Book Fair Australia 2022 may be over, but the aftereffects are still being felt. Here is a short story I wrote during a creative writing workshop during the event. We had some meditation time at the beginning, then we had some prompts to choose from.
She was buried under a thick layer of cold dirt. Worried her owner wouldn’t come back for her, she edged up using the Earth’s magnetic field as a guide, until a tiny part of her body was exposed. The jagged edges of the other side of her length was too much of an obstacle to expose any more.
She heard snuffles, and a poke with something cold and wet and soft.
“Owner? Is that you?” she whispered.
“Get away from there,” a man’s voice roughly said, and then they were gone.
It was dark before the next person came past.
“Where are you,” the woman whispered, close by.
“”Owner!” she cried with her whole being.
“There you are. Let’s take you back home.”
She travelled in the woman’s pocket until they arrived at their destination. She was taken out, inserted into the keyhole, opening a wondrously warm place inside.
Cupid, a 35 year old scientist, is unlucky in love but successful in his career. When the CEO of a multinational perfume corporation asks him to develop an aphrodisiac using his trained mosquitoes, he jumps at the chance. At the same time, the woman he’s been chatting with on an online dating app has finally agreed to meet up. But what Cupid doesn’t know is that he’s about to go from bitten to smitten.
The universe was dying. The last conscious person, of the last parents, was born. With the advances in medicine, the person faced a long and healthy life.
When his parents died, he grieved. What can he do now? Any monument would be wasted, as there will be no-one to see it after him. He tried to end it all, but the medicine robot saved him. He was trapped to live the rest of his life alone.
In his despair, he searched through the universe’s archives for the solution, as they have never failed him. All it said was ’42’.
He thought about this for many years, while entertaining himself on Netflix. He never got the answer he sought, he thought. Whereas in fact, he fulfilled the computer’s prophecy. 42 was the ASCII code for ‘*’, which in computing means anything.
It is the 21st century. Mars has been colonised by robots for several decades. The bright red dust covered the rovers, as it covered every inch of the ground. One of the rovers had its birthday coming up. The team back on Earth has been preparing for this day for months. The team uploaded the instructions, waiting for 16 minutes for the reply.
When the acknowledgement was received, all the rover had to do was wait for its big day, not knowing what lay in store.
The timer reached zero, and the instructions unfolded. First, it’s instruments were stowed, except one. Earth watched with bated breath.
Softly, with only the rover to hear it on Mars, the tune of happy birthday played on its scientific instrument. But we were all listening on Earth, wishing rover many happy returns.
There’s a nation containing citizens who all live forever. The economic conditions are perfect, allowing them to first save a minimum amount, then live off the return from their savings for the rest of their lives. These citizens tend to volunteer their skills for nation building projects.
How much do you need to live forever? As long as the rate of return is double or more of the rate of inflation, it works.
It all started on 27 July 2030. The Earth committee had just agreed on Earth’s addressing scheme of space-time in the universe. Time travelers from the future started popping up everywhere. Alien spacecraft began arriving into our solar system. We were suddenly the hottest place in the Galaxy.
Optical illusions take advantage of the fact that the brain fills in gaps in understanding an image, by using past experience. What if optical illusions are used as a test to see if a child has developed to a certain level?
I once told my friend that we are the best in the world in our research field. She was surprised, and said, isn’t that arrogant? I was surpised by this response, and tried to convince her that we really were the best in the world.
But that got me thinking. Why did she think I was arrogant, when I thought it was normal to consider myself the best at what I do? Then I realised, it’s based on our occupation. She works in a big bank, and consistency in service is expected of them. They are all expected to act the same, with regulations and policies guiding them. Whereas in academia, excellence is expected of us. We are expected to be respected experts in our field, we are expected to innovate, we are expected to own a key differentiator. We don’t take the status quo for granted, we continually question and test our hypotheses until we get as close as we can to the truth, or what is right.
Does that make me arrogant? Perhaps. As an academic I need to have my competitive advantage, and that includes finding my niche that I can call my own. That is, until I need to reposition myself in this ever-changing research landscape.