A Chapter by DB Heinemann

Character development


They put Nalie in one of the two guest rooms Ryan had and locked the door from the outside. He made sure there was no way she could mess with a thing in the room. He completely disabled the computer system in there, turned off the eWindow, and double checked that there was no way of getting out the door once locked. He was about to take out all the lights as well, just to be safe. But Shoky stopped him.

“What’s she going to do with light bulbs?” she asked him.

“Make a bomb? I don’t know what resources she was trained to use.” he replied from the chair he was standing on. Shoky gave him a look that made him say, “Fine, I’ll leave the lights. But if a fire gets started in here, we’ll know who was right.”

He also turned on the rodent security system that every Zenon home wouldn’t be complete without. “We usually use it to alert us when a razoon comes in through the vents or something,” Ryan explained to Nalie. “But it should also be able to let us know if you try to get out in any way.”

“What’s a razoon?” Nalie asked curiously.

“It’s like a tasmanian devil mixed with a raccoon,” he replied. “But a bit bigger than a raccoon and not as scared of people as most of the animals on your planet are. They’re one of our main pest problems here. That’s one thing you humans got figured out. Your animals typically leave you alone out of fear. We’re kind of push overs to our animals, though, so we have a lot more… territorial beasts to deal with.”

“Our animals are probably the only dangerous thing on all of Zenon,” Shoky agreed.

“That and your kidnapping government that sends tornadoes to other people’s houses,” grumbled Nalie.

Ryan was about to object to that statement but Shoky shot him a warning glance that shut him up. “Well,” Shoky clapped her hands. “We’ll be in the other room if you need anything.”

As they were leaving, Nalie called out, “Thanks, by the way.” Ryan and Shoky looked back at her. “I know this is kinda difficult for you guys for a whole lot of reasons so… thanks for helping me anyways.”

Shoky smiled softly. “No problem. Good night.” With that, they shut the door behind them and began walking towards their room.

“Still don’t really trust her,” Ryan admitted.

Shoky huffed. “She’s just a child. If their movies are at all true, you’d know that their children haven’t learned to be evil yet.”

“Have you seen their horror movies?” Ryan scoffed.

Shoky tilted her head. “Those are made to scare. They have no basis in fact except to show what freaks humans out.”

“The fact that their own children are on the list of things that scare full grown humans doesn’t send up some flags?” he persisted.

“Have you ever watched their documentaries?” she asked.

“I saw one about dolphin hunting and decided to never watch another one again.”

“They have so many on so many different topics, though,” Shoky sighed. “I mean, not all of them are accurate, of course. Obviously. But some of them, like the psychology ones, are especially interesting. The one about why children are in horror films was explaining that humans don’t naturally see children as scary or threatening. So by putting them in roles in which they are, humans subconsciously begin to doubt their naturally held assumptions which, as we all know, tend to strike fear in the hearts of men.” Shoky smiled devilishly as they entered Ryan’s room. “Something about making a thing that is usually seen as safe and innocent into something that is creepy and untrustworthy… I dunno,” she continued. “It’s like humans don’t want to feel safe.”

Ryan flopped on his bed. “Dat’s intresting,” he mumbled into his pillow. He eyed the female that was likewise climbing into his bed. “So... You wanna…?”

Shoky scrunched her eyebrows. “There’s a human child in the other room possibly because our government kidnapped her for whatever reason and you want to fool around?”

“This has been an incredibly stressful ordeal!” he replied defensively. “I am letting you keep a human in my house and what do I get in return?” Shoky responded with her judgemental glare. It only made Ryan plead further, “C’mon. Just one round.”

Shoky rolled her eyes. “Fine.”

Ryan smiled and kissed her cheeks. “I’ll get the cards.”

* * *

Rore.” Shoky laid her cards on the bed.

“What?” Ryan looked at the hand incredulously. He scowled. “I knew I shouldn’t have given you that 2.”

“Can we go to bed now? We’ve been playing for hours,” Shoky yawned.

“Not until I win!”

“Ryan,” Shoky put her hand on his. She looked deeply into his determined eyes. “Stop.”

He sighed. “Fine. But next time…!”

“Sure.” Shoky rolled over onto her pillow and burrowed under the blankets. After putting the cards away, Ryan likewise got under the covers in order to hold the warm body that lay under them. His arms wrapped around her waist as he whispered in her ear, “I bet I could beat you in poker.”

Shoky pretended to snore softly.


But she continued snoring.

Ryan humphed. “Whatever.” and closed his eyes.

“Good Morning, Good Morning, Good Morning! It’s time to Rise and Shine! Good Morning, Good Morning, Good Morning, I hope you’re feeling fine!” sang Ryan’s alarm clock. Both he and Shoky groaned at it. “The sun is up, the day is new, I hope to spend it all with you so Good Mornin-”

“Shut up!” Ryan shouted. It did.

“That is the last time I let you talk me into playing cards with you during sleeping time,” Shoky muttered.

“Sure it is,” Ryan kissed her hand. He sprang out of bed. “Well, I got 5 o’clock flight to catch. You want a ride back to your house?”

“I should probably stay with Nalie,” she replied.

“Oh,” Ryan clicked. “I forgot about her.” He thought a moment. “What about that restaurant you work at?”

“The robots will cover me.” Shoky stretched and sat up in bed.

“You skip out on work a lot,” Ryan observed.

“It’s only because I hate it,” replied Shoky. “I want to work at the library.”

“Shoky, we’ve been over this,” Ryan looked at the ceiling. “You tried to become a librarian and you failed. Miserably. You could try becoming a janitor or mechanic for the library even though you destroy everything you touch.”

Shoky grumbled. “Why do you have to go through a stupid, competitive apprenticeship program just so you can tell people where books and movies are?”

“You also have to be able to use the highly sophisticated database and have a general knowledge of everything,” Ryan thought to mention as he shrugged on his pilot’s uniform.

“I could learn that!” Shoky protested.

“You tried to,” he reminded her again. “You got bored of the studies and started ditching classes to watch things on ZeeProg.”

“What’s ZeeProg?” asked a muffled voice from behind the wall.

Ryan was suddenly reminded of the thing that was staying in the other room. “It’s not nice to eavesdrop on other people’s conversations,” he said loudly.

There was a moment of silence before Nalie replied. “Yea, but what’s ZeeProg?”

Ryan rubbed his head. “It’s a video sharing website.” Nalie didn’t interrupt further so he continued his conversation with Shoky. “Look, Shokes,” he sat on the bed next to her.. “You like filling your head with a bunch of random junk, running around, doing whatever. And that’s fine. You can be a mahihop. Nothing wrong with that-”

“What’s a mahihop?” the wall interrupted again.

This time, Shoky answered. “It’s Zenon for someone that doesn’t have a true passion for any career in particular and just takes entry level positions assigned to them by the governmental department known as J.F.E. so they can still use the benefits of the job card.”

The wall was quiet for a moment before telling them, “I got more questions now.”

“I’ll explain the intricacies of Zenon’s work system later but I’m trying to talk to my girlfriend about her chosen path in life currently so do you mind?” replied Ryan irrately.

“Fine,” the wall grumbled.

“I’m not a mahihop, though,” Shoky told him. “The librarian thing didn’t work out, fine. And I do just take a bunch of random jobs that mean nothing to me. But…” Shoky ran out of words to tell him.

Ryan raised his eyebrows and waited. When she didn’t say anything he pointed out that, “That is what a mahihop is.”

Shoky huffed. “I just… I don’t want to have to do anything. I just want to…”

“Run around, get into things, explore, have adventures?” Ryan finished.


“I know.” Ryan got up and kissed her head. He walked towards his closet to get his shoes.

“Maybe when we get married I can be a housewife,” Shoky joked. “Then I can do whatever I want with no fear of homelessness.”

Ryan scoffed as he put on his shoes. “Yea, sure.”

“Well, you don’t have to sound so pleased about it.” Shoky crossed her arms.

Ryan smiled as he clasped his hands over his chest. “Oh, how my heart leaps for joy in anticipation of the day and age when we become one. Oh!” He stopped to connect the back of his hand to his forehead and fall on the bed dramatically. “Whenever shall this day come?”

Shoky gave him a shove. “What’s wrong with being married to me? I make your life awesome.”

Ryan raised his eyebrow. “Need I remind you of the human listening in on our conversation currently?”

“Awesome!” Shoky insisted.

“Speaking of which, this human is getting hungry,” the wall interrupted. “And tired of this room.”

“I guess we could let her out to eat and whatnot,” Ryan considered. He leaned over to give Shoky a quick peck on the head. “Phew, you stink.”

“Shut up!” Shoky threw a pillow at him as he ran out of the room.

* * *

“I didn’t know Zenon had its own language,” Nalie said as she played with the napkins on the table.

Ryan turned away from the stove to look at her strangely. “Of course we do. What, you think we both just happened to develop the same language, called it the same thing, on two separate planets 8 million miles away from each other?”

“Then why does everybody speak English?” she asked.

Ryan shrugged. “Partially just in case humans do one day discover us, we learned all the human languages so we can communicate effectively. Partially because we watch so many of the American and other English speaking place’s movies and TV shows, it’s kind of become a fad language. Like how it’s common for native people on colonized land on Earth to mix their native tongue with what their colonizers speak.” Ryan shuffled the natewais in the pan a bit. “A lot of other planets do the same thing in varying degrees. English has sort of become the universal language base. We still write in our native language.” He pointed his spatula towards the boxes of food that lay on the shelf of his kitchen. There weren’t any recognizable words labelling what specifically was inside the boxes- only scribbles that looked like a mix between Japanese and Korean.

“Say something in zenon then!” Nalie demanded excitedly.

Kaua i whakaro i inaianey te tikango note mia noa ahaw hee ahaw hoki e koutoo whakawhiriniki ahaw kia koe yte katoa, koe tangata hawaree,” he returned.

“Cool,” said she in awe. “What’s it mean?”

“Your breakfast today is some scrambled natewais. Enjoy.” Ryan smiled smugly as he handed her a plate of what looked like lightly browned cellophane noodles.

Nalie eyed it with suspicion. “Thanks…” She poked it with her fork a bit before taking a hesitant bite. After chewing it slowly, she told him, “This tastes like warm ice.”

“There’s nothing wrong with ice!” Ryan snapped at her.

Nalie put up her hands defensively. “I didn’t say there was-”

“What did your supposed zenonite captors feed you if you’re not used to our food?” Ryan muttered as he fixed himself a plate of natewais.

“They still gave me Earth food,” Nalie replied hotly. “Didn’t you say they went to Earth just so they could sample our food? Which is so much better than your food, by the way.”

“We only went there out of curiosity. You think your food is so much better just because you have things like corn and grease and sugar,” Ryan muttered. “At least our food doesn’t potentially kill us.”

“Hey guys,” Shoky cut into the melodrama as she entered the room, her long, dark hair wet from her shower. “Ooh, natewais.” She helped herself. Ryan and Nalie stood down but continued to glare at each other from across the table. Shoky sat down between them, oblivious to the tension.

“So Nalie,” she said through the food in her mouth. “What do you want to do today? We can’t leave the house, but Ryan’s got tons of tabletop games and a TV we can watch stuff on.” Ryan scowled at the thought of Nalie touching his things.

Nalie shrugged. “I kinda wanna to learn more about Zenon. The zenonites I was with on the ship kept me in the dark about everything including who they were. I’m curious about them.”

“Whaaat,” Ryan interjected with mock wonder. “The human that claims she’s not a spy wants to know more about us? Get outta town.”

Nalie glared hotly at Ryan. “I don’t care about codes or whatever. I’m just curious about the culture and land and stuff. It’s not every day a human gets to be on an alien planet.”

“For good reason…” Ryan muttered to his plate of food.

Shoky ignored him beamed proudly at Nalie. “I’d be happy to give you a crash course. And you can tell me some human things in exchange.”

“Careful not to tell her anything that would destroy our planet,” Ryan warned Shoky.

“Oh, what do I know?” Shoky laughed at the unease.

Ryan paused. “Good point.” Shoky made a face at him. He finished the last bite on his plate before stretching and leaving the table. “Well, I’m off to work. Don’t leave the house or mess with anything that’ll get us discovered. Shoky, call me if you suddenly and mysteriously black out then wake up to find that Nalie is gone. Nalie, don’t touch my stuff.”

Ryan didn’t look at the pair of mean faces glowering at him as he put his plate in the sink and left for work. He didn’t need to and he didn’t care. Shoky had really outdone herself this time. The realization of all the work he’d have to do to send Nalie back home while simultaneously making sure Shoky didn’t get them into more trouble had begun to settle on him which put him in a foul mood. He was trying to put on a happy face for it- for the most part. He really just wanted to turn Nalie in to Zenon Patrol and be done with it. But what if Shoky was right? What if Nalie was telling the truth? What if the Zenon Government had been doing shady things? Ryan shook his head of the thoughts. No, he wasn’t going along with Shoky’s plan because he doubted his government. He was doing it because… because… Hm. Why didn’t he just anonymously turn Nalie in? Shoky would never know, would she? Ryan considered it for a moment. No, he wouldn’t be able to lie to Shoky like that. He could betray the best interests of the Zenon Government and abandon his principles just this once for her.

Ryan sighed. He loved Shoky, he really did. But she got him to do the craziest things. He often wondered if he should risk even staying with her. He paused when considering a future with her. They were different people with different ways of handling things. The way Shoky handled things usually involved running into things full throttle with no questions asked which kind of drove his cautious mind insane. Yet the thought of her enthusiasm whenever she laughed always made his hardened face soften for just a moment. And even though her wild adventures made his life more complicated, they also made it more interesting and worthwhile. Just thinking of a lifetime with her...

He shook his head again. He got into his cab which drove him to the Zenon National Airport. He couldn’t think about forever right now. He could only think of how to get he and Shoky out of her latest mess. For his planet’s sake, he hoped Nalie was telling the truth about her orgin. At the same time, he shuddered to think about what it would mean if Nalie was telling the truth.

© 2016 DB Heinemann

Author's Note

DB Heinemann
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Added on November 6, 2016
Last Updated on November 6, 2016


DB Heinemann
DB Heinemann


Just a super awesome person looking to hone the craft. I mostly do fantasy but I occasionally get science fiction-y or some artsy fartsy soul searching writing. But fantasy's my main go to because the.. more..

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A Chapter by DB Heinemann