This post was inspired by something that happened to me a few days back: for some reason I got around five mosquito bites on my left wrist, within two days, and they didn’t bite anywhere else.
The mid-cruiser arrived at Kaiwana Colony just 13 seconds ahead of schedule; not bad at all, but it didn’t keep the pilot from shaking his head as he powered down the ship. Perfection was attainable, and it was almost a culture to pursue it. As the VIP ramp extended itself, Dr Marek got up off his seat, led by Dr Hartner, his old friend who had come to love the Kaiwana Colony and all it had to offer.
It was all a very beautiful coincidence; the two of them were due to transit at JTK, and it was at the coffee shop that they bumped into each other. It was a very pleasant surprise indeed, for both of them knew of each other’s plans, but Dr Marek’s stopover had to be pushed earlier due to some shipping arrangements his pilot had to accommodate. So it was at that coffee shop that Dr Hartner invited Dr Marek over to his lab, seeing as to how his companion was not due to travel for at least another year. Of course there was work waiting for him back home, but work could be accessed and resumed at any well-equipped research lab.
And then it was a bit of a hassle, transferring Dr Marek to another flight, for neither men had much experience sorting out such things, but they got it done anyway. With a little help from a cheery little Martian, that is. And once that was done, they had all of ten minutes to make their way to Boarding Gate 4, where The Esteem was waiting. Once aboard, the ship’s air got to them fairly quickly and as is understood by all space travellers, going right to sleep is perfectly normal. In fact, such sleep holds a lot of benefit.
Now as he was led to the waiting car, Dr Marek wore his trademark nonchalant look, but his words betrayed his facial expression.
‘My gosh, Brent, this place is beautiful. Why on earth didn’t you include photographs? Well you and I know I can’t stay put but still, wow, this place is magnificent! I might end up staying here longer than you’d convinced me to, you know,’
Dr Hartner just smiled; inside, he was actually happy for all his friend’s chattering. For the last few years he had travelled alone, and although he didn’t mind that, it did get kind of quiet sometimes.
‘My lab’s in the middle of the marketplace, so we’ll have to get off at the entrance and make our way in by foot,’ Dr Hartner said as the sped towards their destination.
‘What happened to your place at Grid 12, was it? You made a lot of progress there. Seemed like a rich area too, lots to discover. I hope nothing bad happened?’
‘Yes, Grid 12. Lovely place, I agree, but the marketplace is better. You’ll see why in time,’
It seemed like a short time later, and it was, but the two had travelled about 200km from the space port. Needless to say, it was a smooth and comfortable ride. Not to mention a good one for Dr Hartner, for his old friend kept him entertained with stories and comments and questions and just about anything that could be said.
The two scientists got out of the car and Dr Hartner led the way. The two men only had backpacks on them, so the walk was no trouble at all.
About five minutes in, Dr Marek noticed something:
‘Say, Brent, how come nearly everyone has a long sleeve on the left arm but not the right?’
‘Ah, good observation there. Well it’s a curious story. It started about two months ago, I reckon, where a new breed of insect arrived at this place. When I say new I mean new to this place, but it isn’t impossible too that they could have evolved from something else. Anyway, they’re hardy creatures and the bites were really annoying. Initially people started rubbing themselves with whatever ointment or oils they believed woul deter this insect, but it turned out the simplest way to protect oneself was to cover up. And just as this whole phenomena going round as the topic of conversation, so did we quickly realize that everyone who did get bit, got it on the left arm. In fact this pattern was so consistent that people eventually settled for covering only their left arms. Strange, eh?’
‘Wow, just the left arm? Have you got samples of this insect? I wonder, how does it tell left from right? Could it be intelligent then? Or perhaps we have some biological markers that distinguish the two halves of our body? That would be something new, quite unheard of, but really sets me thinking. Have you looked into that? I suppose you have, so what have you found?’
‘Whoa whoa whoa slow down, I’m just a storyteller. I ain’t no scientist,’ Dr Hartner replied with a cheeky smile.
‘You’re not a scientist? Is that so, now. Sounds more to me like you’re just… lazy to elaborate,’ Dr Marek replied with a smile of his own.
Dr Hartner laughed, ‘I’ll show you what I’ve found, I think you’d be fascinated. We’re nearly there,’
Within two minutes they had arrived at an unmarked building at the quieter side of the marketplace. It was single-storey, unassuming thing. Dr Hartner unlocked the door and they stepped into what looked like someone’s personal storage space. But at the corner of the room, there was a staircase leading down, hidden out of view. They went down the stairs, and Dr Marek let out a whistle. It was an impressive laboratory his friend had.