Here is the first story in my story a week challenge. It is a revision of a rough draft that I wrote last year. Please enjoy.
Nine-year-old Amarisa nearly ran into a wall when her little brother popped out of his hiding place behind the power junction near the hatch of their room.
Yaviv forgot about their game of hide-and-seek when Daddy stepped into the hallway.
Daddy picked him up and gave him a kiss on the cheek. “Now where is the other bundle of trouble?”
“Here!” Amarisa screamed as she nearly knocked Daddy and her brother over.
He knelt down and gave both a strong hug. “You two stay out of trouble. I have to go to work.”
“Can we come?” Amarisa pleaded. “We’ve never seen you work before.”
“Please!” Yaviv joined in. “I want to to see you make a garden.” “I want to see you make the big firework flowers.” Amarisa added. “Just like you told us in your stories.”
“Still telling the kids sweet little lies I see.”
“Auntie Cijor!” Both of the children screamed as they dashed toward the woman in her regular bluish-gray jumpsuit.
“They’re not lies,” Daddy said in his defense. “They’re more metaphor. The kids aren’t ready to understand our job.”
“Well, whatever you wanna call our job,” Cijor replied, “it helps keep Home running.”
Daddy just shrugged his shoulders. “True.”
Amarisa tugged her father’s shirt sleeve. “Can we leave the ship and live on a real planet. I want to see a real ocean like I saw on the holovids in school.
He looked down. “Why? Home travels in an ocean of stars.”
She did not like this answer, but she accepted it anyway.
Today was “Workday.” All of the adults would be busy. The children would be confined to the “Playroom” with the older teenagers.
“Get going,” Daddy said. “All of the adults are going to be very busy. We’re on a strict schedule today.”
“But,” Amarisa protested, “I want to see the pretty flowers that you make.”
Cijor shook her head. “You’re sick, Chuou.”
Daddy just shrugged again. “She wouldn’t understand yet.”
Amarisa stood at attention like she had seen the other grown-ups do when Daddy gave them a command. “I’m ready Chuou!”
Daddy just laughed. “Get going. We’ve got work to do.”
The little girl just huffed and stormed to her assigned room.
The Playroom was the ship’s community room. It was only called the Playroom when the adults had Workday. The teens in charge had started the lesson. “Play” consisted of watching a holoprojected animation series about something the children were expected to learn in order to be good members of the family of Home.
Amarisa just sat cross legged on the floor struggling to stay awake. She had seen this animation before. It told the history of Home.
The adults took the children and escaped the terrible wars that have been destroying the galaxies since before most of them had been born.
Home traveled on the edge of the former Six Galaxies Federation in order to avoid the wars. All of the adults were working in a job Daddy said was like gardening. Daddy and the other adults would not give any more information than that.
Amarisa tried ask Daddy for more information, but he told her that she would have to wait until she was older.
The older teenagers who were nearing adulthood would not give any information either. Everyone was tight lipped.
The younger children were enraptured by the cute animal characters tell the story of their ship. They clapped their hands, laughed, and sang to the music.
Amarisa almost fell over once or twice due to boredom induced sleep.
She strained her eyes to see the wall clock in the darkened room. The holoprojector gave little illumination.
Her heart dropped when she saw that only an hour had passed. It had felt like forever to her.
At that moment, the holoprojector started flickering. The teenagers struggled to fix the problem.
Brightness and pain assaulted the children’s eyes when the lights were suddenly turned on.
Some children began misbehaving. A few raced around the room.
“Everyone sit down!” shouted pink haired Anjin. Her shrill voice only invited jeers and mockery from the children closest to her.
“Shut up!” sixteen-year-old Riz screamed. His lanky frame lacked a commanding presence whatsoever.
Amarisa saw her chance. She dashed for the door in the mayhem.
The door slid open when she approached it. She exited quickly.
When she was outside in the corridor, she looked around.
She breathed more easily when did not see anyone else.
She ran down the corridor looking for one particular room—the “Heart Room.” Amarisa knew that the real name was “Main Control Room,” but the adults called it the Heart Room in front of the children.
She and her small class had been there a few times. It was explained to them how everything on Home could be controlled from the room. That was when it was referred to as the Heart Room.
She loved seeing the colors of the many screens. The room was also where Daddy and the other adults did Workday.
Amarisa found the room very rapidly. She was surprised to see the door was open. She slipped into the room.
She saw that all of the adults were wearing special helmets. Each person was too focused on their individual job to notice the new arrival in the room.
The room was dark except for the dim colored lights emanating from the many screens.
Amarisa’s excitement died when she saw the images on the screen.
She was horrified by the scenes of several strange vehicles exploding into brilliant reds and oranges.
She forgot to breathe when she saw zoomed in images of several people disappearing into red mists.
“Red marks the spot!” shouted a young male voice on the other side of the room from the little girl.
It belonged to Raison Makula. He had been one of the older teenagers in charge of the Playroom until last month when he became an adult and joined Workday.
Amarisa shook herself out of her shock. She looked around at the other screens. They were just displaying more death and destruction.
Amarisa had only seen holovids of this sort of thing. She stood in shock to see that it was her own community doing this killing. She had been told that they did not have any enemies. Why were they attacking these people?
The little girl focused on some screens to her right that showed robot craft crashing into various buildings, vehicles, and groups of soldiers.
She had heard them called “Aiwidais.” Daddy said that they spread seeds over new fields. But they were killing people.
She was only seeing death. This had to be a game. It couldn’t be real.
Amarisa had to find Daddy. He was the leader. The Chuou—the Center—of Home. He would tell her it was a game and she could go back to the Playroom knowing everything was fine.
Her eyes had adjusted somewhat to the dark, but she could not make out where Daddy was. She listened for his voice. She did not have to wait long.
“Okay,” he used his in-charge voice, like when Amarisa and Yaviv got into trouble, “we’ve got ten minutes to finish before the President makes his grand charge into battle.”
“And we can collect the rest of our pay and upgrade the ship,” shouted an unknown female voice.
“Just focus on clearing the armor and artillery positions.” His voice reflected more authority this time.
Amarisa moved closer to his voice. Her only thought was to talk to him. Maybe, he would listen and stop the killing.
A familiar voice could be heard just before she got to his command chair. “I’m going to fly a pair of Aiwidais over the President.” It was Daddy’s older brother, Uncle Kaizi. “It’ll make him look good in front of the troops.”
“Go ahead,” Daddy said. “We can probably pick up a nice bonus for the show.”
Amarisa looked at a large screen with split images. Both images were flying over a vast army with many strange multi-legged war machines.
She almost broke out in laughter when she saw a man in a funny colorful uniform with a hat decorated with feathers. He sat on a four-legged war machine. This must be the “President” that everyone is talking about, she thought.
Amarisa’s glee evaporated with the image on another screen.
In the image, a young girl in tattered rags was shooting a pistol at the camera.
Amarisa’s horror deepened when she saw that the girl was standing next to a man’s body. It wore the shreds of a camouflaged uniform, but the chest was a red crater.
Amarisa’s mind raced. Who was the man? An uncle? A brother? Or a…?
Amarisa’s screams exploded in the room like a sonic grenade.
“What the spacing…?” Uncle Kaizi’s shock caused him to push the controls of the two remote missiles into a dive aimed directly at the President’s war machine.
The Aiwidais’ cameras went to static.
The Heart Room’s lights came on. Someone shouted.
“Did you just kill the President?”
Amarisa’s eyes caught Daddy’s death gaze.
“Wait” was the only word he said to her. He turned back to the screens.
“Chuou.” A female voice stuttered.
The female regained her composure. “The Azivian president is dead. The Aiwidai missiles killed him instantly.”
“They’re threatening to attack us. What should I tell them, Chuou?”
Daddy’s anger burned through his voice. “Explain to them what happened. I’m going to talk to my daughter.”
His hand wrapped around the little girl’s wrist like a vice. He dragged her petrified body out into the corridor like a sack of meat. Tears and urine flowed uncontrollably.
When he let go, Amarisa quickly huddled against the nearest wall.
“Do you know what you just did?” he yelled. “You made us a kill a president!”
“I’m sorry, Daddy! I’m sorry.”
He had never been this angry before.
“Sorry isn’t going to salvage this contract.”
Amarisa buried her head in between her knees to hide from his angry face. She felt Daddy’s hand on her shoulder. She pressed further against the wall.
“Am-chan,” her Daddy had returned. She lifted her head to the direction of His voice. His now gentle hand wiped away the tears that had blurred her vision.
“I’m sorry little one.”
The tears started again. “You said that you and all of the grown-ups helped to plant gardens and flowers.”
“Am-chan, what you saw…”
“Why were all of you killing those people? Were they trying to hurt us?”
“Am,” Daddy took her hands in his. “We live in a cold and bad universe. All of us have been soldiers since we were children. We were taken from our families to be trained to fight. War is the only life we have ever known.”
“But why kill those people?”
“I said that it’s the only life we know. There is nothing but war everywhere. It’s the only way to protect you and the other children.”
Amarisa looked up. “How can killing those people keep us safe?”
“If other people are scared of us, they won’t even dare think of hurting us.”
“Even if it means killing other daddies?”
His face hardened. “Yes.”
“I hate you!”
Amarisa ran down the corridor.
A tear flowed down his cheek.
“We want to stop, but we don’t know how.
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