First up, the photo . . .
That is The American Horse, one of two cast replicas made of Leonardo’s Horse (the other is in display in Milan), a 24-feet tall bronze statue in the Frederik Meijer Gardens and Sculpture Park, in Kalamazoo, Michigan. The sculptor was Nina Akamu, and the link will take you to her story.
I thought the little girl running up to it to touch it made a nice study in contrasts.
Eventually I will do a post about the gardens; as people might guess, I have lots of photos from our visit there.
And now, the Flash Fiction.
The Elegant Solution
By E. J. D’Alise (Disperser)
Copyright February 2013
Cursed planet! They had emergency-landed on it over 200 star-rises ago, and the engineers were still working to repair the drive. Rumors ran rampant they were no closer to getting the engines working, and that they all might be stuck here.
Not that it mattered much this moment; worried, Seto hurried to keep his appointment. One does not get summoned to see the Princess unless she had a request. Request! More like a demand, and usually impossible to fulfill. All sorts of hurt came to them who fell short. Now it was his turn. Cursed planet! He should have been back home, lounging with his mate, sipping a mild aphrodisiac under the light of the twin moons.
He stood at the entrance to the chambers. A bit early, but it gave him time to calm himself, breathe normally, and don a competent and confident demeanor. The doors opened, and one of the imperial guards beckoned him in. The guard stood half again his own height, engineered to withstand wounds, pain, and fatigue. It was rumored they were immortal, but Seto knew better; as Chief Geneticist, he had helped design them.
The princess was little more than an adolescent. Spoiled, even more so than typical adolescents. Petulant, and given to throwing tantrums, she was also self-conscious and strove to appear regal, which is what she was attempting as he entered the chambers.
“Seto.” She spoke his name and gave a small nod to recognize his station as Chief Geneticist.
“Your Highness.” His own bow put a strain on his back and knees, but it was expected of both young and old. Seto fell in the latter category, and his joints protested mightily.
“Seto,” She rose, and walked to the window as she continued, “what do you see out there?”
With a nod from the guard, Seto walked up next to the Princess and looked out. He almost sneezed but held it in check. The air on this planet was rich with pollen and other impurities, but it was her perfume that gave him an instant headache.
Getting his sinuses under control, he glanced out. “I see vegetation and animals.”
“Do you see any pretty animals?” Her question sounded casual . . . unless one was in tune with the slight waver in her voice indicating annoyance.
Seto looked out once more. “Uh . . . no?”
She looked at him squarely in the eyes. “Are you asking me?”
“No. I mean, no, I do not see any pretty animals.” He bowed slightly by way of acknowledging and apologizing for his indecision.
“It seems we are to be on this cursed planet for a while.” She turned and strode purposefully toward the exit as she gave him his task. “Make me some.”
With exaggerated flair, she exited the chambers. The guard looked at him and failed to hide a slight smile as he moved to follow her.
“Make me some!?!” A wave of panic interfered with his breathing, causing his auxiliary breathing system to kick in. The high-pitched whistle of the auxiliary air intake signified both that he was getting air and served as a warning system of his distress to anyone nearby.
“Should I call a medic?” The voice of the automated security system made him jump, and it was a few seconds before he regained his composure. “No, I’m fine. Thank you”. The system did not respond. It was no longer its concerned about how Seto was doing.
Really, the whistle noise was a throwback to the early evolutionary history of his species, and these days it was mostly a nuisance. Kids sometimes used it to get the attention of adults until told not to. Perhaps he will put together a proposal to genetically engineer the trait out of future generations. It would certainly be easier than his current task.
Turning to the window, he looked out. By far, the giants were the worst eyesore in the landscape. No matter how pretty he made other animals, the giants would overshadow them both by smell and sight. Their noises were none too pleasant, either. And their numerous and prodigious droppings made even a casual stroll an exercise in obstacle avoidance.
Seto pondered for a while, then had an idea. He practically ran to his lab, sending a message ahead of him to his assistants; “Excursion to gather samples.”
Exactly thirty star-rises later, he again stood at the entrance to the royal chambers. The progress had been slow, but they were beginning to see the fruits of his plan. He was relieved he had something to report to the Princess. The doors opened, and he strode with confidence into the chambers.
“Your Highness.” Again, the awkward bow served as a reminder he should keep better fit. “I have great news. We were able to use samples of the local genetic material, and force mutations to . . . .”
He didn’t get to finish. The doors burst open, and the Chief Engineer practically ran in.
“Princess! The drive is repaired! The engines are functional, and we can leave at your command.” He beamed, anticipating a nice reward after they left this cursed planet.
“About time! Make it so; I never want to see this planet again!” She made as to leave, then stopped, and spoke to the Chief Engineer.
“In fact, as we leave this system, I want you to nudge a couple of the large asteroids. Large enough to wipe out those monsters outside!” With that, she started to walk away.
“But your Highness . . .” Seto moved to follow her, but the guard’s expression dissuaded him from continuing. She didn’t even break stride as she left.
“But all our work!” His assistants were visibly upset. They too had anticipated rewards for having slaved away at this project.
“I know,” Seto replied, dismayed as they were. “The smaller of our test samples are well on their way to turning. The colors are amazing, and their vocalizing is . . .” He turned, and wistfully looked out the windows that were already beginning to close, preparing for departure. They had already launched massive quantities of nanobots carrying the genetic splices, but now it looked as if it would all get wiped out.
“It would be nice to one day return and see if any survive.”
“What is it, princess?”
“Look! A hummingbird!”
“Yes, princess.” The man looked at the bird. Then continued, “hard to imagine they are the descendants of dinosaurs.”
“No way!!” Her daughter clapped her hands. “I thought they had all been killed by asteroids! Cool!!”
This one had been mulling around my brain, occasionally shoving its way to the forefront, off and on for almost a year. Last night I gave in.
This is the third day of this new “feature”. The original plan was to write them at lunch, but I write these longer pieces in the previous evening and post them in the morning.
I started these posts hoping for more comments, and specifically, feedback on my writing. No, not that I’m begging for comments. They’re either heartfelt or not.
I am rather proud of the offerings so far and welcome any comments regarding my writing in general, and my stories in particular (positive, negative, or constructive). Starting with Monday’s two offerings, and going into today, I have about a 5,000-word count, and that’s not including all the clever prattle padding the primary pieces.
Anyway, I enjoy reading my stories after I write them. Yes, I read my own stories. I read them both to “clean them up” and make them tighter, and, believe it or not, because they entertain me. So, even if only a few people enjoy them besides me, they are still one for the plus column in my book.
It is telling I got the most responses from the “crappy” story . . . perhaps I should write more bodily function stories.
Regardless, if you enjoyed reading this story, please tell everyone you know. After all, why deprive your loved ones, your friends, and your work colleagues, of the joy associated with the discovery of these little gems?
BUT . . . If you did not enjoy reading it . . . well, don’t get your feathers all ruffled, and please; don’t tell anyone.
Please, if you are considering bestowing me some recognition beyond commenting below, refrain from doing so. I will decline nominations whereby one blogger bestows an award onto another blogger, or group of bloggers. I appreciate the intent behind it, but I would much prefer a comment thanking me for turning you away from a life of crime, religion, or making you a better person in some other way. That would actually mean something to me.
Should you still nominate me, I will strongly suspect you pulled my name at random, and that you are not, in fact, a reader of my blog. If you wish to know more, please read below.
Note: to those who may click on “like”, or rate the post; if you do not personally hear from me, know that I am sincerely appreciative, and I thank you for noticing what I do.
. . . my FP ward . . . chieken shit.