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Story #8: Wolfie in the Park

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She was born on Earth, but not because she was an Earthling. Her mother was Jovian born and was visiting Earth when she found out she was pregnant. Her mother wanted little Jova to be born on Ganymede, but Sun-Star insurance wouldn't issue a travel certificate while she was infected with a parasite. Jova didn't actually arrive on Ganymede until she was two years old. All she remembered about the trip on the ISS Stephen Hawking was the large swimming pool that could only be used while the ship was under acceleration.

So, here she was. Recently turned six, she was more than a toddler but still very much a child. Like her mom, she was basking in the dim sun pouring through the dome of Phrygia town. Her mother, Regina, was sitting on a blanket in the new park. She had on a wide-brimmed hat, sunglasses, and a bikini. She lounged in a small chair, reading her Kobo, while Jova sat with her pad of paper, real paper, and her pencils. At six years of age, she was already showing promise as an artist.

The new park had taken three years of lobbying, cajoling, pleading and finally, downright begging. Eventually, the town council conceded that the vacant plot of space that had been destined to have a pub built on it was now Phrygia Town's one and only Earth style park. It was 900 square metres of lush heaven, according to her mom. There were real trees and cedar shrubs that had been imported from Earth. These lined the perimeter of the quad that was mostly, just grass. There were a few flower beds, but it was the grass that was the main attraction. While many people had laughed at Regina when she was lobbying for the park, those same people were now converts. The 6,000 residents of Phrygia Town were at the park, at least once a week, to walk across the grass barefoot. Some would sit with their families, as Jova and Regina were doing today. Most people would just walk around, slowly, getting to know people that until now, they had only seen hustling by on the street. No one had expected that something as simple as the park would lead to so many new friendships. Within a few short months, the town council was looking at a space under the other side of the dome to build another small Earth-style park.

Morris Bledsoe was one of those barefoot walkers. He had gotten to know Regina and Jova during the lobbying process. He was the man that wanted to build the pub on aportion of the land. Unlike Jova, Morris had lived in Phrygia Town all of his life. He had never been off-world. He considered it a point of pride, considered himself a bit better than those who ran to the high gravity worlds whenever the mood suited them. However, since he had been coming to the park, he had softened a bit. He wasn't as morose as he had been after he lost the bid for the pub permit. Not everyone thought he was an insufferable prick anymore, now that many had gotten to know him, strolling across the lush grass. Now, he was actually kind of friendly towards Regina. He always was, however, a fan of little Jova. He stopped to say hello to Regina and the child, bending down to look at what Jova was drawing.

"Is that a pinwheel?"

Jova shook her head and without looking up, pointed up at the dome. Morris looked up but didn't see any pinwheels. Jupiter was below the horizon so it wasn't the gas giant she was drawing either.

"What is it?"

"The Wolfie."

Morris looked at Regina, who had set her Kobo down. She just shrugged.

Not wanting to upset the child, he played along, "Oh, well the Wolfie looks like a pinwheel. Where are his eyes?"

"Only has one eye," Jova pointed to the middle of her drawing with her long finger. She had been Earth norm in size when she was born but the four years on Ganymede were starting to show. She was finally catching up to the size of the other Galilean born kids.

Morris knelt down and looked closer at the drawing. It struck him that the pencil drawing was really quite complex. At first, he thought it was just scribbling, but he could see there was an intricacy to the pattern that was... intense. The more he looked at it, the more unsettled he became. There was something in what little Jova had created that was... scary. There was something, perhaps archetypical about the pattern. There was something that made him afraid. It was like a subliminal warning to the animalistic survival instinct in his brain. The more he looked at the drawing, the more he wanted to turn away from it, but couldn't. It was like that historical video of the dome collapse over Illus Town, back when domes were new. You didn't want to see it, but you couldn't turn away from it.

Finally, he asked the child again, "Jova, what is it that you are drawing?"

Something in the tone of his voice made Regina lean forward and take a closer look at her daughter's artwork. She too, felt something uneasy when she had a good look at it. Jova was still enthusiastically adding small details here and there, her tongue tucked out of the corner of her mouth. Her long fingers were deftly manipulating the lead pencil, a real lead pencil, that her Auntie Celeste had sent her when she learned she was a budding artist.

Finally, Jova stopped drawing and set her pencil down in the small wooden case, another gift from Auntie Celeste, that was lying open on the grass. She looked up at her mom, then at Morris. She pointed up again and said, "Wolfie. Wolfie's coming. It's going to be bad when he does."

Morris and Regina both looked up, looked through the dome, looked through the infinity of space, both wondering what the hell the kid was talking about. At least, Regina smiled to herself, the kid wasn't obsessed with faeries and unicorns. Paul Silva was sitting nearby, with his wife and young son, playing with his son in the grass. The toddler's giggles had been filling the air for the last twenty minutes. He overheard what Jova said. He crawled over on this hands and knees, smiling and nodding at Regina and Morris, "Can I see that, sweetie pie?" he asked Jova.

She turned and looked at him for a moment, then almost ceremonially handed the pad of paper to him. Paul stared down at it for a few seconds, then looked up, puzzled, "Jova, you called this, Wolfie, right?"

Little Jova nodded solemnly. Paul looked at her mother and at Morris, "This is a fantastic rendition of Wolf-Rayet 104, it's a pinwheel system." He looked down at the paper again, then continued, "But this rendition isn't... accurate. This shows the system as being greatly disturbed. Almost as if..." he trailed off. He looked up quickly at Jova.

The little girl splayed the fingers on both hands and slowly drew her hands out into a big arc, puffed her cheeks, and made a "pfoofff" sound.

Paul's face blanched. Jova nodded to him solemnly, "Wolfie went boom."

Paul stuttered, "You-you-you mean... it wen-wen-went Nova? Jova?"

She nodded again.

Paul looked around nervously, then back at the drawing, then back at Jova, "When?"

Jova gave him the creepiest smile he had ever seen, "A long time ago."

"How can you know that?" he reached out and grabbed the child's arm, "Jova, how can you know that?" Regina didn't like his tone, she definitely did not like him touching Jova that way. Regina knelt by her daughter, wrapping her long arms around her, while pushing Paul back far enough that he had to let go of Jova's arm.

"What's this about?" Morris was alarmed, but he couldn't fathom why, "Why are you getting so upset? It's just a drawing."

Paul was ghostly white, "Oh, no, it's not just a drawing. If that's Wolf... if it's gone nova... If..."

Paul spun around, stood up, grabbed his family to head for home. He stopped and looked back at the trio still on the grass, "We have to leave. Now."

Morris and Regina looked around in alarm, then Regina asked, "Why? What's wrong? Is there something wrong with the dome?" she looked up as she said it.

Paul stood there staring at them, eyes glazed over. After a moment he refocused and looked at Morris and Regina while wrapping his long arm around his wife, "We have to leave the solar system."



Authors Note: The truth can be stranger than fiction - http://www.space.com/5081-real-death-star-strike-earth.html

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