Thursday, March 10, 2011

No more week count


From the moment his eyes flew open in the dark enclosure, gasping for air- for life, Neil felt what must have been every sense of doubt, every thought of dread about the journey clutching at his throat. He knew something had to be wrong as he continued to inhale pain. The air supply is cut off, he thought frantically, surprised that he could still think at all. Clawing desperately at the indoor handle of his cryo-bed, Neil pushed with all of the animal strength he could muster, very aware that every breath he took was bringing him closer to death. With his hand still on the handle and with a great lurch, the door to the cryo-bed flew open. Neil spilled out of it, as several other instruments freed themselves from the wall as well. He gasped in air greedily, eyes pinched and forearms outstretched ready to catch a fall, but the floor never came up to meet him.

He opened his eyes, blinking several times at an empty dimness, the only light being an impossibly bright sliver of white through an open door. Time seemed slowed as small fragments of things caught a halo of light. Screws, scrapped metal, a stray wire, and someone’s leather glove floated like motes of dust through the air. He spread out his arms to the water-like suspension.

“ Restoring gravity in 3 seconds!” a voice screamed out; a moving shadow from the heavy door.

Neil realized at the raised voice, that the steady pulse of sound pressing his ears was not his own heartbeat, but an emergency siren. He fell roughly to the floor at last. All that had been weightless was then thrown downwards, the clattering of metals and plastics littering around him. From behind, he heard the cryo-bed door shut, and it was with sick realization that Neil remembered the other passengers. The renewed gravity seemed to hold him fast, as his weakened body moved forward towards them. The short row of oval shaped beds were now waiting coffins. Neil grasped at the first cryo-bed, trying to pull it open, as the man inside seemed to sleep on. Looking around wildly, he fixed his sight towards the open slit of a door.
“Help,” he cried hoarsely. His voice had become unaccustomed to use. “Help!” he cried louder, but was hardly heard over the shaking bolts and still screeching siren. A hand quickly pushed the room’s door open, and an older woman’s face appeared, hurriedly looking in, then back out again. She pulled up a pair of thick shaded goggles.

“Damnit!” she cried, abandoning her post. “ Keep it there, Mathis!”

Another voice shouted in affirmation, and the matured woman Neil recognized as the pilot rushed to his side. The open door became a wall of brilliant light. “They’re trapped,” Neil gasped. “No air; been shut off.”

She looked to him, eyebrows creased, and quickly tried to open the sealed bed. Neil joined her, but a few futile attempts was all she needed to stop. “It’ll be on emergency lock. Only opens from the inside.” She could only speak at a shouting volume. The pilot moved a trembling hand to wipe her forehead. “I’ll try to restore air, but-there’s nothing- the whole -” She caught her breath, composing herself, and flew to the nearest command station. “The bottom two decks are gone completely; exposed to the vacuum.” The pilot’s fingers worked swiftly, a muscle memory that knew the small ship’s workings intimately. “We’re hurling towards a star as we speak.”

“What? What’s happening? We’re hit?”

“Yes.” She said impatiently. Her bare fist hit the wall beside the screen. “Damn it all! Mathis, cut that siren for god‘s sake!”

“A bit busy, Jakes!” A man yelled.

“By WIM Corps?” Neil asked.

“No, asteroid belt.”


“We’re completely off course; I don’t know what happened.“ Her voiced changed slightly to something laced with regret. “ I’m sorry,” She sighed “The cryo-bed air tanker must have gone with the deck below.” Jakes shook her head and the siren died out with the push of another button. The air they were breathing now was from a different generator, and Neil looked to man behind the glass inside who slept on, perhaps already dead. Jakes shook his shoulder and asked quickly, “Kid, we need extra hands; can you fly?”

“Navigational assistant.” He replied automatically, still staring at the doomed man.

“Good enough.” The pilot dragged him by the arm towards the open door, that had continually blasted bright light into the cabin. The ship shook again, throwing the both of them to the wall. Neil had to cover his eyes with his elbow. The intensity of the star’s light was not much hindered by the darkest tint of the ship’s open view screen. It seemed to creep even between the shield of flesh thrown over his eyes, and the need for goggles like the pilot’s became apparent. Just as suddenly a strange darkness returned Neil’s vision, and he opened his eyes in time to see a large blot of black cover the screen.

The three of them stared for a moment as the large asteroid eclipsed their view.

“Oh god,” The copilot called Mathis breathed out.

“Impulse burst. Mathis, impulse burst, now!”

“Th-The inertia will kill us! We’re not stabilized-”

We’re going to die right now if you don’t!

“Hold onto something!” Mathis yelled, and swiped his hand across the control panel.


Slowly, slowly, a pain began to throb. His shoulder, his arm, his back. You’re still alive, it told him, burning now at a steady pulse.

There was a telling, vacant darkness in the cockpit now, and a foreboding silence. A slight hum of generators, the calm glow of buttons and switches. The ship did not shake or sway. What had happened? A brightness, an asteroid, . . . And yes, he remembered an impulse burst. The impulse burst had surely thrown them out of the asteroid belt, and Neil had somehow survived, but there was no congratulatory cheering; No orders being barked. He untangled himself from under the small space beneath the helm from where he had been flung like putty. The fact that he could move at all felt dreamlike; the circumstance just as hard to believe. The frantic moments of before felt washed over. Hadn’t he just been trying to sleep?

Neil blinked, trying to see past where his eyes would let him. There was little that could be seen past the helm and control station in the black. The cockpit had a look of being carved out, as the exposed guts of machinery had been knocked loose and instruments had been toppled. The large front view screen still had a shield of tinted darkness in place from earlier blocking the sun’s intense brilliance; that gaping window had drank in the light as if it hadn’t been there. “ Hello?“ He asked to the darkness. No response. Rather than speeding up, his heart felt frozen. He was afraid to linger on the thoughts of reality.

Neil looked down to the control screen in front of him-still functional with a faint flicker. It’s dull blue glow revealed a brass plaque above it that proudly read Ad Astra Per Aspera. The controls seemed basic, on the surface. Neil’s splintered knowledge of star navigation would only help so much, but one of the open tabs of command-the view screen control-was open to change. With a gentle finger tap, the darkness across the large screen seemed to mist away like hot breath, and a clearer view from behind came forward. Across the vast emptiness of the vacuum, a gentle curve of a planet arched slightly on the horizon. Large and orange, the gasses of it’s surface swirled like slow liquid paint. Neil felt the silent awe in his chest at the beauty of it. The ship had been mercifully caught and tethered by the planet’s orbit. The reflected light of its atmosphere crept into the cockpit, illuminating the interior mess. There was red across the floor. Neil closed his eyes, and braced himself to face the lit scene. The broken bodies of Mathis and Jakes had crumpled against the side wall. A thin trail of blood showed the height they had reached before dropping to the floor.

Jakes had been right; the impulse burst had saved them from the asteroid. But Mathis had also been right, as the unstable inertia had flung them to their deaths. Stable enough, Neil noted, to keep him alive in a small space. How could that be? He thought. Luck, incredible luck. The fingerprints of grubby hands were still on the guardrail; an echo of what had happened moments before. He certainly didn’t feel lucky. What a waste. Their crumpled forms made him aware of the extremely intricate machinery of the body, and he wondered why he functioned while they did not. They seemed smaller; strength and dignity had fled away with their thoughts and their life.

Neil dragged away his eyes and his numbness to send out a distress call, hoping a savior would hale the beacon first. There were much more than scientists, explorers, and travelers out in the black sea of space. He swept a hand over the command screen to the stellar cartography, trying to find his location relative to anywhere else. It showed the closest star as a small insignificant speck amongst other specks that were in “unexplored star region CR446:70032“, whatever that meant. He rubbed a hand over his face. His navigation skills felt useless. Closing the tabs, Neil looked up to the view screen. The orange mass of clouds on the planet continued to storm, twisting in elegant swirls, ignorant of the one who wept above them.

They had only ever meant to flee.

WIM Corps, their employers and guardians had had them mining dwarf planets for generations. When working out in the merciless vacuum of space, supervisors provided not only a livelihood, but an ultimatum of air, food, gravity, and life to workers and their families, who essentially bore their children into slavery. There was no escape for them. It was a small group who had no families-that was, had nothing to lose-who had formulated a plan; if not to escape, then to at least alert someone who would care. After meticulous planning, they had stolen a tin-can of a ship, set on a course to jump from point to point, wormhole to wormhole, to the mother-planet: Earth. They had heard legends about it; how incredibly blue it was.

Now, Neil could only think about the people he couldn’t help: the miners and others still trapped, working and living for no purpose of their own, the dead who slept soundless in their cryo-beds who had anticipated a change and purpose, and the pilots who had tried to save their people and their mission. Neil had taken their heavy bodies and closed them in their cryo-beds, uncertain of how their decay would take place. Perhaps he would soon be amongst them. Major functions of flight were gone, and emergency supplies were limited. Within the hours, it was only the quiet orange tempests of the planet that he could bare to look at, finding little comfort in their consistent billowing.

Why have I come this far, only to be trapped now? He thought, collapsed in a clearing before the view screen. How long would it be until any other ship came to find him, following the distress call? Would a team of wealthy scientists find him on the brink of death and bring him away from such a fate? Or perhaps it would be pirates who would find him at last, kicking his bones aside to look for valuable ship parts that weren‘t there. Or maybe -and this he found the most likely- no one would ever find him at all. It had only taken an unlucky space rock to fling the ship off course, and now perhaps his body would circle the gaseous planet for decades before it broke apart and collapsed to fall quietly to its atmosphere. It would burn up gracefully, unobserved, and its stories would never be told, never significant to a universe that would swallow it whole without regret.

He wondered if he was the only living thing for light years around; was his the only heartbeat, the only warm flesh and sweating brow; the only thing self conscious and unfortunate enough to predict its own demise? The injustice of it all made him want to curse the unkind conditions of the cosmos. How wretched it was to be a human, so vulnerable and weak against the enormity of everything else. There was only the cold universe, mercilessly indifferent to his fear; so active in its own expansion yet apathetic to those who clung to it.

Everything felt timeless, as there were no appropriate hours or days. Neil only started to recognize patterns and moon orbits that gave any hefty feeling of passing moments. He watched as some of the planet’s moons moved faster than others, leashed by gravity and spinning it’s slow ballet in a different beat than the others. At times the ship would orbit in a way that the entirety of the view screen would be filled only with the golden color of the planet’s belly. Never again did he turn his head toward the room of cryo-beds. Neil would only continuously check the command screen for any indication of passing life. For one glorious minute he thought he had received a signal and was disappointed that it had turned out to be a pulsar star. Too tired to feel angry, he merely lived alongside his grief.

He tried to think of Earth. They had said it was mostly water, and there were strange animals that lived alongside people. There was some food that could just be picked up off of a plant and eaten. A sky that was blue, not the black of space. Some said that was where you went when you died, although the idea seemed absurd. Daydreams had now become his life, amid the broken controls and uncounted hours, and Earth had taken up most of them. He could no longer hate the ship, or the planet, or the sun. He would merely watch the twisting orange, spinning moons, and once, a blazing comet. How strange that he should be there to see these things that would have gone on unseen otherwise. How strange that he should die and not even care anymore; perhaps the very idea bored him. Benevolent in its indifference, the universe did not help nor hinder the pursuits of life. It let them figure things out for themselves and pursue their own dreams and fulfillment. The very fact that they he had been alive at all, he thought, privileged to feel fear, hatred, love, laugh, cry, and die, unlike anything a star or planet, gas nor ice nor rock would ever accomplish, made him think that it wasn‘t all that bad. He might die, but at least he had one up on that orange planet.

So what would happen at his death? They were made of the same things. Carbon, which could only be made within the innards of stars, expelled across the universe and temporarily came together to become life. They were not so different, at the atomic level; brethren of the universe, of which different atoms had flung them together and apart so gracefully.

Wobbling to a stand, Neil walked to the control panel and began to open a new message. He did not want to regret dying without somehow recording what they had always meant to do. The victims of WIM Corps were still out there and needed a voice. And so he spoke. He put down everything he knew, about the situation, the accident, every frustration. It was a voiced weakened to a whisper, but perhaps it would live on. He could only hope that his was a common language if it was ever found. Tracing a finger over Ad Astra Per Aspera, Neil lay down, exhausted, ready to close his eyes.

Three planets away, a freighter ship responded.

Author's Note:

This is my first crack at science fiction; i have a fondness for astrophysics. I did not, however, want this story to be to scientific or about technology and aliens. Rather, I wanted it to be about the human experience.
Ad Astra Per Aspera is a latin term and a motto from NASA meaning "To the stars, through difficulty". I just wanted to throw a bit of irony in there.

Tuesday, April 7, 2009

Week 12

The Uncounted Counting Sheep

Let us say that a rather tired person has just lay their head down to sleep after an exhausting day at work.
Indeed, let us suggest that the tired person, -a man, say- despite his utter tiredness, still cannot find himself contented to find the peaceful rest of the sleep he desires. What can he do then?
Ah yes, the usual methods start to take place. Change positions maybe; or clear the mind with meditation. But if this fellow is rather old-fashioned, he'd do what his forefathers had been doing for years. Count sheep.
This is where my platoon comes in to settle the problem. My army. My ...flock.
Wherever lies someone in the toil of insomnia, we'll be there,in their mind's eye trying our best. He'll begin to count us, jumping over a fence. one, two, three. These are the most famous and popular of the sheep. The first ten are legendary. Then the next until twenty, then to thirty, and even to one hundred. These sheep are well known. But past that are the bundle that seem to be more and more destitute as the line and number size increases. we are there, the rarely called to upon. Past 300, we are scarcely known at all. Ghosts of the possible sheep that could have jumped and been counted; if someone ever managed to count that far. But at all the way at number one thousand, the last of the sheep, I am forgotten.
But I watch my fellows leap on cheerfully, in whatever imagination they are conjured into. Sometimes they're pink, or black, or classic white; realistic or comic, jumping over gates, or rocks, or fences; however the sleeper wants them to look. They'll jump and be counted.
Someday I'll be with them, before the tradition dies out. I will be counted. I will get my chance to be a strange color; to leap with all my might; to be the last one counted until one falls to slumber. One day. Until then, insomniacs of the world, keep counting!

Monday, March 16, 2009

Week 11

Just ask

An old man stares at his pocket watch
tick tocking away
ticking the hours, tocking the days
of a life that once was

Just ask him, and he'll tell you
crunchy tin memories
of hamburgers at ol' Johnny B's.
Hot summer days; swing dancing at night

Just ask him and he'll tell you
soft mulchy memories
of camping in the woods
He got lost and had hidden from a bear.

Just ask him and he'll tell you
fragile laced memories
Of first love in the library
She got mad when he tried to give a discount

Just ask and he'll tell you
gritty wet memories
of being drafted to war
the shots and screams going into the night

If you just ask him, he'll tell you
His life stories
everything that makes him who he is.
The laughs, the pain, the loves, the lost
If only there was someone to say it to.
Just ask and he'll tell you.

Written for those amazing people who are ignored by the rest of the world; The elderly.
Next week: The rest of astronomy homework (I'm finished, but needs editing) and a new epic tale called The Forest of Forgotten Youth. It's long. :3

Sunday, March 8, 2009

week 10

Sunflower Song

It's so cold.
Where I work, it's always cold. The outside is even worse. But that's okay. I'm making my living the way I need to. Decent salary, decent apartment, decent boyfriend. I wear my cute suits to work, and I smile at people. Even when they are rude, and nasty, and uncompromisable, I smile. Because that's what I'm paid to do. Under the bland white lights that somehow make everything grey, I'm at my desk, organizing, taking calls, being pleasant. But I'm still cold. They refuse to turn up the heat at all. Maybe it wouldn't help; This whole country is cold.
It's Monday and one of my colleagues walks by; he's whistling. It's not completely unusual to hear someone making up their own tune, rather raspy, trying not to disturb other people. A low key merrymaking that is not very merry at all. That tune I hear; I think maybe it's one I know. Who can say... There's never music at work, and my radio is broken. I never got around to setting up my music program at home. My whistling colleague; he's in the elevator now, and the tune is gone. He's gone, up, to some floor, but that music is still on my floor, somewhere. It's floating in my mind. What is it? I'm distracted now. That tune. I know that tune. It's very old.
No matter. Work. Work means money; means food; means fun. Organize. Take calls. Organize. It's so cold.
Then it's Tuesday. I continue my routine. My colleague walks by again with his quiet, raspy, i-don't-want-to-annoy-you whistle. I don't know the tune this time. and I wonder why he's doing that. I've never wondered before. This man; in his suit, rather plump, rather old. What is he whistling about? For what reason?
No matter. Things need to be organized. Calls need to be received. Work needs to be worked.
I'm at home, my boyfriend is there. We don't have much to say. He's bland and boring like me. But it'd be a bother to break up with him. It's be a bother to break up with me. Maybe. I ask him if he whistles at work. He says no. Okay. I ask him if he knows this song. And I whistle for him, a loud clear whistle unlike my colleague's. I had forgotten that my whistling was so loud.
Yeah, he says. You liked that song didn't you? I say I don't know. I say I don't think I know it very well, but it's familiar. And now my boyfriend looks at me and says "You always used to whistle that. You'd even sing it."
I don't remember the last time I sang. I tell him so. "No," he says, "You definitely sang it."
Wednesday. Work is money; is food; is fun, or something. I guess. It's cold. He's there again, going to the elevator, whistling. I don't know the tune. I say excuse me and he turns around. That song, I say, a few days ago; what was it? He's looking at me strangely, and I hum it for him, too embarrassed to whistle.
He tells me the title, and continues on his way. The title is not familiar. I return to my black desk and white papers and grey lighting. I continue to hum that song that i think I know. My boyfriends says I know.
Before I go to sleep, I start remembering more of the song. I know the chorus, kind of, the bridge, and the end.
Thursday morning, and I'm humming it more. The girl across from my desk, who usually never says anything, is looking at me. She tells me she knows that song. She loved it as a kid. As a kid? She seemed my age. Was this a kid's song?
She says yeah, it was the "Sunflower Song", but since Sunflowers weren't native here, she didn't know what it was.
The Sunflower Song. That was the chorus. I knew the words, suddenly.
The words. The story of a sunflower that was bigger than the rest. He grew so many seeds, but was harvested first.
After months, or was it years? Of no music, of no color, of no scenery or life, or love. This song was planting itself within my heart. The Sunflower Song. And quietly, so quietly, I sing it at my desk. And I work. Organize. Take calls. Smile pleasantly even though I'm cold; and for once I'm completely bored by all of it.
Friday, and the weekend approaches. Normally I don't care. But the song is leading me out. Out of the cold country, and out of the monochrome of my office. To sunflowers; the tallest and biggest and happiest of them all. To bright canary petals and green green leaves. A forest of tall flowers with seeds at my feet. A child gripping upwards to touch the soft stems. Gripping, gripping, up and away, and towards the sky with warmth on my shoulders and knees. To my childhood. To my old home, the sunflower plantation. Hearing the song on the tv and trying to memorize it exactly. Because this sunflower song had to be mine. It spoke of my sunflowers and my hot summer snacks of seeds. It was mine.
It was mine. Now where is it?
My flowers were gone. The standing light fixtures replaced them. there was no blue sky, just grey chalky ceiling. And it was cold. But at least I had my Sunflower Song.
Saturday, my boyfriend called. My boss called. My colleague called. But I didn't receive it, I didn't organize, and I didn't smile pleasantly in the cold.
I went back home to my sunflowers. Singing.
It's so warm.

Saturday, February 28, 2009

Week 9


Born from a sleeping fairytale
was created a girl of nonsense.
a drinker of poetry and feaster of prose
from the stitched spines of battered books
so loved, they fell apart.
Dreams draping the hem of her skirt and
the sky beneath suede heels
with puffed clouds as stepping stones
from a sepia photograph.
A wooden rocking horse and
paper-mache masks
nested in the cluttered room of the
nonsense-girl, crafting away more stories, more places.
Of make-believe? Of MY-believe!
Of teacups and castles and brass pocket watches
Of spirits and and puzzles and flower fields of blue
Glass roses, fish kingdoms and roller skates are there
with imagination, to become the author of her life.
She cut and tore to make a pet, her paper tiger;
paged majestic, king of the library jungle.
Mustard daffodils in cracked paintings
portraits of ladies in flowing lace
a petal whirlwind to sweep you up
past kites and balloons to the sheep in the sky;
moons and stars and pixie dust
compacted in her heart.
Hold onto your universe beyond the seeing eyes
and keep tight to the dizzying absurdities
before the real world steals them away
and you will no longer be nonsense,
just 'girl'.


Yin and Yang
(bonus poem)

What a lovely day, what a lovely place. On my side of the world anyways.
On a crossroads between light and dark, I sit with my twin sister Yin, drinking tea.
I lift my cup, and so does she. So light and flowery it is, I sound my approval.
"Cheerful, aren't you?" Yin is speaking. With the way she speaks, It was barely a question.
My twin; My face; speaking to me.
"Invariably." I reply. " I've always been fond of white tea."
Yin looks down to her own tea; it's black.
We're mirrored; the same; but opposite. A balance.
" Did you know Yang, I sometimes imagine how it would be to have your place." She says in her tinted voice
" I myself, Yin, wonder how your shoes would fit."
I know my side is better. Pride? of course. Perhaps she feels the same way.
My dear, quiet, gloomy, lugubrious sister. And I'm her equal; her counterpart.
Her adoring, loud, upbeat, sanguine brother.
Across the table she sees me, on my side of the earth.
grassy, rich of light and blossoming plants.
My placement has delicate cream porcelain and a green apple snack from my own garden
bright clothes and bright days of clouds, white against blue.
" I would have to redecorate completely" She says, waving her hand.
directly opposite is she, and my view of her side.
A baron land of dust, a cemetery of decay and shadow.
Her placement is calm glazed clay, beside a bland croissant,
A dark lacy underwear corset and flowing dress of black
to match the night where snowflakes softly fall.
" As would I " I say, " I would throw out the stars and the snow, the gloom and the quiet.
I would grow things."
Yin smiles dimly to me, with her own imaginary plans.
" I'd darken your clouds, get rid of the flashy flowers and distractions"
" To be a woman, I'd be more modest and faithful to my gift of creation"
" As a man, I'd be more open and faithful to my habit for destruction."
" A woman of sweet smells and bright smiles"
" A man of seductive eyes and mysterious touch"
" Yin, to be direct, I'd prefer a more feminine sister"
" And I, Yang, a masculine brother."
And in unison "I don't understand you at all."
" But this is who we are."
" A lovely agreement, Yin."
Yin smirks, sipping her tea and nodding.
Who we are.
Yin, Yang. Black, White. Woman, Man.
We are the same. We are opposites.
We are balance.

Sunday, February 22, 2009

Week 8

Black Widow

The story starts in cheery youth;
a young lad finds his love:
a quiet girl with raven hair
with strange interests thereof
watching spiders spin their webs
and wrapping up their prey
a synonym for life, she says,
painting clouds of grey.
Her gentle face and shaded mind
he found quite captivating
So forward did he ask her hand
under her window, waiting.
His dedication startling,
with feelings raw and true
the brooding girl accepted
to a wedding from the blue
But beneath the good intentions
a secret she did hide;
a family constitution
where a monster lay inside.
The night after the marriage,
their love exchanged so sweet
the bride committed murder
His body she did eat.
Her nature had come forth,
with the killing of her mate
it was the spider's curse
of a much horrendous fate
Away in her webbed tower
young daughter by her side,
The Black Widow sits lonely
love lost beyond the tide.

Monday, February 16, 2009

Week 7

Astronomy Homework

Once upon a time, in a spring blanket of flowers, there was a little magic town, far away from the troubles of the world. Under a clear twinkling sky, the town slept peacefully in their charming houses, not a care in the world entering their dreamy states. On the outskirts of town however, in the stony high astronomy tower, one person was still awake, pouring over his textbooks.

Reece, a schoolboy and young magician, moved back and forth across the large study, lazily flipping through advanced spell books and tinkering with his father's unusual astronomy gadgets. Brass twirling thing-ma-bobs and planetary gizmos could not amuse him at the moment. Reece had, you see, locked himself in his father's tower for the night, under his own bad circumstances. It was only that evening that the lad remembered about the astronomy homework he was yet to do, and sleeping through class had him missing some useful information. As Reece's father was the resident Sorcerer of Cosmology, it would be utterly embarrassing to show up to class empty handed when he had so much material at his fingertips. He wasn't the best of students when it came to basic magic and incantations, but he often had brilliant insight in creating his own spells, whether they blew up in his face or not. Perhaps astronomy wasn't passed into his blood, but experimentation was there in it's stead.

But now, as the night stretched on, it started to seem as if Reece would never finish the charts and questions in time for school. All of his father's star location posters on the wall had been useful, but the books around him were imposing with their high level of vocabulary and explanations that only seemed to confuse him more and more. With a mighty sigh, he slumped down in the room's largest chair, staring blankly at the large open sky of the window. A great black emptiness with diamonds stuck floating above. So much was out there, blinking back at him. Stars; planets; galaxies; and … a meteor? Slowly speeding across the sky, was a large ball of white leaving behind a gleaming tail; much larger than a shooting star, but it wasn't descending towards earth, it was traveling along. A passing comet!

Reece sat up in his chair to watch it. It was close, very close, as far as comets go. A graceful stream cutting across the peaceful night sky. How lucky to catch sight of one! If only he could use this comet for some sort of assignment; an essay maybe. He felt compelled at that moment to do something ...a little drastic. Perhaps he couldn't finish his homework in time, but maybe if he could impress his teacher enough to pass him...Hmm, a little bit of dust from the tail of that comet might do. How great would it be to show up to class with that? Wetting his lips anxiously, Reece decided to do it. He prepared himself for the impulsive endeavor, thinking of a way to get close to the comet. His father had warned him before to “fear and honour the cosmos, for we are at it's mercy”, but desperate times called for desperate measures! So what's the harm in trailing behind a comet for a bit?

With a bit of courage and concentration, Reece stepped onto the stony railing of the window. He had a long rope attached to his waist of which tied on the other end was a semi-large enchanted stone magnet. Reece placed his palms on the magnet, clumsily reciting a following-incantation he remembered from class, and combining it with his own long-distance spell to follow the comet. He was usually very confidence in his impulsive spells, so with hand above his head, he swung the magnet like a sling, giving it speed, and then letting go with all of his might.

Although he hadn't needed to let go at all, because with the magic instilled in it, the stone magnet suddenly propelled forward, surprising Reece into a yelp. He soared through the sky like a helpless ragdoll tied behind the speeding arrow of a magnet. With a tight hand over his hat, the cold wind of the night whipped around him. It was as if, he imagined, falling off of a very high building, only... reversed. Up, up, It pulled him; over the town, over the country, and over the planet, in it's determination of reaching the comet as the spell commanded. He passed through the clouds, swirly like cream, and through the stale atmosphere, out into orbit. Past the pull of earth's gravity, the space around him felt like he was moving through dark water. Reece wanted to turn around for a view of what was behind him, quickly getting nervous about this plan, but he was being carried along much too quickly for a chance to see. The brilliant white of the comet was getting closer and closer, a sparkling ice crystal that streaked effortlessly through the blackness of space. It was much larger close up, - and fast! Faster than anything Reece had seen before; and now they were going to head-on collide with it! They were at their destination. With a great crunch, the stone magnet collided into the head of the comet. Unfortunately, this was not the end of the speeding journey; If anything, The comet was so fast that it felt like riding a hurricane. Reece couldn't see anything in the wind and ice and dust, and soon the rope couldn't hold much longer. It snapped, hurling Reece backwards, twirling into nothingness. And the comet continued to soar, farther and farther away as the young magician flew hopelessly through space, until- He felt his clothes catch onto something.

There, dangling in space, Reece hung by the back of his shirt on the point of a star. The lad shook his head slowly, dizzy from the fall, and tried to make sense in his head of where he could possibly be. There was dark all around him, save for the ever blinking stars, and he could see the comet, a tiny insect, wizzing away from him. “ Oh no.” he groaned.

“ 'Oh no' indeed.” came a voice from behind. Reece tried to whirl around to see where it had come from.

“ What? Excuse me?” He asked in confusion. How could there possibly be someone speaking?

“ Excuse you? I suppose I shall have to, seeing as how you oh-so-gracefully stuck yourself onto me.”

“ Onto you?” Reece tried to look behind himself again. He wasn't quite sure what he was stuck on, but whatever it was didn't seem at all happy about saving his life. “ I can't exactly help where I am at the moment. And who are you exactly?” He asked cautiously.

The voice became very ornery now. “ I'm the star who's shine is suddenly very dull indeed thanks to you scuffing it up. If it was up to me, I'd have let you continue twirling around like a chunk of ugly space rock, but I don't have much choice in the matter. Now if you don't mind, I'd like to get back to my usual bit of twinkling.”

“ Well I'm very sorry,” Reece replied embarrassed, and slightly annoyed. “ But I can't exactly move at the moment.”

“ Oh lovely. I'll just float here all dim then, shall I? Yes, I suppose I'll start a new fashion trend of abstractly leaning to the weight of some fleshy earth-brat. ”

Rolling his eyes, the young magician tried to ignore the star's obnoxious complaining. He looked to the stars around him, trying to identify any markers of where he was. He couldn't recognize any planets and doubted that he was still within his home solar system. Although... hadn't the crotchety voice behind him mentioned it?

“ Hold on,” Reece started. “ You mentioned Earth. Do you know how I get back then? Do you know where we are?”

“ Of course I know where we are!” The star snapped. It's voice was had a slight echo in the surrounding space. “ You think I've never seen people like you? Huh? Well it happens more often than not, although never before have I had the pleasure of swinging one around.”

So, it can't be so terribly far, can it? Reece wondered. “ How far are we from Earth?”

“ I've been staring at it here for hundreds of thousand of years, although I'm sure an underdeveloped species like yourself can't see it. “

“ Alright, alright!” Reece sighed. “ Look, I really am sorry I landed on you, and if anything, I'd like to get off and let you get about your shining business. But as it is, I haven't the slightest idea how to get back home!”

“ Oh please.” The star huffed. “ If you have a brain, be inclined to use it.”

A small snickering was heard in the distance. Oh great, Reece thought. Now the other stars are laughing at me. The laughter stopped and decided to speak now, although not catty like the other star. It was rather kind and soft. “ Must you be so mean to the Earth-child?”

“ Of course.” The star replied, still very bitter.

“ If you need help, young one, then summon me.” the voice said sweetly. “ The power that got you here will surely get you back.”

“ Summon you?” The magician felt very shy all of a sudden. Who was speaking to him? A kind voice in the cosmos was reaching out, but apparently he was the one who had to call forward to it. He tried to focus his eyes on the stars around him. They seemed so scattered... and yet, they made formations on some accounts. Of course, I've just been studying this, haven't I? The constellations were there; shining outlines of the figures they represented. Perhaps... he could call on one of them.

To be continued~