Authors: Emma Daniels,Ethan Somerville
I Married an Alien
By Emma Daniels And Ethan Somerville
Copyright 2011 Emma Daniels And Ethan Somerville
The end of the twenty-second century saw one planet suffocating from the noxious fumes its inhabitants had been pumping into the atmosphere for hundreds of years. It also saw another planet, a sister planet on the other side of the galaxy, succumbing to a different, but no less terrible fate. The occupants of this particular world were slowly becoming sterile.
A chance meeting between these surprisingly similar races resulted in two-way missions to discover if they could benefit one another. Each discovered they had something to gain, but as was often the case with such negotiations, they also had something to lose.
The overpopulated world, dying from the poisons in its atmosphere, discovered that oil-producing plants, which could only grow on the other planet, were exactly what they were looking for. They were a clean, efficient and above all, a highly renewable energy source.
Unfortunately this planet would lose women of child-bearing age. Through a romance that developed between two members of the races, a child was born to the couple, the first child the other world had seen in over a decade.
After months of intergalactic negotiations between the planets, a treaty was finally drawn up: in exchange for the oil, all young women had to take a tour of duty before their thirtieth birthday, just like their men had to take up arms whenever war broke out. The various governments thought this a small price to pay, since their planet was already over-populated and the other in dire need of habitation.
You might be wondering how a woman from the twenty-first century knows all this. Well, I took a trip into the future.
The Treaty of 2312, between Earth and Terron, had been enshrined in law for exactly one hundred years when I arrived in the future.
When my mother died, I realized just how little I had done with my life. I was almost fifty years old, and had spent the past four years nursing her because of her refusal to enter a nursing home. I’d given up my job to look after her; no great hardship, since for twenty years I’d been little more than a data entry operator for a faceless bureaucratic organization.
So when she died, I found myself rudderless. Suddenly I had lost my purpose. All I could think about was that I was almost fifty with so little to show for it. Some would say it was grief that made me feel so lost and alone, but I honestly didn’t miss my mother. She had become so cantankerous in her dementia that I had really begun to dislike her. Not only did she forget who I was, but she treated me like a servant. I was actually relieved when she forgot how to talk.
After her funeral I spent months rattling around alone in the old sandstone house at Wentworth Falls, once again free to read all the novels my mother couldn’t stand seeing me with; the science fiction and fantasy books my father and I had so loved. He’d died of a massive heart attack when I was thirty-five. I think I mourned his loss more than the death of my mother. Dad and I had been very close.
Because of this aimlessness I decided to volunteer for an experiment I saw advertized in a science magazine I purchased one day at my local newsstand. Why I picked it up, I will never know, since science had never been one of my strong points at school. But when I began flicking through it, the pages fell open at the advert that changed my life.
What do I have to lose? I thought as I packed myself up, and drove the hundred-odd kilometers down to the University of New South Wales where the briefing was to take place. I booked myself into a cheap hotel in Kensington, something else I had never done before, and went to bed listening to unfamiliar traffic noise that kept me awake for hours, because I felt so anxious and ill at ease in my strange new surroundings. After hardly leaving that old mountain home for years, I wasn’t used to strange places or people. I almost got up and went home. But then I reminded myself that nothing was left for there, nothing save a silent, empty house.
Besides, they had already accepted me, at least for the initial briefing. The least I could do was give it a go. So with trepidation sitting heavily in my stomach, (or was it the greasy bacon and egg breakfast I’d eaten?) I drove to the university, where I finally found a parking spot on High Street. Not used to long walks, I was soon feeling quite hot and bothered from the March sun burning down on me.
Finding my way through the maze of buildings to the right science block proved even more trying. After stopping and asking directions from several young students to Professor Leon Jackson’s office, I finally found myself riding a lift down to the lower basement in the bowels of some massive building I doubted I’d ever be able to find again without a GPS. Then I had to wander through a truly frightening labyrinth of subterranean corridors before arriving at the mysterious Department of Experimental Temporal Physics.
I ended up in a dimly lit chamber filled with about a dozen people of various ages; one or two attractive young students like the ones I had seen outside, a couple of Westie types with two day stubble, shorts and rubber thongs, a businessman, and a white-haired fellow who looked too feeble to hold himself upright. I was the only middle aged woman.
I won’t bore you with the finer details of that day. But suffice to say, the good professor only arrived after we had filled in a ten page form about ourselves and answered a detailed psychological questionnaire that took over half an hour to complete. During that time, one of the students got up and stalked out, announcing that she wasn’t giving away her sexual preferences to anyone.
Since I had never had sex, or even a boyfriend, I wasn’t even sure how to answer that particular question. What possible relevance could it have to the experiment anyway? I had long ago given up wondering about such things. I’d gone to an all-girls school, and then dived straight into the typing pool, missing out on the whole dating scene. From my colleagues I heard snippets of information, and even read the odd romance novel, but the concept of swooning into the arms of some macho male chauvinist just made me cross.
Besides, my mother had made it pretty clear that I would never attract a man. Even though Dad told me not to listen to her, insisting he loved me no matter what I looked like, deep down I knew she was right; I was plain and dowdy, and no amount of make-up would ever change that fact.
Professor Jackson was a tall, exceedingly thin man with a pointy grey beard that made his long face look even longer. His white lab coat was no longer white, with sweat stains under the armpits, and other odd-colored stains I didn’t want to determine the origin of. But when he smiled, his whole face lit up like a Christmas tree. I could tell he was totally enamored with his pet project.
As we gathered around a big square table, he explained what he and his team had achieved so far. He told us that previous participants in this study had caught glimpses of nuclear wars, flashes of decimated cities, technology so advanced no one could figure out how it functioned, and barren landscapes totally devoid of vegetation. Those visions only lasted a few seconds, he told us, sounding rather perturbed, but they had been enough to cause some of the participants a great deal of distress.
If you think you can’t handle it, now is the time to leave,” continued the professor. “Even though we offer an excellent debriefing and counseling program, I want you to go with your gut instincts on this.”
As he talked I became doubtful that the earlier volunteers really had seen the future, but more likely their own fears of the kind of devastation Humanity was capable of wrecking upon the planet.
A few minutes later he gathered up the forms we had competed, and bid us all farewell, telling us that in a few days’ time his assistants would be in touch as to our suitability.
As I left I wondered if I really did want to be contacted. I’d thought there would be more to it than that, such as rigorous physicals, examinations, a spin in one of those astronaut centrifuges. Obviously, if I thought any kind of time travel was actually possible, I had watched one too many episodes of Dr Who!
Jordan Demantena started walking back towards the homestead, continuing to check the sprinkler system on the way. The new crop of
was coming along nicely; new buds shooting up from the rich red earth everywhere he looked.
were the oil bearing plants that had started the Terron Treaty, as it was known here, or the Treaty of 2312 as it was called on Earth. Jordan and his partner, Logan Latana, had been harvesting two crops of
every cycle for twenty cycles, a job now performed by most Terron males.
It hadn’t always been so. There had been other occupations in the old days, but Earth’s ever increasing demand for the oil, and the relatively small population of Terrons, meant just about every able-bodied male was required to work on a
As for the women, there hadn’t been a full-blooded Terron female born in a generation, hence the Treaty. But it seemed to Jordan that he wasn’t going to benefit from it any more than Logan had. Gloomily he approached the grey-haired man sitting on the porch of their homestead. A long, low sprawling building, it had been built to withstand the long hot summers thanks to the bright red sun the planet orbited. Coupled with the red earth, it gave everything on the planet a reddish tinge. Not until the
sprouted did massive carpets of color start spreading across the rolling hills of Terron.
The elderly man on the veranda held a glass half-full of a clear, crystalline liquid in one work-hardened hand. He nodded towards another tumbler on the table between the two lattice-work rocking chairs.
Thanks.” Jordan picked up the full glass and downed the scented water in one long, refreshing gulp. He wiped his hand across his mouth before setting the glass down. “Looks like every plant is shooting again. Another bumper crop this season,” he remarked tonelessly.
Terron only had two seasons, a scorching hot summer, and a freezing cold winter, a fluctuating climate all Earthlings abhorred with a vengeance. They only came to Terron because of the Treaty, and then only for a few short days to fulfill their tour of duty.
You can’t go on like this, Jordan.” Logan motioned him down into the other rocker. Jordan gratefully sank into it. He was weary to the bone, a sure sign he was close to suffering the same fate as Logan.
Even though Logan was only one Terron cycle older than Jordan, he looked like he had aged twenty in the last half-cycle, and now resembled a sixty-year old Earthling. Between the ages of twenty and fifty cycles, Terron men lost their libido while they searched for the woman that would return their virility. Men who found their life-mates could live to well over one hundred and fifty.
Jordan had given up years ago making the long journey to the Citadel to see if his life-partner would be on the next spaceship from Earth. Logan had continued right up until the Aging took hold, ever hopeful that he would find that one special woman who could bring back his libido and a longer life-span. Now he was unlikely to see his seventieth birthday. Nature was cruel that way.
I don’t think I have to,” Jordan replied. “I’ve already made the call. Should I succumb to the Aging between now and then, the Administration will have men ready for the harvest.”
Logan gave him a long hard look, his deep blue eyes narrowing. “Well, in that case I
made a call,” he admitted. “I’m taking you to the Citadel in the morning. The sprinkler timers are set and the crops virtually grow themselves from now on. Neither of us are needed for the next few weeks… You have one more chance, my friend, and I won’t see you suffer as I do.”
Jordan frowned at his friend. “Why the hell did you go and do that for, you old fool? You know I gave up on all that nonsense years ago!” He raked agitated fingers through his long unruly hair. “I’m not going,” he asserted.
Logan leant over and grabbed Jordan by his shoulders. “Oh yes you are, because it’s my birthday present to you.”
I don’t want a birthday present,” Jordan grumbled, refusing to look at his friend. He had seen it too many times; men turned weak with desire as the potent hormones surged through their bodies. They left to marry their new partners without bothering to acknowledge the friends and family left behind. This was one of the main reasons Jordan had settled out here so far from civilization, a place where he could do his job and tend for his ailing friend at the same time without any distractions.