March Contest Winner!
It’s that time again! Time to announce the winner of last month’s short story contest! We had several wonderful entries that included a wide range of styles, including poetry and essays. We’d like to thank everyone who entered and hope that you join us again for future writing prompt
Our winner for this round is Vivek Sangubholta, who created a vivid and detailed future world. Congrats Vivek!
Check out last month’s prompt and the winning entry below!
Scientists recently discovered 7 “Earthlike” planets in the same solar system. Image what it would be like if Earth was just one of 7 planets in the same system that could support life? How would life be different?
By Vivek Sangubhotla
The bell sounding the end of the work shift rang out. Siting on the scaffolding, Jist wiped her brow and stared up at the sky. Sighing, she rummaged her knapsack for the air-sealed nutrients. While not a highly skilled engineer, the cartography of the starry sky was her art. Jist bit into the sealed pack and tore at it with her teeth. She laid back letting her climbing harness prevent her fall. With a full view of the sky, Jist began to search for a particularly faint dot among the thousand bright ones. Partaking her fill of the nutrient pack, Jist found her dim star, Earth, the sister planet of the one she resided on.
It had been long since humanity left Earth with the intent of expansion. Jist built images in her head from the stories her mother had told her. The castles, the kings, the towering buildings that rose into the sky, planes that flew all around the then blue planet. Her mother had been told these stories by her father, Jist’s maternal grandfather. Jist’s father kept pushing her to focus on the future, a notion, which on reflection, she wonders if she really should have done. The biosphere engineers were the highest ranked civilians they lived lavishly and didn’t have to toil much. With her thoughts now focusing on self-pity she decided that she could no longer dream. With her heart heavy, she slowly lowered herself from the ramparts.
From the ground, the ancient ship seemed like an insurmountable wall. Jist mused the ship looked like the great stone wall that the ancestors of the Great East-Asian Alliance had once built. Given the hatred between the Persian-Asian Alliance and the Great East-East Alliance, she doubted she would find any texts in Dhahra’s libraries. She slowly walked back to the archeologist base camp, humming to herself, playing out the scene of herself, dressed in whatever armor the men who armed the great wall would have worn, marching towards a command post.
Jist put down her knapsack at her desk and proceeded to the stove to make some tea. She waited for the water to boil and then poured it on the herbs that she had put into a teacup. As she took a sip, a warmth filled her soul, as expected – it was delicious. Happy to her bone, she sat down and pulled out the mat-cam and the server’s tangible interface, she began examining the readings from the mat-cam. Jist preferred working on a larger screen, recording her notes and observations via speech.
The manager looked up and smiled. “Keep your fantasies in check this time, Jist. I don’t want to read a novel about lost lands and dungeons with lizard monsters again.” He stated packing his things and prepared to go home. Jist smiled at her manager as he left and returned to her work.
Unlike current vehicle frames for most modern vehicles this ship was not made of programmable silicon but rather that of carbon-fibers. This clearly had to be a sign that they either did not have the ability to mass produce silicon or that the ancestors from Earth had not discovered the full potential of silicon. Jist slipped out of her more pragmatic scientific tone and pondered ancient Earth. Could it have been that people were firing rockets constantly into the sky? If that was the case it would have created the necessity for the more flexible frame that the previous salvages had brought forward. While wars may have caused the people of the past and the evidence of ancient civilization to be covered in dust and destruction, the ships that were built to survive a belt of rubble and man-made scrap managed to preserve the information of the past. Jist noticed the time and finishing off her now cold tea, she rushed to board the day’s last mag-rail.
As Jist boarded the mag-rail, she rummaged through the multiple pockets on her work pants. As the mag-rail began to pull away from the Aha-Rahbi station, she found her lenses. Putting them on she began to navigate the folder system. Tapping away on the keyboard only she could see she pulled up her report and began to read through it.
By the time she finished reading and editing the report, her station had arrived. She stuffed the lenses back into her pockets and slowly made her way through the bustling city of Khanatye. The mag-rail station she got off was the closest her small apartment room, however in order to make her way to it she had to fight her way through the bazaar that sprawled out in the direction of her home.
As Jist pushed through the crowds with a lot of ‘Excuse me’ and ‘Passing through’, she also had to fend off the various street sellers attempting to pass of rocks and stones as some kind of magical stone that could improve one’s wealth. She smiled as she remembered her mother’s tales of the ancestors back on Earth. The haggling and the verbal battles over the price of the items, the negotiations where a price for one item would be reduced under the promise another item at the store would be bought as well.
Reaching her small room she pulled out an ancient viewer. After a year of fiddling she realized that this was an early iteration of the full dive training simulation that was famous for the creation of the zealot soldiers. However this prototype was used to play games, which could only mean that the neural mapping technologies came afterwards.
Putting the headset on Jist sat back, playing in the wonders of what Earth was. As she frolicked in the dream of a once great world, a tear slowly rolled down her cheek, a reminder of the current barren state of the homeland of the human world whose stories Jist had grown up with.
A game designer, writer and Bayern Munich fan, Vivek makes interactive experiences of all kinds. When not trying to make a living making meaningful play, he writes. The stuff he makes will eventually end up on viveksan.com.