Get ready for the second installment of my short story series. This science fiction short story is called Undeniable Proof.
Here’s a reminder of the short story elements YOU voted for. 🙂 Don’t forget to vote on the story elements for my next short story!
- Main Character: Girl who wears red lipstick and keeps a vase of fresh flowers
- Love Interest: Guy who remembers every number, but can’t remember your name
- Setting: Museum
- Random Object: Paper clip
This short story is much shorter than the last one I wrote. You can read it in this post (scroll down) or if you prefer a pdf, click the link to download the pdf.Free download of Kay L Moody's newest science fiction short story, Undeniable Proof. Click the link to download your copy today!Click To Tweet
Get the internship then fall madly in love. It sounded so easy in Prisca’s head. If only it was that easy to execute. She loosened the fingers gripping her résumé with a scowl. Stupid crease. If she wasn’t so nervous, she wouldn’t have bent the paper. Prisca pulled a stray cat hair off her black blouse and checked her lipstick. Blast! She’d rubbed almost all of it off while waiting for the interviewer.
But her nerves were on fire. Yes, Science and Technology Intern for the Exploratorium of San Francisco would certainly look good on her resume. But the real reason she wanted the internship was for Honi. He was applying too and he’d get it for sure. If they both got it, they’d see each other every day for months. Surely she could get him to notice her in that time.
He started out just a friend of a friend. Someone Prisca ran into at parties and sometimes on campus. But then he had to go and rescue her when her car broke down and all her friends were out of town. And now she was falling for him like a pebble hurtling down Niagara Falls. And she wanted to pull him down with her.
A short woman with a business suit and sneakers walked in and introduced herself as Miss Christine Walker. Miss Walker made a note on her clipboard and said, “And you’re Prisca Ivanov, right?”
A soccer charm bounced around on Miss Walker’s shoelaces as Prisca nodded.
“Excellent,” Miss Walker said while she tried to hide a smile. “We have a special sort of, uh, practical exam. If you complete it, you’ve got the internship. Your specialty is power and electronics, right?”
A short burst of excitement shot through Prisca while she nodded in answer. She never expected a practical exam. She thought they’d just do a boring interview and she’d flounder and that was it. But if they wanted her to show her skills, that was different. That was an exam she could ace. It looked like she might actually achieve step one of her two part plan.
Miss Walker led her through the halls of the Exploratorium. A rainbow of light graced the floor due to cleverly placed prisms. Glass windows led to a large room filled with exhibits. Each exhibit sat in the open, beckoning for museum guests to, as the museum name suggested, explore.
In an official tone, Miss Walker said, “I’ll explain more about the assignment once we get to the room, but I do want to ask a couple questions first. You have experience with powering and turning on electronics you’ve never seen before, right? The student who came with you, Honi, he says you can turn on even the most user un-friendly products out there.”
A corner of Prisca’s lip turned up to a smile. Honi paid her a compliment? That was a nice surprise.
Before the grin could overtake her face, Prisca remembered she was here to get an internship. She wiped the smile away and replaced it with a professional nod. “Yes, I’m very good with electronics,” she said.
Miss Walker nodded and a look of anticipation appeared in her eyes. She glanced down the hall and then behind them. In a lower voice she said, “Did you hear about the, uh, the sighting the other night?”
Prisca started to chuckle, thinking it was a joke. When she saw how serious Miss Walker was Prisca swallowed and fidgeted with her purse strap. Cautiously she said, “The UFO sighting? I know California gets the most UFO sightings, but was this one different in any way?” She tilted her head to the side. “Oh yeah. One of your employees reported the UFO. She said she had proof that aliens exist and the government wouldn’t be able to cover it up this time.”
Miss Walker smiled and her look of anticipation grew. “Undeniable proof.” She stopped in front of a door and waved her name badge over a scanner. She led Prisca inside a cozy artifact room filled shelves, wooden handled tools, and all sorts of electronics.
A gasp escaped Prisca when her eyes fell on the table in the middle of the room. On it sat the most glorious specimen Prisca had ever seen. She wasn’t sure what to call it. An electronic flower maybe. The specimen stood two feet tall with six equally sized and distanced panels coming out from the center. Tiny, indented squares covered the panels. The tiny squares almost looked like windows, but in reality they were just covered with a reflective mirror surface. The panels curved along their outside edges and up to a rounded top.
Prisca reached out to touch a panel while her heart thundered in her chest. The material cooled her finger the way ceramic might, though it felt like plastic. The almost white surface shone with a pale teal-ish hue.
“We think they’re trying to communicate with us,” Miss Walker said. The girlish excitement in her eyes made Prisca even more determined to help. It wasn’t just for Honi now. Miss Walker frowned. “But we’re running out of time. If we can’t turn it on, the government will take it from the museum so they can run ‘tests.’ We all know that means they’ll take it to Area 51, never to be seen again. But. If we turn it on, they’ll let us keep it.”
Prisca slid her thumb across another panel and then along the bottom edge of the specimen. She liked to think of it as a flower, but maybe that was just because she liked flowers. She always had a fresh vase of them at home.
“If you need anything just press this intercom here,” Miss Walker said. “Honi will join you in a minute. I know you’re only nineteen so I don’t mean to pressure you, but we have a lot riding on this. Do your best.”
Once Miss Walker was gone, Prisca examined the alien specimen in every way she could imagine. She brushed her fingers over the squares. She poked her pinky through an indent to touch the reflective glass inside. Prisca noticed, mildly impressed, that not a trace of her fingerprint stayed behind. Prisca bit her lip with a smile in her eye. This would be a challenge, but a fun one.
Prisca released her lip when she remembered about her lipstick. Now that she was alone, she could reapply it. She dropped the cherry red purse onto the metal table and dug through it to find her lipstick. As she pulled it out, a loose stick of gum, a couple dimes, and a paper clip fell from of her purse. Prisca shook her head. She really needed to clean out her purse again.
Prisca opened her compact mirror and reapplied her perfect red lipstick. Just for Honi. Okay, maybe not just for Honi. He couldn’t tell the difference between Russian Red and Ruby Woo, after all. But Prisca loved her red lipstick and surely it wouldn’t hurt things with Honi.
Just as she finished applying the lipstick, the doorknob turned. Prisca snapped her mirror shut and threw everything into the purse as quickly as possible. In her rush, she missed the paper clip. Never mind, she’d get that later.
Honi stepped through the door and looked straight through Prisca and her red lipstick as if they were invisible. He locked his eyes onto the alien specimen while his mouth hung open in a grin. His dark skin and carefree smile looked good with a sense of wonder. Those Hawaiian features were as devastatingly handsome as ever. Though, now that she knew Honi better, she had a whole host of reasons to be attracted to him besides his good looks.
Honi stepped past Prisca and rubbed his palm across a panel just as Prisca had done. He stared in awe and said in a hushed voice, “Undeniable proof that aliens exist.”
Prisca rolled up her sleeves and leaned toward the specimen. “We can’t prove anything until we turn it on. Come on, Honi. We have work to do.”
Honi glanced at her through the side of his eye before he nodded. His throat made a strange noise as he tried to swallow. He shook his head and ran a finger along a row of glass squares. He closed one eye and narrowed the other and pointed his finger around as he mouthed silent words.
Prisca held in a snicker. She knew from experience that Honi was counting. Pretty soon he’d announce the exact number of squares on the alien flower and probably start calculating the probability that one of those squares was the ON button. Prisca, on the other hand, was busy considering an entirely different problem.
The teal hue coming off the specimen seemed to be coming from a glowing light inside it. And the light was fading. If Prisca was a genius about power, which she was, she’d say the object was running out of power and fast. Before they could turn it on, they had to make sure there was enough juice left inside to do it.
“4,388 squares total. The probability that one of the squares is the ON button is low. 8,776 to one. Maybe higher because these ones at the bottom are slightly different.”
Prisca shook her head with a smirk. “You’d count the hairs on your head if you had the time.”
Honi raised his pointer finger in front of himself. “I tried that once.” He looked to the side. “It was a lot more boring than I anticipated.”
Prisca chortled and then said, “Help me put this thing on its side. I want to look at the bottom.”
Honi nodded and took hold of two panels. At the same time, Prisca grabbed two panels on the opposite side. As Prisca carefully tipped the alien specimen over, she said, “I have these orange flowers with black speckles on my table at home. I love staring at them, but you’d probably just count the speckles if you saw them.”
Honi closed one eye and squinted the other. “That’s the seventh new type of flower you’ve had on your table this month.”
Prisca blushed and leaned in close to the bottom of the specimen so Honi wouldn’t notice. Yes, he remembered how many types of flowers she had, but she shouldn’t be excited about that. He just liked to count things.
Prisca pointed to a car battery on one of the shelves by the wall. “Can you help me carry that to the table? I’m going to hook it up to this specimen so it has enough power when we figure out how to turn it on.”
“Yes, Pua,” Honi said.
Prisca’s heart sank. She hid the pain through a playful smile. “It’s Prisca, not Pua, you goose. You always call me the wrong name.”
Honi stalked off toward the battery, seemingly unaffected by her scolding. Prisca frowned. If Honi couldn’t remember her name then step two of her plan was looking woefully impossible.
After inspecting the bottom of the specimen, Prisca knew what she needed to do. She hopped over to the intercom and held down the button. “Excuse me, Miss Walker? Do you have any copper wire I could use?”
“Yes, yes… I’ll get. Wait, Diego, are they coming now? But they… Oh, just a moment, Prisca. Just. Hang on…” Miss Walker’s voice disconnected, and Prisca raised an eyebrow as she stared at the intercom.
“That was weird,” she said.
She glanced back at Honi, but he just shrugged. “Have any ideas?” Prisca asked.
With his eyes glued to the specimen, Honi said, “I have several ideas, but too many to test. I’m trying to narrow down the possibilities before I start testing at random.”
Prisca pulled out her phone and turned on the flashlight. She directed it toward the bottom of the specimen.
The same cool-like-ceramic but feels-like-plastic material covered the bottom. On one edge, a small circle with a strange bubbly texture glowed with a slightly darker teal hue. That was where she planned to hook up the car battery. A collection of gray tiles sat next to the bubbly circle. Printed on each gray tile were small white symbols. It looked like a keypad of numbers or letters, but not in any language from Earth. Above the keypad, an oval knob turned gently and clicked every few seconds. And next to that was a tiny pinprick of a hole. Prisca would have missed it without the help of her flashlight. The keypad would probably be their best bet to turn the specimen on. But first, it needed plenty of power.
As Prisca tucked her phone into her purse, Miss Walker burst through the door with a copper wire in hand. “We’ve just heard from the government,” she said breathlessly. “They’re already on their way. I don’t mean to do this to you, but do you think you can figure this out in ten minutes? We can’t let this proof get covered up!”
For one disorienting moment, Prisca’s eyebrows rose and the world seemed to stop. But then she snatched the copper wire from Miss Walker’s hand and set to work. She kept her fingers busy while she converted the power from the car battery to the specimen.
Honi bent over the specimen and stuck his finger into as many indents filled with glass squares as he could. With a look of panic, Honi said, “All due respect Miss…” Honi paused. He clenched his jaw and his cheeks turned red. Miss Walker raised an eyebrow.
Prisca wrapped the copper wire around her finger. “Oh don’t feel bad, Miss Walker,” Prisca said. “Honi has known me for almost a year and he still says my name wrong. He remembers numbers, not names.”
Miss Walker shook her head and waved her hand around. “Oh, never mind that. What were you going to say, Honi?”
Honi cleared his throat. “How do you know the government won’t take the object if we figure out how to turn it on?”
“We have it in writing,” Miss Walker said, “But we also scheduled a press conference. The news stations are on their way as we speak. The sooner you get this working, the better. If we televise the working specimen live the government will have no choice but to let the truth about aliens come out. But we have to hurry!”
Honi shook his head. “I’m sorry. We might not finish in time. The sheer number of possible methods to power the specimen are astronomical.”
Miss Walker’s face fell and she nodded. “No, of course we can’t expect you to do it. We already had experts who couldn’t figure it out. But if you happen to have any ideas… What are you doing over there, Prisca?”
At that moment, Prisca touched the copper wire to the bubbly textured circle on the bottom of the specimen. The teal hue coming off it suddenly glowed brighter. A victorious grin spread across Prisca’s face.
Miss Walker gasped. “How did you do that? The light’s been fading since we found the specimen a few nights ago.”
Prisca almost punched the air with glee, but then she remembered she was here to get an internship. She did a professional smile and said, “The light faded because the specimen was losing power. I think it’s charging now. This car battery should keep it going for awhile.”
Honi did a small half smile at Prisca, but averted his eyes as soon as she looked at him. He went straight to the keypad on the bottom of the specimen and tapped the gray tiles. “The chances are slim, but maybe we’ll type in the right combination by accident,” he said. “That’s really our only option at this point.”
Honi tapped the gray tiles of the keypad while Prisca ran her fingers over every inch of the alien specimen. She searched for any change in texture or color. Miss Walker bent over the object and tapped her teeth together.
Honi’s eyes widened with excitement at one point, but it ending up being nothing. Miss Walker started poking her fingers into the reflective squares. Her face grew more desperate with each second.
The door swung open and a man tripped into the room. His ponytail swung behind his neck and he had to breathe before he could speak. “We’ve got five news stations here and four on their way. Any luck?”
Miss Walker looked down and shook her head sadly.
Honi tapped the gray tiles even faster than before. Prisca turned the oval knob which increased the volume of the clicking sound. She glanced at the tiny pinprick of a hole neck to the oval and her eyebrows shot up to her forehead.
Prisca removed a straight-backed earring from her ear and pushed the straight metal through the tiny pinprick of a hole. But the metal from her earring hit nothing. If anything was in that hole, the earring wasn’t long enough to reach it.
Prisca frowned. Why was this so difficult?
The pony-tailed man jumped when his phone started ringing. He looked at Miss Walker desperately. “It’s now or never, Christine.”
Miss Walker nodded and the dejected droop in her eyes made Prisca’s mouth form a frown.
Honi sighed with a dejected look of his own. “I’m sorry,” he said. “If we had more time.”
Miss Walker shook her head. “No, it’s not your fault. Come on Diego. Let’s at least bring the specimen out for the news stations to film. It’s not perfect, but at least it’s something.”
Prisca’s heart sank as Miss Walker and the pony-tailed Diego loaded the specimen onto a rolling cart. As they walked out the room, Prisca stretched her arms over the metal table with a loud sigh. When she did, something fell to the ground with a quiet clink.
Honi dipped down for a moment and then popped up again. “You dropped this Pua… Prisca.”
Prisca took the paper clip from his hand while her frown stayed. “Oh, it’s not important. It just fell out of my purse earlier.”
Suddenly, Prisca’s spine straightened like a rod. “Honi,” she said excitedly. “I have an idea.”
Prisca threw open the door to the room and ran down the hall to catch up to Miss Walker and Diego. As she ran, she bent the paper clip into a straight line. “Miss Walker, wait up!”
Miss Walker and Diego stopped at large glass doors that led outside the museum. Teams of cameras and reporters stood on the other side of the doors. “Tip the specimen back on its side,” Prisca said as she ran down the hall.
Diego propped open the door so the cameras could record. Prisca blushed from the sight of so many cameras, but she plowed on. She had more important things to worry about than being camera shy. Prisca stuck the paper clip inside the tiny pinprick of a hole at the bottom of the alien specimen. An entire inch of the paper clip went in without touching a thing. Yet again, disappointment hit Prisca like a truck.
But after an inch and a half, the paper clip hit against something inside. Prisca pushed harder and she heard a soft click. The specimen’s teal glow turned emerald green and a light shone through the top of it.
“Pua, you did it!” Honi said as he touched her shoulder.
Miss Walker and Diego were tilting the specimen upright when they both looked at Honi then glanced at each other. “He calls you Pua?” Miss Walker asked.
Prisca’s insides churned, but she managed an awkward smile. “Yeah, I told you he can’t remember names.”
Diego laughed. He glanced at Honi and said, “Are you native Hawaiian?”
Honi’s face had suddenly gone bright red. “Yes,” he said quietly.
Now Miss Walker laughed. “I think someone has a crush on you, Prisca.”
“What?” Prisca said. She looked from Honi to Miss Walker. Then to Diego. They all seemed to understand something she didn’t.
Miss Walker pushed the specimen to the middle of the cart and said with a smile, “Pua means flower in Hawaiian.”
Miss Walker and Diego rolled the cart through the glass doors toward the reporters. Prisca looked back at Honi with widened eyes and a dropped jaw. Honi rubbed his arm with his face still bright red. His voice made a strange noise while he tried to clear his throat. “Because you like flowers,” he said. “And because you’re as beautiful as a flower.” He dipped his head down further. “And because your hair smells like gardenias.”
Prisca’s mouth dropped even further. She snapped it up and said, “I feel the same way, Honi.” She looked to the side. “Well, not about your hair smelling like gardenias. I can’t believe you even noticed that. My shampoo is amazing, but still. Sorry. I don’t know why I’m rambling.”
Honi looked at her with a half smile, the way he always did. But his eyes held a look of longing that she somehow never noticed before.
Before Honi could open his mouth, a holographic image shone through the top of the alien specimen only a dozen feet in from of them. The image projected a man with teal hued skin. He said, “Is the translator working? Oh, it’s already recording.” He stood up straight. “Hello. I am called Posteck. We are peaceful explorers and we just discovered your home. We would like to trade history and knowledge. We hope to form a mutually beneficial relationship with you, our new friends.”
While cameras clicked and reporters chattered, Honi took Prisca’s hand in his. Her heart skipped a beat while their fingers intertwined. Maybe the government would still try to cover it up, but Prisca had all the undeniable proof she needed. Whether aliens existed or not, her life had just gotten a whole lot more exciting.
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