Parallax (chapter 1)A Story by Demauscian
A group I was a part of came up with the idea, but when it came to writing it, only two chapters were written, mine and chapter 2
Nash Sorenson was a different sort of child. While the others played Privateers and Astronauts, he could be found reading a book or magazine, which in and of itself wasn’t too odd. The oddity was in what he read; never was it children’s novels or pop magazines, he usually preferred some of the old 20th century fictional classics, non-fiction pertaining to the physical sciences and usually magazines like Planetary Geographic, Discovery for Kids and once or twice he’d been found with a copy of the Scientific Terran.
His parents always received comments about how brilliant he was, and it was true. That did not make a difference in the world when it came to Nash though. His teachers always started by telling his parents how smart he was but then suddenly, and without fail, said he was near failing their class because of lack of effort. As it turns out, Nash didn’t care for academics in the least bit. He’d get A’s and B’s on the standardized tests but not complete a single assignment, never finishing his homework and with the occasional exception aside, he didn’t read the books he was asked to.
Perhaps his detached nature did not stem from his own doing, but from the actions of the kids his age. For whatever reason, many of them chose him as their target, teasing him, taunting him and even physically hitting him on occasion. The fact that he holed up probably didn’t make it any better because then they would laugh at him when he was found by himself; more than once this lead to them grabbing the book and ripping it to shreds. After all, who read books anymore; especially ones made of paper.
And such were the early years of his life.
- - -
Terradate: Tuesday, August 8, 2281
New Ottawa City, Eastern Canada, North America, Earth
“Good afternoon, Mr…”
“Mr. Sorenson, sir.” Nash hated to obey authority, especially when it came to peculiar formalities.
“Ah, well, your resume doesn’t say much for you. And the Transplanet Shipping and Transport Agency is a prestigious organization. Why should we hire you as Assistant to Navigations? It will require organization, obedience, training and you’d be working odd hours. It’s not easy, and yet every time there’s an opening we get hundreds of you happy-go-lucky sons of a b*****s applying here and more often than not, the ones we accept leave or end being dishonorably discharged.” The man, Captain Jonathan Stark, sat quietly for a few moments, staring at Nash, waiting for a reply.
It took a second for Nash to realize it was his turn to talk. ‘This is it, the most vital part. What I say now is the difference between having a job or not.’
“Well, most would probably look no farther than my high school diploma and forget me there-“ he began.
“Er, yes, excuse my interruption, it says you were… 297 in your class of 344. Not very impressive, we only called back because of your essay.”
Nash was not happy with being cut off, but he didn’t let it show. “Yes, as I was saying. This is the time many suggest lying to gain sympathy, but I am not about that. Where others may tell you about their alcoholic dad or neglectful mother, I will tell you that my parents were as wonderful as I could have asked for. My father is a simple electrical engineer, and my mother is from Mars originally, from a family of scientists, mathematicians and computer programmers; a community she was not a part of. I grew up in your average middle class North American neighborhood.
“What makes me who I am is my disdain for formal academics. But I am not without education.” As he says this he leans over, pulls a covered composition notebook out of his messenger bag, and hands it to the captain. “I prefer to think of myself as self-taught. Take a look and see.”
The captain opened the booklet to the first page, which listed subjects and page numbers. “I made this portfolio of all the major things I know, books I read including an annotation for each topic. Organized by subject. I know organization, dedication and how to follow directions.”
“I’m impressed, it’s handwritten even, and nice handwriting at that. It appears you really want this job. Of course, I cannot say if you will be hired yet, but… you’re definitely an option. If you don’t mind, I’ll keep this, your resume and we’ll call you back the day after tomorrow to let you know.”
Nash confidently shook the captain’s hand and left. He had a feeling the portfolio would be too
much, but he couldn’t think of another way to make up for his lack of
schooling. ‘No! I seemed too confident,
too… too smart-alecky!’ He then
grunted as he kicked a tin waste bin on the street curb. Some of the grotesque sludge sloshed out onto
his pant leg and shoe. “D****t!”
Across the street, three males that appeared to be around his age laughed as they walked past him. There was also a woman ahead of him as well as a younger lady walking his direction; neither seemed to pay him much attention. It was oddly quiet outside for this time of day, but then again, it was siesta.
Nash made his way to a nearby shop. It was a locally owned, small coffee shop called “Donny Java”. These were a rare commodity in virtually any Terran city as people tend to be drawn to big name stores and only the best family run stores could compete. Apparently, this little shop had enough draw to be full and still have a line eight or nine people deep.
“Hey, good afternoon,” he said to a man standing in front of him. But he only replied with a confused, “Hey” in return.
City people tended to have a bubble around them, and refused to acknowledge anyone outside of it unless it was socially required or promised a reward or possibly offered sex. There was never a ‘howdy neighbor’ mentality. Still, Nash tried.
“So, my name’s Nash Sorenson”
“Cool…” he replied with the why should I care look on his face.
“And… you are?”
“Well, pleased to meet you, James,” he held out a hand to shake. James cautiously took the hand and shook. He nonchalantly patted his back pocket to make sure his wallet was still there then politely nodded his head and turned back to the line.
Once Nash finally reached the front of the line he asked for a medium cup of coffee, a generic turkey sandwich and a maple doughnut bar. As it turns out, he was at the tail end of the siesta rush, some tables were beginning to be vacated and there was only one person behind him in line. He chose an available seat in the corner, near a window and with a great vantage of the whole café. There he opened a notebook and began to write something.
An hour passed away before Nash again looked up. The café was nearly empty except for the occasional customer, the cashier and himself. Naturally. He looked back down at his now two and a half pages of manuscript. Pretty soon thereafter the electric beep signified that someone had opened the door. He looked up and saw a woman enter; she held a binder and a manila folder under her left arm while her right arm dug around in her pocket for loose change. She talked with the cashier for longer than would normally be required to purchase something.Finally, she bought a drink, apparently hot, and then searched for a seat.
She spotted Nash in the corner, staring at her; he quickly turned his head to look at the door. But it didn’t matter. Pretty soon she was right up next to his table, setting her stuff down and taking a seat. “Hello; my name’s Kira Bothe, and you are?”
“Oh. I’m Nash… N-Nash Sorenson.” He was beginning to feel less perturbed about people’s usual reluctance to speak to strangers. It was very uncomfortable.
“Well, Nuh-Nash; I hope you don’t mind if I sit here for a while, do you”
“Oh, not at all.” He then felt enough courage to ask, “So, what’s in that folder there?”
“Matters not of your concern,” she seemed slightly defensive, he began to worry he might have scared her off already. “What’re you writing?”
“It's nothing,” he looked down to the half-written page before him and shut the book cover.
“Perfect. Let’s start this off right; I have one… actually, two questions for you. First, what is the address of this shop?”
It was a strange question, but Nash recalled seeing the number 17 above the door and knew the street number from the address to find the Transplanet Shipping and Transport Agency headquarters. “I think it’s 17th on 22nd street.”
“Good. Also, I am hoping to find the location of a certain ‘ESSIL’ building on this block, but I cannot seem to find it. Do you, by chance, know where it is?” she looked at him.
“Erm... ESSIL? No, I don’t think so. I’m not actually from around here. What did you say they do again? Maybe I could look it up,“ he began to search for his handheld computer.
“I didn't, anyway, they are a
well-funded space science research facility, and I need to deliver these hard
copies to them sometime today. But you're good; I
just remembered where it is.” She opened the binder and wrote something quickly.
“Well, I hope you luck.” He looked at his watch instinctively. “I really should be off.” He didn’t actually have anywhere he needed to go; he just felt the situation go from uncomfortable to odd to suspicious and he wanted out.
She didn’t respond immediately. She simply watched him stand, gather his belongings, and head for the door. “Nash?” He stopped and turned; she was standing right behind him. “You may need this in the near future.” She reached into the manila folder and pulled out a notebook, handing it to him.
One look at it and he knew what it was. He’d spent several hours filling the thing out. It was his handwritten portfolio.
“We’ll expect you at the Kennedy Space Elevator at 10 o’clock next Thursday. A man named Richard Atkinson will meet you there and accompany you up to Low Earth Orbit. In the notebook you will find a check that should cover your travel cost and today’s lunch. Welcome to the NTR Sojourn.”
© 2010 Demauscian
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