Previous Challenge Entry (Level 3 - Advanced)
Topic: Writing (01/11/07)
TITLE: A Narrow Focus
By Betty Castleberry
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A second diminutive being put the tiny craft on auto pilot. “Put it up on the screen, Lerian. “
“Aye, sir.” The scope operator pushed a button, and the object in the scope appeared in front of them in 3D.
“It’s a human. Interesting bunch, although there‘s still a lot we don‘t know about them.”
The scope had focused through the window of a bungalow. A man sat at a desk, his fingers tapping the desk top. He picked up a pencil and stared at it, then put it back down.
“Sir, what’s he doing?”
“I have no idea. Adjust the focus and let’s see if we can get a better view.”
Lerian expertly punched a series of numbers and the scope focused sharp and clear on the man. He reached for the pencil again, and this time touched it to a piece of paper in front of him.
A slight smile played at the corners of Qy’s mouth. “He’s holding an ancient writing instrument. It’s a wooden stick filled with graphite that makes marks when it’s drawn across its target. He’s writing on something called paper. It’s made from wood pulp. I saw some once in a museum back on Zarkane. We haven’t used it for hundreds of years. In fact, it hasn’t been available since the last trees were destroyed.”
“Very interesting. I’ve never seen either of those things before.”
The two small beings watched in fascination as the man put the pencil down again. He rose from the chair and went into the kitchen, then returned with a cup of coffee. After taking a sip from the cup, he placed it on the desk. His chair tipped back slightly as he stretched and ran his hand across the top of his head. A monitor came to life in front of him. He placed his fingers on a keyboard in front of it, but didn‘t move them.
Lerian peered intently at the screen. “He got his own beverage? I suppose they don’t use androids.“
“That’s right. They don’t use androids. They live a very primitive existence.”
“Now what is that thing he’s using?”
“It’s an antiquated device called a computer. It took the place of hand-held writing instruments and paper for a lot of humans.”
Qy leaned forward and sharpened the focus again. The man’s lips were pursed, and his brow was furrowed. “He appears frustrated.”
“Why? What is he trying to do, anyway? “
“I can’t be sure, but I think he’s trying to write something.”
“You’re kidding me. He could avoid all that frustration if he‘d use a cerebral facsimile generator. Oh, I bet they don‘t have those either.”
“That’s right. No cerebral facsimile generators. It’s my understanding that humans sometimes even use their limited brain power to write for enjoyment.”
Lerian looked suspiciously at Qy. “Enjoyment? Frustration is not usually enjoyable. I would think they would be trying to expand their knowledge instead of wasting time trying to write.“
They looked back at the screen. The man put on a pair of glasses, and began to type.
“Look, Lerian. He’s even wearing a type of ancient glass corrective lens over his eyes.”
“Yes, I see. No laser treatment?“
“Actually, they do use laser treatments, but it is all very barbaric. They are nothing like the refined techniques we have now.“
“Pity. I’m still confused as to why he is trying to write anything, unless, of course, he can exchange his writings for currency. Then it would make a little more sense.”
“The way I understand it, humans don’t often trade their writings for currency. A few do, but most don’t have anyone willing to give them currency for their work. Some simply choose not attempt an exchange.”
“Why not? At least then it wouldn’t be a complete waste.”
“Humans are a strange lot. Much of what they write isn’t even for technical or educational purposes. They claim it is for personal fulfillment.”
Lerian shook his oversized head in disbelief. "Look. He’s typing something now. I’ll zoom in a little closer, and let’s see what it says.
"Interesting. It’s about a space craft occupied by small aliens.”
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