Wednesday, May 13, 2009

Speaking of Aliens....

The picture is a common, or cotton-eared, marmoset. Cute little creature!

I've been getting quite a bit of short story writing done. I have two and a half finished for this month, which -- considering how badly things started -- is far better than I had hoped to do. I think I can finish the third one today. It's something playing with a couple older characters, and really not all that great, but kind of fun to do.

Badlands is moving along at an unusually slow pace, but that might pick up after May and the short stories are done. I'm not in any particular hurry for it, though, so that's all right.

Probably the biggest news (such as it is) for the week is that I've started uploading pictures to the zoo site again. I still have to do the Index stuff, but I'm thinking of expanding that a bit with some info anyway, so that might take a little longer. Actually, I'm thinking about doing an 'Animals for Writers' series of articles or maybe even a book or two. That might be a fun project, as long as I don't let it overwhelm me. Maybe just choose an animal from my pictures at random and see what I can write up about it.

You know... I kind of like this idea. I have a huge amount of reference material here at home, including the lovely Grzimek's Animal Life Encyclopedia, Smithsonian Intuition's Animal, several versions of the Encyclopedia Britannica ... and websites like the Animal Diversity Website.

Yeah. I like this idea. Who knows how far I'll actually get on it... but I think it might be fun to work with. And I always get great story ideas when I start reading about animals again.

So, off to work for me. I have things to consider now!

Draw the Line:

Then he noticed that the docks, unlike those on any other station he'd visited, were not bitterly cold. That pleased him as much as the taste of the air. The gravity was no problem. The Blue Star had been adjusting the gravity to match Xenation's since they left the last port, so at least he felt comfortable walking here.

Lights hung on tall poles illuminated the area, but still left the ceiling lost in shadows. Spots glowed on the walls, in both bright and muted colors so that it looked like a rainbow had spattered itself across the area. Self-sustaining bacteria, he reminded himself. Some of it glowed in spectrums humans can't see.

Just bacteria. Just light. But damn, it looked like art to him; and like many others who had stepped into the station, he felt a whisper of kinship between humans and the long-gone aliens who had built Xenation. It made him feel oddly comfortable.

Something squeaked and bounded past -- a round, furry ball that he recognized as one of the Click's nuisance pets, which he had read were often loose on the station. This one was slightly larger than a beach ball, and he could see a couple short, thin limbs as it grabbed a nearby pole and rushed upward. About midway to the top it leapt off into the shadows and he couldn't see where it went.

A moment later it dropped, perhaps a fall of two floors or more, and landed a few yards from him -- and scrambled back to its feet and darted away, apparently no worse for the landing.

It was his first encounter with anything alien. He watched it disappear into an area off to the right, darting between two poles where a lit sign saying 'Market' hung between them. In a moment, it disappeared amid the makeshift booths.

He watched the market for a moment, but he couldn't clearly see the people moving there. The market had sprung up between the human and Kasa areas, both of them being trading people. The Kasa -- and the Norishi -- looked human enough that he couldn't have told one from the other at this distance and in the poor light.

Closer at hand on the left he found something far more familiar -- a dockside work yard, with various pieces of equipment torn apart and laid out. It looked like the most normal part of the station so far, and he watched the five people there, enjoying the normality of it -- until one of the Click Pets bounded through. A woman with wild orange and pink hair dropped a wrench and dived at the animal, catching it by the fur and lifting it off the ground.

"Give it back," she said, the word and tone clear even at this distance. She gave the creature a little shake. "Give it back now."

Limbs appeared again, and something square dropped into her outstretched hand. She set the pet back on the ground and gave it the kind of friendly pat you would give a not-so-well-trained puppy.

The little creature gave one slight bounce, spun and started away. She watched it for a moment, shoved the stolen box into her pocket and unexpectedly gave three quick claps.

The pet spun and bounded back to her.

"This is for you," she said. She pulled what looked like a wrench out of her pocket. The pet looked like it almost quivered with excitement as it stretched upward. She put the wrench into the creature's hands. It bounced three times. She clapped once and the creature squeaked and flipped before it darted away.

Odd thing to give to an animal, but he could see the others at the work station all nodded and looked pleased. One slapped her on the shoulder. "Well done, Felice! Let's see if it turns up I the right place!"

She smiled, noticed him for the first time and gave a little nod, then turned back to work.
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