Colm (not calm, but Colm) breaks the news to Director Tymo that they’ve managed to decipher images and sounds carried on radio signals they’ve been picking up since entering the present galaxy. The alien language is a simple tongue the natives refer to as “English.”
The technicians have been able to puzzle out, “Greetings from the people of earth.” Another shows what they believe is a male doing what they aliens call singing about a jailhouse rock. No one understands what that means.
The director doesn’t like what he hears. He’s had other news about the unfortunate trajectory of the asteroid and indulges the high produced by the jelly-like innards of the fourteen-legged shlig, a creature small enough to pop into the mouth.
The people entering the Milky Way Galaxy are not aboard a ship, but an asteroid, one they cannot steer. They’re protected by a great shield and live under the surface of the asteroid.
The narration is this short piece is straightforward, with little time to view the inner lives of any of the characters. Colm’s daughter is entering puberty, a time when gender is determined. “Will I like laying eggs?” she asks her dad.
He has no answer for her.
His wife is already loaded with shlig-haze, useless.
Colm knows what’s coming. The reader sees his actions, but never his thoughts. He is curt, almost dismissive, with his daughter. He acts the same way with his wife, telling her she will become addicted to the shligs. The reader doesn’t know his feelings but can guess.
Author Steve Carr does a fair job of building a world in such a short space. We see Colm’s daughter on the cusp of puberty with so much to look forward to. We see others who have apparently given into despair. The piece has humor as well, holding up a mirror to Earth culture on itself.
I liked this story.
According to his author blurb, Steve Carr began his writing career as a military journalist. He has had more than 180 short stories published internationally in print and online magazines, literary journals and anthologies. Sand, a collection of his short stories, was published in 2018. He was a 2017 Pushcart Prize nominee.
The story can be read here.
Title: “Speeding Toward Oblivion”
Author: Steve Carr
First published: Theme of Absence, August 31, 2018
Review copyright 2018 Denise Longrie