Curiosity




Curiosity

Author: Katarzyna
Marcinkowska, markablue@vp.pl

‘Mummy, can I
go to the town today?’ The girl of about twelve was looking at her mother
hopefully. ‘I’m old enough now, aren’t I?’ Her mother wasn’t so sure about
it. She was worried. They were living in a small settlement on a distant colony
that once was a thriving, technologically advanced, alien world. Now, most
of its premises were long abandoned. The “town” her little girl was referring
to, was particularly dangerous. For some reason, the previous inhabitants
departed  in such a hurry that they had left almost everything behind. It
was now a closed area, as most of the technology there was unknown, and therefore
considered dangerous, to the people living there now. Children in particular
weren’t allowed to go there.

‘Honey, you know
it’s forbidden.’ She finally said. Long ago she had decided to let her daughter
go there. She only thought that Honey was still too young. ‘Maybe next year,’
she added eventually.

‘You say that
every time,’ said the girl looking wounded.

‘It’s time you
went to bed.’ Her mother decided to ignore it for now. ‘You’ve got school
tomorrow.’

Honey sighed.
It happened every time. Her mother was just obsessed with school. Whenever
Honey wanted to do something exciting, she always reminded her about it.

*I’ll play truant
tomorrow,* she decided suddenly. *Otherwise, she’ll never let me go!. I’ll
skip the classes tomorrow and go see all this marvellous technology.* She
quickly kissed her mother goodnight and went to her room.

The next morning,
she sneaked out of the house very early. She only hoped that  her mother wouldn’t 
be alarmed by the teacher. The lessons were typically conducted through subspace
communication, so the teacher might attempt to contact her immediately.

She was now walking
through the maze of wide and seemingly endless streets. The tall, elegant
buildings around her were empty but didn’t look crippled. It was almost scary,
as if some strange power suddenly blew all the life here, not touching any
inanimate objects. The strangest thing was silence. Honey was used to living
in a small, crowded place, where children were playing and people were constantly
laughing and talking. Here, there were even no birds, no wind, as if everything
was quietly frozen. The girl shrugged at the thought and continued on her
journey. By now, her teacher might have decided to call on her mother after
all, and she may have gone to look for her. There was no time, she decided,
for being afraid. She approached one of the buildings. The door she stood
before, suddenly snapped open, as if inviting the girl inside. She looked
around and entered it.

She was surprised
to see only a short corridor leading to the entrance on the other side of
the building. There were no stairs, no lifts and no other doors. She simply
walked out on the street. It was almost the same as the one that had led her
here. Only now there was some gentle breeze and she heard a bird chirping
somewhere. She continued her trip for the next five hours, only occasionally
stopping to rest and eat something. She has brought some food with her, but
once outside that strange building, she noticed working replicators. After
all, there was nothing interesting there, so she decided to go back home.
Returning was easy, as she remembered the direction she came from and was
careful not to turn around  too much. Now, she simply turned back and went
home, disappointed.

Strangely, her
mother wasn’t angry when she found out about Honey’s escapade. She only smiled,
stroke her head and called her a “brave girl”. She didn’t even mention Honey’s
skipping classes.

Over the course
of the next few days, Honey was further surprised with how her mother had
changed. Not only did she stop harassing the girl about her school projects,
but she also allowed her to do most of the things she had never even wanted
to hear about before. *Maybe she finally decided that I’m grown up, already,*
thought Honey. Things were still changing, though.

At school, Honey
always hated physics. She was overjoyed when she heard the teacher announcing
that next semester they were going to choose their favourite subjects. She
could concentrate on history and sociology rather than doing stupid calculations.

And so, another
few months passed. Honey wondered sometimes how strangely the world around
her seemed willing to accommodate her wishes. Once, she thought how much she
hated the boy next door. He had always teased her and used to call her names.
After one particularly nasty quarrel with him, she shouted how much she wished
he was gone. And the very next day she learned that his parents suddenly decided
to move away. She never saw the boy again. That day she was scared. She started
thinking that something was wrong. She even tried to talk to her mother about
it, but she only smiled and assured here that everything was all right.

‘It’s just a
coincidence, Honey. Nothing to worry about.’

As the years
passed, Honey got used to such coincidences. She quickly learned how to use
them to her advantage. She was of course careful not to say things she would
regret later, but otherwise she was just a happy girl living in a very friendly
environment. She finished school learning only what she considered interesting
and found herself a job as a historian in the local library. She met a wonderful
boy and was planning to marry him. Then, one day, everything changed.

Honey was sitting
in the middle of a green meadow outside the settlement. The meadows appeared
there just a couple of days ago, when she decided it was warm enough for a
picnic. She was waiting for her boyfriend, when she saw something strange.
Suddenly, out of nowhere, in the middle of the grass appeared a strange gate.
The gate opened and in, or out, she wasn’t sure, came three people in strange,
blue uniforms.

‘Who are you?’
Asked Honey, startled.

‘We are Starfleet
officers, exploring this site,’ answered one of the women, with black hair.
‘And you must be…’ she referred to a small, flat device in her hand, as
if reading some information. ‘You are Honey Starling, reported missing four
years ago.’

‘Missing?’ Honey
couldn’t understand.

‘You have been
living in a kind of complicated holodeck.’ Answered the woman. ‘The computer
running it is very advanced. It was apparently able to read your mind and
recreate your environment in every detail, so that you never even noticed.
We were told that the search for you was abandoned about three years ago as
nobody suspected you’d survive that long.’

Honey was stunned.

‘So all of this…
it’s a projection of some kind?’ She thought for while. ‘It must have been
when I entered this building…’

There was no
time to discuss the details, as the Starfleet away team was preparing to shut
down the place once and for all. Honey was given a physical which confirmed
her perfect health and returned to her mother. For Honey it was as if she
came home after a few hours, but her mother hugged her and started crying.
When she calmed down, everything went more or less back to normal.

Only Honey had
to relearn many things. And most difficult of all was to get used to the world
which did not bend to her wishes anymore…


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