The waters of space, p.1
The Waters of Space, p.1Patrick Spatz
The Waters of Space
by Patrick Spatz
Copyright 2017 Patrick Spatz
This is a first contact story that asked the question, "Just what would it take to get humanity to think way outside the box?"
THE WATERS OF SPACE
"Another race of dry land dwellers," said Tyiieye, not really looking at Cairun, "that sounds very interesting."
Cairun thought his friend was about as much interested in Cairun's First Contact project as one of the sand drifts passing by the front porch. Only their years of friendship were keeping Tyiieye from drifting away to his nearby workbench and back to his own pet project, water flavoring. As it was, the room's water was already nearly overpowering with its assortment of odd colors and flavors.
Tyiieye pushed a blue ink bubble out of his second mouth, then broke it with one of his eight tentacles and watched the patterns it made as it slowly dispersed in the water. "Wouldn't the Great Wings be better fitted to make First Contact? After all, when they're not flying in the air they live on dry land."
"Tools" answered Cairun. He was rewarded by seeing Tyiieye slide just a little farther out of his shell as his eyes became more fixed on Cairun. New tools of almost any kind always got Tyiieye's attention. Cairun seated his own body back a little further in the first chamber of his shell, relaxing a bit more. "They rely on them even more than we do, and they have lots of them."
"How do you know this?" asked Tyiieye.
"The First Speakers tried to make contact once before."
Cairun rubbed one tentacle along the outside of his shell, a worried mood showing in the color of his tentacles as he thought about this, "They said it didn't work out very well."
Tyiieye pulled part-way back into his own shell, in a tense posture not a relaxed one. "If the First Speakers couldn't reach them, what possibility would we have?"
"We've contacted the First Speakers already and asked just that question. They believe, since we are also tool users like this new race, we would be the best to reach them. Of course, no one knows alien tool use like you, Tyiieye."
Tyiieye pulled himself up straight. "Well, if the First Speakers think we should, and you believe I can help, it is my place to serve."
Doctor Barbara Johnson was a rarity, a teacher who didn't like classrooms. Give her a Psychology lab, or better yet a field trip, even a one-on-one with a student, and she was happy as a clam in its’ shell. She had however long ago come to accept that many of her days would be spent like this one, in the classroom.
Her six-foot-one frame never seemed to fit well into a professor's desk or chair. Her bright red hair and too-freckled face gave anything but a scholarly impression.
Fortunately, team teaching meant she could camp out in the back of the class while her partner handled the first-day introductions. Unlike Barbara, Doctor James Hallaway loved the front of the class and looked the part. Short, dark-haired with olive-colored skin, he was a handsome man. Around campus, the two of them had become known as the Odd Couple of Doctors.
Stepping up to the whiteboard James wrote "Psychology Lab 402A." He waited for students to check their lab sheets and then dove in. "The first thing some of you may have noticed is that there are nine females and nine males in this room. So first, no! This is not a dating service." There was a ripple of laughter through the room.
Barbara shook her head. It was an old joke, but it always seemed to work. She made a note on her paper; "Find new jokes for James." Then she brought her eyes back to the front of the class.
"However," James continued, "for the next six weeks you are going to learn more about each other than any dating service would ever provide. You are going to live together, study together, play together, and yes, sleep together. That's sleep together as at the same time, not as in the same bed." That got another round of quiet laughter.
"Barbara," James pointed to her with one hand, "that's Doctor Johnson, and I have picked you very carefully. You all need the same psychology credits, you all need to earn some money this summer quarter and last of all, you all have had experience in recording your dreams".
James spoke as he wrote on the whiteboard, "Because." And he underlined the words he'd written. "Dream-to-Dream Communication. Is what this project is all about.”
James pulled a large picture down from a roll so that it covered the white board. "This is Teninmen Hall. You've all seen it before, but maybe you don't know its history.
It was the first theater on campus. That is why it is build in a dome shape. With the building of Mason Theater, Teninmen Hall was remodeled into offices and classrooms. However most of the acoustical insulation was left intact. Many of the offices have a curved wall on one side. We've turned these offices into bed rooms. Doctor Johnson and myself believe that this shape and that paneling will be the key to success, it is what makes this experiment unique.
"Almost half land and half water" Tyiieye read the writing off the seaweed he held in front of him. "Well no, a bit more water than land, still it doesn't seem like a balance to form naturally."
"Not really," answered Cairun. He was only half listening to his friend. Most of his attention was on a last check of everything and everyone in the room. Five other adepts of differing ages and shell races were gathered to attempt this First Contact. The room had smooth walls carefully constructed to help boost mental power. Mud filled the chamber floor, giving everyone a soft place to sit. The adepts were spaced evenly around the room. All was almost ready. "True, all the other worlds we know of are either water rich or water poor. But it's a large universe. Even the rare must happen a lot."
"What's my part again?" asked Tyiieye.
"I'll try to make Contact. If the First Speakers are right, they'll most likely ask about our tools. They live like us, surrounded by tools." Cairun waved one tentacle at a row of tools laid out in front of Tyiieye. "You can explane these, and if they show us some of theirs you can try to help us understand."
Tyiieye seemed skeptical, but he said, "OK, I'm ready."
Cairun swum to his place in the center of the circle. First the adepts turn their backs to Cairum and faced the walls. Each of the adepts was carrying a glow ball, these they now set down in front of themselves. At once Cairun felt the power levels increase in the room. Dozens of times he'd done this, reaching out to older, wiser races. This was the first time for Cairun in trying to make contact with a young race.
He was not surprised when contact proved difficult. He could feel the alien minds trying to find other minds. Cairun focused on one of the stronger ones, but contact slipped away from him.
There was a startled call from one of the adepts, "It's me," She cried.
Cairun turned to face the adept, and realized that she, and not he, had made the contact. This had never happened to him before, but he'd heard of it happening to other leaders, and he'd trained for it. "Hold on," he said. "Think about the new you and the new place you are in." He noticed that the adept was one of the two females on his team. He had felt that the alien mind might also be female. That might be more important to the aliens than to his race. It was said that the Great Wings had been like that in the beginning. "Can you tell me what's happening to you?"
The adept's voice was filled with awe, and her tentacles moved randomly through the water. "I'm a monster."
"I'm a monster," thought Teresa, "a big-eyed blue-green sea monster. Oh, this is wonderful." The dream haze made the sight of octopus arms growing out of her baby-doll PJs funny rather than frightening. The room was filled with a blue-green light, which proved it was all a dream because she always slept
"We're not a dream," said a strange female voice. "You and I are together, but very far apart."
This made Teresa laugh. A dream telling her that it was not a dream. As if she could be turned into some kind of octopus, with a nautilus shell no less. And her dorm-room had somehow been magically changed into a beautiful undersea cave. She drew breath to laugh again, only no air came, just water.
Two sets of primeval instincts began to fight with one another. Human instincts knew you couldn't breathe water. Water was the source of danger. A different instinct said when there's danger in the water, burrow into the mud and wait. Human instincts knew there was no waiting for breath. Breathing came before all else. Mud turns out to be even harder to breathe than water.
When Teresa woke screaming from her dream, so did six other students.
"There have been deaths in the program before." admitted Cairun, "but never on one of my teams."
Tyiieye pushed himself back and forth nervously along the floor of Cairun's cave. "I've felt the urge to dig in and hide when I've been scared, of course. Who hasn't? But to try to breathe mud! I don't think I could make my gills do
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