Archive for November 24th, 2011

24th November
2011
written by amber

On the Star of the North

The slave ship coasted past the square-sided breakwaters marking the entrance to a magnificent harbour. The wailing of the captives rose to a crescendo with the realization that their journey, with all its hardships, would soon end with the separation of families and friends, with unknown destinations possibly harsher than what they’d endured so far.

Ned turned to Tara and spoke softly, urgently, “I’ll find you, wherever you end up.” He clung to her, weeping, as a green hand oozing black tears clawed her from his embrace, tugging her towards the females’ side of the ship. The black tears burned, so Tara wrenched herself from the grip and quickly ran to where she was supposed to be. Ned trudged to his side of the ship without any urging.

Men and women, boys and girls, they were shackled with thin silvery chains, as gossamer as jewellery, but strong enough to resist all attempts to bend or break. When the slaves were secure, the Star of the North, a cruise ship co-opted by the aliens to collect their unwilling workers, was snugged to the pier and a mob of security robots swarmed on-board.

It was Ned’s first sight of Vancouver since he’d fled to Guatemala to escape the invasion. Five years had made a huge difference. It was as if the city had never existed. Not a high-rise could be seen and a forest of growing trees and other greenery crowded the shores. Around the harbour, white spheres of various sizes floated, connected by glimmering ped-ways. These, he knew, were the aliens’ homes. Once the alien family groups had purchased their slaves, the homes would float away to their various target areas.

He’d been expecting a scene like the slave markets he’d seen in TV documentaries. After the horrible food and the way they’d been crammed into the cruise ship’s suites to sleep five and six on the floor without mattresses or bedding, he knew that kindness was not in the alien’s behaviour set. But there was no vast hall with haggling buyers crowded around raised platforms where naked humans cringed. Instead, as each human passed through the entry to the largest sphere, an alien stepped forward and unclipped him or her from the cue, then walked away with its new acquisition on a silver leash.

Ned didn’t see where Tara went, but he was taken by a glowing bulbous entity whose resemblance to the white spheres was almost comical, had Ned retained a shred of humour. After passing through the large sphere, they followed the ped-way to another sphere, nearly as large. Several dozens of humans were already there. Soon, the entry irised shut, and he could feel that they were underway.

An unchained man stood before them, dressed in a shining golden suit which indicated his position as a willing cooperator with the aliens. “All of you were employed by Canada’s oil industry, so you have been chosen to be sent to the target area, Fort McMurray, where you will work to restore the environment there until it is returned to its pristine state.”

The Story 365 project is a year-long marathon of short story writing, with a new story for every day of the year and posted on this website from May 1, 2011 – April 30, 2012. Stories must be a minimum of 200 words. Please help me by adding first line suggestions in the Comment section of any story.

My thanks to Barb Galler-Smith and Josh Langston, from whose novel, Captives, I’ve borrowed a first line for this story.