Save Humanity Yourself

I recently did a radio interview for Night Dreams Talk Radio where I thought the discussion would be centered around science fiction. The interview was at ten pm, rather past my usual bedtime, so I had plenty of time to do a little extra research beforehand.

Imagine my surprise when I saw the heading above my bio—A. K. Frailey on How to Survive an Alien Attack—not intended as sci-fi but taken very seriously by those who deal with such issues on the public forum.

Now, if you’d be so kind, look at this from my point of view…

Possums don’t take me seriously. My cats ignore my every command, and my kids’ dog takes over my bed whenever she wants. I am hardly fit to keep attacking aliens at bay. The possum would have better luck.

Needless to say, I don’t think Gary was thrilled with my optimistic “Maybe they wouldn’t attack?” scenario or my soul-searching, “Don’t we have to believe that we are beings worthy of survival, first?”

My original reason for being on the show still stood, it just never got a chance to talk despite raising its hand several times. Science fiction has something important to add to the “human survival” conversation. It is in the imagination that we come up with not only the methods of survival but the motivation compelling us through the hells of hard times to make it out alive.

I can’t honestly tell anyone what an alien might look like, how they might communicate, whether they are responsible for crop circles or body snatching. But humanity won’t lose if we value who we are in the honest light of both our failures and successes.

In my collection of science fiction stories, Encounter Science Fiction Short Stories & Novella I created the background lives for significant characters in my stories. Because a good character has a background—physically, emotionally, psychologically, and spiritually. Perhaps the character doesn’t deal with all issues. He or she may be an android that considers efficient synaptic connections the highest achievement with no understanding of emotional or spiritual conundrums. But, he or she still has to interact in a universe that battles those spectrums on a daily basis. Therefore, the whole range matters. We may have an inkling or be flummoxed, but we are not alone. We take not only ourselves but everyone we meet, their families, friends, workmates, and irritating neighbors into the room whenever we have a conversation. Even if the communicators are a million miles apart.

Ignore the larger reality at our peril.

Each story must take into account that actions not only have consequences, but we may never know what they are on this side of the great divide. While the characters may not see the larger picture, the readers can. Writing and reading through a character’s actions and interactions as they play out logically, emotionally, spiritually, and even physically offers us the mountain-top view. We climb out of ourselves and see the vista laid before us as humans and aliens play out their roles.

I am currently working on the second Newearth novel, A Hero’s Crime. No one is perfect. Perhaps that is a blessing. Because it’s only when the hero gets out of the way that someone new gets a chance to see what he or she is made of. 

I may not have a plan to save us from an alien attack, but I do plan on finishing this book. You All may have to save humanity yourself.

Here’s a snapshot of the first chapter.

Cerulean blinked at dust-speckled sunrays slanting before him. He wanted to move, but his body felt weighed down, practically attached to the structure under him. Swallowing back panic, he inhaled a long, calming breath.

His chest barely budged, as if gravity had increased threefold. Too weak. Forcing himself to concentrate, he faced practical reality. If he couldn’t move, he must lie still and listen. Surely, there was a good explanation. A sharp ache in his neck when he attempted to turn his head assured him. At least, I know I’m not dead.

Murmuring voices traveled overhead. A woman—no—two women. Arguing.

In weary depression, he closed his eyes.

Clare and Justine. At it again. They argued on Newearth. They argued aboard ship. Now they were arguing here—Wherever that might be!  He imagined bellowing, shut up! And seeing their reaction.  He tried to form words. Nope. Not anytime soon.

A shadow hovered near and blocked the warm sunlight. A gentle hand caressed his forehead. “Cerulean?”

Using every ounce of energy he had at his disposal, which wasn’t much, Cerulean pried his eyes open. Directly above him, a towering figure stared down, a lean, clean-shaven face, bright green eyes, and a shock of thick, white-blond hair.

Concern emanated from those eyes, despite the upturned creases in the corners, matching his smiling mouth.  “So good to see you awaken naturally. I was ready to rouse you, but it’s usually better to let nature take its course.”

Swallowing a desert dryness, Cerulean attempted to form words. “Where—?”

Justine’s black-haired head and sculptured face rose into view, crowding out the other figure, her eyes wide and her tone authoritative. “You’re on Mirage, Cerulean. We made it—through barely. I was afraid you were going to—”

Clare’s round, child-like face framed by chestnut, shoulder-length hair, shoved forward. Her chocolate-colored eyes flickered irritably at Justine and then returned to Cerulean. “It’s Mirage-Reborn now. And you had us going, old friend. Abbas here”—she nodded to the white head—”saved your life. Good thing he has a better disposition than that son of his. Omega would probably have played some ridiculous—”

The urge to scream closed Cerulean’s eyes again.

Without another word, the gentle hand smoothed his brow. Abbas’ voice, deep and confiding, pronounced final judgment.  “He’s still very weak. You must allow him complete rest for a few more days, and then—”

“Then what?” Clare’s voice rose two notches, near screech level.

Justine broke in with a husky, earthy tone that unclenched Cerulean’s jaws. “Calm down, Clare. Abbas wants to save Cerulean as much as we do. He’s just making sure that we don’t kill him with kindness. Right, Grandfather?”

The sound of Abbas’ chuckle warmed Cerulean’s heart. So honest and lighthearted, something Cerulean had not felt since—when? He couldn’t remember. Everything was a blur. Years of pain and turmoil. Fear evolving into an interplanetary panic… The mission to find Omega and save Newearth.

He sighed. Finally, everyone knew. He wasn’t immortal. Maybe he would die. Maybe he wouldn’t. But the truth was clear—he couldn’t fight any longer.

~~~

Encounter Science Fiction Short Stories & Novella 2nd Edition

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What Really Matters?

As I maneuver between the goalposts of my day, I brush up against all sorts of realities. Some deceivingly mundane, some clearly molehills, others require deep prayer to survive their clutching, smothering embrace.

As a sat in the library on a Saturday morning, where I had offered a writers’ support group, but no one showed up, because, as I well knew, there are few people looking for writing support—life support, perhaps, but that is another topic altogether—I alternately worked on a writing project and considered the shelves of untouched books. My mind floated back to a barrio library in the Philippines where the door remained locked most of the time because, quite frankly, the library was not intended to be used. It was simply a designated requirement. The supervisor didn’t want kids in there messing about. That’s not what it was meant for.

Allowing my mind to roam off the page, it floated to other scenes—places of fulfilled requirements: schools packed with kids who experienced little connection between the exam page and the events testing their daily lives, jobs staffed with workers who put in their time like prisoners carrying out a life sentence, and “homes” packed with elderly—retired from work, family gone, all together isolated.

Recently I chatted with someone who likes to hike. A lot. When I asked if part of his motivation was spiritual, he seemed surprised. The answer was, yes. Super-physical and super-spiritual. Supernatural without the eerie music. A purposeful engagement with something beyond fulfilling a requirement. So far as I know, no one is required to take a hike. Suggested maybe…

Violent crimes—organized and unorganized—hunger, domestic abuse, and other horrors plague our world. So often, the malaise of meaninglessness haunts humanity. Why is that?

A storm just rumbled in, thick raindrops splatter everything and gutters shoot like geysers. The internet is out. Our power flickers off—on—and off again. Sheets of rain saturate our already sodden fields. Pumpkin vines sway with shredded leaves. Flower pots overflow, draining good soil away.

The image reminds me that I’ve recently attracted an internet antagonist who feels the need to point out his view of my literary and logical shortcomings. At first, I ignored him. Not out of malice, but simply because I didn’t have much to say in return. No one is required to read my posts. No one has to think as I think or believe as I believe. I simply share my point of view—life from my small and relatively quiet world. Yet an antagonist found me and shot his bolts of angry lightning my way.

What’s a meaningful response to a cyberbully? I could hurl back verbal bolts, but what’s the point?

I’ve been watching PBS’ World on Fire, an excellent WWII drama relating the hellish realities too many human beings endured ninety years ago. In my world, if the internet goes down for a couple of hours, it seems like a big deal. A molehill grown to gargantuan proportions. For them, cruelty and death chased sanity into close quarters and then hunted down families for generations. Devilry itself hidden behind national doors.

So once again, I consider what really matters. I knew when I arranged the writers’ support Saturdays that few people would show up. But I did it anyway. Why? Because I believe that libraries, writers, and support matter even when no one shows up. For the day when someone does step over the threshold hoping to exchange a word or two. I appreciate my hiker-friend since he has taken the road less traveled but found health and peace of mind in clear air and a rugged path.

Kids should have an opportunity to go to school—but daily purpose should be relatable to lives, not built on designated requirements that allow planners to check off boxes. Can a child find meaning in his or her lessons? Even simpler, will he or she grow up, be able to put food on the table, and care to eat it?

And how to manage in a world where bullies, baddies, and rivers of wrong flood the highways of our lives? Where old age leaves us alone without words or coherent thought.

The rain has stopped, and one of the cats just curled up in a flower pot between the fern and the pumpkin plant. A cool breeze has taken the edge off the heat of the day, and night is falling. Birds twitter their goodnight songs, and fireflies are flashing their lights for an evening of delight.

Each day unfolds its mysteries and conundrums. Sometimes I stroll, other times, I run. Never answering everything or certain sure of all.

But I make it to the end, glad I was a part of it. I’ll crack open my library book now, relax a bit, and be present to the Presence of life itself. For the meaning I searched for—was inside of me all along.

~~~

A. K. Frailey is the author of 15 books, a teacher for 35 years, and a homeschooling mother of 8.

Make the most of life’s journey. 

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