Melinda Brasher loves visiting alternate worlds through books and exploring this world through travel. She's currently quite obsessed with Alaska, and has lived in Poland, Mexico, and the Czech Republic, teaching English as a second language. Her short fiction appears in The Future Fire, Enchanted Conversation, Intergalactic Medicine Show, and others. Visit her online at melindabrasher.com
By Melinda Brasher
Takumi shoved the slimy thing in Victoria’s face, his eyes wide as his smile. “Look,
Mom. It likes me.”
Victoria laughed. This was a far cry from Takumi’s first eight years of life, growing up
in Tokyo, where his feet had touched the ground maybe twice, where the potted plants in
the sky bridges had a rubbery look.
“Did you ever see a slug back on Earth?” Takumi asked.
On their yearly vacations, they’d taken him to the sea, the Peace Gardens, and even the
protected forests of United Europe. They’d spent three days on a working farm once as
part of an ecotour. Still, none of that had rivaled the wild emptiness of New Eden, where
you didn’t have to stay on trails, where pesticides and repulsion fields hadn’t cleaned up
the outdoors for all the gawking tourists.
“I don’t think that’s a slug,” Victoria said. Half of her wanted to reach out and touch the
squishy blue-black mess of living matter squirming lazily between Takumi’s fingers.
Probably she should tell him to put it down. It could be poisonous. Full of germs at the
least. But she didn’t have the heart. Instead she looked over her shoulder to see if her
husband had any biological theories to share.
Kiyoshi wasn’t even looking at them. He’d stopped between two trees, his head twisted
back, his body completely still.
“What is it?” she asked, instinctively lowering her voice.
His head snapped back toward them. “Nothing.”
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