Authors: Sonya Writes
Ahead of her was
an endless stretch of sky, glittered with stars and planets. Ayita watched in wonderment for several minutes, but her eyes were burning and she knew she needed to sleep. She leaned her head back against the seat and started to relax, but the computer voice came on and startled her. It loudly proclaimed, “Destination changed. Now heading for Adonia. Travel time is one hour.” The spaceship turned a sharp right.
“What? No!” Ayita
yelled. Suddenly her mind was wide awake again. She tried to override the computer but it seemed to be frozen. It would not allow her to change any of the settings. “What is going on?”
Then she remembered the main computer at the space center on
Zozeis. It synced with a computer on Adonia and was transferring the records. Whoever was there knew she was on this spaceship, and they were now bringing her there as well.
Ayita did not cease in trying to override the setting
and reset the destination to Earth, but her efforts were unsuccessful. The hour it took to arrive at Adonia seemed to last both an eternity and but a moment to Ayita as she desperately tried to change course. The spaceship broke through the atmosphere and moved closer and closer until finally it was so close to the ground that Ayita could see the tops of trees whizzing by in the daylight. Then the spaceship shut off completely.
Ayita panicked, but she didn’t have
any time to make a decision because the bottom of the spaceship bumped on the ground. The impact harshly jolted her in her seat and knocked the wooden turtle from her hand. Thankfully, the seat-belts kept her secure. Ayita could see people running away, and the spaceship hit the ground again. It skipped along the earth like a stone skipping on the water until finally it crashed into a lake and this time did not bounce up again.
were short and quick as she clutched at her seat. She watched the water rise up over her window until she could no longer see the sky. Ayita quickly unbuckled herself and pulled the emergency lever on the door. It seemed to be jammed, but nothing would stop her from trying. When the door finally opened, water came rushing in so strongly that it knocked Ayita backwards. She took a deep breath and pulled herself through the door, out of the sinking spaceship into the rushing water.
Her breath didn’t last long enough and by reflex she tried to breathe. Water w
ent up her nose and stung. She could feel herself choking, her chest contracting and suffocating. The sun shone brightly through the water, as if it was taunting her. The air could only be so far away. She kicked her legs furiously and pulled on the water with her arms. She reached, higher, higher, trying desperately to reach the surface. It was right there and she could see it but she couldn‘t seem to reach. Her fingertips broke through the liquid snare, but then her body refused to move any further, and her hand fell back down to her neck as she choked on one last mouthful of water.
I’m going to die,
she thought, but a strong arm reached around her chest and pulled her up. It swiftly brought her head above the water and moved her along the surface until at last she could feel the sturdy ground beneath her. Every sense was dulled, but still there. A strong hand pressed down on her chest, just above the abdomen, strong short presses until she coughed and the water spurt out of her mouth. The hands turned her body to her side and she continued coughing until the water was mostly gone. Air began moving into and out of her lungs again. For a while she could barely see; it was all just shadows and blurs. There were numerous voices surrounding her. They blended together into a kind of humming, but one voice stood out above the rest. “Are you all right?” he said. “Can you hear me?”
She moved her lips, forming but not speaking the word “Yes.”
Yes, I can hear you.
Shadows and fuzzy shapes came together until a face appeared above her, concerned eyes staring down, with short wispy hair in the way. She blinked her eyes to focus better, and the face above her faintly smiled.
“I think she’s okay,” he said, turning his face to the surrounding crowd. He backed off a lit
tle and though there was no one hovering above her now, she still felt claustrophobic with everyone around her, all asking questions. They spoke loudly and quickly. It was difficult to understand exactly what they were saying. They had an awkward accent, stressing vowels and syllables she wouldn’t normally stress, and their words seemed more drawn out, yet quicker at the same time. Maybe it was the water in her ears.
Ayita drew up her knees and pulled herself to a sitting position. As soon as they saw she was up, the questions were directed to her rather than each other.
“Where did you come from?”
“Why are you here?”
“Can you speak?”
“Who are you?”
“Hey now, back off a bit,” a sweet and motherly voice said. “Leave her alone. I’m sure she’ll answer your questions when she’s ready.” The girl turned to her and handed her a blanket to dry off with. “Back off,” she said again to everyone surrounding them. “Here, I’ll help you up.” Ayita stood with her help and the girl led her away from the crowd. They all started to follow, but after one look from the girl, they stopped.
Ayita smiled. “Thanks.” She took in a long breath and exhaled.
The girl looked at her oddly, and with a smirk on her face. “Sure thing,” she said. “My name’s Panya.”
She thought for a moment, then frowned, looking the girl over. “You don’t…look that old. Certainly not that young.”
laughed. “What? Okay. If you must know, I’m about 22.”
Ayita bit her lip and looked up at the sky. “Well since you’re further out each revolution takes longer, so I guess that makes sense.”
Panya said. She had a puzzled look on her face.
“Well doesn’t it?”
“Maybe you should sit down and rest awhile.” They stopped in the shade of a tree and Ayita sat down near the trunk. “I’ll come back with some food,” Panya said, “and when you’re up to it, we can walk over to my home.”
Thank you,” Ayita said, blankly staring out at this new world. She was exhausted from staying up all night and making this journey. Her mind wanted to race, but she didn’t have the energy. Her eyes could barely stay open. Ayita curled up in the blanket she had, laid down, and closed her eyes. Sleep came instantly. At last, she could rest.
The sun was setting when Ayita woke, but despite her beautiful surroundings, waking on the ground of this strange planet startled her very much. She sat up and looked around. There was a meal of raw fruits and vegetables at her side, which Ayita started sampling. She did not recognize any of them, but their taste was delicious and she was glad to eat.
The tree she sat beneath was of a kind she’d never seen before, neither in books nor at home. It had a cream-colored bark and went
about seven feet above the ground before flaring out in a flat, square shape. From below, she saw a weave work of small branches, and above that were wide green leaves, completely flat as though pressed with an iron. It reminded her of a table-top the way it was shaped. Only the edges of each leaf overlapped, and the light shone through them. Looking up there was an intricate design to admire, and looking down there was a perfectly square shadow on the ground.
Directly surrounding her there was very little grass growing up from the ground
. The dirt was hard and had small cracks running through it; it looked deceptively barren if you could ignore all the vegetation nearby, like a miniature desert nestled in a non-desert climate. The ground stretched out like this for several hundred yards in front of her, where it was met by rows and rows of trees like the one she sat under. Beneath them were the tiny figures of people standing, walking and sitting. The dry ground stretched far beyond those trees even, and into the sun. Far off to her left, though, there was a very green looking area, also richly populated with people walking in and out; to her right was the lake she landed in, and beyond that, a very large forest.
Ayita studied the lake. She’
d never seen one before coming here, except in pictures. She remembered her times spent wishing for a chance to swim, but now the thought terrified her. Being submerged was not at all what she expected. The water was cold, stinging her skin, and in no way welcoming or peaceful. Swimming was much more difficult than she ever imagined it would be. At home water was harmless, but here it was deadly.
, mesmerized by the water for a long time, when the sound of footsteps alerted her that Panya was returning.
smiled, “I’m glad to see you’re awake! How do you feel?”
“Much better after eating,” she said. “Thank you. What are these foods called?
We don’t have any of these where I’m from.”
told her their names, and then asked, “Where
you come from?”
he planet Zozeis,” Ayita said.
smiled. “Wow. So you really are from another planet. That’s amazing!”
nodded and looked up at the sky. “I guess it is amazing,” she said. She took a deep breath and thought about Earth. She wondered where the person was who’d brought her here instead.
stretched and yawned. “It’s getting late. Would you like to come over to my home now?” she asked while rising to her feet.
picked up the blanket she had and followed her. Panya led her to the rows of table-top trees, and when Ayita realized that these
their homes, she gasped.
“What is it?”
“These are your homes,” she said.
“You live here.”
nodded. “Yes. Is that a problem?”
“No, it’s not a problem. It just surprised me.” Ayita didn’t know
how to feel about everyone preparing their beds beneath trees. Yet, despite what looked like poverty to Ayita, none of them seemed unhappy.
“What kind of home did you have on your planet?”
Panya asked her.
Ayita described houses to her, and
there was a hint of recognition on Panya’s face.
“Oh, I know what you’
re talking about. We have those where we dwell in the wintertime. This is only where we live for the warm seasons.”
Ayita tried to picture a ho
use like her own in this setting, but now she couldn’t imagine anything like that being on this planet. She was curious to see what Panya meant. “Why do you only live there in winter?” she asked.
shrugged her shoulders and didn’t answer her question. “If we didn’t need shelter from the cold, we’d stay here year-round,” she said.
led her to a tree with no one else beneath it, and she pulled out a blanket from the wooden chest at the base of the tree. It seemed only a moment later that Panya was already sleeping. Ayita spread out the blanket she had in her hand and lay down on it. Despite the rest she got earlier, she was still tired. However, she didn’t think she was tired enough to fall asleep here, out in the open and surrounded by strangers. This was nothing like the darkness and silence in her bedroom. The moon lit up the sky and her ears were filled with the sounds of wind blowing, leaves rustling, and people rolling over in their sleep. Ayita lay awake for a long time and turned over questions in her head. There was so much that she wanted to know.
The sun hit her eyes when she opened them--something she’d never experienced before. She closed them immediately and rolled onto her side before reopening them, slowly this time. She let out a yawn and sat up. Almost immediately, heads were turning toward her. They left her alone while she rested, but now that she was awake both her attention and her conversation seemed to be fair game. Questions came pouring in, and the circle of people around her grew larger and larger. Ayita felt very uncomfortable and wished to walk away, but she knew that if she left their questions unanswered they would only ask them again later.
It’s better to get it over with now,
s they asked their questions, Ayita noticed many differences between these people and her people. For one, these people were filled with a pleasant curiosity. They also did not appear to be stressed about anything, nor at all offended by her arrival. She considered briefly what the reaction might be if someone landed in town on Zozeis the way she did here. What would they make of the incident? Would they still refuse to believe that they’re not alone in the universe?
ir questions were answered and their curiosity mostly quenched, the crowd dissipated and Ayita took her own short tour of the housing area. She was half focused on memorizing every detail that surrounded her and half seeking either Panya’s familiar face or that of the man who pulled her from the water and revived her. His voice was especially clear in her mind and she knew that if she heard it again she couldn’t possibly mistake it for another. She wondered why he left so soon after she opened her eyes and why he wasn’t among the curious strangers there to question her when she woke.