Once upon a super moon, there was a young boy who dreamt of being an astronaut. No adult ever paid attention to his dream because it was considered a typical fantasy of any child. But the boy remained resolute and throughout his education worked towards achieving its realization.
Upon completing his studies as an honor student given his thirst and determination to succeed, he was lucky enough to be approached by NASA. And he soon found himself at the doorstep of his dream.
After years of training, as required by protocol, he was called to man the Agency’s mission to Mars. The first of its kind. But the young man did not want to go alone. So he was told he could be an exception and bring along a pet. The young man searched hard for who could accompany him to this long and arduous journey.
Be it fate, or a simple coincidence, when his old lady neighbor found out about his achievement she was so overjoyed that she gave him her pet parrot to take with him to space. His name was Peri. And he had recently lost his girl companion. “He could use some lifting up,” the old lady said.
The parrot had a strong yet elegant appearance. Green from head to toe, his feathers had strips of blue and his tail featured strings of red, yellow, orange and purple, making him as exotic as impressive to look at. At the sight of the young boy, the parrot jolted and yelled “Honey”, “Help!”. The boy panicked and turned to the old lady. She was looking at him calmly with a senile apathy that is common at that age. She smiled and told him not to worry. “Honey was the name of his girl companion. She became sick and we couldn’t get to her in time as it was vacation season and we were away often. That is why he still calls out help. He feels somewhat guilty for her demise”. She paused then said, “I think outer space would be good for him. A change of scenery always works to get your mind off things”. The boy decided to take the parrot.
Years passed before they landed on Mars. All the while, the parrot often screeched the only two words he knew and despotically refused to learn any more – different – words. Once on the red planet, the man suited up and dressed the parrot in a specially made suit too. He proposed the parrot be the first to step on the new planet. It would be an interesting twist, as well as acting as a safety net for the young astronaut. No one could predict what they would find out there. He pushed the parrot out the spacecraft door, but the winged animal would not budge. After a while, the man resigned the effort and extended his right leg to step outside. That is when a flutter was heard and the parrot skid past his head and made a leap onto the alien planet. His webbed feet were the first to make a footprint. The boy smiled and followed.
They weren’t to remain too long outside. Their mission was to collect a sample from the planet’s surface, take pictures and leave. The technology would do the rest. The boy told the parrot not to wander off too far. Three minutes later, he found the parrot mouthing his two words. But he was not alone.
A red creature, around the parrot’s size was standing right opposite it. It had the parrot’s features. A small head, long body, wing-like hands but four sturdy yet stick-like legs. The astronaut tried to approach but with every step forward he made, the alien parrotoid moved back. So he decided to remain in place and take pictures as evidence. In an instant, though, just as suddenly as it appeared, the alien vanished. And the parrot voluntarily retreated into the spacecraft.
Back on earth, a very long journey later, the parrot was lauded as a hero, just as much as the young astronaut was praised for successfully achieving his mission. But as soon as he was reunited with his old lady owner, the parrot collapsed and passed away in her hands. He had already survived beyond his expected life span.
The young man reported on their Martian encounter, building up excitement and expectations before he revealed the photos. He hadn’t said anything so far. He wanted it to be a surprise when he landed home. But the photographs were not as expected. Peri the parrot was in all of them. The red parrotoid was in none.
As a result, no-one believed the young astronaut. And no matter what he said or how much he tried, there was no way of proving what he saw. He was the only one who would ever know what he and the first ever parrot in space experienced on a planet millions of light years away from ours.
Posted in Short Stories
and tagged aliens
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, science fiction
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