I'm very excited to bring you some science fiction by a young author, Sophie Taylor. She's sharing with us an excerpt from her novel, Becoming Human, which is about a girl who is abducted by an inquisitive alien race called The Annalien.
But first, a bit about the author. Sophie is a writer from the U.K. and Becoming Human is her first novel. As I mentioned above, she's a young writer. I'm not exaggerating, friends. Our featured writer today is a highly impressive fourteen years old. Enjoy!
By Sophie Taylor
By Sophie Taylor
1. The Annalien
We are watching you.
You do not know it. If our plans continue, you never will. Every minute, every second, we are watching you, there in the dark, in the spark when you turn out the light, the split second you’re fading into dreams and the real world around you is blinking. We are learning, researching, improving you. One day, you will understand. One day, you will thank us.
We are selfless. Everything we do, we do for you. You are simply too primitive to understand this. But, one day, you will.
The way we watched Felicity is the same way we watch you. We kept her safe, protected her from the horrors of your world, the ones we continue to work day and night to eradicate. The clone was an unfortunate mistake.
But we will not tolerate mistakes. Mistakes must be eliminated. And they will be.
Until then, just remember: we are watching you. We are watching you, and we will never stop.
2. Ashes Paradise: Phill
Phill lived in a dream world.
He glanced around, at the stars hanging cautiously, humming, shimmering. They looked lonely, he thought, roses flung through a graveyard, a celestial lottery. They swirled in straight lines, as the trees glistened. Phill looked up at the sky, and he was so small.
He was in a storybook. The wrong one. He should be back in the gingerbread house, not nestled here against the witch. He should be with Gemma, with her princess eyes and her hair that flowed like a fairytale. He thought about her face, her hand in his so small and dainty like a flower petal; his heart hiccupped, and he snapped to himself. He lowered his head.
‘You look beautiful, tonight, Felicity,’ he said.
In the silvery silhouette, he squinted. He could only half-see her fragile face, her sickly skin, spotted with fuming freckles like a melon over-ripe with seeds, her hair spouting from her head in tree roots. Her wide eyes, still gleaming, intense and irresponsible in their violent, clawing indigo. She looked like a madwoman.
Felicity snatched her hand back.
‘What’s your point?’
‘The point is, Felicity. . .’ Felicity glared. ‘No one is good enough for you, here, but I’m the best this world can offer you.’
‘The best!’ She scoffed. ‘I don’t want you..’
Why would I want you? Why would anyone want you?
‘Yes, I know, Felicity. I am sorry.’
She glanced at him, and he saw her nose turn up.
‘It’s not your fault. You’re just not good enough. They all love me, too.’
They all love you, the way I love you.
They’re watching you, Felicity. Don’t forget that.
‘We should go back to the party,’ she said, spinning around, marching away coldly. Phill would have to try harder.
Phill flew through the cotton-candy firth trees, and did not stop at the soft whizzing he knew Felicity would excuse: the sound of clicking cameras zooming in, as electricity crackled and snapped, pulsating through wires as blood through veins. They had worked so hard for the cameras to be untraceable. And Phill supposed it had worked, for most people – it was easier, to forget.
But it was hard to forget when hell was imprinted on you like a fingerprint. It’s hard to forget your black, bitter heart when you know that every beat bites you like a bullet. It’s hard to forget when your world haunts you like a ghost and snarls when you sleep.
It’s hard when you can’t change anything.
* * * * * *
When Phill finally reached the fire-fly glow of home, he swung around.
He heard them.
Sometimes, I wake up, and I am all alone.
I look up and I see the sky and I know things, I know that love is an obsession and that it will kill me, I know that hate is the sweetest promise and I know that I am so small, so worthless and that I cannot change a thing. I know these things, and I wish I did not. I know these things and I will reach up and I will see his face, and I will try to change them.
But I can’t.
I wish you could understand the way I do. I wish you knew the thoughts that race through your head when you glance up and you know that you are surrounded and you are all alone, I wish you knew what it feels like to look up and see parallel planets and spaceships shooting across the sky and still know you are doomed. I wish you knew that love can suffocate-
He snapped back.
He didn’t know what world they flew from, the tentacles of thought that snuck in when their own world was dim. The whisperers of the world, the little words they didn’t hear, the ones that filtered through into the forgotten world. The ones that, against everything, did not let go.
The words Phill might have spoken, if things had been different.
Phill plunged on. He saw his own world: the children huddling together, their eyes darting like rats on the underground, their hearts hungry. When they realized Felicity was gone, they relaxed, and died, ever so slightly: their plastic smiles fading, their placid eyes dimming, their hands letting go. They were all waiting for a hero.
Phill didn’t need a hero. He had a game plan. He would stay on the side-lines, always read to run. He would keep a concise head, see any threat before it saw him, stay out of the way.
He hurried along to his little space of sanity: his cupboard. He smirked to himself. He crept inside.
They were there, of course: Louise, a puddle on the floor; Gemma, conservatively watching the world. When she saw Phill, saw his eyes light up, she smiled quietly. Gemma did not see why she should be happy, if the rest of the world was not.
‘Hey,’ Phill greeted them. He smiled as he saw Gemma, her strawberry skin, her peachy lips, her sweet softness. He should call her beautiful, because that was what she deserved – and she probably had been, once, but now the fairy dust had faded. But that didn’t matter to Phill. She was still the most gorgeous thing Phill had ever seen.
‘Poke!’ Louise cackled, and poked him.
‘Wasn’t me,’ she said, smiling, her baby teeth glimmering.
‘Did you hear them?’ Gemma asked.
‘What did they say?’
‘Of course,’ she sighed. ‘Their whole world is nonsense. But they were weird, yesterday.’
‘They were talking to me.’ She shivered. ‘Like they knew I was listening. They said that we had to hold on. That we need to hold on, and it’ll get better.’
Phill laughed. He looked at Gemma again, her eyes like a choir and her gleaming skin, and thought that she shout not have to hold on. And it made him angry, when he realized that it could be another sixteen years before she could let go.