Thursday, May 31, 2012


Serpentine Garden
By Carol Summerfield

The lunar vehicle had on it a golden parabola, facing out to catch the sun’s rays. The sunlight would power the vehicle, but Liun didn’t know that. She just liked it.
“The umbrella would be a nice addition to the collection.”
“You don’t need an umbrella.”
“Still, you have to admit, it’d be something different.” She moved slightly to see what else was on the vehicle. Containers, wheels, probes, cameras. Really, she thought, they had enough of that stuff. And every visitor left the same stuff behind, so they weren’t even real trophies.
Liun watched the white-suited man bounce around. Each set of visitors followed the same routine, just in different locations. They would land, bounce around, pick up rocks, then leave. It was always the same. Liun found the visits a bit dull, now that the novelty had worn off. She shifted so she could get a better glimpse of this man.
Orna hissed and pulled Liun back behind the sandy hill. Liun snapped back, “Don’t yank on me. You aren’t mom.”
“I’m the oldest and mom isn’t here. So that makes me in charge.”
“You are always in charge. I’m sick of it.”
“I’ll tell mom.”
Baby, Liun thought, but she didn’t say it. If there was a second man, they hadn’t seen him yet. She wondered about the glass on the helmet. Could the visitor see perfectly through the glass?
Orna petulantly repeated their mother’s warning, “Leave the men alone.”
“Mom didn’t always leave the men alone.” Liun wondered why her mother never came to watch with them.
“Idiot, that’s how we ended up here.”
“Well it can’t get worse than this, can it? It’s just rocks everywhere.”
Orna looked at her sister. “Whose fault is that?”
“You had tantrums too. Mom told me.” Orna’s hair wrap was loosening. Liun only had to point to it to remind Orna to tighten the cloth. “And mom did most of the damage when she arrived, anyway.”
Liun kicked at the dust. She was sick of the endlessness of the days with nothing to do. When she looked at the man, who was now bending down to scrape up some random rock, she wondered why they would want so many rocks. Maybe they knew. It had been thousands of years, according to her mother, but maybe they still knew the story. Maybe they could tell from the rocks.
“Do you think they remember?” Liun asked Orna.
“No. If they did, they wouldn’t visit.”
“Maybe their helmets protect them.”
“They aren’t looking for us. You can just tell.”
“Maybe they think we’re dead.” Liun had tried to ask her mother the same questions, but her mother had given her one of her looks and Liun stopped asking.
“What do you think would happen if they saw us? Would they take us back with them?” Liun was scared and excited at the prospect, something she had thought about constantly since the first one arrived so long ago. Liun worried the visitors might stop coming and she would lose her chance. Suddenly she decided it was time to test her powers.
Liun stood up and walked around the hill, so she would be clearly visible to the visitor. Orna, stunned into silence for once, just watched. Liun unwrapped her head. The visitor caught the movement and turned to face her. She’d only heard stories from her mother about the change, back when her mother had been on Earth. Liun saw the look of surprise on the man’s face.
“He can see me,” Liun called to her sister.
“And?” Orna asked.
“Nothing yet.”
“I think it’s supposed to be instantaneous, Liun. Mom is going to kill you if he goes back and tells everyone we’re here.”
“If nothing happens, we don’t have to tell her. And if he changes, we just take him back with us.”
Liun waited a little longer, but the man didn’t move. She finally gathered up her courage and walked up to him. She could hear Orna gasp at her daring, but Orna didn’t tell her to stop.
She got close enough to touch him. He looked the same. She lifted the glass on his helmet. He remained unblinking. Liun tapped on his face. She was disappointed. Somehow in all her mother’s stories, the transformation seemed much more spectacular.
“Help me carry him. He’s heavy, Orna.”
“Stupid, of course he is. He’s stone. Wrap up.”
Liun swallowed her disappointment and bound her writhing snakes.

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I wanted to explore the merging of ancient myth and modern science fiction with one of my all-time favorite characters. When I am not writing I am an efficiency expert in operations for a marketing company, which is more creative than it sounds.


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