By Janet Owens (aka TicAndToc) <firstname.lastname@example.org>
Submitted: April, 2006
Summary: The timeless, classic story of how it all started… Or more precisely, how the story would sound if Lois told it in full babble mode. Read at your own risk.
This is my response to the Boring Fanfics challenge, which you can find here: http://www.lcficmbs.com/ubb/ultimatebb.php?ubb=get_topic;f=3;t=000468
ShayneT suggested, "You should call these Tranq endings…as in, they are so boring they'll tranquilize you…"
You decide — is it boring, or just badfic?
This story is dedicated to AnnaBtG.
And Capes deserves a heartfelt thank you for editing this for me. If archive GE was a paid position, you would deserve a raise! <g>
Disclaimer: None of the characters belong to me and no copyright infringement is intended. This story was written for fun, not for profit.
How it All Started, The Long Version (Or, How The Story Would Sound if Lois Lane Told it in Full Babble Mode)
*With bonus Cliff Notes
I. It Was a Dark And Stormy Night…
It was a dark and stormy night… in western New Jersey. This story, however, is set in Kansas. It was a normal night there. Dark, certainly, but not stormy. It had stormed before in Kansas, of course, but it wasn't storming on *this* particular night. There weren't even many clouds. There had been clouds before, many times, but this time the sky was clear. The stars shone brightly, much more brightly than they would shine in western New Jersey. Or even in the rest of New Jersey. Of course, it was a dark and stormy night in western New Jersey, so the stars weren't shining at all. But *had* it been a clear night, the stars wouldn't have shone as brightly as they did in Kansas. There are far fewer sources of artificial light in Kansas than there are in New Jersey (western, eastern, or any part of it). The greater quantity of artificial light in New Jersey makes the stars look dimmer, on nights when you can *see* the stars. As mentioned previously, there weren't any stars visible in New Jersey on this particular night, because it was dark and stormy there. At least, it was in the western part of New Jersey; the eastern part had a few stars showing through a mostly cloudy sky, although the stars didn't shine very brightly due to the overabundance of artificial light, and to the storm approaching from the west.
A cloud of dust was rising along an unpaved country road in Kansas. The dust cloud was caused by an elderly truck, which was being driven along under the stars. The truck was traveling slowly, although there would have been just as much dust rising along behind it if the driver had been going faster. However, the truck was dawdling along; its passengers were quite possibly enjoying the bright light of the stars shining down. The same sort of truck wouldn't have raised a cloud of dust in New Jersey (at least in the western part), because it was raining heavily in New Jersey. On this particular night, that is. If it had been a clear night in New Jersey, the truck *might* have been raising just as much dust as it traveled down an unpaved road. But unpaved country roads tend to be muddy instead of dusty during heavy rains, so there would not have been any dust behind the elderly truck if it had been on a country road in western New Jersey (and very little dust if it had been on a country road in *eastern* New Jersey). The elderly truck, however, was being driven down a country road in Kansas. Since it was a clear, starry night in Kansas, the truck traveling along the road raised quite a bit of dust.
Suddenly, a bright bolt of light streaked across the sky. The sky in *Kansas*, that is. The sky in New Jersey also had bright bolts of light streaking across the sky, but that is to be expected on a dark and stormy night when the rain is coming down quite heavily. The sky in eastern New Jersey as well as the sky in western New Jersey had bright bolts of light, since the storm was moving from west to east across New Jersey, as storms often do. The sky in Kansas, however, was, as previously mentioned, clear and starry. Dark, but not stormy. Not like in New Jersey. So the presence of a bright bolt of light streaking across the sky was *quite* a bit more surprising to the passengers in the truck traveling along the country road than it would have been if the truck (and its passengers) had been moving along a country road in New Jersey. Especially as the bright bolt of light passed almost directly overhead and appeared to touch down in a field only a short way from the edge of the country road, on the driver's side of the truck (and the driver's side of the road). Quite possibly, if the truck had been traveling along a country road in New Jersey (especially the western part of New Jersey), its passengers would hardly have noticed the bright bolt of light. Of course, since it was dark and stormy in New Jersey, the truck and its passengers would probably not have been out dawdling along a country road. There isn't much use to traveling along, stargazing on a dark and stormy night. However, the truck and its passengers were in Kansas where the sky was clear and starlit, so the bright bolt of light streaking across the sky was quite surprising to them.
The bright bolt of light was followed almost immediately by a loud crash of sound similar to the sound thunder makes on a dark and stormy night. This sound wasn't thunder, however, as the sky was clear and *definitely* not stormy in Kansas on this particular night. The loud crash of sound followed the bright bolt of light by a few seconds because sound travels more slowly that light travels. So the crash of sound, while clearly associated with the bright bolt of light, occurred shortly after the bright bolt of light. This order of speed, with sound following light, is true in New Jersey, as well. It's true pretty much *everywhere*. At least on Earth, that is. It may not be true in space. It's *certainly* true in New Jersey, both the western part and the eastern part. This fact was quite obvious to anyone in New Jersey on this particular night, as it was dark and stormy and raining quite heavily (in the western part of New Jersey), and loud crashes of thunder followed shortly after bright bolts of lightning almost continuously. Loud crashes of thunder followed bright flashes of lightning in eastern New Jersey, as well, although the sound followed more slowly there as the storm was farther away than it was in western New Jersey. In western New Jersey, it was right overhead. If you happened to be in western New Jersey on this night, that is. In Kansas, the loud crash of noise was directly over the heads of the couple riding in the truck traveling slowly along the country road, or so it seemed to the passengers in the truck. The couple was quite surprised, since it was a clear night in Kansas, with stars shining brightly, not a dark and stormy night like it was in western New Jersey. The loud crash of noise and the bright bolt of light were so surprising, in fact, that the truck's driver came to a complete stop at the side of the country road.
The cloud of dust behind the elderly truck slowly dissipated until the truck sat alone under the stars on the country road. Alone except for the passengers of the truck, of course. And a lingering bit of dust in the air. The area behind the elderly truck became almost as clear as the area in front of the truck. The area behind the truck wasn't as dust free as a country road in western New Jersey might currently be, since it was a dark and stormy night in western New Jersey, and any dust tendencies in the country roads there were kept at bay. Since it wasn't a dark and stormy night in Kansas, the dust had more leeway to rise in the wake of a passing truck, even one moving as slowly as this truck had been moving along the country road. If it had been raining in Kansas, there would probably have been as little dust as there currently was on any western New Jersey country road. However, it was a clear and starlit night in Kansas, and some of the dust lingered in the air.
The passengers of the truck slowly exited onto the grassy verge. The verge was also dusty, as the elderly truck had been raising a cloud of dust as it traveled slowly along, but there was more grass than there was dust, so the verge could be accurately described as grassy. The passengers consisted of a youngish couple, who moved quite slowly out of the truck onto the grassy verge, more because of their continuing inspection of the sky than because of any degree of fear. The youngish couple was a local farmer and his wife, who were used to the bright bolts of light and the loud crash of thunder that were normally present during a dark and stormy night in Kansas. They would not have been at all surprised at the bright streak of light and the loud crash of thunder-like noise if it had been raining heavily in Kansas. They would probably have been just as used to the bright bolts of lightning and crashing thunder that were occurring in western New Jersey, had they lived in New Jersey, since New Jersey has its fair share of dark and stormy nights. However, they were in Kansas on a bright, clear, and starlit night, where a bolt of bright light streaking across the sky, followed by a loud crash similar to thunder, would be quite surprising. They were *definitely* surprised, but they were curious also. While they would not have investigated a bolt of light and a crash of thunder-noise during a dark and stormy night, on this clear and cloudless night they were curious enough to want to discover, if not the source of the bright bolt of light and its following loud noise, at least the end result. No doubt they would have been equally curious of a bright light and crashing noise in New Jersey (either western or eastern) on a clear and starry night and equally incurious of the same phenomena on a dark and stormy night.
The youngish couple stepped carefully off of the grassy verge (which was also somewhat dusty) and over a shallow ditch along the side of the country road, into the field stretching away on the driver's side of the truck. The same sort of ditch in New Jersey would quite likely have been filled with water, as the weather in New Jersey (at least the western part of it) was currently dark and stormy. However, it was dry and clear in Kansas, so the shallow ditch was dry and empty. It had weeds and grass and the occasional rock, of course, as ditches are wont to contain almost anywhere (in New Jersey as well as in Kansas), but it was empty of water. The youngish couple knew this, because the sky was clear and starlit and there were no storms currently moving across Kansas, at least their section of it. There had also been no storms in the previous few days, so the couple were quite confident that the shallow ditch was dry, despite the fact that the night, while clear and starlit, was dark enough to hide some of the subtler features of the landscape. The couple stepped over the ditch, therefore, not because the ditch might contain any standing water or wet mud, but because they both knew the land around them very well, having grown up in the area and being the current owners of the fields around them, and knew the ditch was there. It was more a case of stepping over the ditch because it was shallow enough to do so, and because they had done it countless times in the past during their childhood and more recently, during their time as a married couple, farming the land. The husband, who quite possibly knew the land even better than his wife did, held out a hand to help her across the ditch, more as a courtesy than because she needed any help. No doubt he would have done the same thing had they been stepping over a shallow ditch (either wet and muddy or dry) at the edge of a field in western (or eastern) New Jersey.
The youngish couple made their way across the field in the direction in which the light had traveled, and after only a short distance they came upon a smoking crater at the base of a tree in the otherwise empty field. That is, the field was empty of such things as other trees, or cows, or large boulders, or cliffs, or streams, or other craters. There were, especially, no other *smoking* craters. There were also no other small, smooth, sooty, strange and foreign-looking objects. Neither inside a smoking crater, such as the one in front of them at the base of a tree, nor in any other craters- because there were, of course, no other craters. (There were no other small, smooth, strange and foreign-looking objects *outside* of craters, either.) To the youngish couple, the one crater was enough. It had, as previously stated, a small, smooth, sooty, strange and foreign-looking object in its middle. The crater and its object were fairly visible in the starlight, since the sky was clear and free of clouds, and the object seemed to either glow slightly or to be particularly good at reflecting starlight, even in its present slightly sooty condition. The object was vaguely egg-shaped, much the way a river rock smoothed by eons of water passing across and around it appears to be egg-shaped to an egg-shaped-rock-seeking rockhound, until it is picked up, whereupon the rock proves to be only partly egg-shaped, with a flattened bottom or edge. Perfectly egg-shaped rocks are hard to find, at least out on the shores of the Great Lakes. They're easier to find in rock shops, where achieving an egg shape is only a few tools away. The vaguely egg-shaped, smooth and slightly sooty foreign-looking object in the crater (which was still slightly smoking) was very easy to find, as it was right in front of the couple.
The youngish farmer exchanged a glance with his wife. It was one of those glances a husband gives a wife, or a wife gives a husband, when they are of one accord. In this case, it was a glance that conveyed several thoughts, among them curiosity needing to be satisfied. It also conveyed an understanding that satisfying their curiosity should not take precedence over being careful. And it mentioned in passing that this was certainly an *unusual* way to end a quiet night of stargazing on a clear and cloudless Kansas night.
Messages having been exchanged and received, the youngish husband stepped forward and down into the crater. Since it was a crater, its surface was lower than the surface of the field in which it sat, still smoking slightly, so he had to step down into it. The farmer reached down tentatively (keeping in mind the unspoken "be careful" message sent and received moments ago between husband and wife) to the surface of the small, smooth, sooty foreign-looking egg-shaped object, which was at the bottom of the crater and therefore lower than the surrounding field. He brushed his hand carefully over the surface, removing some of the soot in the process and allowing the small object to gleam silver in the starlight. It was undoubtedly easier to see the object with the starlight shining down than it would have been on a dark and stormy night, but if it *had* been a dark and stormy night, the youngish couple would probably have attributed the bold, bright streak of light and the crashing thunder-like noise to a storm, and they wouldn't have stopped and discovered the crater and its silvery egg-shaped object. But since they *did* discover the now no longer smoking crater and the smallish, smooth egg-shaped object, they were naturally inclined to investigate both crater and object.
The farmer made a second sweep of his hand across the surface of the egg-shaped silvery object, and a distinct "click" sort of noise sounded in the otherwise still and starlit night. Silent, that is, of artificial sounds. There were the usual sort of cricket noises and night bird calls, but there were no clicks other than the one made by the egg-shaped object in the crater. It was a click of the sort that is heard when a cabinet is opened or closed, a cabinet with a magnetic latch. It was also a click of the sort that a car's glove box makes as it's being closed. A sharp, neat click that leads the listener to suspect that a latch of some type is involved, assuming the listener is even paying attention to the click and is interested in discovering the reason behind such a click. It wasn't the sort of click made by a cooling engine, although the elderly truck sitting at the side of the not-too-distant (and much less dusty than it previously was) country road had made just that sort of click as the youngish couple had stood on the grassy (and dusty) verge looking into the field. In confirmation of the click being associated with some sort of latch, the whole top of the smallish, silvery egg-shaped object lifted up and back slowly, shortly after the click resounded through the mostly still and silent night. A night that was silent except for a few night bird calls, and the ever-present crickets, and a small "Oh!" from the youngish farmer's wife.
When the top of the small, silvery, egg-shaped object lifted up and back, both the farmer and his wife stepped back slightly. This movement was less a matter of fear than it was a matter of surprise. Neither the farmer nor his wife was of a particularly excitable nature, as far as in their reactions to the world around them. They had both grown up in this same area of Kansas and were familiar with the town, and the land, and the sometimes dark and stormy and sometimes clear and cloudless Kansas sky. They were also familiar with the farming life, since both had grown up on farms in the area. They had both gone off to college and had then returned and chosen to stay and farm. Neither had considered living somewhere else (for instance, in New Jersey, regardless of the fact that it was only dark and stormy there some of the time), at least not permanently. If they *had* thought of living elsewhere, it was only a brief, stray what-if sort of thought. The young woman wanted to travel and see some of the country, but always planned on returning to Kansas. The couple had been friends in grade school and high school, and their separation while in college had made them both realize that their relationship was more than that of friends. The young man had returned directly from college and had worked on his parents' farm, eventually taking it over when they retired from the farming life. The young woman had traveled around the country for a short while, and had then returned to Kansas and to him. They married and settled down on this farm on the outskirts of the small rural town. This didn't mean that they were unsophisticated or backwards by any means, only that they were content with the life they led. It was a quiet life of farming under the Kansas sky, a sky that was sometimes clear and starlit at night, and sometimes dark and stormy at night. Tonight was a clear and starry night, as previously mentioned. There was only one thing that marred their happiness. They had no children, although they had been married for nearly a dozen years. They were unable to have their own children, and had had no luck trying to adopt, either.
The top of the craft— it could only be a spaceship since it had a top with a latch, and was so smooth and silvery and foreign-looking, and had come from the sky and made a crater in the field at the base of a tree when it landed— came slowly open. The lid had strange markings on its front edge, fairly visible now that some of the soot had been wiped away by the farmer's hand. There were also strange markings along the inner edge, markings that bore no resemblance to any written language either of the two adults ever remembered seeing. To the youngish couple's complete and utter surprise, staring up at them from inside the small spaceship, lighted softly by the glow of small lights mounted on the underside of the spaceship's lid, was a small child wrapped in a blue blanket. The child, a baby of approximately three or four months of age, looked just as startled to see the youngish husband and his wife as they were to see it. It is highly unlikely that an average, youngish couple will happen upon a spaceship in the middle of a Kansas cornfield, regardless of the weather. It is no more likely to happen on a clear and cloudless night than it is on a dark and stormy night, and is equally unlikely to happen in western New Jersey, or anywhere else in the country for that matter. It is even *more* highly unlikely that having found such a spaceship, in any sort of weather or location, a youngish farmer and his wife would find a baby inside it. And yet that is exactly what happened.
There followed a few moments of equally surprised staring, open-mouthed staring on the youngish couple's part and fingers-in-mouth staring on the infant's part. The farmer's wife, usually completely unflappable, suppressed her sudden desire to flap, closed her mouth, and stepped forward with a soft exclamation. Her husband, equally unflappable and suddenly finding himself wanting very much to flap, had already bent down to unfasten the straps holding the child in place inside the spaceship. The child, utterly unconcerned with flappability or unflappability, took its fingers out of its mouth and let out a wail. This produced an effect that most infants everywhere— in Kansas, or New Jersey (western and eastern), or anywhere else—are familiar with. It was *exactly* the sort of effect that a child who had been alone in a spaceship for an undetermined amount of time, finding itself in the presence of adults, would hope for. If an infant took the time to hope for a reaction, that is, instead of just creating a reaction with a well placed wail. The youngish wife scooped the baby up and held it against her, and the Kansas night, previously filled only with the sounds of crickets and night birds' calls (although briefly, the night had contained a distinct, artificial click and then shortly thereafter, a baby's wail) was filled with the sounds of a mother comforting her child.
II. The Cliff Notes version