Posted by: Kathryn Hulick | August 9, 2010

An Impossible Tree

Lena River Delta, Siberia.

Image courtesy of NASA and Wikimedia Commons.

I wanted to post on my blog today because it is 8-9-10, and that’s cool. And then I found this photo. Who knows what sort of story could come from this? Here goes…

I closed my eyes and saw only the tree. An impossible tree, bursting with purple fire and filled dragging sickly green leaves across scorched, red sand. No one had ever seen such a thing. Not the commanders, not even the shipsoul. Yet I dreamed, and on waking the visions remained.

-Your collective memory is malfunctioning,- they told me through mindlink. -Don’t worry. Abnormal images are a common side effect of overstress. Drink more formula C-244 and get some exercise.-

But I wasn’t stressed. I felt fine, and I drank enough C-244 to make me pee twenty times a day. It tasted like oranges, which was something the collective memory told me, so I knew it wasn’t totally broken.

It was just the tree, that strange, twisting tree.

“It’s growing on some planet somewhere,” I told my friend Pax. “When we land, that’s the first thing we’ll see.” We were chatting in the park, the only place on ship where actual trees grew, thin spindly ones that looked nothing like my dream. Pax was linked online, probably playing competitive calculus with the shipsoul, and only heard every other word I said. That was ok, sometimes he didn’t hear anything.

“You’ll see maybe. I’m staying on board.” He sent me a bouncing, laughing face through link.

But he was serious. Who would want to touch down on some planet when we had the ship? Even I didn’t get what was so great about land until the dreams. Something about that tree jerked at my tendons and twisted my muscles, making me wish I were running through swishing grass or crashing through ocean surf, not slipping quietly along the plastic lined halls of the ship.

That tree was real somewhere, and I wanted to find it.

-I will find it,- I linked to Pax, but he wasn’t listening.

Shipsoul answered. -Danger. Overstress situation. Count down commencing. Restart thought-process.-

I jumped up and dunked my head in the park’s water-supply. That always messed up shipsoul a big one. She couldn’t deal with sudden temperature changes. Some technology.

I left Pax sitting under the pathetic ship-trees, singing along to a song only he could hear, and I wandered the halls until I came to the Window. Only blackness out there, and endless stars.

Shipsoul was here, I could feel her presence in my link.

-We’re getting closer,- I said, and closed my eyes, letting the tree flow through my veins and over my skin, prickling the tiny hairs on my arms. I was projecting the image to the shipsoul, to all the souls on board. Talk about overstress.

I opened my eyes, and looked out the Window.

It was no longer black.

Beneath us, a round object opened, coming closer, closer. And on the surface, lines in green and black and purple. Trees.

Only they weren’t trees, they were rivers. Rivers flowing with strange substances. And we were landing. Land. Finally.

I smiled.



  1. “I smiled.”

    Me too! ‘Twas a totally engaging trip! šŸ˜‰

  2. What a great opening for a novel! Beautifully written. I hope you take it there!

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