It’s rare that you can pinpoint the exact moment your future course was plotted out, but I’m lucky: I know exactly when, and where, mine happened. Honolulu, Hawaii. 1982. I was in junior high school and, purely on a whim, entered a short story contest sponsored by the Hickam AFB library. Much to my surprise, I won 1st place for my age group. And just like that, I knew I wanted to be a writer.
I’ve been blogging for almost 20 years and, though I’ve thought often about sharing that short story, have never had the nerve to do so…until today. Only a few people in my life have ever read it. It’s been years since I’ve even opened the pages and read over these (surprisingly neat!) handwritten pages myself. It’s raw, but keep in mind, I was 13 years old. And yet, in a strange sense…almost wise beyond my years? The story is bleak and speaks of a morose, almost Dystopian future society. I was a happy kid, I swear! I have no idea where this came from…and yet, many years later, I remain strangely proud of this piece.
Here it is…the story that set me on the path I am today, in all its unedited glory. Be gentle.
Henry turned in his sleep. The dream he was having was an especially good one. He was stranded on a deserted island with blue skies above and the blue Pacific Ocean all around. He had just started to drink milk from a coconut when he heard a clattering of dishes.
“Henry, git out of that bed before another day’s come and gone!”
Oh, no! His wife Maude was on the island. Suddenly this dream was becoming a nightmare. He felt water splash on his face. The island was sinking! Then he opened his eyes. His wife was standing above him holding a pitcher of water. He immediately closed his eyes again.
“Henry, you git out of bed! You’ll be late for work!”
“Aww, c’mon,” Henry groaned. “Just five more minutes!”
“Git out of bed this instant, or else!”
Henry didn’t ask “or else what.” Past experiences told him he’d better get out of bed and ready for work. He got up and dressed. He didn’t look forward to another day of work at the IPCC, the Inter-Planetary Communications Center. People were always trying to escape to other planets. Henry’s job wasn’t easy. He had to keep them here.
“Hey, Maude, what’s for breakfast today?” he yelled from his room.
“Fried roach eggs!”
Not again, he thought. Third day in a row. He sat down and ate his breakfast slowly.
“Henry, you better git going. You’ll be late for work!”
Not with my luck, thought Henry. Couldn’t that wife of his ever stop nagging him? He got up and went back to his room. He got his briefcase, gas mask and gun; put on his mask and went out the door. He got in the elevator and went up. Like everyone else his house was located underground. The pollution was so bad above ground you’d die without a mask. and there was violence everywhere. You needed a gun to protect yourself. As Henry waited for the T.P. bus, he thought about his earlier days.
Henry Boeing was the son of Charles Boeing and Linda Hampshire. He was born in 1988 when there was little pollution and crime. As a young boy he dreamed of becoming a pilot for the United States Army, but with his luck World War III broke out in 1996, when he was only eight years old. When he turned eleven the pollution became so bad masks were required. The economic situation was terrible, so many criminals lined the streets, ready to mug the first person that came by. It was 1999 when houses were relocated underground. In May 2000 when Henry was twelve the first visitors from other planets, the Margs, came to visit. They quickly left after observing the planet. Henry joined the IPCC when he was nineteen years old. He met and married Maude in 2009; the biggest mistake of his life, he thought. Now it was 2028.
The T.P., or TransPortation Bus, pulled up. Henry payed the fair and found a seat next to Larry Coltab, who was going home after working the night shift at the IPCC.
“Hard work, Larry?” Henry asked.
Larry stifled a yawn and replied, “The technicians found a strange blue egg floating around. They caught the egg and put it in the lab.” Well, Henry thought, at least something excitings happening.
When Henry arrived he went straight to the laboratory. A dozen men were standing around, watching the egg.
“Any idea what’s in it?” he asked.
“It’s not a Marg’s egg, nor any kind we’ve ever seen before,” answered Scott Porter.
All day Henry couldn’t get the egg out of his mind. What was in it? Where did it come from? At 8:00 p.m., as he was getting ready to go home, he realized he left his briefcase in the lab. He went to the lab and opened the door. No one was inside. He paused to look at the egg. As he gazed at it, a tremendous urge came over him. An urge to touch the egg. He slowly reached his quivering hand to the strange blue egg. He touched it. Suddenly there was a flash of blue and it was dark all around. Henry groped around, looking for the door. He bumped into a wall, and traced his hand around it, looking for the door. He thought he was going in circles, when he realized something dreadful. He was inside the egg! Henry started to scream. Then he thought about the situation. Here he was, in a warm dark cavern. There was no pollution. There was no crime. There was no nagging wife, no hard job. There was only one thing: Peace. And as Henry Boeing lay there in his dark cavern, he hoped he would stay there for the rest of his life.
Still not sure if I’m writing every day this month…