Johnson County Library is pleased to announce that Mariam S. has won first place in the third age group for the Sci-Fi Spring 2021 Youth Writing Contest with her piece "Interplanetaries."
Mariam will be a freshman at Shawnee Mission East next year. She is a lover of books, cats, art, and dark chocolate. Though her life goals have changed since dreaming of becoming an author at six years old, she nevertheless enjoys writing a short story from time to time. Her sci-fi story was inspired by a video her class watched in social studies class.
The sound of claws on pavement startled Pauol, making him look up to his window. He stared at the dark blue mottled fur of the foreign species as they passed by the government agency where he worked. His lip curled up in disgust as he saw the naked hairless children trail after their parents, and at the pitiful belongings they carried with them. Interplanetary immigrants. Stupid IPIs. He thought. Always ruining their planets and then inviting themselves onto ours. And they always look so...foreign. Thank goodness they’ll go back once the radiation has faded. Pauol turned his three eyes away from the interplanetaries and resumed tapping out the janitor request he had been filing. His greenish fingers left brief trails of slime on the device. But he could barely focus; the scratching of the immigrants’ brutish claws sent a shiver down his spine. Of course I had to get a job near the docks. I hate interplanetaries.
Five days later, the janitor arrived. Pauol had felt his stomach drop when he heard the characteristic scraping of claws outside his door, and a muted knocking. He dragged himself out of his chair. Tentacles scuttling and sliding over the floor, he walked over to let the new hire in. As expected, the janitor was one of the interplanetaries. Of course, they’re all willing to take jobs with low pay, stupid economy’s going to get worse... His internal grumbling continued.
“Taurep,” The foreigner said, indicating themselves. “Janitor.” They spoke in a strange guttural accent.
Pauol shook his head. Dang aliens can’t even bother to learn the local language well. He didn’t even bother to reply, just shoved a clipboard with a list of tasks towards them. Then he slid and scuttled back to his chair to resume his monotonous typing.
After barely three sentences, the screech of claws on concrete made him slam his appendages on the floor. He looked back at Taurep, who had taken a step towards him. They held out the clipboard with a questioning look. A deep annoyance bubbled in his stomach.
“Can’t read.” They said, blinking slowly.
Rage erupted inside of Pauol. He stomped (as well as one can with tentacles) towards Taurep, brandishing a pen threateningly.
“Then learn.” He hissed, pointing the pen at them.
Taurep nodded quickly and meekly, then turned and shuffled out the door. The screeching faded away.
A few weeks later, Pauol saw Taurep again. They were mopping a spill in the cafeteria, a mop in hand and a bucket of water a few feet away. Pauol was walking by, on his way to a particularly delicious-looking pink mass, when he felt a strange urge. He flicked his slimy fingers towards Taurep, splattering them with green grease. Then he swung one of his appendages, knocking over the bucket of water and covering the recently cleaned floor.
“Whoops.” Pauol grabbed his pink nourishment and exited. Serves them right.
Their relationship continued like this for the course of several lunar cycles. Pauol spitting, degrading, and sabotaging Taurep, and Taurep ignoring Pauol as best they could. This behavior only made Pauol angrier, and soon he was at a breaking point. One day, Pauol stole the laser engraver from the print room, and hid it in his hand. Then he walked through the clean white halls until he found Taurep, kneeling and scrubbing desperately at a splotch on the wall.
“Well, isn’t that sad.” Pauol observed mockingly. He snatched the rag out of their hands and then hovered over them menacingly. “I figured, you know, since you’re so bad at articulating your thoughts, I’d help you out.” He shoved the soapy, dirty rag into the fanged mouth of Taurep. Finally I can shut them up!
Taurep mumbled something inaudible, droplets of water in their eyes. Claws scratched across the shiny floor as they shuffled backwards.
“Oh? What’s that?” Pauol said, leaning over Taurep, spit flying from his mouth. “You’re a foreigner? A poor, unwanted, and criminal interplanetary?”
Taurep didn’t reply. Pauol clicked a button on his laser engraver, making the tip glow red. “That’s right.” He pressed the red-hot laser to Pauol’s head. “You are.” This is what you get, you interplanetary.
Seven years later, the nuclear missiles detonated. Pauol still remembered the five mushroom plumes that shot into the air, miles and miles high. The government said it was an accident, but that didn’t change the fact that the entire population needed to be evacuated, shoved onto escape pods and launched to any willing planet. Paoul was sent to Fvoral, which was said to be welcoming. He had tweaked a few government officials into assigning him the location.
The days on the escape pod were monotonous and felt like they took forever. Pauol was alone except for the incessant blinking and beeping of the pod. But a year later, Pauol had arrived on a strange planet. He wasn’t quite sure how to feel, uprooted and disconnected as he was, but instead had a strange floating sensation in his brain, as if nothing was quite real. He stepped out of the pod and joined the crowd of tentacled slimy green creatures as they trudged to the embassy. It was night, so the streets were empty.
Suddenly, Pauol saw a familiar face. Or rather, some familiar letters. I-P-I. Burnt, purplish, gruesome, hairless skin, peeling even after years since their contact with the laser. Blue mottled fur and four wide, blinking eyes stared at Pauol.
It was Taurep. They held eye contact for all of one second, before Taurep shuffled towards him, agonizingly slowly. His claws didn’t scrape on this surface, accustomed as it was to this species. Taurep stopped in front of Pauol.
“Hello, poor, unwanted, and criminal interplanetary.” They growled. “Welcome to my planet.”