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

TITLE: Solar Wide Web
By Sue Dent


Solar Wide Web

It had been so long since he’d seen a keyboard or even a computer for that matter. At least, not like the one he was looking at now, buried deep within the belly of the space station. He couldn't believe no one knew about it.

Yet he knew because he was the chosen one.

Such a fancy title, he thought. He didn’t feel chosen. But then, how was someone who was chosen supposed to feel? Yet that’s who they kept telling him he was, the chosen one.

Yet he wasn’t supposed to tell others. No one was to know.

A noise from behind a pile of metal startled him and he jumped, hit his head on the low ceiling. A door hissed open, voices could be heard off in the distance and then the clatter of something being tossed into a pile.

He laughed to himself after they left. Even if they’d come as far back as where he was, they wouldn’t have found him. They didn’t know where this room was. Nobody knew.

Even at that, it was soundproof. He could’ve jumped around, yelled out the star station’s Pledge of Alliance at the top of his lungs and no one would’ve heard him. Yet he was still nervous. He absolutely couldn’t mess this up.

There was a worn chair near the archaic computer and he pulled it over, settled into it. Odd, he thought. This is absolutely the perfect chair for me. It was almost as if it molded to his form. And to think that my great-grandfather sat here and my father as well; did their part so I could do mine.

The mind-sensor he took from a larger jacket pocket, he'd re-designed to work with this old computer. He looked for the port to plug it into then smiled when the LED’s flashed red, yellow then green. The system had power.

He paused before sliding the unit into place though, hesitated before locking the visor over his eyes. This was no small thing he was about to do. It would affect so many. And he wasn't used to this older computer. He had to get a feel for it.

Once the visor was in place, however, it didn't take him long. He was a natural. He found the password and the login he needed with very little effort. Right where his great-grandfather left it. He manipulated it and was immediately on-line.

Again he hesitated though. Still tentative. Still very nervous. Though the action he was about to take would ultimately benefit everyone, it would first cause great chaos. They wouldn’t know what to do. They wouldn’t know how to act.

But they’d let it control them, manipulate them, mold them. It was no longer working the way it was designed to and things were only getting worse. They were blind. They could no longer see the danger. The best hope now was to destroy it--completely.

His father was human but his mother was quite definitely Meldorian, a race known for their ability to communicate with their thoughts. They were the ones who designed the visor. They were the ones who knew how it worked. He knew too and what he knew could kill him.

But it was his destiny. He would do whatever he had to do, no matter what the cost.

Mentally he began to prepare himself, prepared for the surge of power he must generate to destroy it. Readied himself for the ultimate sacrifice.

There was a flash then a voice, “Ray, I’ve been waiting for you.”

He gasped, almost threw the visor off. “Mom?” She’d died when he was seven. He’d missed her so.

“Yes, son. It’s time. You can do this. We’ll do it together.”

“B-but what happens afterwards? What happens to us? What happens to you? I've already lost you once. I can't bear losing you again.”

“We go home, son. You and I will go home together.”

A slight pause, “are you ready?”

A confident nod, “I am.”

* * *

Thousands gathered in the dark streets stunned and confused. The constant whir of atmosphere fans from high above filled the massive void of silence. A child's small voice could be heard next.

“What do we do now Daddy? What do we do? The Solar Wide Web is gone, what do we do?”

In dismay he stood and stared. Every computer had been affected. None of them worked.

"I don't know," he said his face blank, his words empty. "I don't know."

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Member Comments
Member Date
Sherrie Jackson05/17/07
Wow! I feel kinda dumb saying this but I don't really know what's happening in the story...but I like it! It reads just like one of those new 'Outer Limits' episodes. I especially enjoyed the ending; very, very sci-fi.

I guess the solar wide web is like the WWW except for the whole solar system? Or...galaxy? My puzzler hurts. :-)

But I really, really like this. You had a lot to say with so few words so if you expand it you could go into greater depth as to what the SWW is. Excellent job!
Amy Michelle Wiley 05/17/07
Hmmm, I think I understand, at least some. There is a system that kinda controlled everyone, but it went bad or something, so the MC took it away. Lots I don't quite understand, though, but I agree that it's still a cool story, hehehe.
Helen Paynter05/18/07
Oh, I like it - love the way you built up the tension through the first 5/6 of the piece. One minor niggle, if the room was sound-proofed, how did he hear the door opening? But that's tiny, and I think this was a very interesting piece - raises lots of interesting speculation in my mind. Good job!
Verna Cole Mitchell 05/18/07
Great build-up of suspense here--well plotted--a good story
Rita Garcia05/18/07
FANTASTIC! I loved this on so many levels!! While tech. advancement is wonderful...is it possible for it to advance too fast?
Julie Arduini05/18/07
I can see this one on the Sci Fi channel, it plays out very well. Great work!
Stephen Paynter05/21/07
I loved this. The atmospheric build up was great. I especially liked the tone of the piece, and the attitude of the character who was preparing to engage with the computer ... it read very much like "real" SciFi.

I also agree with the reviewer who thought the ending was real SF. Personally, I think I would have liked to have greater insight into the importance of the SWW for them ... quite
why were they so stunned - emotionless. ... But the ambiguity ... how fertile for thoughts!! Hmmm ...

Helen always picks me up on my titles - like this one, I
tend to pick fairly straight-forward ones. Helen tends to mock my attempts ... "In which the character blah blah" etc. Not that either of us is that bad!!! I think an exciting piece like this,
however, could have had a clever title.

I must say I do sympathise with your characters who lost their computer network, I was away from the Web over the weekend and that was bad enough!!!
Jan Ackerson 05/21/07
I love it--but it caused a panic attack. NO WEB??????

...just means you've been very successful as a writer, making your reader see the whole back story without narrating a whole summary for us. Skillful, deft writing.
Sara Harricharan 05/22/07
Ooo! Wow. This is really great! You kept a good balance of intrigue and suspense and I loved the part that his dad was human and his mom was an alien. Definite plus for sci-fi! The only thing I noticed was a typo, I think it should be 'hitting his head' and not 'hit his head'. Correct? Otherwise, very well done. I think you got sci-fi down pat. ^_^
Joanne Sher 05/23/07
Good job of creating that sense of place. Very engaging and thought-provoking.
william price05/23/07
Witten like a true master of the genre. Great skill and story telling. God bless.
Shari Armstrong 05/23/07
Cool - Maybe it was just me, but I heard HAL's voice lol. Nicely done.