Johnson County Library is pleased to announce that Georgia M.. has won second place in the early age group for the Sci-Fi Spring 2021 Youth Writing Contest with her piece "Not So Boring."
Not So Boring
Of course we get stuck on the worst planet, Aerial. Out of the 116 planets my family discovered in the past year, we had to get stranded on the most boring and cold one.
I spend most of my time on the ship playing with our munden, Tuerto. He’s a mix between a dog, a cat, an elephant, and a tiger. White with black stripes, he has pointy ears, a short, stubby trunk, and a dog-like tail. I’m teaching him how to steal candy from Anna’s room. The Uri (your friendly neighborhood aliens) showed us how to make super yummy candy. But, they only gave Anna the ingredients and Anna is a hogger.
It's Friday, day 385, twenty days after we were supposed to be back on Earth, in Brooklyn. I walk inside the engine room and see the walls covered with engine ﬂuid.
Our engine was toast due to the Mirri (your evil neighborhood aliens) stealing an important coil. Dad had been working to repair it for the past ten days. He said he would be done next Friday, but we all doubted it.
Dad was ﬁxing the coil that keeps the blocks moving around the interior of the engine. More ﬂuid spluttered and covered my T-shirt in small, brown patches. Something creaked and Dad muttered a bad word.
“Mom wants you to come up to the control center,” I told him, setting down the now-splattered-with-engine-oil plate of pancakes on a fuel container.
“Tell Mom I’ll be up in a couple of minutes. Also, Layla, can you hand me that wrench?”Dad asked. He reached out his hand in my direction, palm up. I grabbed the wrench and handed it to him. I took the plate of pancakes back up to the kitchen, dumped them in the trash, and rinsed the plate.
As I walked into the control center, Mom said, “Get your spacesuit on, we have a problem.”
A few minutes later, we are all in the control center: Anna, Teddy, CJ, Claudia, Mom, Dad, and me. Mom tells us the ship just detected beings within a ﬁve-mile radius. Mom admits that the other day she had seen a weird, spider-like creature crawling around in the woods, brandishing an axe-sword thing.
“Are you saying there are beings on this planet that are trying to kill us?” cries Anna.
Anna is the worrier of the family. She is having a literal panic attack. Claudia’s face is blank (as always) and my brothers are equally unemotional. I could really care less -- we had dealt with worse than aliens wanting to kill us.
“But Dad is almost done with the engine, so we can leave soon,” I reminded them.
We all looked at Dad. “Yeah...well...um...” he stuttered.
“Great! Glad we got that ﬁgured out,” I muttered.
I left the room.
The next day, we found a weird piece of technology on the landing platform. Since we didn’t know what it was, we threw it into the garbage disposal and made sure it got eaten up. We thought it was a recording device the aliens had planted there, until Teddy came into the control room and asked where his robot had gone (he’s a real robot nerd). He said he had put it on the landing platform the night before.
Since Mom told us about the aliens, we were extra cautious whenever we went outside -- making sure not to make any sudden movements or noises.
We were all sitting in the kitchen (except for Dad) when the radio cracked. We dropped our spoons in our bowls of cereal and turned our heads toward the radio. We were surprised because usually it stood silent on the counter. We had been out of contact with our space department for two months. Now, they were trying to break through the distance between our spaceship and theirs.
“Are--there? Your--signaled--bring--part. --part--it--needs?”
Half of the person’s words were cut out, but I ﬁgured out the missing words in no-time-ﬂat.
“He or she is saying: ‘Are you there? Your dad signaled to us to bring you a part. What part is it he needs?’” I conﬁdently stated.
Mom jumped up and ran toward the basement where Dad was working on the engine. She returned quickly, clicked on the microphone, and said, “ Electric cardvo spring.”
All the while, I was shaking. We’re going home!
It works like this: the department sends out a drone carrying your package. They pinpoint your location and the drone drops off the package. It usually arrives within about a day. Mom told me the drones can cover the distance of ﬁve football ﬁelds in two seconds ﬂat.
Sure enough, the next morning, the drone arrived safely (it contains a heating system that keeps it warm in the freezing temperatures of space).
I am the one that always opens the door to our spaceship, including drone deliveries. I grabbed the package, but before I could close the door, something appeared on the doorframe that kept me from closing it. I threw the package aside and kicked at the spider-like contraption that was preventing the door from closing. The device was so sticky, I couldn’t get it off the door. Claudia walked in, saw me struggling, and helped me drag a heavy bin in front of the door so nothing could get in. I ﬁnally had time to look up and spot our attacker: aliens. I pointed at the package and yelled, “Grab that and take it to Dad! I’m gonna tell Mom!”
We took off in different directions. I found Mom in the control room, told her about the aliens, and she told me to get my spacesuit on. I pulled it on. ‘Suiting up’ includes grabbing a gun; I took one off the rack.
Claudia came running in shouting, “I have good news and bad news. The good news is that Dad is putting in the spring right now. The bad news is an alien got in!”
Mom and Claudia ran off down the hall. I stayed back to guard the control room. I heard shots being ﬁred down the hall and put my ﬁnger on the trigger.
Two minutes passed until an alien crawled into the control room. The sight was horrid. It was like a giant spider, but it stood up like a human. And on the end of each leg was a hand.
I shot at it. My red laser bullets killed the alien. Another one walked in. This one brought a friend. I shot at both, but only killed one. The one that survived, slapped the gun out of my hand and then ran up and grabbed my arms. I kicked and punched and screamed. At that moment, the engine roared to life.
Whenever the engine starts running, the ship hovers. It's a bit uneven at ﬁrst, and sometimes you lose your balance. That's what happened to the spider-like creature -- he lost his balance and let go of me. I grabbed my gun and killed him. Mom ran in with an alien chasing her. I killed that one too. Before I could even look around and catch my breath, Mom had jumped into her seat and immediately started piloting the ship. She guided the ship steadily off the ground into the air and off the cold (not so boring) planet back to Earth.