You've probably seen me talking about the 'sekret' scifi wip on Twitter. You'll find a sample below. Please, let me know what you guys think! :)
Humanity has always been a nomadic grid of motherships drifting through space...
THIRTEEN YEARS AGO…
It's the Fourth of July.
Half of Mothership USA is hunched over steamy dishes and fizzy drinks at Civic Hall Two. The other half has their noses pressed against the glass panels at Observatory Deck One, their unblinking eyes glued to the meteor shower beyond the grid. The corridors of Mothership USA, especially the ones that lead into the ship's research labs and other science facilities, finally, are empty. It's a great, great night for sneaking into rooms where you aren't allowed.
An old woman with a bad eye slips into the reception area of the biology research labs. She is short and round, walks with a bad limp, and wears blue robes that drag behind her like a cape, the type those people who've been causing problems lately wear—still, there's not much one could say about her, at least not yet, other than the fact that her name is Marlee Eldred, and she should not be there.
Marlee's eldest son, Paul, tags along like a twitchy, thirty-year-old shadow. He wears, of course, similar robes, but his are too short for his long legs, and they expose his bony ankles and velvet shoes.
The reception room is just an excuse to stop anyone from bothering the scientists beyond this point. A young man can always be found at the white, ample desk in the center of the room, sending smiley faces and hearts to his virtual girlfriend on the computer. He brushes off anyone who says they need to see Doctor So-And-So, and tells anyone who says it's urgent to come later, will you? His job is to keep the researchers alone, and he does it well, only tonight he's meeting his virtual girlfriend, Dee, for the first time, and the reception is empty. The labs behind the doors, unguarded.
Marlee blinks to adjust her eyes. The reception walls and floor glow white under the room's bright lights. The desk sits in front of three doors, each with a plaque that says in blue lettering:
She limps straight to her namesake's door. Paul follows after, wringing his hands.
The woman stands in front of the door, but it doesn't budge open for her. She rolls her eyes.
“Stupid technology,” she mutters to herself. “No keyhole. No knob. No handle of any kind...” She presses her wrinkled hands against the cold metal and gives it a light push. She withdraws her hands with a hiss. Her one good eye darts up to Paul. “What are you waiting for? Go do your magic!”
He jerks away from her and rushes to the computer on the desk. “Right, right, right,” he says under his breath, and plops down in the swivel chair. The computer is sleek, and it's glossy white, just like the room, but it's old, at least ten years older than the current hardware he uses.
“This could be easy,” he says to his mother, only she isn't paying attention. She's still sizing up the door in front of her, her lip curled in disgust. “Or this could be really hard.”
Paul wiggles the mouse, and the computer screen glows. He brings up a terminal, and types on the keyboard with skilled hands. Nothing happens. He scratches his naked, pointed chin. “Huh.” He types some more.
“What's taking you so long?” Marlee barks at him. “This is just a door. How difficult can opening a door be?”
“Yeah, Ma, but—”
“Open. The. Door!”
He nods vigorously. “Right.”
The biology research labs use LIQUID, an older computer language that Paul thinks is very limited, and he can't help but feel slightly superior in comparison to his genius baby brother. He gloats. Still, this isn't an operating system he can hack. It's too outdated. None of his algorithms would work. It would be like politely asking a deaf wedersaur to step out of the way.
There's nothing else for him to do, other than to close his eyes. He exhales, like he was taught. He wills his muscles to relax and his mind to go blank, like he was taught.
Marlee glances at him. She hates it when he does that. It makes her blood freeze in her veins.
Paul's fingers twitch over the keyboard, once, twice, and suddenly—
His hands come alive, and they type line after line of code in the grid's ancient language. Words, symbols, and ones and zeros fill the terminal in an array of seemingly incoherent commands that must mean something to Paul's fingers, for they continue typing relentlessly for a full minute.
“Gridhead,” Marlee snarls, but Paul isn't listening. He's gone. His mind is in perfect sync with the invisible chains that hold together thousands of motherships, and space stations, and shuttles, and satellites in the dark fabric of deep space, the connection starting at his fingertips.
Finally, his pinkie finger presses ‘Enter’ on the keyboard, and Paul's eyes shoot open. He blinks, as one does when waking up from a grid trance, and watches the terminal compile. “Did… it work?” He says, rubbing his eyes with balled hands.
Something whirs within the walls. It's the purring that ID scanners make when they're rebooting.
All three doors dart open when the security system hiccups. Marlee seizes the opportunity and jumps into Dr. Eldred's lab. Paul follows after, clumsy, pushing the swivel chair behind him.
He skids to a stop behind her, nearly colliding. The door closes behind them.
Marlee stands clutching her hammering heart. The lights in the lab, in stark comparison to the reception area, are dimly lit. The lab is warm and cozy, nothing like the cool, dry air of the rest of the ship. A glass tank in the back casts a soothing blue glow over the floor.
Paul stands behind her, glancing at the diplomas and awards that cover one of the walls. This is his first time in his brother's lab, and now more than ever he feels the weight of Max's full intellect. Max, the genius. Max, the Doctor in Neuroscience, Robotics, and Engineering. Max, the lead scientist of the ship's Biology research team, who gets to have his own lab with his own door.
His mother's screaming yanks him from his bitter thoughts, and he jumps high, nearly falling back.
“It's alive,” Marlee shouts, pointing with a long, trembling finger at a spot ahead of them. “That thing is alive!”
Paul whirls around to look at the cause of her fear.
It is the tank. No, it's in the tank.
His back stiffens. His eyes bulge. Out of the corner of his eye, he'd thought he’d seen a fish tank with one Autyclan goldfish inside—that ugly type with limbs and all—but now he realizes the blue liquid isn't water. It seems viscous and thicker, like hair gel, and within it… something small, and strange, and very peculiar. A creature that's no Autyclan goldfish. A creature like no other.
Past the initial shock, Paul takes a step forward, despite his Mother's desperate attempts at pulling him by the back of his robes.
He takes another step, and another, until he stands, dazed, only a few inches from the tank. He lifts a hand to touch the glass. “Watch out, Paul!” Marlee shouts at his back, but he goes on. The glass is warm to the touch, just like the rest of the room. He realizes the blue liquid must work like an incubator.
He leans in, resting his hands on his bony knees, and squints into the glass. A manic smile crosses his lips, and vanishes just as quickly. This is brilliant. Max has outdone himself. He lifts a shaking hand to wipe inexistent sweat of his brow. Max truly is a genius.
“Is it alive? I-I-I saw it move!” Marlee says.
Paul nods. “It's alive, all right.” He taps on the glass with his fingertip. The creature is unfazed. It sleeps, oblivious to Paul's googly eyes and Marlee's screeching. “How… did Max do this?”
“I don't care how!” Marlee grunts, shaking her head. “My own son. The Pythia was right.”
“What should we do, Ma?”
She whimpers. “I can't believe it…” Marlee's good eye is on her youngest son's impressive awards on the wall. He's always been her pride, whether she agreed with his interests or not. He's always been the one to carry the Eldred family name into fame. She looks at her eldest now. Paul sure listens to her. Paul follows her everywhere, and he does whatever she tells him to do. He's skilled, but not like Max. He's a gridhead. A vessel to technology, as opposed to a thinker of his own thoughts. She curses her own luck.
Her voice is metal cold, when she says, “We do what the Pythia told us to do.”
Paul looks at her over his shoulder.
“It's his life's work.”
“It's a curse. That's what that thing is.”
This thing, like his mother calls it, is a major breakthrough in neuroscience. This thing will put his brother's name in history books. Maybe, there will be a corridor named after him. People everywhere will know his name, not Paul's. Something like thirty years of resentment and jealousy stir within him. He realizes it would make him happy to see his baby brother fail at least once in his life, but, he knows he needs to ask the question first, before he pulls the plug.
And the question is, “Are you sure?”
His mother gives him the approval he needs, a murderous glint in her eyes.
“Kill it, Paul.”