Sunday, March 29, 2020

A Short Story: "Proxima Centauri B, Please Respond" ((EDITED))

Dear Readers,
This is my first attempt at both SciFi and short story writing, so please be gentle with me. I hope you enjoy the very short short story, complete on two pages.  //It now includes the March 30 update//

Michael Paul Hurd
Author/Publisher
Lineage Series
Lineage Independent Publishing

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Proxima Centauri B, Please Respond
By Michael Paul Hurd

            Left behind on the third planet orbiting Heliosolis, Kashmek was desperate to return to his homeworld. He had tried to assimilate into the society on the planet, known as Deko to Proxima Centaurians, and had been quite successful. Kashmek had already been a resident on Deko for nearly seven centuries and had survived many of Deko’s disease outbreaks. Living as a quiet, unassuming assimilee into Deko societies, Kashmek knew the sources and causes of diseases that seemed to decimate the population on Deko roughly once a century. He had seen the Black Death, cholera epidemics, yellow fever outbreaks, and influenza – all terms used by Deko societies to describe diseases that Proximans had long ago learned to avoid.
            This time was no different. Normally, scientists on Proxima Centauri B would  communicate with Kashmek or his mate, Bishma, on a lightwave communicator to warn them of an impending outbreak. You see, Proximan scientists had discovered that most contagious diseases on Deko were caused by spaceborne residue from comets, supernovas, and stellar collisions that often took light years to reach the Deko orbit around Heliosolis. They knew that the only way to escape infection was to completely and totally isolate themselves from Deko lifeforms.
            Kashmek and Bishma were not the only Proximans on Deko. There were at least 140,000 others scattered across the inhabitable areas of the Deko landmasses. They, too, were assimilated into the local society; some of them had even achieved positions of power in the bodies that governed those societies. Most of the assimilees, however, were not lucky to have Proxima Centaurian mates and were forced to procreate with Deko natives, a process which Proximans found inherently distasteful, at least when the progeny began life. Regardless of the messiness of the process, the assimilees knew it was necessary for their survival as a race, even though the hereditary pool was diluted by the procreations.
            Right before the Dekoan celebration known as Christmas, Kashmek and all Proximans on Deko received a message on their lightwave communicators:

             “In two Deko moon cycles, the planet and the entire Heliosolis system will pass through the residue  from the collision of two comets. Unlike other comets, one of these contains frozen proteins from the Beta Anteros quadrant. These proteins are highly toxic to all Dekoan life forms, including those of mixed breeding with Proxima Centaurians. They only need a host to replicate before becoming contagious to those within ten feet of a respirating Dekoan life form. We recommend that you take extreme precautions to ensure your own survival; we are not yet sure of the effects this protein will have on Proxima Centaurian life forms.”

            Kashmek knew the message was valid from the hologram of the Supreme Council that appeared after the message had been received and translated from their native language. He also knew that it was imperative for him and his fellow Proximans to take the necessary precautions. They quietly and unobtrusively began stockpiling provisions necessary for survival, using a centuries-old handbook that had been handed down through generations of their revered ancestors since they first arrived on Deko several millenia ago.
            Kashmek's species also made sure they had ample supplies of biohazard waste removal paper, as their excretory functions were considerably messier than the comparable Dekoan functions. Dekoans eliminated waste through a single orifice at the end of their digestive tract, making clean-up relatively easy; in contrast, purebred Proximans released waste through a ringed array of seven orifices around a central expulsion tract. The mere difference in physiology meant that Kashmek and his kind would need roughly ten times as much biohazard waste removal paper as their Dekoan counterparts.
            As predicted by the Supreme Council, the Heliosolis system passed through the comet’s residue right on schedule. In a matter of days, Dekoans began dying. Not the prepared Proximans, though. Kashmek knew the measures they had taken across Deko would ensure the survival of his species and all of their progeny, no matter how diluted their descendancy had become.
            Six Dekoan moon cycles later, the planet was devastated. Their economy had collapsed. Looting was everywhere. Anyone showing symptoms of infection from the comet waste was summarily executed and their bodies burned in large incinerators.
             Kashmek, Bishma, and their fellow Proximans assembled in one of the most devastated areas. They were survivors. They could continue. They could take over Deko. It was just a matter of informing the Supreme Council that their moment had come to completely destroy Dekoan society and replace it with their own. They began compiling their message to the Council that very evening.

            “Proxima Centauri B, Please Respond…”

The preceeding short story is the intellectual property of the author, Michael Paul Hurd. It may be subject to copyright laws of the United States and other countries. No part of this story may be used without permission of the author, except for limited quotation in literary journals or reviews.

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