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Wednesday, June 11, 2014

Venus In Retro

Clouds swirled above me in their omnipresent thick grey mist
As my boots slogged along what passed for a road by local standards
Native Venusians trotted along beside me
With their slender legs making easy work of the long walk to the skyhook

I watched in my peripheral vision the unsettlingly different but similar bipedal motion

Their knees
Which operated backwards from my own
Hinging and bringing up the lower leg to the front
With ankle joint bent impossibly far
So as to have the webbed foot come out of the water in a near vertical orientation
Thereby reducing drag and effort on the motion
With it reversed as the foot came back down a step further down the road
Entering webbed toe first with nary a ripple to mark its entrance into the water

It reminded me of the old horror movies
Where monsters had joints that went the wrong way
And mouths that opened further than seemed possible

Almost on cue
The one closest to my right opened his mouth impossibly wide
Planted dead center in an otherwise human looking face
Vocalizing in the native language with accompanying hand movement
"(This sound cannot be approximated)"

At this the computer relay pendant that I wore around my neck chimed in with a translation
Having relayed the original sounds and observed movements to the administration building
Where deep in the always-pumped-dry basement lived the heart of our colony
The Multisource Output Mainframe Manager Assembly

Which we all called "MOMMA"

"There appears to be a predator four degrees to our left
Please wait until the hunters dispatch it for your safety"
Was the translation presented to me

I nodded my head and stopped
Which needed no translation
Though that did not stop Momma
As she trumpeted out a matching assent sound as I stopped

Sure enough three more of the light brown skinned natives skipped ahead
With their complicated wooden weapons at the ready
Until they zeroed in upon a disturbance in the water
Just to the left of my path fifty yards ahead

I couldn't count the number of darts that they pounded into the thing that appeared to be all green skin and teeth just below the water

"Efficient, aren't they"
I muttered to myself

Momma, who was always listening
Chimed in with a quick recitation of the Wikipedia article for the Venusian people

I tuned it out
Just like I did with most of Momma's advice
Which came at odd times during every day for all of us

"Momma recommends wearing clean socks every day"

"Momma thinks you should wear a slightly stronger deodorant than back on Earth
As the humidity is much greater here"

"Don't forget your lunch
Momma doesn't want you to be hungry later"

For all intents and purposes
Momma had become our second mother
Whether we all wanted to admit that or not

I had started walking again
Staying abreast of my companion native
Until we arrived at the base of the skyhook

A simple small metal building
With the broad black ribbon of carbon material protruding out of the center of it
Reaching straight up into the sky
Disappearing into the clouds long before it reached the orbiting space station

I bid my escort goodbye
Assisted with the language as always by Momma
"Don't forget to give them your gift"
She added for my benefit at the end

And it was true
I had almost forgot to give the small package of peanuts to them
An imported luxury which was all the rage with them currently

I fished the bag out of my backpack
Placing it upon the dry step just outside the entrance to the base building

The Venusian stared at me with his unblinking grey eyes
He wouldn't take it until I turned my back
Another custom of theirs

I turned my back and heard a quick crumple noise of the bag
And I turned quickly to try and see them as they left
But as always I was much too slow

As all four of them had disappeared from sight into the swampy jungle undergrowth some distance off the path

Sad to say I could not even determine which side of the path they had gone
As both the left and right side appeared still and empty
With the water as a mirror
Reflecting the swirling grey sky above

I turned once again and walked into the metal building
Stopping in the entryway with the absorbent floor covering
Where I could stow my outer boots for the next person to use

Now with feet clad in simple white slippers
I entered the climber car
Pressing the button which sent it climbing up the carbon ribbon to the distant orbiting station

I sat down and watched out the window as everything on the ground receded
Becoming a mere miniature model of itself

The water road ribbons snaking here and there
Marking the few places that we humans had decided we needed to travel on land
Leading to the admin complex and standard housing habitats

This view was quickly snuffed out by the pillowy dimness of the clouds
"Don't forget your sunglasses"
Momma said softly into the gloom

For the 30% closer than on Earth sun would soon be streaming into the windows of the climber car
Blindingly bright for the unprepared

Momma always said not to look into the eyes of the sun