1 comment

Coming of Age Science Fiction Inspirational

    Princess Malala XXIII did not enjoy cleaning up cow flops but Kamadhendu had the same right to freedom as any other animal and was not intelligent enough to be taught to go in out of the way places. She was Malala’s cow-friend so it would be unfair to expect someone else to clean up after her.      

     After she put the shovelful on the pile, she went to her mom, Princess Malala XXII. She had more serious issues on her mind than cow flops. 

     “Mother, did you ever want to be anything than an Empress when Grandma decides she is too frail to fulfill her duties?”

      “Oh course not! There is no honor greater or duty more important than to be one of the Global Congress of the Forty Empresses.” 

       “But it sounds so dull. The economic computers do most of the day to day decisions and Grandma and the other Empresses just drink tea and discuss solutions outside of the computers’ programming.”

       “The Empresses are what prevent us from going back to the bellicose, wasteful times before the Empress Revolutions. You don’t want wars and greed do you?”

       Malala XXXXIII shuddered. “Of course not, but do you ever think of exploration and adventure?”

      “All the habitable regions of the globe are populated and as a Princess you may visit anywhere you like. Everywhere there is peace and prosperity and almost everyone is happy. Exploration just puts people in unnecessary danger.”

       “I don’t know that I’m happy.”

       “But you have a great future ahead of you. You are my oldest daughter and have a fine genotype. When I retire from being an Empress, you will become Empress in my stead.”

       “I’ll be an old lady by then. What do I do until then?”

       “It takes decades of study to be a proper Empress. Keep applying yourself, you’re doing very well. Study the history of the Empresses before you.”

        “Do you think Dad could do something other than just be your consort?”

        “Your father is a fine person for a man but you know men have bad hormones that make them aggressive, even violent. We have to keep some men like your father intact for breeding and (eh-hem) entertainment but most men find they are happier if they ask for the operation.”

        Malala had heard all of this before and it did not cure her dissatisfaction. She went to her room and sat on her bed. Kamadhendu followed her and put her head on Malala’s lap. Malala stroked her between the horns and brooded. The world motto was “Intelligence, Courage, Compassion” but now there seemed to be nothing to be courageous about. She thought about the Original Forty Empresses, the Remarkables. They had courage. Times then were violent and unjust. For some reason, religious people said it was the blessing of the goddess Clio, forty women came forward, each from her own part of the world. They spoke the truth even though some did not want to hear it. They were lied about, jailed, shot at. Because of their sincerity and benevolence they gained followers and despite great opposition became the leaders of their nations (There were hundreds of nations then, rather than the Forty Regions.) Their rule was so wise and just that nations without Empresses confederated with those that did. The Empresses were young and bold when they started, many younger than Malala. Malala was young and wanted to be bold. Her present life seemed to be years of training to be a cautious busybody old lady.

      There was something that her great-grandmother, grandmother, mother and all the rest of her family and friends would be surprised she knew. Tears welled up as she said goodbye to Kamadhendnu. There were a great many people she loved that she wished to say goodbye to but they would prevent her from carrying out her plan. She kissed the cow and slipped unobtrusively out of the palace.

      The Doctrine of Mutual Cooperation was flexible enough that almost anyone could fit in society as a happy, contributing member. Unfortunately Isaac Alceste, a.k.a. The Wizard was one of the exceptions. His genotype had made him a genius scientist and nearly incapable of getting along with anyone else. He lived among the robots in the manufacturing district. He refused the operation. Because he was a human being he was sent food and other necessities. Because he could be sometimes persuaded to solve problems less brilliant scientists could not, the government turned a blind eye to the valuable and sometimes dangerous equipment he pilfered for his lab and did not send an Adjustment Patrol to have him reconditioned. Malala found him in his lab. 

     “What does the annoying tramp want?” he snarled. 

     “Is it true about the multiple worlds?”

     “It has long been posited that all possible worlds exist but it was thought impossible to communicate with them, except…”

      “You know how to communicate with other worlds?” 

      “That’s an interesting philosophical question. I, and I alone, can program the computers to do the myriad dimension calculations and design the chamber. I don’t think I or anyone can actually understand how it works. The chamber is like a large powerful telescope that can only be moved at random. I can see and hear into other worlds but I have no control over which world or where in that world I see. It took me months to finally get the chamber set on a habitable place.”

       “Could someone go to another world?”

       “I haven’t done an experiment but I have a way that something could be reduced to its pattern and then reconstituted at the other side of the chamber.”  

       “So, I could go to the other world?”

       “In a manner of speaking.”

       “I want to go.”

       The Wizard laughed loudly and unpleasantly. “You must hate your life more than I hate mine. You can be my guinea pig. Think carefully. There is no way to bring you back if you regret your decision. I can alter your pattern as I see fit. I think I’ll make you male so you can see how that feels. By the way, your dark skin may cause you trouble where you are going.”     

       Malala wondered why her skin color would make any difference. It was part of her genotype but it only affected her appearance rather than something important like her health, personality, or abilities.She had thought long and hard about leaving so she only paused briefly before saying, “I’m ready, let’s go.”

       “I have to prepare the settings. When I say ready, walk into that little room.”

       Malala waited for what seemed like a long time while Isaac worked at his console. 


       Malala walked into the small metallic room. She stood there and heard an electronic hum and then she dissolved.

        The former Princess Malala XXIII stood as a young black man on a street corner in the new world. Three men in blue uniforms faced him. He did not understand what they said but they spoke in harsh tones that sounded like her great-grandma’s cat the time she pulled its tail when she was three. They were holding strange devices in their hands. Were they weapons, those strange devices for killing from the old days she had only seen in museums?

April 07, 2021 20:27

You must sign up or log in to submit a comment.

1 comment

Graham Kinross
22:30 Apr 03, 2022

“ men have bad hormones that make them aggressive, even violent.” We’re seeing that on the news just now but at times women manage just fine in violence without testosterone. Sexism has just denied them the opportunities to show of their aptitude for war. I like the post war idea of this though, it’s hard to imagine humanity as it is ever reaching that point but we should always aim for it. Great story.


Show 0 replies
RBE | Illustrated Short Stories | 2024-06

Bring your short stories to life

Fuse character, story, and conflict with tools in Reedsy Studio. 100% free.