The Novotny Device
Kira wondered if she was safe. She carried a lawn chair under the night sky. The smell of freshly mowed grass wafted sweetly under her nose. Her sister, Suzanne passed her by saying, “Hurry up, sis. You don’t want to miss it!” She scrambled on ahead with another lawn chair.
Kira still wasn’t sure what “it” was. She was beginning to doubt the sanity of her older sister. She acted as though she lived safely in Kentucky, not on an alien planet far from settled space. The government ‘strongly’ recommended against traveling to the colony of Warfield III. Three different aggressive alien species prowled the region. Any of them might attack the weakly protected colony.
She settled in beside Suzanne and wondered if she’d made a mistake coming here. “So what are we waiting for?” she said.
“Oh, you’ll see. You’ll love it,” said Suzanne’s husband, Norm. He flipped another burger on the grill.
More people gathered, friends and neighbors of the Hansens. Tables were setup and covered with bowls of potato salad, mac & cheese, and jello. Soon a group of thirty chattered excitedly about the upcoming event.
Kira looked over at Richard as he wore a peculiar looking helmet. Suzanne’s son had been born with autism, like so many of the children on Warfield III. His head lolled from side to side. Kira felt sad that the children would be unable to help their family develop the colony. She noticed a cord leading from Richard’s helmet to a bluish machine, resting on a folding table, beside a bowl of three-bean salad. Kira pointed, “What’s that for?”
Suzanne said, “Oh that’s for Richard. It’s a Novotny Device. It helps him.”
Kira wondered what exactly it did. Before she had a chance to ask she saw the first explosion. It flashed red across the sky. “Ooh!” chanted the crowd. Another blast rocked the sky. “Aaah!”
The explosions were massive, far larger than any fireworks she’d ever seen before. Soon she smiled along with the crowd, chanting along with them. At last she felt a sense of normalcy. It was human beings doing something that Earth humans had enjoyed for centuries. The explosions became more frequent. Soon the crowd was cheering loudly between bites of hot dogs and apple pie. After an hour, Kira wondered how such a small colony could afford such an impressive fireworks display. “Suzanne,” she said. “Does this happen often?”
“Oh, not too often. Last one was 7 months ago. It was the Kirukians, I think.”
“Peraculbi,” corrected Norm.
“Oh that’s right.”
“What are those?” asked Kira.
Suzanne took a sip of wine. “Invasion fleets.”
Kira felt cold inside. “Invasion?” She pointed into the sky. “But what about the fireworks?”
“Oh, those aren’t fireworks,” said Norm. He handed her a hotdog. “That’s another invasion fleet.”
“We’re being invaded?” choked Kira.
“Yep,” said Norm, swigging his beer.
Kira looked at the unconcerned people smiling and eating around her. “Ah, shouldn’t we be running for shelter?” Perhaps she was right in the first place. Suzanne and everyone else on this planet had gone stark-raving mad!
“Nah!” scoffed Suzanne. She pointed to her son. “Richard and the others have it handled.”
“But he’s autistic! What can he do?”
Suzanne grinned. “A lot, with the Novotny Device.”
Norm sat beside her. “Yep. The aliens look at us and see no spaceships, no planetary defenses, and think we’re an easy target. We were, until the Novotny Device came along. The aliens update their shields, their stealth, their weapons, and none of it ever helps ’em. You see, the Novotny Device only works with autistics, and we’ve got a lot of them hooked up to the devices. It allows them to focus incredible mental energy on a single point, like a spaceship. The ships just blow up, and the aliens cain’t figure how we’re doing it. So they just keep on coming back, over and over again.”
Kira tried to take it all in. “So you’re not worried about the alien invasion fleets.”
Suzanne patted her hand. “Nope. Way I see it, it’ll only be a few years more before the aliens wipe themselves out.”
“It’ll be a sad day,” sighed Norm.
“I know,” sighed Suzanne. “I do love the fireworks.”
This is written for Sunday Photo Fiction. Each week, Alastair Forbes offers a photo as a writing prompt for flash fiction. The photo above is this week’s prompt. Look here for more stories based upon the photo above: http://sundayphotofictioner.wordpress.com/2014/12/28/sunday-photo-fiction-december-28th-2014/