Planet of the Deep Core
By: David Serra
Chapter 1: The Farewell Gifts
Andrew Watts did not have cold feet; he needed to leave Hammillark for a different reason that night.
His wife, Beatrice Hauk, stared out at the midnight stars on the balcony in her nightgown while not looking at them. Andrew gently put his hand on her shoulder, but she stepped to the side, away from him. He let his head droop and fiddled with a couple of small boxes in his jacket pocket. The cold air of the nighttime desert felt more brisk than usual.
“She’s going to ask about you. I’ll tell her you died.” Beatrice said blankly.
“I’m not leaving you forever,” Andrew replied in a comforting tone.
“Then why are you going?”
Andrew sorted through the thoughts in his head in search of a good thing to say. His mind wandered to their six-month-old daughter, Eden, who was asleep in her crib. He fingered his pocket again.
“I have to do this… for her.”
Beatrice turned to face him, her expression locked in a vacant stare. “You have the choice to watch your daughter grow up. What do you expect to find out there?”
“When the time comes, this will all make sense. You and Eden will come to see why I have to do this.”
He produced one of the boxes from his pocket and held it out to her. She stared at it as if to smack it out of his hand. Gingerly she took the box without any expression. Andrew pecked her on the cheek; she didn’t flinch or acknowledge it in any way.
He went into their daughter’s room and leaned over her as she slept. Tenderly rubbing her head, he kissed her on the forehead. She stirred a bit before falling back into her dreams. Andrew secured the second box in the hidden safe of Eden’s room and locked it. He noticed Beatrice standing in the doorway; he quietly moved around her and patted her shoulder. She tried not to react as a single tear ran down her face. Andrew gathered the stuff he packed and headed out the door towards his hovercar. Beatrice watched him as he took off towards the distance in the direction of the Starway port.
She opened the box while she ventured back inside the cottage with her melancholy beginning to rise. Inside was an old-fashioned and durable watch with a note saying: I love you, Bea, I am so glad that you and Eden are part of my life. I will always be with you. Love: Andrew.
With those words, Beatrice plopped down on a couch and let her sadness take over her, putting on the watch and drowning out her tears in a pillow.
Eden would come to think that her father vanished without a trace.
Chapter 2: The Distress Signal
Eden Hauk, at age seventeen, raced around the dunes on her hoverbike.
The scorching sun bathed the desert while she zoomed across the landscape towards the small village. Across the dunes, her hoverbike stirred up sand while being put into overdrive. She took the time to do a few flips in the air before landing on the sand and slowing as the village got closer. She came to a stop outside her mother’s bar and parked outside. She chained her hoverbike to a pole and ventured towards the marketplace, patting her zipped-up pocket of coins. Glancing up at the clock that towered over the village, she squinted in the sun to see the time. Knowing that she was cutting it close again, she went forth to one of the stands selling water.
“Isn’t your mom expecting you?” asked the fox-like vendor.
“Not for another hour. I want water, please.” She replied and handed the vendor her money.
“I thought your mom owns a bar.”
“Yeah, but I felt like getting water from you today.”
“You humans are strange.”
The vendor handed her the jug. Eden headed for the bar while looking around at the activity of the marketplace. She noticed an armadillo-like vendor selling jewelry to a wealthy and warty toad-like aristocrat who flashed a glare at her. Eden stuck her tongue out in response. The aristocrat snatched her jug away from her with her long sticky tongue.
“Hey!” Eden charged at her but was blocked off by the aristocrat’s hulking and toad-like bodyguards.
The aristocrat guzzled down the entire jug of water and tossed it back to her with a snarky look. The bodyguards shoved her back. She stumbled over her legs, barely maintaining her balance. She straightened up and reached for her laser knife when she heard her mom call, “Eden, get in here!”
Eden craned her neck to see her mom standing by the bar’s entrance with a stern look on her face. She wanted to charge again at the aristocrat. She was already in her stretch hoverlimo and taking off. Eden slouched and reluctantly went into the bar with her mom.
“Eden, if you wanted water, why didn’t you ask me?”
“I want to do things for myself.”
“I understand that, but that still gives you no right to pick fights with someone you don’t know.”
Eden sighed and took a seat on a stool at the bar counter.
“Beatrice, my fellows and I are waiting.” A crow-like patron spoke up while waving his glass.
“Be with you in a second.”
She handed Eden a glass of water before getting a large jug of stone juice and heading over to the patrons. Eden sipped her water half-heartedly when a familiar voice sounded off in her ears from behind her.
“It’s going to be one of those days again, huh?”
Without looking up, Eden spoke, “You have no idea Gabby.”
Gabby took a seat next to her and was careful not to whack her with her long tail. Eden set her water down on the counter and turned to face Gabby, her pointed and scaly muzzle inches away from her nose.
“Too close, Gabby.”
“Oh, sorry, I forgot.”
Gabby moved an inch away and accidentally struck a bear-like patron’s behind with her tail.
“Hey, watch that thing, you lizard!” He gruffly ordered.
Gabby scooted away from him and turned to face Eden, who downed the rest of her water. Eden paid no attention to them. She was too busy looking around at all the different types of patrons in her mom’s bar. Beatrice returned behind the counter to serve more patrons, with Eden staring at the old watch that her mother wore.
“So, you want to go exploring?” Gabby asked.
Gabby strummed her claw on the counter, deep in thought.
“Look, Gabby, we explored all that there is on this miserable planet. What else is there left for us to see?”
“Well, you still have the Amphibiflyer, right?”
“Yeah, but I don’t feel like going anywhere at the moment.”
“Are you sure?”
Eden went to answer when her buzzerphone vibrated in her light jacket’s pocket. With one glance up at her mom, who was busy, she looked at the message and narrowed her eyes.
“It’s a distress signal from Jonerecammas,” Eden said, almost to herself.
“Isn’t that the ocean planet?” Gabby asked, surprised.
Eden nodded. “Come on, Gab. Let’s check it out.”
They hurriedly left outside toward where their spaceship, the Amphibiflyer, was stored. Beatrice watched them the entire time as they took off into space.