And I won it! Yay!
Captain’s Log, Stardate 2263.72:
Returning from a routine medical mission, sonar sensors picked up a free-floating pile of detritus on the starboard side.
I ordered two men out in a reconnaissance vessel to survey the debris in the event that it was the result of a wrecked patrol. Aboard the reconnaissance vessel: Lieutenant Hikaru Sulu and Chief Medical Officer Dr. Leonard McCoy.
The investigation team returned with the assurance that the debris appeared to be a free-floating pile of trash from the 20th century. The two arrived back aboard the Enterprise with a small collection of samples for analysis.
Included amongst the samples was one (1) small “flash drive,” a primitive data storage mechanism which can be affixed to a computer for output via an outdated connective device known by contemporaries as a “USB port.” Our technology team loaded the device onto our computer’s main data bank in order to survey the information for anthropological research.
The drive included data from a Terran children’s fiction series familiar to Lt. Sulu. This was apparent based on the squeal of girlish glee which emanated from Mr. Sulu upon recognition of the material. Familiarity of the material was corroborated by Lt. Uhura, who claimed to have read said books in Latin, Hebrew and Klingon during her training as a linguist.
“Captain,” Lieutenant Uhura asked me. “You mean to say you’ve never read Harry Potter?”
“Lieutenant,” replied Dr. McCoy, “are you suggesting the Captain reads anything?”
I pointed out that I have read the autobiography of twentieth century basketball legend Kareem Abdul-Jabbar as well as many issues of Men’s Health.
Several members of my crew simultaneously went on to attempt to describe the plot of said children’s books. From my understanding, there is a boy who lives in a cupboard who marries his best friend’s sister and flies around on a maneating horse-monster. He has magic powers and goes to a special school where he may or may not be having an affair with his archnemesis. Because of anti-homosexual sympathies at the time of its writing, the headmaster is a closeted homosexual, and his secret relationship is the cause of the second World War. There is also a werewolf.
Mr. Chekhov then tried to illustrate a complex mathematical formula which he described as having to do with the relation between a matter transporter and something he called “apparation,” but I must confess I lost him somewhere in the first sentence and was not listening by the time he got around to making a point.
My attention was mainly required by a curious activity which my deck officers referred to as “sorting,” in which they discussed “houses,” and which “house” they would each live in. Each house apparently had a name and the vast majority of my crew insisted that they would live in a house called after a bird—I believe it was Eagle- or Raven- something, although Dr. McCoy did not live with the rest of them and instead got to live in a house called Puffle-something. Many of my crew members apparently looked down on this Puffle-house with a sort of intellectual disdain.
Mr. Spock, the only non-Terran in my immediate command seemed intrigued by the game and inquired as to the exact definition of these houses. Apparently the bird house is the house for smart people and the Puffle house has something to do with either cuddliness or socialism. I am not sure which.
In an attempt to socialize with my crew, I asked them which of these houses I would get to live in. Lt Uhura immediately volunteered the name “Slytherin,” but as soon as she said it, Lt. Sulu got a rather agitated look and shouted “Gryffindor!” at her. Lt. Uhura said that that was impossible and related my success at the Kobayashi Maru test as an example of my “Slytherin” nature. Lt. Sulu, on the other hand, insisted that my manipulation of the exam was only a result of my dedication to idealism and that that made me a “Gryffindor.” After several minutes back and forth, it was necessary for me to order them separated out of my concern for their physical well-being. However, on reflection, I am quite pleased as I have been made to understand that Slytherin is the “sexy” house.
My crew has now convinced me that I have missed an important part of Terran pop culture by not having been exposed to these books, so I have downloaded the first in the series and plan to begin it tonight. I hope there are not any big words.
–James T Kirk, Commanding Officer, USS Enterprise
PS I also made this:
Mirrored from Antagonia.net.The walls here talk to me. Tom, they say. Tom, you are home. I see the strip of blue sky like a robin’s egg overhead. I see the filthy grime in the gutters. I see the people. None of them stare at me. None of them stop when they see me coming. They do not cower; they do not look at me as if their skin goes chill at the sight of me. They do not even notice me. All of them, going about their business.
The sound of chatter. The smell of something baking. A sweet smell. It makes my mouth water. A mother scolds a sobbing, snot-nosed child. These people, aren’t they meant to be like me? Special? Could she not silence him with a flick of her wand? She wields the power to make him stop, and yet that shrill, incessant sound continues, making my skin crawl like I have been infested with bedbugs.
They are all so ordinary. They smell. They age. They have pockmarks and whiskers and foul body odor. Here, there is no grandeur about them. I expected from the old man’s tales a race better than the world-weary and simple sort I left behind. But these are not men of greatness. These are rats, funneling their ratty bodies down tiny, crooked streets that are like rusted pipes. They are sewage in the gutter.
Yet there is something in the air here, an electricity. It is almost palpable, and it touches me like tiny fingertips, on my shoulders, on my forearms. Sometimes I feel it all as a rush, and it is dizzying, as if being around all this power awakes the power within me, makes it call out to escape and show itself in blazing fires. It will rend me from the inside.
The old man points me to a window. There is dusty glass, a pillow. A stick set at the center— a glorified stick, a carved bit of wood. He puts a hand on my shoulder and it freezes me, my muscles contract and are repulsed by the feel of the weight. I free myself but he holds the door open in front of me.
A bell jangles. He talks over me but I only half-hear. My ears are open. I nod. But here there are boxes lining all the walls, and they call out for my attention, each one a secret hidden, a puzzle asking to be solved. The dust is heavy in the air and there is a scent, the scent of wood, old books, must and herbs and something metallic that I pretend I do not recognize. In case they can hear my thoughts. I do not yet know what they can do.
A man appears from nowhere—white-haired, with the mannerisms of a spider, looking at me with dozens of eyes that only I know are there. I feel them on me, measuring me. He takes down a box, thrusts a stick into my hand.
The electricity jumps. It is as if I have been struck, struck hard, and I let out a cry as the air hisses and smokes and an odor like sulfur fills my nostrils. The man like a spider snatches it back, shakes his head. He clicks a little.
There is another stick, then another. All of them jump in my hand. I can feel them; they are like magnets touching their mates—repulsed, suddenly, and with violence. My hand feels like it is burning, aching. The power in me is screaming, running around, rushing like a brook swollen after a flood.
The old man says some encouraging words to me. I know he does not mean them; there is a saccharine tone in his voice. The kind adults use when they want you to think they are kind but is only used to hide their true vices.
Then he speaks to the spider. “Try it,” he says, and he nods. I wrestle between my hungry anticipation to see what he will try, and the fear that they mean to hurt me. But even then, I am curious. If they were to hurt me, surely they would not use physical torment. Not when they have such a delectable buffet of options to choose from. Perhaps they mean to sap my gift, to take it away from me?
Now there is another stick in my hand, but as my fingers find purchase around it, I do not feel repelled. I feel…power. It is as if I had been missing a hand, without knowing all along that I had been deprived. The electricity runs like jubilation.
“Yew,” says the spider. “Phoenix feather.”