by Ché Frances Monro
I had been travelling south all day, riding in a boxcar by myself, pleased enough with my own company. I was heading south to escape the winter, Texas, perhaps, then maybe Florida. Some place where they grow oranges and peaches.
But the freight turned east at the junction, so I hopped off. I walked south alongside the tracks till it started to get dark, then I found a place to camp. By the time I’d made a fire it was night. I heated a tin of beans for my dinner, and when I was done eating I sat by the fire and looked up at the stars.
The prairie was vast and dark and empty, and only thing moving was the wind.
Suddenly there was this girl standing at the edge of the circle of firelight and she was stark mother naked!
“Oh my God, Miss, are you all right? Was there an accident? Did someone hurt you? Here, take my coat!” I gave her my coat and she wrapped it around herself like a blanket.
“Hello,” she said. “My name is Corona. There was an accident. How did you know?” She didn’t seem to be hurt or upset. She squatted down by my fire and poked at the empty tin of beans.
“I’m Jim, Miss. I could tell something wasn’t right because, um, you’ve lost all of your clothes.” I squatted down on my heels beside her.
She paused, gazing at me, head cocked to one side as if she was listening. “Clothes? The coverings? We don’t use them. Sol says some places do. You are having... a season? Of cold? Yes?”
“Winter. Yes, Miss, it’s Winter.”
She smiled at me. She was, you know, beautiful. She was round and curvy everywhere a woman should be, and, man, I’d seen everything when she appeared there by the fire like that. She had long red blonde hair, kind of the color of honey, and her eyes were large and bright green, like a cat’s.
“Miss, do you live around here someplace? In a farm or, um, hospital?”
“Oh, no. I have come from a long way away. We were never supposed to come here, but an engine failed and we were thrown off-course.”
“The engine? In your automobile?”
“In our ship. Sol. The Solar Wind.”
I looked around. The dark windswept grassland stretched away to the horizon. “Ship, Miss? Out here? Kind of a long way from the sea, isn’t it?”
She listened again, then she laughed. She looked delightful when she laughed. I wished she would do it again. “Not that kind of ship.” She pointed straight up in the air. “A starship!”
I looked, but there was nothing up there but night and stars. “A ro... rocket, Miss?”
She blinked and paused, then grinned and shook her head. “No! No rocket! Of course not. A starship. We fly across the universe in closed timelike paths, never violating causality, never arriving before we left. But there was an accident. The crew — our mothers and fathers — were all killed, and we were thrown off course and eventually we arrived here.”
“Killed? I’m sorry.” She was a lunatic. Pretty, but a lunatic. She must have escaped from an asylum.
“It was a long time ago. We never knew them. It was before we were born, we were just embryos floating in a tank. That extra layer of protection saved us from the radiation.”
“Sol studied your broadcasts and the stars until she found out when and where we were. This is Old Earth, in the pre-technological era. Almost nothing is known about your world, Jim. So much information was lost, both cultural and genetic.”
I may have gaped at her, for a while. After that I closed my mouth again. “Wh... what do you want from me?” I managed at last.
“Isn’t it obvious?” she asked. She let the coat fall open, revealing her breasts. The beautiful soft curves of her breasts.
“We want to share your genetic information.”
“You want my jean-whatsit?”
“Your diversity. Your uniqueness. Your Deeyenaay.”
“Huh?” I stood and took a couple of steps back.
She let the coat drop and stood up in all her glorious, tawny nakedness. Her skin shone like honey in the firelight. “Sol says an out-crossing with the wild type will make strong babies for the next generation.”
“You, you want to make babies? With me?”
“I, I, uh, that I can do. I think.” In fact it was my first time, but I thought I knew what to do. I led her to my blanket and lay her down, then I started taking my clothes off.
* * *
When we’d finished I half believed that she was what she said she was. When you make love to a woman it’s very easy to get drawn into her madness because you want to believe.
“Show me your ship,” I begged. “Show me your ship and then I’ll believe. I’ve got to see it.”
She lay by the fire and considered. “Sol says she must stay hidden so that she won’t violate causality. We are just passing through and we must leave nothing behind, not even memories.”
“But I’ve already seen you, and um, talked to you. I already have memories.”
“That’s true. But Sol says that even if you talk about this it will make no difference in time. Nobody will believe you.”
“Then nobody will believe me about the ship either. Let me see it. Please.”
Corona made a fetchingly sulky pout. “I’ll ask.” She rolled her eyes heavenward for a moment. “Sol says you are right. She will show herself to you.” She smiled. “I think she wants to show off.”
I looked up, and for a moment nothing happened, and I was about to look back at Corona when I noticed a small black patch blotting out the stars overhead. It grew into a circle and then a great disc of blackness overhead. There was no sound, no rockets, no jets, just eerie silence and an empty blackness overhead getting bigger and bigger.
“Oh my God,” I whispered. “Oh my freaking God.”
Then Sol turned on her landing lights and we were bathed in glare. The disc lit up like a Christmas tree ornament. It was a flying saucer. It was an honest to goodness flying saucer. My knees went weak and I suddenly had to pee very badly. I recognised the feeling: awe.
“Jim,” Corona said. “Meet my ship. Solar Wind.”
A ramp came down and daylight streamed out of the saucer. Outside it was night, but bright white daylight shone from the door, like daylight spilling through the open doorway of a dark barn. There were trees in there, grass, it looked like a park.
Two women came down the ramp. They were stark naked, and identical to Corona. They weren’t sisters, they were duplicates.
I snatched up my coat and put it on to cover my embarrassment. Nobody else seemed to notice.
“These are my sisters, Chroma and Aurora.”
They looked at me, eyes wide.
“Sister,” one of them said.
The other continued without a pause. “Are you well? We were worried. Is this the wild type human?”
“Success!” Corona cried. “Success! This is Jim. I have shared genetic information with him.”
I looked down and scuffed my feet. “I’ve never heard it called that before,” I muttered.
“Sol will be pleased,” the sisters chanted. “New genetic information for the next generation.”
“Sol can begin designing them at once.”
“Well done, sister!”
I looked at the three of them kind of sideways, my face hot. They were standing around Corona, stroking and caressing her belly as if it contained precious jewels.
“I could, um, share g-genetics with you too if you like.”
All three sisters looked at me with their cat-like green eyes and then I couldn’t tell who was who any more.
“No need,” one said. “Redundant.”
“We are identical.”
“No new information would be gained.”
“Thank you for the offer, Jim.”
That last one was Corona. I think.
There isn’t much more to tell. The girls went back into their ship. The ship took off, and I was left alone by the fire. The fire was still burning. All through the landing and taking off of that immense ship it hadn’t caused even the slightest gust of wind. That was the last I saw of them. In the morning I got back on my way to Florida.
Was I drunk? Was I dreaming? Was Corona a madwoman who somehow made me see what she saw? Or was she really from the future? I don’t know.
She was right about one thing, though. I must have told this story a hundred times but nobody has ever believed me.
Copyright © 2011 by Ché Frances Monro