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The Long Way Home: SciFi Flash Fiction by cam

Chris has written more than 300 flash fiction/short stories. Working Vacation was 21st out of 6,700 in the 2016 Writer's Digest competition.

Mark and Christy sat on the rooftop patio of the building where they lived in the city of Prima, on the planet Orbis. They watched the sunset, the first of two that would occur before twilight.

“Would you like to go out tonight and celebrate the fifth anniversary of our abduction from Earth?” said Christy

“Celebrate? That’s a switch from our attitude a couple of years ago when we were still plotting our escape.” Mark took a sip of sweet tea.

“It is one thing to be able to steal a space ship. It is an entirely different thing to navigate our way to Earth,” said Christy. “Everyone we knew back there has been dead a long time. We are alive only because we traveled to Orbis in Cryo chambers.

“So this is home?” said Mark.

“For me, yes.” Christy walked to the railing at the edge of the patio. “We have learned to trust them, even though they stole us away from our families. And they have grown to trust us. We come and go as we please.”

“Unless we asked for a space pod so we could spend a weekend on one of the moons. Our freedom has limits. But we’ve come a long way, and not only in light years. So yes, let’s celebrate.”

Tom Waits, It's a Long Way Home

The two aliens strolled along the streets of Prima. Their favorite restaurant was only a few blocks away. It featured Earth cuisine for which Mark and Christy had provided recipes for the entire menu.

“To continue our earlier conversation,” said Christy, “not only is this our home, but these are our people.”

“I suppose that’s true,” said Mark.

“Have you noticed that there is no reference to God anyplace in this society?” Christy set a small voice recorder on the table beside her napkin.

“I’m not a religious person, so I haven’t paid much attention.”

“I have recorded everything I can remember about the Bible. I memorized large selections back on Earth, and it is all on here.”

“That’s great. I’m sure you’re finding a lot of comfort in those words.”

“I am not doing this for me only.” Christy sat up straighter and looked Mark in the eyes.

“I know you’re leading up to something, but I’m not quite getting it,” said Mark.

“They deserve to know.” Christy held the recorder in her open palm.

“Know what? About God?”

“Yes, and Jesus,” said Christy.

“I only remember one Bible verse from my childhood. It said something about God loving the world and sending his son there. I always understood that to mean Earth, not Orbis or any other inhabited planet.”

“Why limit God in such a way, Mark?”

“If God wanted to save Orbis, don’t you think he would have taken care of that detail a long time ago?”

“I only know that I have the command of Christ to go into all the worlds and preach the Gospel.”

“I think You’re taking some liberties with the text.”

“I will begin tomorrow, and when I have enough followers, I will start the First Christian Church of Orbis.”

“Hmmm,” said Mark.

“What do you mean, hmmm?”

“In a few years, after you’ve died, your converts can simply drop the Y from your name and they’ll have their messiah.”

“You are not funny, Mark.”

“One more question.”

“Please, no.”

“When Jesus comes back, will he stop by Orbis on the way to Earth or the other way around? I suppose it depends on which way heaven is from here?

“You are not getting funnier.”

“Can I attend your church?”

“I’ve pre-excommunicated you pending removal of the demons.” Christy slipped the recorder back into her pocket.

“Seriously though, why don’t you just open a soup kitchen? All God’s chillun gotta eat, you know.”

“Because this society already takes care of its own hungry people.”

“Ok, then open up a medical clinic for those who can’t afford healthcare.”

“Orbis has that base covered as well. Why do you have such a hard time with the concept of a church?”

“You’ve stated my case for me. These people already make sure everyone’s needs are met. What more could religion add?”

“Eternal life. The state hasn’t figured that one out yet.”

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Dinner arrived and Mark savored every bite of his bacon cheeseburger and a soft drink. Christy enjoyed her vegetarian lasagna and washed down with a local wine. They took their time with the tiramisu and wild berry topping, enjoying the blending of flavors. Their eyes met and each saw that the two of them had also blended, grown close, knew each other like old friends, like lovers without the loving.

“I got the coordinates for Earth, Christy.”

“What? How?”

“I was working with a technician at the space navigation center. He left for a few minutes and I saw it on his terminal. I know enough of the language that I could tell what it was. I printed a copy and translated it properly.”

“What are you going to do, Mark?”

“Will you go with me?”

“I can’t. I have plans here and the risk of going back is too great. I can have a good life here if I want it.”

“We’d be separated by billions of miles.”

“By the time you woke up from your sleep in the cryo chamber, I would be dead.”

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They paid their bill and went out to the street. Mercury plasma antigravity vehicles, all shaped like saucers, silently navigated multilevel throughways.

Mark took Christy’s hand. “Let’s take the long way home.”

“Yes, let’s,” said Christy.

“I found something else as well, a musical instrument something like a piano. Did you know I play the piano?”

“No, I didn’t.”

“I’ve been practicing, and I’m picking it up quickly. If you need a piano player in that church of yours, I’m sure I can learn Amazing Grace in time for your first service.”

Their first kiss tasted like wild berries.

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