A Slice of Earth

Shia counted three sunsets as she waited on the rocky steps outside the museum entrance for her tour group.

“Welcome to the Museum of Interplanetary Natural History, Art and Culture. My name is Shia, and I’ve been looking forward to showing you around today.” She mumbled it under her breath. Get the first impression right and the group will love me. The rest of the tour will be like…child’s play.

Forty children from three different classes with possibly six teachers and helpers were going to be Shia’s largest group to guide. It didn’t daunt her, not with her training, and certainly not with the challenge of appealing to the interests of mixed ages. There was enough passion in her about the exhibition to rub off on any of her listeners, teenagers and the younger excitable ones alike.

Shia was happy to get the children excited about the exhibition. Keeping them in check was up to the teachers and helpers. She felt sorry for the adults who were torn between controlling the kids and feeding their own interest at the museum. There wasn’t much she could do about it, other than deliver a pitch that appealed to the adults as well as the children, and hope they’d pick up at least some of it.

“Welcome to the Museum of Interplanetary…”

The dull yellow caging of the children transporter came into view as it rounded the horizon. Funny. Shia expected it to be larger, or to have additional trailers for a group of nearly fifty. Even from this distance, she saw the mass of antennae and feet protruding though the bars, waving to gain a sense of what lay outside. Whatever the number of the party, it would be a busy tour.

The transporter rattled over the speed bumps as it entered the empty car park. Shia watched it lurch awkwardly to a stop across three spaces. A pause, as if the transporter was resting, catching its breath after a chase, then, after a few moments, the gridded side panel opened.

“It’s just us, I’m afraid,” said the teacher, wriggling out, “There was a mix-up at the school that I won’t bore you with. I hope it’s not a problem?”

“Of course not,” said Shia. “The children…?”

Shia could almost feel the transporter vibrating from the pure excitement and energy from inside.

“Ah, yes. There’s probably a child-lock.” The teacher returned to the transporter and opened t...

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Paul Sterlini
Jan 28 2021

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Wow, what a brilliant story. Excellent dialogue and well-placed humour throughout. Packed with imagination. An engaging, vibrant read from start to finish. Loved it!

Lainey Hesketh
Apr 13 2021

This story fascinated me. Wasn't sure where it was going to take me, then came the part where I was hooked.

Eileen O'Reilly
Apr 3 2021

So many amazing entries, but this one stands out for me. It's a brilliantly imaginative take on the picture provided and superbly written.

Rod Webb
Apr 2 2021

A well planned story which kept you guessing. Very unusual and imaginative. Very enjoyable.

Wanda Sterlini
Mar 29 2021

Imaginative and insightful - excellent!

Janette Ostle
Jan 31 2021