Previous Challenge Entry (Level 2 – Intermediate)
Topic: Write in the SCIENCE FICTION genre (05/10/07)
TITLE: Chasing Holograms
By Lisa Holloway
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Raisa watched her son a while longer, the tiny shimmer of the blue-and-brown hologram just out of his reach. He followed after it in the reckless joy of childhood, through the tall, gray grass planted on their new world to remind them of a home they’d left generations past.
She fingered the warm, silver cross around her neck, another relic of their history, wondering what it meant. It was too simple to be merely decorative. She couldn’t quite understand why wearing it should bring her such comfort—it was time to search out the truth her uncle had given her long ago, before the last real butterfly had died seeking nourishment in a world without mercy or flowers.
Leaning back, she applied the MemoKeep to her temple, assaulted by sudden, vivid feelings. Pain. Gnawing hunger. Shaking limbs, weak from malnutrition and exhaustion. Then the fist speeding toward her...only it wasn’t her, but a man named Gabriel, in the heart of a rickety ship burning rubber out of a world on fire. Again and again, a man with the deepest gray eyes beat him, yelling until he stopped and spat into Gabriel’s face. “There is no Jesus. No God. You can keep your pathetic lies and rules!”
With that, Raisa could feel Gabriel withdraw into a place of sustenance. The pain continued, a rolling vibration on the surface of surprisingly still water. Then came the tears. She jerked, eyes open, as she realized the truth: Gabriel was crying for the man in front of him—this man so like the uncle who had bequeathed her the cross that she couldn’t mistake the lineage.
Sorting through the memories, Raisa paused: Gabriel giving away the last of his food, his stomach already shrunk so small that only a few bites left him full. Clothes hanging from an emaciated frame once large with strength. Words to the little girl eating a morsel he’d sacrificed—words about someone named Jesus, who’d loved as Gabriel loved and more, beyond reason and understanding.
The pain moved into the background of her consciousness as she focused on the light and joy within this man, and the inconceivable forgiveness that relaxed his heart into something pure enough to reach beyond the sins against him and recognize a brother hidden inside a confused and angry man. The love opened his eyes to a truth in vision that resentment and righteous anger might have hidden: the gray-eyed man struck him not because he hated Jesus or believed him to be a lie, but because one scared hiccup in his consciousness feared that he was real and all that would mean to his way of life. Because he knew if Jesus was real, then he would have to change; he would have to love—even those who’d destroyed what was most precious to him. He didn’t want to, didn’t want any of it. So he crushed Gabriel as he tried to change reality with his fists.
Raisa trembled, removing the MemoKeep just before Gabriel died praying blessings on the gray-eyed man, pressing the cross into his scarred fist. She hugged her knees to her body, vaguely aware of her son a few feet away shredding blades of grass with a look of intense concentration.
As she looked up, she saw the ghost of an outline of her uncle, the last image on the device as he’d handed it to her to keep, Guardian of her generation’s histories. The image faded as her son stepped through to stand within the circle of her arms, alarmed by the intensity of her grasp. He struggled slightly, looking into her face with calm eyes, green like grass in the oldest memories. He chattered, pausing as the shine of metal shimmering on the quick pulse of her throat caught his eye. His dirty fingers left grayish imprints on the warmth of her skin as he pressed them to the cross. “God.” He smiled, satisfied.
The colors of their man-made world looked unexpectedly dull and empty as she yearned for the One she’d never known, who felt suddenly near and so real. She spoke to him out of her heart in that still moment, then reached for her son’s hand and walked away.
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