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Previous Challenge Entry (Level 3 – Advanced)
Topic: Write in the SCIENCE FICTION genre (05/10/07)

TITLE: The Perils of Pauline
By Kenneth Bridge


They weren’t supposed to still be here. Overrun by the steady progress of advancing technology, surely the last of the superstitious vermin should have died of empirical malnutrition centuries ago. Like atavistic spores released from some primeval fungus, another infestation had erupted, this time in Pauline’s sector, and her quick action had managed to eradicate it before it could get out of hand.

Now Pauline had boldly petitioned for the writ to go to the source and end it once for all. Toward the tiny blue dot nestled in the velvety black of space she strained with every fiber of her being. The ability to exceed the speed of light that was necessary for journeys like this, once thought impossible, was overcome by an entirely novel approach and a better understanding of this weird universe. “Jahweed Rawalpindi, there was a scientist!” Pauline mused as her fingers gathered up some fabric from her uniform and pinched a brief crease before releasing it to return to its natural shape. “Not just space and time, but the deeper fabric of the universe could be gathered and pressed together to allow instant transit across unimaginable distances,” the renowned physicist had theorized. Engineers, assisted by increasingly more powerful computers, had worked in groups to do what no one person could ever know enough by herself to do, and found ways to make it work.

Except of course, they had to slow it down. The first brave volunteers were so unhinged by the experience they began to spout god talk and had to be destroyed for their own good. So now vessels like hers grasped more loosely the vibrating strings of the cosmos. Nevertheless, where light might take five billion years to traverse, Pauline was crossing in two weeks, and even that short time seemed an eon, so eager was she to vindicate factual science over this weakling god.

As parsecs dwindled to astronomic units, Pauline shuddered and fought against the emotion that threatened to overcome her keen objectivity. When the blue disk grew large in her view, she violently suppressed this strange sense of homecoming to the ancestral planet neither she nor any of her ancestors for generations had known. It was surely nothing special in this vast universe, and the idiocy of the godtalkers who found it pivotal, in the face of so much scientific fact, amazed and amused her.

Her excitement mounted as she rushed toward the atmosphere. As she crested the dark side of Earth, the full radiance of its sun wrapped her in its stunning embrace. The light grew more brilliant than a star could, more than ten thousand stars. A voice was speaking to her, in words deeper and clearer and more true than any sound could ever carry.

“Pauline, Pauline,” why do you persecute me?”

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This article has been read 843 times
Member Comments
Member Date
Julie Arduini05/18/07
This was very crisp writing with nouns and verbs that just come alive here. I loved what I took away as an alternative Sci Fi story on Saul/Paul.
Jan Ackerson 05/21/07
Oh, very good! Wonderful writing, and I'd love to see this expanded.
Sara Harricharan 05/23/07
Oooh! Loved this! Very creative, everything just sort of came alive and continued on, I was kind of disappointed that it ended so quickly, but the ending itself was excellent. Good job!
Rita Garcia05/23/07
Agree with Jan, this is begging to be expanded. Great writing!
Verna Cole Mitchell 05/23/07
The ending was perfect for this well-told story.
Joanne Sher 05/23/07
Great detail in a short space - I would also love to see more of this! Excellent.