Last month, I attended the SunLit Literary Festival here in Florida and entered their annual writing contest. Unfortunately, I didn’t win the writing contest with my sci-fi flash fiction story “Invisible Boundaries”. However, I wanted to share the story on my blog with you to read and critique, if you so choose. Here’s the story for your reading pleasure!
Invisible Boundaries by D. A. Smith
When I opened my eyes, light the color of cerulean filled the room. The placid blue light glowed against the surrounding walls and equipment of the lab. Faint humming came from the center of the room, where an enemy spy captured by the intergalactic federation hovered on his gurney. His eyelids twitched as the REM projection in his mind stimulated brain activity and immobilized him.
I sighed deeply, rubbing exhaustion from my heavy eyelids. I returned my attention back to my holo-screen and read the kill order from my superiors for the hundredth time. My patient’s Earthling name was Commander Reid Spruce, but I knew him as Marok-ta. I never expected to be in the center of a conspiracy to take out my home Andromeda out of orbit. The federation’s guards found Spruce tampering with our oxygen stores and even attempting to create mechanical failures throughout the shuttle. Marok-ta can’t be capable of something so heinous. Can he? But, what could I expect from someone who wasn’t a Martian? The Earth-borne alien lied about his identity to me, even after I gave him my hearts.
At this point, I had a duty to end his life. Reid never belonged here. As the final Earthling on the surface of the Red Stone, he needed to be taken out. The demise of the final threat to the Cleansing of Mars meant peace for my species. We are the true heirs of this Stone. Our land belongs to us, not the thieves from the Cerulean Stone planet Earth. No more foreigners would claim what always belonged to us.
The intergalactic federation’s plan to force Earthlings into an invisible boundary meant that humanity will no longer be allowed to misuse space travel in order to conquer other worlds. Earthlings belonged on Earth. They became pests the minute they set foot on Mars. My father’s death during the Red Stone War would’ve been in vain had he learned I spent time with the foreigner.
My hand waved the holo-screen’s translucent image aside and a miniature gun-filled with a special vial of neurotoxins that liquifies the human brain came into view on my desktop. I reached into the silver case and drew the weapon out. I held the gun, between my two feelers, and glanced over my shoulder back at Spruce. The Liar. I turned at a ninety-degree angle and closed the distance between us. My feelers danced across the holo-screen monitoring his REM sleep, and I forced him awake.
The machine hissed as glasses rose off Spruce’s face. His eyes flew open immediately. As his dark-green pupils adjusted to the light in the room, he turned his attention to me. Surprise was written all over his dark red face. He squirmed, and craned his head towards me, when he realized he’d been pinned by the anti-gravity gun, he quit struggling.
“It’s you, Iba-la. I’m so happy to see you!” He spoke in my native tongue. He used the informal -la ending, which translated into “my dear” in Earthspeak.
“You lied to me, Marok-ta,” I jeered. “Nothing that leaves your mouth I will believe. You are an imposter. A threat to my land’s safety and people!”
Terror struck him. He knew that I knew. Now, what would he say or do? Will he cower and beg for me to free him? The superiors promised me that his species were cunning negotiators. No Earthling that set foot on Mars should ever be trusted, they only wanted to steal our resources.
“Iba-la, don’t be upset,” he said and closed his eyes and added, “you deserve the truth.”
“Then, why didn’t you tell me the truth from the beginning? My family brought you to our home. My mother treated you as a son. I–I cared for you.” I managed to choke out.
Marok-ta looked at me distressed.
“I had to do this for Earth. The pollution of that world is much too great for our scientists to handle. Our ancestors damned us with pollution since the beginning of space travel. We had to escape the pestilence of our own making. We needed Mars as badly as I needed you.”
I gritted my teeth, a click of frustration reverberated along my second air-hole just under my throat and first set of lips.
“You didn’t care about me,” I said. “You used me.”
“I’m sorry. I didn’t use you. Iba-la, we share the same blood,” he said, calmly.
“We do not!”
“We both came from the Red Stone,” he said. “Yes, I’m human. But I was born here. Sending the humans of the Red Stone back to Earth is like forcing one of the Native Martians to live on an ice-cold comet. We are all one in the same!”
I grabbed his dark red arm, darker than mine. I held the three-needle points of the syringe just a feeler’s width away from his bicep.
“You have no right to be here. You should’ve never came,” I snapped.
“I can’t control where my mother decided to birth me. Neither could she control her mother. We came to Mars for sanctuary. We needed this planet. Your species should know what it’s like to be alone in this galaxy. You judge me. But your species didn’t populate this planet until survivors from the comet that crashed into its surface first appeared. Do you know what that makes you?” he asked.
“That’s ancient history,” I returned. “It means nothing, now.”
“It makes you a hypocrite,” he continued. “Your entire species consists of aliens that immigrated to a barren rock and turned it into their home. If you must kill me, make it quick. I thought you were different. I was wrong to think that the daughter of a warrior would be anything other than an empty-minded autocrat.”
My feelers loosened their grip on his arm, though the needle pricked his skin firmly. My feeler hovered just above the trigger. Commander Reid, no, Marok-ta kept his eyes focused on a spot on the ceiling. My hearts fluttered as memories of us spending time staring up at the moons, talking, and touching one another stirred tendered emotions within me like a violent solar storm surging across the crimson desert.
I retrieved the weapon and slammed the gun down. I shut the anti-gravity gun down.
He sat up, rubbed his forearm and looked into my eyes.
“You’re letting me go?”
“I never wanted to imprison you to begin with.” I looked away. “I’ll tell the superiors that your body was purged from the ship. I never want to see you again.”
“Thank you Iba-la. You are a true friend. And, I’ve always cared for you.”
“Promise me that when you return to Earth,” I said. “You will tell them that a hypocrite saved you.”
“No, you aren’t one. I knew I could trust you with my life. I promise all Earthlings will know what you’ve done for us,” he said.
“What will you do about the forcefield the intergalactic foundation plans to activate?” I asked in a concerned tone.
“I plan to alert the governments of Earth of their plan. If there is a species that knows anything about walls, it’s the ones on Earth.” He said.
Let me know what you liked or didn’t like about my short story in the comments.