Okay, maybe you don’t want more backstory! But these prompts are really helping me discover more about my novel-in-progress and the alternate universe I’ve created. The prompt encourages us to think about our world building. World building can apply to any type of story. Even a story set in modern day London needs its world built. But obviously I need to work on world-building because sci-fi and fantasy need a lot of that.
But I don’t want to spend pages and pages describing things. And because my characters are going to be moving about a universe, I could easily spend too much on backstory. So, I started trying to write the story of the historical figure mentioned in today’s scene, but that sort of spiraled out of control. Instead, I decided to pretend I had an entry in a history book. Of course, this is a work-in-progress and who knows how it will be in the end.
As always, thanks for reading.
Back in school, Miracle June loved history class. The teacher, Kindred Sands, seemed to know everything and surprised the students every day.
Sometimes, Kin, as the teacher asked to be called, came to class as a man and sometimes as a woman. That was nothing extraordinary. Great sections of the population never settled one way or another. Miracle June read about how generations before, citizens were forced into declare a side. But things had changed, even in the Pleiades district.
But what did surprise the current crop of teenagers in Pre-Sovereignty Earth History Segment Two were the costumes and disguises Kin wore. Kin arrived every day as a famous person from the past, and no time period seemed beyond Kin’s closet.
The day the Sovereignty announced its plans to build the largest starliner ever attempted, Kin walked into the classroom dressed as Lana Hypatia, one of the Sovereignty founders, the woman who made the air systems of Earth a reality.
“We studied her already,” said Bright Simmons, who rarely ever seemed interested in anything. She certainly wasn’t going to be interested in anything twice.
“But,” Kin replied, standing tall in front of the class, “if you recall, class was interrupted that day and we didn’t have time to finish the lesson.”
Everyone remembered. That was day Hopeful Jones died. But while Kin had been as shocked and undone by Hopeful’s death as anyone, sentiment had little space in history class. “In light of the Sovereignty’s announcement that will undoubtedly lead to more history being made, we’ll make time for the woman who made it possible.”
“What did we leave out, professor?” Miracle June asked. She was scanning her screen for the entry on Lana Hypatia and remembered covering all the key events of the revolutionary’s life.
“Footnotes, Miss Delphine.” Kin tapped on the wide screen in front of the class and a new page opened. “Never overlook them.”
Several students gasped. In fat black letters across the top of the screen ran the headline, Celebrated Leader’s Death Unresolved. And underneath the headline was a photograph of a bloodied corpse. “Yes, it’s true school leadership prefers we not discuss this fact in class. They encourage us to focus on the shining moments of glory, and I can’t say they’re wrong to do so.” Kin, in a wig of honey brown hair just like the hair fanned about the head of the dead individual in the photograph, tapped on the screen again, enlarging the disturbing image. “But sometimes we need to remind ourselves that our past was not all glory and medals.”
Sanity Clarke cleared his throat. “I understand, professor. But could we stop looking at the picture now?”
Kin looked disappointedly at Sanity and the other nodding students, but tapped on the screen to move on to the text. “We already know Lana Hypatia came from a remote Saturn region and got her start fighting for the rights of Earth refugees. The history books gloss over Lana’s death.”
Miracle June was as glad as the others the photograph was gone, but this was the reason she loved Kindred Sands’s class. Kin adhered to the class syllabus almost like a religion, but these dark tangents were still often fit in.
“Her body was found at the site of one of her great air towers. You’ve seen it, of course, at the edge of our district to the north. In the burned out plains. Some of you live that way, yes?”
Miracle June and a few others nodded. She could see the tower from her bedroom window.
“It’s old technology now, but at the time it was revolutionary, the complex and huge system removing toxin form the air and saving lives. We wouldn’t be here without the towers,” Kin reminded them unnecessarily. The towers every inhabited district on Earth. “Authorities never declared a cause of death. Some say it was an accident. The gears and electricity used were and are dangerous. And in those early days, many workers on the towers were killed. But some believed more nefarious forces at work. Many of the early leaders met untimely ends in strange accidents.”
On her own device, Miracle June stared at the image of Lana Hypatia, young and alive, sitting with a group of her fellow revolutionaries. What, Miracle June asked the woman in the photograph, would you make of your universe now?
“All right, class,” Kin was saying. “I’m giving you twenty minutes to do your own searches on the death of Lana Hypatia and her compatriots. Then you’ll share what you’ve learned.”
Bright Simmons raised her hand. “Professor?”
“Does it mater if we know how they died?” She shrugged. “It’s not like it changes anything.”
Kin adjusted the old-style belt of the old earth dress like what would have been the style in Lana’s time. “The Sovereignty’s announced its plans to build the largest starliner in history and to christen it the Hypatian. It never hurts to know all one can about one’s namesake. Names have DNA of their own.”
Bright looked skeptical. “But they aren’t even building it in our solar system. We’ll probably never even see it.”
“That doesn’t mean it won’t change your life.”
Miracle June was already reading through the many conspiracy theories surrounding Lana Hypatia’s death. Like Bright, Miracle June didn’t believe knowing would change her life, but the stories fascinated her anyway. How amazing it must have been to change the course of the universe.