Ladies and Gentlemen,
Of all of the people in our class who purport to write fiction, I acknowledge myself the least. You know me not as a poetic or literary soul. Still, the desire to write a story is a hard one to suppress, and this work (still in progress) is the fruit of several very different story ideas. All sorts of world-building ideas, characters, adaptions, and concepts just came together to form a somewhat cohesive whole.
All things must begin somewhere. This story has its genesis in my love of the Fifth Element Aether, and of Euclid. It has gone through several iterations by now, but I think this is its best.
I am eager to hear feedback and criticism, because I know that the biggest flaws in this story are likely invisible to me.
I will use the serial format for two reasons- first, because it isn’t done yet. Second, because putting out part of it will help ensure the rest of it is made. Third, because it’ll let me use feedback from the beginning to improve the middle and end.
Fourth, it worked for Dickens, right?
Therefore, it is with pride and perhaps some nervousness that I present to you the first installment of :
We Wept for Thee
The winters of Vega IX are stormy and wet, and the rumbling sky promised its yield to its sprawling central city. Between the industrial parks, the factories, the offices, and the transit stations lay pockets of residential buildings. In one, below a monorail and in the shadow of the Central Processing Headquarters for Applications to Receive Education, Sector 12, a young human family gathered around a heavily-laden table. No trees are native to Vega IX, but a reasonable facsimile of a Terran Spruce stood in the corner, as laden as the table. Once everything was ready, the father of the family stood at the head place and sang:
“On this new day of joy we sing,
In grateful thanks and praise,
Of Him who came, the lowly King
In ancient, olden days.
On this most joyful winter night
The long-expected King
Comes near to us, a shining light
To end our suffering.”
They had just taken their seats when the door rattled with knocking. The hurried rapping matched the tense and worried look of the man at the door.
“Hurry,” he said, “Old Jones didn’t make it.”
“When did it happen?”
“Half an hour ago, at least. I just heard. We don’t have much time.”
The two men ran down back alleys and deserted streets. They passed a few Vehgan neighborhoods where round children wrestled and fought; once they passed a security officer investigating some violent crime. It took them thirteen precious minutes to reach their destination: a large square building of grey cement.
The two men looped around the back of the building. A cargo truck stood open; two Vehgans were loading bulging grey bags into it. Their elephant-like trunks were tucked into their uniforms against the horrific stench that filled the area.
Knowing their time to be short, the men slipped into an old, practiced rhythm. One, the visitor who had borne the news, knocked over some stacked refuse and drew the Vehgans away. The other slipped into the truck and came out shortly afterwards carrying one of the grey bags. Just as the confused workers returned, the visitor having evaded their search, he returned to the shadows with his prize.
Then began the slower and more arduous journey to the edge of the city. The visitor rejoined his friend and they shared the burden. At last they reached a bare and sandy patch of earth. They set the bag down and started to dig with shovels that had been hidden here years ago. Then they emptied the bag into the hole, and, after saying a few words, filled it again. The sun was starting to cast its light through the storm clouds by the time they finished. They marked the spot with a fragment of concrete. The men returned to their homes, weary and spent, and the rising sun shone upon rows and rows of concrete markers.
There was a suppressed wildfire of excitement among the human community in Eluru. They dressed in their best clothes, although none of these were so fine as to make them noticeable. They gathered together, although their gathering-places were out of the way enough that the nonhumans scarcely noticed. Yet for every human it was a special day. For two, it was a long-awaited and joyous occasion: Rebecca Tishrock and Piers Pilgrim were getting married.
The native Taurex held no such custom. They would, on occasion, contract with a particularly desirable mate for a time, but they laughed at the human concept of marriage as unrealistic, overly restrictive, and needlessly complicated. Many humans, indeed, agreed. But the community of humans who still clung to the fading memory of their homeland also clung to this tattered remnant of Earth. So it was that every Terran marriage brought the entire community together to celebrate a dying, but not yet dead, culture.
A warmly lit room contained this fire. The tables that usually filled it were pushed aside; the silence that usually accompanied them was pushed aside as well. The room was instead filled with dancing and music. The ceremony had been swift and joyous, and the transition afterwards more so. Every now and then the happy guests would glance to the only table left in the room. There Rebecca and Piers laughed and talked and kissed, this last to general applause. Every guest was thoroughly enjoying themselves but one. One guest stood in the shadows, grimly surveying the occasion’s frivolity as though he disapproved.
When the time came for the guests to leave the newlyweds to themselves, the guest had already left. The happy groom lifted his bride over the threshold of their home. It wasn’t much, just a small suite of rooms with a lovely view of the Eluru Industrial Center. They locked the door and breathed a sigh of relief. Alone at last. Piers hummed a tune to which they had danced.
“One moment, dear,” Rebecca whispered as she stepped coyly into the restroom, “I’ll be right out- you wait here.” Content at this point to wait a few more minutes, Piers sat on the edge of the bed. A fitting ending, he thought, to a whirlwind courtship and love at first sight. He loosened and discarded the more uncomfortable articles of his costume and gazed blankly over the Industrial Center.
He caught a flash of red light out of the corner of his eye. He stepped towards the window to examine, but saw nothing. Then he heard a door click and creak open behind him. He turned. Rather than his bride, he saw the lock on the front door twisted and charred on the ground. Behind the door stood a tall, hooded man. Piers gave a gasp of surprise that died in his throat. The man lifted his head to reveal eyes that had burst into flame,
No one found the man, but Rebecca’s screams brought the neighbors just in time to see Piers collapse into fine black dust.