what you have down there personally. skill is skill.
azra smiled and took out a cigarette and they both smoke d it before school started.
it was one of those days where the clock went slower every time you looked at i. t. Azra had her head down on the desk and she was asleep. she was dreaming of a complex e science equation coming to eat her. the infinity sign had just turned into a set of razor sharp teeth when she was shaken awake by mr. larkin, the second period physics teacher.
Azra mully, just because you think you know everything there is to know about algebraic equations of the 21st century doesn’t mean that this is siesta time for you. open your book and and turn to page eighty. okay. right. the mean difference of the variable multiplied by itself is equal to the blah blah blah, blah blah blah blah….azra had dozed off again. physics was not her best subject, no matter who’s famous dna ran through her blood.
by lunch time the illusion was shattered. she was going not going to pass the eighth grade without immediate surgery. she looked at her student progress report and signed. her best best was to tap her nearest nerd source.
Azra put her tray down on a table full of darked haired people. most wore glasses. they couldn’t seem to figure out why such a hick of a girl would come over to their table. they knew good and well the complex social dynamics of intraclass systems at Parader’s High School.
I need help. said azra.
why didn’t’ you say so. mumbled a girl about fifteen. she had long black hair and a smile on her face.
there was a slight rude cough from the girls next to Tu, azra’s friend. Tu turned and said something in indian. and they shut up directly. tu was de facto leader of the science club, uil physics intermediary club, and had free range over the nerds of the school, because she had just been accepted into college at fifteen.
Azra nodded her head. impressive, she said. i need you to take my astro final for me.
Why don’t you just study up? you can do it aZra, i have faith in you.
Don’t start, Tu. remember last year, I helped you with all your english. you owe me one sister.
Tu wiggled her head and then looked at the others.
Okay, i’ll take the damned test. but you have to do something for me too.
Tu handed her a crumpled up ball of paper. on the inside was a flyer. it said.
Saberpad races will be held where the river flows into the snakes mouth. the fifteenth of this month.
Password is germanium.
Bring a friend…
Thunder cracked over the school top. A heavy downpour began and then the students ran everywhere they went, cause the rain would leak down in between cracks in the ceiling and the janitor was always mopping and cussing and yelling at the students to slow down.
After school, Instead of going home, azra headed up to the observatory down Mountain Road. She would meet her dad up there and they would search the stars and she would do her homework until they shut everything down and went home.
Azra hopped off the metro bus and walked the rest of the way up the road, which was covered in giant sycamore trees, drooping vines and scattered and brambled underbrush. this was the way.
her shoes crunched over the dry rock of the driveway, went up the front steps of the main building, and turned down a passageway that led to the main observatory room at the south end of the observatory.
when she pushed open the door of the observatory room she knew that something was wrong. at least, different. Her dad was surrounded by a bunch of people in suits and ties. they turned around and her dad came over to her.
“This is my daughter, Azra. Azra, these gentlemen are from the Legionary of Science and Mathematics. They are here because….”he looked around at them, “because we think we have found something…” he looked pale in the face. “We think we’ve found your mother’s ship.”
This floored Azra. She stood there, her backpack around her shoulder. She could have fainted and it would have been the same as standing here. Her freckled face shone in the dim lights of the computers and she swallowed hard.
“My mom is coming back.”
a man with a turquoise suit came over.. “Well, it appears to be a ship and it’s coming from the same place she disappeared. We aren’t’ sure yet, but it we figure the ship has found its return path and kicked itself in high gear to get back here. Its travelling incredibly fast.”
Wait. thought azra. didn’t the strange man named Scrio say that a comet was coming earth too. and from the same spot. that didn’t make any sense. and azra threw her dad a glance that said as much. he seemed to pick up on it though and turned to the men.
we need time to digest this. i’ll call you if i pick up on anything through our telescope. thank you gentlemen.
when the men left, boro sat down in front of Azra and gently placed a hand on her head.
you are my love, azra. i know it’s been tough. not having a mother. not even having a grave to visit, knowing she is lost. but i want to say that i think you are as brilliant and as special as she was.
um,…thanks dad. but what’s going on? what about that man scrio and the…the comet?
boro nodded his head.
I think that those men and scrio is wrong about what they’ve found coming in from space. i don’t think it’s a comet, nor do i think it is your mother’s ship, i am afraid.
Boro stood up and hit a button on the computer keyboard. a giant map came up on the wall. a star map. it showed the entire universe. boro zoomed in on a section of a tiny spiral and the milky way zoomed up. he tapped on a spiral arm and the map pulled in a dusty patch of space. There, blinking in soft light, was a tiny dot. it was moving along a long curved line through space. Boro touched the screen and the star map followed the line. when it reached a small cluster of planets the map came to a stand still.
the long curve line had ended here. right at a small bright circle. boro tapped on the bright circle that represented a planet.
Earth was written above the planet.
It is coming straight for us, said boro. but if you look, he went back following the line through space away from earth, the supposed comet has to go straight through jupiter on the path, plus, he went back even further, to the tip of the milky way, “this comet had to dodge all kinds of stuff to make here, alive. no comet i know of can do that. not any one that is not alive, that is.
alive? said azra
yes, i don’t think it is a comet. you see, i have been tracking this thing for a while now. and it has made it past all of this. an unbelievable straight shot. and now, now it is right outside of our solar system.
azra wasn’t sure what to say. this wasn’t the kind of thing she ever expected to find after all the years of helping her dad out at the observatory. she never expected anything. it was just like a game to her, never real. but this…
dad, if it’s not a comet, and not mom, what is it?
boro didn’t say anything. he studied the wall map lost in great thought. when he spoke it sounded like a tomb inside the room.
why don’t we ask it?
They set up the computer to run an xray diagram into space. kind of like sending out a bunch of ones and zeros at light’s speed into the air. They pointed the big laser beam at the thing coming in from space and listened. after a long while nothing came back. only the air between them.
The limit of radio frequency had run out. it could not reach that far and the computer started to make a fuzzy funny sound indicating it had stretched out it’s antenna as far as the programmers had even dreamed it could reach, maybe even farther this time. The equipment in the observatory sitting in an inch of dust that couldn’t be removed…was just too old.
Boro sadly turned off the computer, but then he stopped, as if he thought of something else, then he left the power switch on as he and azra stepped back from the data screen.
what did you ask it, dad, said azra as they turned off the lights to go home.
boro sighed and kind of laughed sillly. “well, i just thought i’d say hello. you never know, if it is alive, it might speak a little english. it is the universal language here on earth.
azra glanced back at the computer and giant star map glowing in the dark of the room. Yeah, maybe…and maybe it doesn’t know how to speak at all.
New Chapter Next Week: A New Beginning