When She Returns by Mark DeWilde
SUMMARY: (Entry for the Flash Fiction Contest: The Return)
A myriad of fingers pointed to the sky. Cheers of excitement and jubilation filled the late night air. Glinting window panes lit up in random, but rhythmic patterns– like cells in a matrix reflecting the traveler's glow as it descended.
"She's brighter than both moons." Janoni said.
"Yes, my heart is filled with happiness to see her again" Kaylan replied.
The distant rumbling began; the planet moved ever so slightly under their feet. Falling slowly and gently, the brightness traced elongated shadows beyond the buildings and the people. The light painted the landscape a lustrous yellow hue while the shadows gradually grew longer and narrower.
Kaylan beamed warmly at his companion. "The time has arrived!"
Janoni just hummed softly.
Finally the traveler reached the horizon. Spires of golden white shot upward and outward in all directions. The eyes of the people all closed; their heads tilted slightly skyward, a glow of contentment on their faces.
"She's been to Pleiades this time!" Janoni cried with joy.
Kaylan nodded, his eyes still closed. "Yes, to visit her brothers."
They both broke out in laughter.
"And they call them the Seven Sisters." Janoni added.
"Yeah, silly people." Kaylan lifted a palm to his ear. "Data's coming in."
Janoni felt a swell of information hit her brain. Numbers and symbols flickered past her mind's eye like a holo-screen driven by a random number generator. The bandwidth was overwhelming. Right ascension; 3h 47m 24s, declination; +24° 7. Designations: Eta (25) Tauri, 27 Tauri, 17 Tauri, 20 Tauri, 23 Tauri, 19 Tauri, 16 Tauri. Apparent magnitudes: 3.62, 3.70 3.86, 4.17, 4.29 5.09, 5.44. Stellar classifications: B8III, B6IIIe, B7III, B6IVev, B6V, B8IVep, B7IV.
Janoni squinted with pleasure. "It just goes on and on"
"I know... and the energy from these stars is so young, it's incredibly potent. It will keep the reserves operating for thousands of years."
Janoni opened her eyes and turned to Kaylan. "Wait... you don't think this means..." She stopped in mid sentence, her jaw gaping.
Kaylan looked at her. "Oh my, you're right. She's finally going to visit Orion!"
Janoni stopped and displayed a worried look. "What if we don't live that long?"
Kaylan paused, and then burst in to laughter. "Good one." He said.
Soon, the data flow began to diminish. Next they saw the traveler rise on the other side of the sky. This time there was a pale blue glow amidst the bright yellows in her shine. Janoni felt a message within rise up to her consciousness. "Goodbye my friends, I will return with a thousand glad tidings." With that, the traveler grew slowly distant until she blended in with the other stars, and then vanished.
Kaylan and Janoni basked in the refreshment of their senses and the rejuvenation of their planets' resources.
"The stones will be warm again." Janoni said.
"The water clouds will rise." Kaylan replied.
"The people will rejoice."
"The sacred songs will fill the air with harmony until she returns."
"And when she returns..."
"And when she returns... We'll start all over again."