Earth from the Surface

Written in response to: Start your story with someone having a run of bad luck.... view prompt

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Friendship Science Fiction

Chiluffya carried the smallest of her equipment away from the ship and the natives she’d apparently come to arms with. She made a point of looking away from the sky, as she ran from the crash site.

Likely, to closer contact with the revenants.

She had been sentenced- tasked with the last sweep of the planet, a grand disease had been settled on the common populace of the strange graying world, and now after a few already well-punished crimes she was stuck on it. 

Literally so, as some of the ‘common’ populace managed to down her ship with an inappropriately dispatched drone. Life really was a walk in the park, wasn’t it? Avoiding the ire of the natives hadn’t been but she was sure to find her way, wasn’t she?

She wasn’t one for conflict not with what she’d seen, and to spite what she’d had to learn to leave her cell she wasn’t confident in her diplomacy. Chiluffya was as lucky to be here as she was unfortunately stuck, and she knew it as clearly as anything.

As true blue as a gray sky, that she could not idly trust the next creature she saw.

They knew to some fashion what the lights in the sky were, and even if they were too late for their society overall they made good on the threat of previous advancements. Chiluffya was probably going to die.

She wasn’t going to die under forced labor in a Nanjalos prison, no, she was going to die under forced labor on a massacred planet. Brilliant.

She walks and walks, seeing, looking up to the eternal gray of the sky. Why was she here? Were her morals so shallow- a gust of displaced air flies past her, with only the luck that her thoughts hadn’t ended fully.

Though she shared a rather large gap to breathe, the dull thud of a body falls beside her and she wants to run.

Her skin feels fake, and she wants to leave behind everything she’s been forced to carry.

Even her body apparently, as when she tries to run from the perilous moment, she falls too.

She looks up at the shifting march of the probable shooter, and her breathing feels at odds with reason.

The Natives body stops, and Chiluffya remembers her name, and her voice, but she still doesn’t move farther. This creature will decide what happens next, it wasn’t really ‘trust’ to understand this.

She didn’t have anywhere to go, no lofty wants.

“Well what’s got you out here, Margy?” he asked exasperated, he moved closer trying to catch her eyes, Chiluffya tried to scrunch herself away while he did so. 

“oh, you're somebody else.”

“Sorry about that.” she said, her voice felt so stilted, though she’d been cleared for the language it was still only as far as a prisoner needed to know. “Why were you shooting?”

“Well, there was a zombie behind ya. Didn’t seem fair to leave it a meal.” He smiled and gestured over to the revenant 

“You are not the best shot,” she paused to read the tag on his jumpsuit, “Chuck.”

“The names Jared.”

“Your name tag says Chuck.” She remembered her translation manuals, Chiluffya didn’t want to think they could be that wrong. 

“Does it?”, it was like he’d only just noticed something obvious.

“Yeah.” 

“Well I’ll be, we were the same size weren’t we?” he was stuck in his head for a moment, and while she thought of bolting away from this sense of foreboding, she couldn’t really blame him for getting stuck.

She was in much the same way, too far away, and mindlessly moving. Even when made still.

“Do Ya need somewhere to stay?” he says before she can make good on such thoughts. She looks at the body felled by him, complete and ended, she wonders is it at all rude to see herself in it?

“If you’re offering.” her voice is quiet to her, but he smiles and pulls her up. Too many things have made her weak up to that moment, and while she feels like falling she lets herself up with as much of her own power as possible.

She doesn’t want to be left behind. She follows him and accepts that she might die at a later date, rather than simply and so near the crash site.

“Not to be presumptuous but, how’d you end up alone?”

“It was-” a crash, she wanted to say, but she’d been alone for longer than that. ”It was a long time ago. The zombies have changed nothing.” Chiluffya knew it well enough, and was still rather incensed by it.

“That's unfortunate.”

“It is what it is.” she says, thinking of her comrades, what she’d done once she’d been caught. Bowing her head as easily as anything without them, and again now for whatever this native would prefer.

She was the lowest thing she knew of, she used to buck at such unearned authorities as the one of her home, more than that she was a willing threat.

But now she was cowed to the point of reliance on this planet.

Gracious, she’s lost it. But still, were they really going to waste the energy, the very thought on her and where she’d landed? She was as good as cannon fodder even this late in their occupation, and she could keep her tongue for long enough if that understanding of hers held water.

“I’m sorry for what you’ve been through.”

She doesn’t quite respond to him in the moment, though she holds in line with the path he leads her on.

They walk for hours at a slow pace that carries the sun awkwardly above her, as she realizes how long it had been since she’d felt the light of any star from her then proper vantage point. On the surface, carefully in step with the planet beneath her feet.

She looks to the native, and realizes that she is alone in this.

Not simply that he didn’t share this experience, but that he couldn’t. That no one like him was ever going to, so long as her species had any say over the existence of his world, over his species, and over the flora and fauna that his kind had always relied on.

Chiluffya was an interloper, nomatter her perspective on her own world. Nomatter the dissatisfaction she kept, hers was invasive by nature.

She looks up from her thoughts to see his place of respite. What looked to be a normal street, and a desolate town. Chiluffya wonders if he knows he’s lonely, or if the threat of barrel and bullet was really enough to explain why her name didn’t matter.

She’d always wanted it not to matter. “You’re not very talkative.” he says a bit perturbed 

“Sorry,” She says, still looking about, “people do a lot to tame that inclination.”

“Ya talk to yourself?” Jared asks, a common thought having not heard her for however long they’d been walking.

“Not much.” Chiluffya says, repositioning her personnel-bag. She hopes that it looks common enough that he doesn’t concern himself. That he avoids the simple equations.

“Wel Ah do, don’t be bothered. Margy.”

“That’s alright.” 

They walk farther into the town he’d led so slowly to, and toward the many buildings that if anything could only lose integrity. The first ten of which being noticeably non-commercial, though not altogether unique.

It was almost impressive how much the common population had before the occupation. At least some of them. Though given what Chiluffya understood about the native economy, there was a high likelihood that these buildings were empty a majority of the time even before all that.

A housing bubble. What a waste.

“You feel you can make your way from here?” Jared asked, looking back at Chiluffya, and there's a pause as if he’d not offered such hospitality.

She looks around for a moment feigning ignorance. “No. I’d rather not.”

“Good one Margy. Ya almost admitted to not listening.”

“I wasn’t.” 

“Good.” Jared said, “Ya shouldn’t listen in when people mumble to themselves.” he looked around for whatever it was he’d misplaced

“Were ya hoping to stay?” He asked, an appeal to that something other than her apathy. To the small thing following him without threat or vindication, she was carrying more than that concern he saw but he didn’t need to be sure of that.

Weighing her options Chiluffya said the only honest thing, “I don’t have anywhere else to be.”

“Ah. good.” he said, “I’ll set ya up with me then, if it ain’t no difference.”

“Of course.”

January 14, 2023 02:34

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2 comments

Nicole Of 2022
03:36 Jan 15, 2023

This is so creative; I don't know how you do it Kathleen! What an incredible piece.

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Kathleen `Woods
22:18 Jan 23, 2023

Thanks, its was in my backlogs for a while so I'm glad I could finally post it.

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