Author: An Inside Joke PM
The life story of a member of an alien speices that only has the lifespan of five years.Rated: Fiction K+ - English - Romance/Sci-Fi - Chapters: 5 - Words: 11,799 - Reviews: 4 - Favs: 2 - Follows: 1 - Updated: 12-21-07 - Published: 11-29-07 - Status: Complete - id: 2444468
|A+ A- Full 3/4 1/2 Expand Tighten|
Billy arrived home from school, his skateboard under an arm and his backpack slung over one shoulder to find moving vans blocking his driveway and grunting faceless men hauling strange, alien furniture into the house just next door. Confused, he sought out his parents inside his own home.
"What's going on?" he demanded, snatching a cookie from a plate on the counter while his mother crawled on her knees cleaning dust and cob-webs out from underneath the oven. When she arose, she peered at Billy, who hid the cookie behind his back.
She didn't seem all that fooled, but rather than push the issue, Billy's mother answered, "Someone finally bought the old VanHousen house. I met them already; they're Rissobulannots, but they seem nice."
"Rissobulannots?" Billy repeated, having never heard that particular term before. "What's a Rissobulannot?"
"They come from planet B'hop," his mother answered, now flipping through her cocok-book. "Do we have a can of mixed vegetables?"
Checking the cupboard for his mother, Billy answered, "Yep. What are you making?"
"Veggie beef loaf," his mother answered, naming her "specialty" who no one in their family could stomach, but which she was notably proud of, and always made sure to share with friends, family, and church members. "How about basil?"
"None," Billy answered, lying when he spotted the plastic bottle on the shelf. Hoping the lack of ingredient would save him and his father and sister's from his mother's distinctive cookig nightmare, he offered, "I thought we were ordering pizza tonight."
"Oh, we are," his mother answered. "I'm making the veggie beef loaf for the Yikaplas."
"For the what?" Billy deamdned.
"For the Yikaplas," repeated Billy's mother. "I told you about them already. They're the Rissobulannot family that moved in across the street."
"Man," Billy breathed. "This Rissobulannot species has the weirdest words."
After having grown up in a well-integrated multi-species world, Billy was mostly used to foreign words and customs, but new cultures still managed to surprise him for the most part. Even since the Poka species had discovered earth back in 2015 and integrated the new planet into their sellar community, the planet had been awash in new species.
When Billy had been born shortly after the start of the twenty-second century, humans were used enough to aliens that inter-species tensions had more or less settled, but the high-school student still encountered new species every day, and never failed to be impressed with the vast range of diversity in his own life.
"Billy, be nice," his mother warned. "You may not be familiar with Rissobulannots, but theirs is a proud culture. They invented the culture time-freeze method, you know."
"Really," Billy breathed, impressed.
For the past fifty years, people like Billy's family had embraced the culture time-freeze method with glee. While a whopping sixty percent of earth's population still chose to live in real-time, those who weren't afraid of change picked their favorite era of the past in which to live, grow, and raise their families.
Billy's favorite aspect of living in the past was that each past time had been carefully selected to have the past of the past, such as lower levels of air pollution, simpler life-styles, and fewer known diseases, while the ugliest aspects of the past, such as a lack of human-alien integration and streets full of drug-dealers and prostitutes, had been eliminated.
Before they'd had their first children, Billy's parents had elected to raise their family in a world like that of the turn of the millennium. The past had been changed to eliminate the war in Iraq, AIDS, and mosquitoes, among other annoyances, leaving the family's of twenty years later to dwell in a stylized idyllic version of two centuries earlier.
Billy had been born in the 2000 land, and couldn't imagine why anyone would want to live any other way. The information that the species next-door had helped invent the process made him feel particularly friendly toward the local Rissobulannots.
"They have any kids my age?" Billy asked, producing the basil from the cupboard in the good faith that he wouldn't be expected to earth any of his mother's concoctions.
"My basil!" his mother gasped as Billy set the spice on the counter. As she swiped the spice as if fearful that it would disappear as quickly as it had originally appeared. She gathered the ingredients together, and answered Billy's question. "They've got a girl who you could probably play with some times," she hedged.
"Well, how old is she?" Billy demanded.
"She was just born about three months ago," the mother answered, rinsing her carrots before she could chop them.
"Mom," Billy argued, annoyed. "Why would I play with a baby? I'm fourteen years old. I'm gonna be fifteen in a few more months!"
Rolling her eyes, Billy's mother turned around to face her son. "She's a Rissobulannot," she reminded her son. "They only have a life-span of about five years. She's a baby now, but she'll be your age by the time you've graduated high school."
"Oh," Billy breathed, shamed by the introduction of knowledge. Once, one of his teachers had complained that Billy was too humanity-centric, measuring other species by his own standards. He hadn't meant to assume Rissobulannot life-spans were similar to those of humans, but how was he supposed to know any better?
"That's got to be tough," he added, opening the refrigerator in anticipation of his mother's need for milk. "I mean, you only live five years? I don't even remember my life five years ago."
"Well, you can expect to live another sixty," his mother replied with a half smile. "You don't really need to remember what you were like when you were ten, because you hadn't matured yet. Rissobulannots tend to mature by the time they're about two and a half years old, but after that, their memories are exceptionally acute."
"They'd have to be," Billy muttered, "When you have so little to remember."
"Be nice," his mother chided him.
"I didn't say anything bad!" argued Billy. "Besides, when did you become such an expert of Rossibulannot physiology anyway?"
"I had a nice chat with Urut and Peva," his mother answered.
"Who's that?" Billy pressed.
"Our new neighbors," his mother reminded them. "Their names are Urut and Peva, and their daughter is Kikitala."
"Hm," Billy breathed, pouring himself a glass of soda while he mentally made plans for the night, already forgetting the new neighbors. "And they're nice?"
"Well, you can decide that for yourself," his mother answered. "As soon as Dad gets home from work, we're all going over to introduce ourselves.
Kikitala stared at the white ceiling above her, giggled, and blew bubbles. Her parents had left her alone plenty of times before, trusting that the infant would develop a sense of independence and personality when she had to live on her own. Granted, her mother was always at least in the next room, listening for the first hint of crying, but Kikitala didn't know that.
She kicked the bottom of her crib, delighted at her new-found motor functions, and began to babble. In a few more months, she'd know how to talk in an actual language, but for right now she made up her own words, exploring the feel of her tongue against her teeth and the strange noises the made the different ways she flexed her throat.
"Ohhh!" cried a strange female voice that Kikitala had never heard before. A strange-looking woman who was most certainly not her mother peered into Kikitala's crib. The sight of a creature with strange pale skin and a lack of antenna terrified Kikitala, and the baby began to cry.
Her mother appeared seemingly out of nowhere. Familiar, soft hands lifted her from the world of her cradle and into the much bigger room. There, Kikitala leaned her cheek against her mother's warm, sweet-smelling shoulder, and blinked wearily, pleased to be in the grasp of a beloved parent.
Another stranger stood behind her mother, and Kikitala could see him from her vantage point of peeking backwards over her mother's shoulder. The stranger was also discolored and antenna-less, but something about his big blue eyes and the love and wonder displayed on his face served to comfort her almost as much as her mother's embrace had.
Although there was no way for her daughter to understand her, Peva announced, "Ah, it looks like Kiki likes you."
While the boy wordlessly blundered, Kikitala nestled against her mother's neck, and fell asleep where she felt safest and warmest.
Back at home a few hours later, Billy tried to concentrate on his work, but couldn't. He kept thinking of little baby Kikitala, and how her eyes had shown more intelligence and concentration than any baby had any right to have. The entire process had been strangely thrilling, and unsettling.
Of course, it stood to reason that Kikitala's mental development would be somewhat unnatural. If she only had five years to live, shed mature by leaps and bounds, leaving other species behind to peak and then fall down an equally quick deterioration. After a bit of conversation with her parents, Billy had learned that her development also happened at a different rate than humans'. Over half her life would be spent reaching maturity, so that she'd be almost three before she would really be considered a woman. Weird.
Although he wasn't finished with work, Billy lay down in his bed at ten-thirty, exhausted. Despite sleep's constant tug, however, he couldn't sleep. The sight of those knowing eyes and childish smirk haunted him.