Bright Lights, Big City

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This is my first attempt at a Flash Fiction Challenge with Chuck Wending at terribleminds.com (squee!)

Flash Fiction Challenge :  In the Martian suburbs celebrating the Red Planet’s independence.

On the first night, when the clock tower in the City struck midnight, the noise was deafening.  Beings all over the planet celebrated with such fervor you’d have thought they were part of the Governing Board who had negotiated the independence of Mars.  Fireworks filled the night so brightly, they could be seen throughout all of the surrounding suburbs. The every announcer on every channel on the telemonitors rejoiced with the newly declared independence, flashing pictures of the partying downtown, and a few of the fulsome members of the Board.

The second night came and festivals were set up throughout the planet.  Young and old alike came out to make merry with their friends and family.  After over two hundred years of struggle, it was their time to shine.

Come to night number three.

Still fireworks light up the night, even miles outside the main city.  Still streets are filled with revelers; dancing and singing with joy until the wee hours of the morning begin to creep into the sky.  For most, this is a celebration they have waited their lifetimes to see.  For others, they don’t know of a time where they didn’t strive toward independence.  The people of Mars are a proud species.  And to those who agreed to allow them to join the Universal Alliance as a United Planet, they are revered as a people whose determination and dedication to what they believed in deserved this honor.

But to some, a small group of Martians, they felt no need to celebrate.  They were not convinced there was a need… yet…

Qix stared at the ceiling,  taking another deep breath to try to calm his anger.  BOOM! Another explosion in the sky was followed by a shower of light.  He rolled on his side away from the window; huffing and tugging on the sheet.

“Why are you so troubled, Qix?” The softness of his wife’s voice was welcome.

“Sorry to wake you, Otha.” Qix sat up in bed, placing all of his feet on the floor and rubbed his face and ears.  She placed her hand on her husband’s back, caressing his fur in hopes to soothe him.

“I’m just… I’m tired of all the unnecessary pomp and circumstance.”

“Qix!” She scolded as she crept closer to sit at his side. “After two hundred and seventeen years, we finally have our independence. That is an amazing feat for our people.”

“WE are not independent, Otha.  Out here?  Out where the working class lives…” He bounced out of bed and paced the floor.  Another boom, followed by an illuminated spray, briefly lit up their bedroom.

“It’s only been a few days.  We don’t know how it is going to affect us yet.  We need to be patient.”

“Patient?!”

“Hush, Qix! The kids.”  Again he huffed in frustration.

Qix stood at the window, leaning against its sill, staring outside in silence.  Otha waited as long as she could stand before climbing out of bed to snuggle up and put an arm around him.

“Tell me.” She sweetly coaxed.  “What is really upsetting you?”  When he didn’t respond, she slipped a finger under his chin lifting his violet eyes into view. “Qix.” She begged.

He took a deep breath and took her hands in his.  “Mr. Theb called me into his office today…”

“… and…”

“Aaaand. He offered me a job.”

“…that’s great…”

“It’s in the city, Otha.  In the city with the new Regime…”

“Oh.” Otha now understood the worry that plagued her husband.  As part of the agreement for allowing independence, Mars needed to allow their planet to be open to other worlds. Many people were excited at the prospect of learning from other species; to see what new milestones could be reached in science and industry.  Otha knew to Qix, the Regime simply mean  not just working with Martians.  Qix would be thrown into a whole new setting with beings from other planets and other walks of life that were not his own.

“What did you tell him?” She asked.

“I … I told him I would think about it.  I need to give him an answer in the morning.”  He sat back on the edge of the bed again.

“And what will you tell him?”

“I don’t know, Otha… I know it means more money and I know it is good exposure, but…”

“But…” She forced the subject.  He shook his head and sighed.  “Qix. I only want you to be happy.  If you aren’t going to be happy with this new job then tell Mr. Theb no.”

Qix looked at her with surprise.

“But, if you miss out on an opportunity to better your position and better your family because you’re –“ She stopped before uttering the words.  Otha wanted to encourage, not emasculate.

She moved to sit in front of him and started again. “I know that this is something that you can do. And you’d be really good at it.”

Qix looked into the loving eyes of his wife as she smiled up at him.  He didn’t want to disappoint her.  He wanted to give her and their kids everything he didn’t have as a child.  He wished his father had lived long enough to be a part of this.  To see what the Martians had accomplished.

Suddenly, Neb and Behz burst through the door.

“Did you see that?!”  Neb shouted as he pointed out the window.

“What are you two doing up?” Ohta asked.

“I told him not to come in here, Mom.” Behz crossed her arms and tapped two of her feet like a bossy big sister would.  Qix snatched his daughter into his arms and hugged her tight.

“Well thank you, Miss Behz, for being such a good big sister.”  He ruffled her fur and nuzzled her until she giggled.

Neb rolled his eyes and shook his head, turning his focus back to the window.

“Isn’t it exciting Dad?”

Qix smiled and looked knowingly at Otha. “Yes son, it certainly is.”

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