Instructions: Read or watch Slam Anderson's story, "On This Orbit Day," then VOTE on the ending using the poll below!
oN THIS ORBIT DAY
Earth Residents also known as Ereses (e-res-es) removed themselves from the Universal Council (The UC), millenniums ago. Now, on this Orbit Day, an Eres will speak on behalf of all Earth Residents.
The Universal Council (UC) called an urgent meeting on the Moon in the old observatory used for solidary training. In an almost forgotten past it was the base for Earth Resident’s Star Leader. A dome palace with a glass ceiling that provided the perfect view to the galaxy moving, existing and rapidly growing. Now, it is the most deserted place in the galaxy. There was no seating in the observatory. The nine Star leaders stood in a crescent shape facing the entrance. Outside the grand double doors that hung carelessly on their hedges were their protectors and three Eres (e-res) survivors. The Head Star, one of the youngest to hold the title and still new to his role, didn’t ask for a test. He gripped the knot of his belt and walked in front of the UC members who were the leaders of their residents, referred to as Star Leaders. Several of them were his friends before joining the council. One was his kin-sister born on the same orbit day on Mars. They trained together, learned and answered the council call together.
“The Eres has told us that Earth is rotting in reverse,” he spoke slowly trying to translate the crisis told to him by the star-struck Earth Resident Dr. Green. “There is an infection in the air, leaves are passing diseases down to their roots and the roots are infecting the soil. Nothing will grow anymore. Starvation and dehydration has turned them into beast and monster. There resident has turned against them. They are in need of a new home.” The room was quiet besides the sounds of cracking glass from the ceiling.
“We are not here to condemn Earth Residents. This is not a day for us to empty the atmosphere with the past. This Eres will be given the respect and time given to all who come to speak on their Resident’s behalf.”
“Humble Star, what about the respect they gave to the Orbiters in Mars? How can you request respect?” Bellum, the Star Leader of Mars exclaimed, as she reflected on the recent attacks on Mars that prompted this meeting.
“Because Star it isn’t this Earth Resident that torn their flesh and spirits. We need to at least hear what the Earth Residents has to say. Everything we know about them is recycled knowledge. Whispers and one-sided journeys written down and taught to us as history. This is an opportunity for some truth,” the Head Star attempted to reason.
“Truth is in their actions!”
“We’re here to decide one thing. To help them or not. This is not a trail for individual crimes, Bellum.”
“Well, it should be!” Bellum could barely contain her anger and was fighting even harder to hold back her tears. "We lost too many," she told the Head Star after the Ereses attack on Mars Resident. "Losing one orbiter to rightful death is hard but losing a hundred because of “unnecessary death” is flesh-cracking." She was honored to be a Star Leader of her home Resident, this meeting to her was a sign of failure.
“Your kin will not be forgotten Star Leader but you cannot grieve them through others' death. If you believe that then I know you will make the decision honorable of a Star.” The council members looked down at the belts glowing around their waist; a reminder of the everlasting oath they took. When the Head Star felt the council was calm enough, he motioned towards the door, “bring him."
Dr. Stephen Green walked into the observatory like he was holding a secret that would fix all that was wrong. He had a guard on both sides and his hands tied in front with glowing rope.
“Present yourself to the council?” The Head Star directed.
“My name is Stephen – Dr. Stephen Green. I was – excuse me – I am a scientist from Earth’s Space department.” Dr. Stephan spoke as wobbly as he stood. He was tall, slender, and unsteady; like if he leaned over too far he would probably snap in half.
“Saint Stephen, Your residents sent you to speak on their behalf. This is a deliberation. Once your case has been made, we will decide as a whole the answer your cries. But the previous actions of the Ereses on Mars will be taken into account.”
The Head Star's words deflated Dr. Stephen’s confidence or maybe it was the sudden reality of his situation. Here he stood in front of what he grew up believing was a fictional group, a tall tale like the tooth-fairy and Santa Claus. To Earth Residents: the Universal Council was described as a group of people in charge of granting wishes; but they would only grant wishes made upon a shooting star or wish carriers. Dr. Stephen had been trying to contain himself since his capture by the UC. How could anyone born in his century on Earth know that the Great Universal Council was real!? And they aren’t fairies with wings, instead they're giants at least 10 feet tall, with glowing belts and white robes that dragged on the ground. Their hair was gray and dreaded into thick ropes bonded by metal chains. The scientist in him was mesmerized. He wanted to sit down and analyze everything about them and at the same time he wanted to forget them. Standing in front of the council he didn’t know where to begin. The stories told to him always stressed the importance of being “humble” when making wishes. His father always told him; make sure your wish isn’t completely selfish, son.
The Earth Residents made a national plan of evacuation when leaving Earth became the only solution. Everything had been consolidated as much as possible on Earth to conserve resources. The plan was to send a few soldiers and scientist to Mars to check the safety and stability of the planet. Dr. Stephen still didn’t understand how they didn’t detect life during their research; civilized, structured and highly advance life.
“We were looking for safe landing space.” Dr. Stephen said apologetically trying to explain the incident on Mars.
“In the middle of a Village? Truth from an Eres.” Bellum hissed. She wasn’t interested in hearing the Earth Resident explanation.
“Ereses?” Dr. Stephen repeated in a figurative tone, “Ereses? Ereses?”
He tossed the word around in his mouth like he tasted a foreign fruit and was determined to pinpoint its origins. This encrypted language intrigued him, and he suddenly wanted to write a book about it. He wanted to know its rhythm and reasons. He tried not to show his inappropriate overexcitement in such a life-threating situation but it was difficult to contain. He was living in his dream and nightmare at the same time and didn’t know whether to feel afraid or fulfilled.
“Yes! Eres. Earth Resident, that it what you are! You are from Earth right? Humble Star, do we really need to go through this? We are fully aware of why we are here! Let’s us say our piece by way of vote and let our existences continue.”
“Wait, look we didn’t mean to kill your… people. We didn’t know you were here. I am sorry. I am sorry on behalf of the soldiers. I had no control over them. I am just a scientist, a really good one though. I am a really good scientist,” Dr. Stephen said snapping back into his reality and the purpose for his mission. “It’s airborne now. The disease or whatever it is, we honestly don’t know. From what we’ve been able to fine there is no cure. Some people or Eres are immune but we don’t know why or how. There is no logic to whatever this is just a lot of random death. Food supply is low. There is no government, police or money. We are going insane! It’s only a matter of time before everything rots and dies completely. We have to leave Earth, but we don’t know where to go. Please help us. We will right all our wrongs. I know it’s a big wish but it’s not just for me. Please.” Dr. Stephan removed his glasses and wiped his tears.
“Have you spoken your piece Saint Stephen?” the Head Star said with no emotion or concern towards Dr. Stephens’s tears or pleas.
“Yes, I am truly sorry for the lives you lost but the ones responsible have already paid the price for their mistake with their own lives. Please don’t make all of us pay with ours.”
“Whatever fate comes upon your people Saint Stephen, it will not be due to anything we made. It will be consequences for the actions your people made.”
Dr. Stephen looked into the Head Star’s eyes like he was waiting for his fate to be revealed. He was the stereotypical genius that was bullied and out casted through his childhood to young adult years, but every nerd has their day he thought, maybe saving mankind could be could be mine. Dr. Stephen took one more look at the Giants that he once imaged with wings and wands. He looked at the Head Star and offered one last plea assuming his fate and all Earth Residents fates was in his hands; “I ask for mercy if you have any left for us.”
“There is always room for mercy.”
The guards escorted Dr. Stephen back outside the observatory. The Head Star looked around at the Universal Council. They stood in silence, before they were sure of their decisions, now even Star Leader Bellum, stood in deep mediation.
“Centuries have shown that Ereses thrive off of destruction. But we know change is constant. We would be risking our existence in helping them, but helping is the reason we exist. Millenniums ago an Earth resident Star Leader was member of this council. We can waste fragments of our existence going through the old or we can move on in start the new. What should be and what can be, not what was or is. I am not trying to persuade you. Your decision is yours; make sure it is one you can live with for eternity without guilt or shame. It is your duty to not only act on behalf of yourself, but the Universe. Star Leader Bellum, you will vote first.”
Next was face shape.
"Circular or heart shaped?" Nora asked. "That's the option."
"Tall with a circular face is going to look weird."
"It works for you."
"My face is not circular."
We were mad women. Wielders of science and genius when standing at the two knobs on top of a silver drum in a nursery room.
"Sheesh, tell me how you really feel," she kissed me. "I'm still mad at you."
"No you're not, not in your nature."
Then it was personality type.
"This seems silly," I told Nora. "I mean who wouldn't pick an obedient, quiet child."
"Quiet obedient children can easily become adults who get walked all over."
"So you want a strong willed toddler running around tearing down everything."
"I didn't say that," Nora said. "Let's just consider the positive attributes of someone strong willed. We can't just think about what we want as parents but how this will affect her down the line?"
"Her?" I asked. "You want a girl?"
She smiled and shrugged, "I wouldn't mind a little you running around," she said kissing my nose. "I happen to enjoy your stubbornness."
I had just began a shift when my wristlet went off. The house was quiet, Nora already fast asleep in our bed. Lightly snoring. I walked into the nursery to find Marjorie in a crumpled t-shirt. Hair tousled. Eyes unfocused behind thick lenses.
"Glasses?" I asked. "Your parents didn't modify you?"
She yawned, shook her head. "Couldn't afford to," she replied. "Where's your wife?"
"I think this is something to wake her up for."
Nora hurriedly jumped out of the bed when I told her who telecommed in.
"I apologize for the late hour but I have pressing news that I didn't want to wait on."
"It's time for the window for the sexes," she told us.
"Sexes?" I asked. "What do you mean?"
Nora covered her mouth. I could see the smile through her hands.
"What am I missing?"
"H-how can that happen?" I asked. "I mean we didn't request twins."
"Every so often, it happens too quickly for us to catch. It's actually the only modification we haven't patented yet. All the features you've chosen so far will apply to both fetuses. Any features chosen from here on out will be by each child." She smiled wide. "So what do you say? What are you having?"
We decided on a boy and girl just to be fair. We painted the nursery forest green. The color of earthly leaves. What I imagined Ireland looked like. Rolling hills of trees and shrubs. We decided on one crib with a divider. Our research informed us that modified twins needed each other even more than unmodified ones. Something about the genetic code almost missing one another after leaving the incubator.
At first, we waited for Marjorie's calls with suggestions and desires and selections. Then we began to call her. Filling her in on little tweaks we'd like done. We had the money and figured why spare any expense. We worked hard and were having two after all.
Then the time came when we began reaching out separately, each picking a child to craft to our liking. I with my notes of voice patterns and accent cadences. Nora with learning styles and love languages. We were mad women. Wielders of science and genius when standing at the two knobs on top of a silver drum in a nursery room.
We should have known our tickering would have more consequence then we initial thought.
But instead we had to learn by pain and misfortune.
We held each other like we knew bad news was coming. "We need to talk" has ever been a great phrase to hear. But was even scarier coming from our installer. Marjorie wasn't in a command room like the majority of telecoms before. She stood in a purple hued room. Headset off. Sitting down instead of her usual standing. She offered us to sit so we did on the loveseat of the nursery. Marjorie told us that there was a pressing issue. That either only one or none of the children could proceed during the process. That our multiple modifications weakened them.
"Wait a second," I said. "You want us to chose one?" she nodded. "Why didn't you tell us about this risk before?"
"It was all in the paperwork," Marjorie said.
"But our physician said the labs came back great that a successful birth was imminent."
"Yes, for an unaltered child," she replied. "You have not only one, but two incredibly altered fetuses."
"Then why the hell offer someone when-"
"You seem distressed," she cut me off. "Let's reconvene at a later date."
The call ended. The room silent. Just my wife and I in silence. It wasn't until Nora touched my hand that I realized I'd been shaking. That my anger was rumbling just beneath my skin. IT was true. Two babies were in the device next to us but we'd only get to meet one.
WINNING ENDING: Cancel the whole thing.
about the writer...
Careful what you pray for
“I wish I could take my prayers back.” She said again as she scrubbed her hands through my locks getting all of the shampoo out. My hairstylist has a habit of saying the craziest things at the most inopportune times but this one takes the cake.
“Um… ok… So you’re going to be an Indian giver with your prayers?” I said head tilted back into the shampoo bowl trying not to laugh and get soapy water in my mouth. I could feel all of the other women in the shop beginning to focus in on our conversation. Didn’t even have to look up to see hands paused in the midst of their facebook scrolls and headphone volumes being lowered.
Jade of House of Jade’s Natural Hair Salon and Beauty Supply was known for two things in our community, being an amazing loctician, and cussing people the fuck out once she was pushed too far.
“That’s exactly what my sister said and just like I told her, FUCK YES.” She shut the water off and wrapped my hair in one of her fluffy white towels before guiding me to sit in her chair.
“Wow. She must’ve really pissed you off.” I said sticking one of my apple AirPods into my ears and tapping my phone screen to get to my latest audiobook. Unlike most women who came to the beauty shop to get the latest gossip while they got their hair did, I don’t care for other people’s drama.
“No, this isn’t about her. It’s about HIM. The guy I met in Dallas.” Her hands which had begun to retighten my locks in the back forcefully seemed to lose some of her heft as she said the word him.
“Wait Dr. Dude? What did he do?” Renee, the woman who rented a chair in the shop piped in since it was clear that I wasn’t going to take the bait. The other three women in the shop were obviously listening now. The one sitting under the dryer was even holding the hood of the dryer up away from her head so that she could hear over the loud drum of the dryer.
Amanda the one who taught Dr. Woke to be woke and feminist. Did feminists cheat?
Talking about a man in a beauty shop was the quickest way to have everyone in town in your business. Normally, Jade didn’t talk so freely about her personal business in the shop. She could spend hours talking about the people who tried to get over on her, or the tenant who she’d evicted who had left a pair of gummy discharge infused underwear on the floor of the master bathroom, even her two children who’d become less perfect over my years of knowing her but aside from letting us know that she was dating some fancy schmancy woke ass doctor in Dallas none of the women who came in the shop were close enough for Jade to mention her relationship woes.
“I prayed to marry a doctor and I met a great doctor, fine, black, in shape, not an asshole then I met Dr. Dude. And Dr. Dude is MARRIED. To a white woman. Ol’ Fake woke ass.” Jade grunted, tugged my hair closer to her and tightened her grip on one of my locs. Good thing I’d followed my mother’s advice and went to Chili’s before my hair appointment. Buy one get one drinks had been keeping me from crying like a baby for the last six hair appointments.
“But, where were you staying when you went to see him?” Renee was clearly too enthralled in the story to focus on the young lady sitting in her chair. The girls platinum blond ponytail was sticking up like Alfalfa’s from The Little Rascals and from the looks of things the gel was starting to set. If I were her I would be getting pissed.
“I thought we were staying at his house. Apparently, we’ve been staying at one of his rental properties. His maid showed up this weekend unexpectedly and I should’ve noticed that he almost shit his pants but I was too busy playing boo boo the fool. I even got a BRAZILIAN for him.” She was tugging at my hair so hard now I wished they would change the subject or put on Judge Judy. “I mean we’re sitting in his jacuzzi naked two seconds away from intercourse and before I knew it this old Spanish lady is standing over us looking at us like we’re hairless chickens and all that he could say was ‘It’s not what you think. Took me ten whole minutes to process why he would be saying that to a maid.” She was getting madder by the minute and was standing up practically pacing at this point.
“I have to use the restroom.” I said to her trying to buy myself some time. Hopefully by the time that I got back from the bathroom she would be done with her story and back to her normal sometimes-bougie-sometimes-ghetto-self.
It wasn’t until I was in the bathroom pants half way around my thighs before...
Doctor. Woke. White wife. Dallas.
Trevor is Dr. Dude. Dr. Dude is Trevor started to click through my brain in warp speed. Trevor a woke black doctor who still had a practice in Dallas where he’d lived for a few years during med school and immediately after. Trevor whom I’d met in Chemistry class who I’d then hooked up with my best friend. Trevor who was married to my best friend from third grade. Amanda the one who taught Dr. Woke to be Woke and Feminist. Did feminists cheat?
“Girl I hope they all burn those yard sale shoes while they’re wearing them in the center of a pile of gasoline soaked drawers.” Jade was now saying to Renee. Who was now washing the gel out of the young Alfala-haired lady’s head. I would be so pissed.
Normally I wouldn’t ask any questions about Dr. Dude and Jade but I had to know. I waited for the next pause in the conversation and blurted out “So of Course I missed the ending of the story but I know you broke up with that Dude.” to Jade as she began retightening my hair like a normal human being only half-way killing my head.
“Girl, no. That fool told me that he was leaving his white woman in a few months and promised to take me to Nigeria for Thanksgiving. By the time my plane landed in Tampa the plane tickets were sitting in my email inbox. And you should see the safari that he booked” she said, passing me her phone which was open to an email which she’d obviously already showed the other women.
“Hmmmm, I didn’t take you for the type to knowingly sleep with married men.” I said barely able to contain my anger.
“Girl. I’m not. But I’m also not dumb enough to turn down a fifteen thousand dollar all expenses paid vacation to the mother land.” Jade said into my hair. I could tell that I’d touched a nerve by the way her hands were flying through my coils.
“Oh ok. So then after Africa you done with him then?” I asked using every ounce of restraint that ten years of $150 dollar an hour counseling had barely taught me.
“Yeah. I’ll be done with him the second we land back in America. I’m not like these young dummies running around the city waiting for some idiot to leave their wives.” She turned up Judge Judy who was berating some fool for stealing her best friend’s car and crashing it into a pole.
As I walked in to the bar and spotted her splotchy face my throat started to feel constricted. “Hey boo!” I said with false cheer leaning across the table and kissing her on her cheek.
“Hey lovey! How was your day? I ordered us Tequila on the rocks to start.” She said with less false cheer than I had.
I couldn’t understand how Trevor could cheat on someone as beautiful as Amanda. Even with her splotchy face she was one of the most beautiful women in the place. Her shiny auburn hair was bluntly cut in a Boss Ass Bitch Bob, her white blouse seemed to glow on her tanned skin and her smile was practically perfect.
“It was ok. How was yours? You don’t look happy.” I said hoping that she already knew about Trevor so that I wouldn’t have to tell her.
“Well, I went to the doctor on Friday and got the results of my breast biopsy.” She began before I cut her off.
“Breast biopsy? When the fuck did you get a breast biopsy?” I could feel the Chili’s burger getting ready to make it’s exit out of my stomach.
“When I went in for my yearly Dr. Kline found a lump under my breast and she took a biopsy. We got the results back today.” she said reaching across the table and grabbing both of my hands with her perfectly manicured hands.
“And the results said?” I tried to disappear into the oversized leather booth. I didn’t want to know if the results were bad. They couldn’t be bad. Cancer had already taken our friend Maria, the third amigo of our tribe, two years before. Leaving behind three beautiful children, one handsome now eternally depressed husband, and two best friends abruptly forced to be a duo and to deal with the fact that the day after you bury one of your bestfriends the world still goes on.
“I know you don’t want to hear this.” She got up from her chair and walked over to my side sliding her arms around my body which had done the thing it does when forced to deal with horrible shit, got so stiff you could roll me down the street like a log, and kissed my cheek, “But I do have cancer. It’s the 'Good' kind, we found it early, and we have a plan."
“Oh my god, no. You can’t have cancer. This can’t happen to you.” I cried into her shoulder. Realizing that she was doing the thing that people always did when they were sick, consoling the healthy, yet I was still unable to immediately console her.
“I can and I do. Pull yourself together Marnie, I need you to be strong and help me tell Trevor. You know he’s not going to be able to handle this.” She was rubbing my back in a circular motion the same way she’d done every time I was distressed from the time my first girlfriend cheated on me with Michael Colhoun to the time that I didn’t win the award for Small Business of the Year in my dental practice. Trevor, Fucking Trevor. Of course he wouldn’t be able to handle cancer. He couldn’t even handle having a perfect wife without cheating on her with a hairdresser who lived in the same damn town that he did.
I cleared my throat, inhaled and exhaled ten times then pinched the bridge of my nose. “OK” I said taking her in my arms and squeezing her. “We’ve got this! You’re going to be fine and where praytell is your husband today?”
“This is his week to be in Dallas. He’ll be back tomorrow. That was the other thing I needed. I have to go to the lab for some blood work in the morning. Can you pick him up from the airport at 8am?” She asked smiling like she’d won the lottery.
The waitress walked over then placing our drinks down and asking us if we wanted to order any appetizers buying me some time. I didn’t want to pick Trevor up from the airport. He was a sorry excuse for a human being. Cheat on my friend? Shame on you. Cheat on my angelic, always positive cancer having friend? A pox upon your soul. Do I tell her? Would I be a good friend if I told her? Or should I pick Trevor up from the airport and confront him?
WINNING ENDING: PICK TREVOR UP AND LET HIM HAVE IT!
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