Please click on the following link for a chance to win a copy of the short story "Earth Mother" from my Mindscapes short story collection for your Kindle: https://giveaway.amazon.com/p/d9c8268fbb5e35ae.
Win or lose, you can read a preview of the short story below. Good luck!
SF Short Story Preview: "Earth Mother" (C) 2011, 2014 Victor D. Lopez
A mysterious visitor from another world wakes a young, ambitious woman in the middle of the night to deliver an intriguing offer after nearly frightening her to death. He explains that his race is dying as women in his distant world are no longer able to carry embryos of their species to term. If she is willing to serve as a surrogate mother for an embryo for an accelerated gestation period of a few weeks, he promises to return to take away the child and to bestow upon her the gift of telepathy for the remainder of her life in exchange for her service. As an added bonus, the embryo will provide a boost to her immune system that will make her virtually impervious to all disease for the rest of her life. If she accepts, will her dreams finally be realized, or will she live to regret her choice?
(C) 2011, 2014 Victor D. Lopez
She awoke in the throes of a mind numbing panic. Her eardrums sympathetically vibrated with the subliminal hum of an unseen, unheard yet very palpable force just below the threshold of audible frequencies. Her heartbeat sloshed in her ears as though she were under water, desperately trying to escape a powerful predator.
The adrenaline in her veins and the irrational fear that paralyzed her made every joint in her body ache and yielded spasmodic pains as though her muscles were tightly coiling around themselves. Her mouth dry and vocal cords frozen from fear, Lisa lacked the power to give voice to a scream that was born, grew and died in her throat without expression. Unable to move and still unaware of the cause of her discomfort, Lisa could detect a barely perceptible blue-green aura through the partially closed Venetian blinds and drawn drapes in her bedroom. The air was charged; she could sense it though the prickly itch of her hair standing on end. It smelled like a summer thunderstorm had just passed though, despite a cloudless sky.
After long, silent moments of languishing transfixed in irrational terror, satin sheets clinging coldly to her naked body as she lay in a perspiration-soaked bed, a painful flash of white light inundated her bedroom, leaving Lisa temporarily blind, with multiple circular black afterimages receding slowly through her repetitive blinking, eventually fading to gray and melding into a humanoid form standing some six feet from the foot of her bed. The form, a hairless, androgynous ashen skinned humanoid with large, seal-like black eyes, button nosed, with thin, small lips, approximately five feet tall and weighing perhaps ninety-five pounds, finally spoke to her. More accurately, it transmitted words and fragmentary, vivid images into her mind accompanied by a soft, musical sound that might be speech and was as beautiful as it was unintelligible.
“Please, please don’t hurt me,” she thought, still unable to utter a sound.
“No need to fear; we will not do you harm. Be calm,” the creature replied in visual words and images that were fragmented but quite clear.
“Please go away. Oh. God, help me, please.” Lisa would have cried and screamed and run had she the power to do any of those things. Since she did not, she lay still, mentally pleading with the seemingly innocuous creature whose presence, despite its attempts at reassurance, had done little to ameliorate her dread.
“Do not fear. We bring you a gift with which to bargain for your help.” The creature’s facial expression and body language did not change, but the visual messages it transmitted clearly tried to show its good will. Warmth, happiness, contentment emanated from the creature as does the sweet scent of a flower carried by a slight summer’s breeze.
“You won’t hurt me?” Lisa half asked, half pleaded, somewhat reassured by the creature’s communication, yet certainly not yet disposed to accept its alleged good will at face value.
“We come only to offer a gift, in exchange for your assistance.”
“What kind of gift? And what type of help do you want?” Lisa’s fear seemed to dissolve rather quickly with each reference by the creature to a gift.
“We offer a great gift, the ability to communicate without words as we now do, in exchange for your service” The creature retorted, seemingly encouraged into more negotiation by Lisa’s growing receptiveness.
“Are you offering me the gift of telepathy?” Lisa’s heart, no longer beating fast in response to fear, was beginning to speed up in response to a new growing emotion.”
“You may call it that, yes.”
“What do you want in exchange?” Lisa asked, furrowing her brow slightly, and beginning to ask herself what in her power she would not be willing to do for that ability.
“You must incubate one of us and nurture it until it is strong enough to part from you.”
“I don’t understand. Do you want me to care for you or one of your kind? To be a baby sitter?”
“Much more,” the creature replied, sending Lisa a clear image of a human body, her body, in the last stages of pregnancy.
“No!” replied Lisa, as she tried instinctively to close her legs and gather her sheets about her, aware for the first time with revulsion of her nakedness and vulnerable position. She also remembered the unpleasant reports of alien encounters with horrific medical exams and intrusive probes wielded by intergalactic perverts apparently intent on molesting humans for their own gratification. But her body would not obey her commands; whether she was paralyzed by some sort of stasis field of by the creature’s mental powers, she did not know.
“It is not copulation we seek,” the creature immediately offered, seemingly amused and sending a clear visual image of its honorable intentions. “Our anatomy is unlike yours and would not permit it, but your womb is compatible for our purposes. We would plant an embryo in your uterus that would grow, protected and nourished through your normal biological means” With this, the creature sent an image of a sesame seed-sized embryo being implanted into a human host, and later emerging in the usual means less than a fifth the size of a human baby.
“No pain?” Lisa asked, relived but cautious.
“Both the implantation and the subsequent birth are completely free of discomfort.”
“How long for the procedure and how long is the period of gestation?”
“Two of your minutes for the implantation and six of your weeks for the gestation to be completed.”
“A two minute implant and painless delivery six weeks later buys me the gift of telepathy, huh. Is that your deal?”
“Wait a minute. My mother raised no fools. How long does my telepathy last?”
“Throughout the entire period of your life.”
“Not bad. A lifetime of telepathy for six weeks of work.” Lisa replied, more to herself than to the creature, who perhaps sensing that fact made no reply.
Then, her brow furrowing again, she continued, “If this is such an easy deal, why do you need me? Why can’t your own kind do so themselves.”
“All of those capable of breeding on our world are dead.” The creature’s thoughts and mental images conveyed great sadness. “We will cease to exist as a species unless we have outworlders such as yourself help us.”
“Sorry to hear that.“ She thought back at the creature, which again made no reply. “Is there any risk to me from the pregnancy or birth? Will you return for the birth? And how long need I care for the thing afterwards?”
“There is no risk to you during gestation. We will give you medications to strengthen your immune system and eradicate any illness you may currently have. The medication will also prevent your antibodies from attacking the embryo. We can guarantee your health and vitality for the rest of your natural life as a byproduct of the procedure. As to our return, it is unnecessary. Our infants are self-sufficient and require only the most basic type of sustenance for a period that never exceeds two of your weeks after their birth. The infant would then move on without need of any additional assistance from you.”
“Sounds like a deal to me. The little bugger will pop out like a slice of toast when its time comes, care for itself immediately, leaving me with telepathy and good health for life, and I don’t even have to undergo morning sickness or stretch marks. What more could a girl want?” She smiled, thinking about the possibilities that telepathy would provide for her. To know what others thought, and to be able to plant messages in their minds. The possibilities were intoxicatingly endless.
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