First Contact

First Contact

A Story by Tegon Maus

"I like the way the cold metal feels on the bottom of my feet." "Yeah, I know what you mean. You got one more for me?"


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     "Are you sure?" She asked staring at the floor.

     "Yes, very," I returned.

     "I think..." she began cupping her hand over her mouth for a moment.  "I think it’s important that you understand this is an all or nothing situation."

     "I do, I understand completely.  I told you... I'm okay with it."

     "It's my fault... I just..."

     "Doc, look, I get it, there's no room for failure.  I won't let you down.  You'll see."

     "I'm just not sure if you're ready, that's all," she said softly, turning her back to me.

     "Are you kidding me?  I've been a marine for more than twenty years.  I'm the top in my field.  I've had the best training available.  I've been on dozens of assignments far more critical than this and I came out on top every time.  You have to trust me... I can handle it."

     "A marine for twenty years?  The best training?  I'm not sure that will be enough to guarantee your success," she said with a soft smile.

     "Well, it will have to do," I said confidently.

     "I guess it will.  I would feel better if you had a safe word," she offered lightly.

     "A safe word?  For what?" I returned.  I was beginning to feel like she didn't trust me or my abilities.

     "In case you need back up."

     "Back up?  Really?" 

     "There's no shame in asking for a little help in a tough spot.  A good marine would ask for back up," She prodded.

     "A good marine is all the back up anyone would need," I returned proudly.

     "Alright, have it your way.  You'll have 3 hours... no more... no less.  Synchronize your watch... we begin in 15," She said stiffly.

     "I'm ready."

     "Give’m hell marine," She said over her shoulder as she turned to leave.

     I watched her until she was out of sight, only then did my true feelings come to the surface.  I had misgivings... concerns that I dare not share with her.  If she saw any weakness, any hesitation in me, even the slightest, all bets would be off and I couldn't live with that.  No matter how I felt about it, I had to pull this off... no matter what.

     The sound of a door sliding open at the end of the causeway drew my attention.

     "Ahh, s**t.  Here we go," I said under my breath.

     Walking straight toward me, dressed in a pink tee shirt, blue jeans and barefoot was the Doc's seven year old daughter.  Her dark hair was pulled back into a ponytail and tied with a pink ribbon.  She was her mother's daughter alright.  I could see the doc's cheek bones and the shape of her nose from here.

     "Hello... Sam?" I called cheerfully.

     Nothing... no answer, no smile, no reaction at all. 

     "Damn it," I whispered.  "This was going to be tougher than I thought."

     "Hello," I said for a second time, stepping closer.

     "Are we there yet?"

     "I'm sorry.  What did you say?"

     "Are we there yet?  It's a simple question.  Mother said we were almost there. I'm awake now and she sent me here to see you... are we there yet?"

     "No.  Not just yet.  It will be a day or two longer.  By the way, I'm Robert Wickham... my friends call me Bob." I said offering my hand.

     "You know she's smarter than you," she said with disinterest refusing to shake my hand.

     "Beg your pardon?"

     "My mother.  She's way smarter than you," she repeated.  This time her voice held a little arrogance in it.

     "Yeah, I think so as well," I said honestly.

     "Actually she's way smarter than everyone," she bragged.

     "Yeah, I think you might be right with that one," I agreed hoping to find common ground.

    "Oh, I am.  Mother has an IQ of 135... the average is 92 so she's much smarter than almost everyone."

     "Good to know," I returned, not sure where we were going with this.

     "Mine is 183," she boasted.

     "Your what?" I asked trying to divide my attention between her and the bank of dials and monitors.  

     "My IQ... its 183.  Einstein's was 164," she said pointedly.

     "You don't say... Einstein.  Well, how about that?  Your mom said you were a smart little girl,"  I  heard myself say.  I was lost.  I had no idea what to say next.

     "Do you love her?" She asked suddenly, pushing to stand in front of me, separating me from the panel.

     "What?" I gasped, moving backward a little.

     "I said... do you love her?" She asked again stepping to stand in front of me again.  "Are you hard of hearing or are you just slow?"

     "It's complicated," I answered before thinking.

     "That's not an answer," she scolded, folding her arms, stepping closer still.

     "I don't think you would understand.  It's an adult thing," I said trying to regain some authority, stepping back again.

     "I'm 7, not stupid and I have an IQ of 183.  I think I can handle it," she sneered stepping closer, trying to stare me down.

     My mind raced searching for an out.  I had to take control.

     "Okay.  This isn't going to plan.  Let's start over as equals... 100% honest with each other... no holds barred.  Agreed?" I insisted, offering my hand, stepping forward.

     "Agreed," she said taking my hand.

     "Robert Wickham... call me Bob."

     "Samantha Fremont... call me Sam." 

     "Good.  Glad to meet you Sam.  So then, you first, ask what you want," I said folding my arms.

     "Did she give you a safe word?"

     "No, but she wanted to."

     "Are you planning to marry my mom?"

     "Yes, that's the plan... contingent on your approval.  You okay with that?"

     "I'll have to think about it."

     "I love your mom... I'm not looking to take your dad's place."

     "I have no Dad... sperm donor."

     "I see."

     "How did you meet?"

    "Here on the job.  She's medical I'm transport."

     "What do you do in "transport?"

     "I'm a sector chief.  I'm responsible for more than 100,000 pods."

     "That didn't tell me what you do."

     This was going to be tough.  She wasn't going to cut me any slack.

     "See these dials?  They monitor the pods and were each should go.  This ship holds a little over two million pods."


     "Ahh sorry.  Each pod holds one person...  each held in stasis... suspended animation as it were, to be able to handle the long trip here.  The ship starts out from Earth orbit and makes a stop about every six months, refuels and picks up a new crew.  Twelve crews and six years later they arrive here.  My crew and I sort them by occupation and destination and help to send them on their way."  

     "And my mom?"

     "She usually rides the last leg... one or two weeks out before turning around.  Our jobs cross... we met and fell in love."

     "Why am I here?"

     "To meet me and..."


     "I have a couple of acres down on the planet.  I'm looking to retire and I've asked your mom to start a new life with me there."

     "I've never been on a real planet before."

     "I know... your mom talks about it all the time.  I think you'll like it."

     "You think so?"

     "I do.  My place has lots of grass... a couple of horses, some ducks and even a chicken or two."

     "I've never seen a real horse either."

     "You'll like them.  They're fun to ride."

     Silence...  she just stood there.

     "Damn it.  I screwed up.  I said something wrong... I've lost her," the thought burned hot in my head.

     "Everything okay?" I asked.

     She only nodded in response.

     "Let me ask one.  Why are you barefoot?"

     "I like the way the cold metal feels on the bottom of my feet."

     "Yeah, I know what you mean.  You got one more for me?"

          "Sure... are we there yet?"



© 2017 Tegon Maus

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A very cool and interesting story. I wasn't sure where you were going with the story until a little further into it. That is not a bad thing really, just a minor issue that fixed itself later. I did like how the story went and it is a very cool take on the prompt. Overall, a very good read.

Posted 8 Years Ago

1 of 1 people found this review constructive.


This is interesting. Nice job on the details, the characteristics of the cast. Cool.

Posted 2 Years Ago

Great dialogues... I guess I need an IQ higher which is higher than 92.. haha.. just kidding.. I enjoyed reading it really.. Thanks for submitting.

Posted 2 Years Ago

I like the, "Hills Like White Elephant," vibe to this story.

Posted 3 Years Ago

Nice, you may get in the top three of my "The Fantasy Contest" :)

Posted 3 Years Ago

I appreciate your submission. this was a very intriguing
story, It was odd and I think thats why I liked it as much as I did.

Posted 3 Years Ago

Tegon Maus

3 Years Ago

Thanks for the read Zoe... not to mention the note.
Interesting story, great interactions between the characters. Excellent dialogue!

Posted 3 Years Ago

Some Critiques first, than my general opinion:

"A marine for twenty years? The best training? I'm not sure that will be enough to guarantee your success,"
This sounds just a bit dry, or perhaps inhuman? Too precise. This is just an example of what I think is lacking with this one character. I think your characters a wonderful and really human, but the woman, the mother, the love interest, in general she sounds less real or personal than the other two. Perhaps you meant for her to seem more educated, but the child is supposedly smarter and yet seems like a truer character. Don't let her turn into a simple plot device.

"She's medical I'm transport."
Perhaps a comma here? I don't know if this was intentional or not, but it just kinda sounds like a comma might go here.

I think this should be longer, or have some sort of conclusion. In a way it does, it tapers off, but it still feels really sudden, and honestly I just want to read further into this.

Overall, I think this is an amazing story! Perhaps the plot wasn't as action or alien as I expected, but I like how you sort of trick the reader into believing there's physical danger involved in this story. To realize that the girl is in fact the 'alien' the marine is contacting is a fun way to present a story. I think the basis of your dialogue and the style with which you present are spot on. Also, not that I can name it by heart, but the font you use is a pleasant one to read, especially in a sci-fi based story. Which is a lightly applied aspect, other than the title and a few paragraphs, this story might as well be based on a marine fairing ship. I think that sci-fi aspects are always over applied in sci-fi stories, to the point where it stops being a story and starts being just another cog in the genre.

This is good, very good.


Posted 6 Years Ago

thank you so much for submitting to my contest! I very much enjoyed this read!!!
unfortunately I can only have one winner so.....this was a brilliant write I absolutely LOVED it.
but I was looking for a specific theme....
thanks for entering!!!
Keep up the fabulous work!

Posted 6 Years Ago

I like that this established human relations from the first, and then set out to describe its fantastical science fiction setting. It feels like a normal story, simply written by a person of the future, who doesn't view the ship or crew or genetic advances as unusual. At first I thought the little girl might be lying about her IQ because she said that the average was 92, which would be incorrect but the revelation of the spaceship setting makes it seem more plausible (unless she is lying, but she seems like a bright kid).

Posted 6 Years Ago

Tegon Maus

6 Years Ago

Thank you for the read... an IQ of 92 is about right. In today's average a 12 year old hangs out at.. read more
Well, it looks as though your entry has scared off all the other potential contenders. Either that or my request for non-dystopian stories is not fitting the contemporary zeitgeist. Congratulations - you are the Master of the Universe (there may be protocols I have not observed so please inform me if I need to do something 'official'). Wez

Posted 7 Years Ago

Tegon Maus

7 Years Ago

Hi Wez... hardly seems fair to be the Master of the Universe with only one entry. Not allowing this.. read more

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25 Reviews
Shelved in 2 Libraries
Added on May 20, 2012
Last Updated on July 28, 2017


Tegon Maus
Tegon Maus


Dearheart, my wife of forty nine years and I live in Cherry Valley, a little town of 8,200 in Southern California. In that time, I've built a successful remodeling /contracting business. But th.. more..