Colors Of Binerty
“What do you know about Binerty?” Nathaniel asks.
“Only that it is listed as a Human-colonized world,” Haticat answers.
“I guess we’ll find out more soon,” Nathaniel states.
When the doors open hours later, the first thing they learn about Binerty is that it is very cold and windy. The Mama-And-Daddy provides Allison and Nathaniel with complete wardrobes, including boots, coats, hats, and gloves. Gruezhlings are somewhat resistant to the cold due to their low densities and numerous air pockets, but it is still rather uncomfortable for them. They climb onto Nathaniel and Allison, huddling under their coats. Haticat retracts into his shell.
The couch-unit carries them all across a vast concrete parking pad and onto a dirt road. There are amorphous, dark-green blob-plants of all sizes dotting the flat, sandstone landscape. Broad, sloping, blue mountains hug the horizon in the distance. Lacy tendrils of frost branch and curl across the sandstone in between the plants. The orange sun is just rising from the horizon into the dazzling blue sky that glitters with millions of tiny ice crystals. Other vehicles use the road as well. Some hover on antigravity reflector arrays. Most use wheels.
With two small dromaeosaurs and five Gruezhlings riding on it, the couch-unit is rather crowded. Allison’s leg begins to tingle. She adjusts her position for better circulation. This causes her tail to rest on top of Nathaniel’s tail. This is uncomfortable to Nathaniel. He picks up Allison’s tail and sets it to the side. Allison growls at him.
Eventually, they enter a small city. The first place they stop at is a crayon store. It is warm inside where there are thousands of strange wax objects of all colors. Nathaniel marvels at all the possible shades that exist. Questions swirl through his mind. How many colors are possible? Are there more shades possible between the closely-matched shades he could see? Is there an infinite variety or some limit to the number? Is color-blending digital or analog? Could some animals/people see finer differences in hues than others? “What is this place?” he asks.
“This is a crayon store,” the storekeeper answers, “Do you like to draw?”
“Nathaniel hasn’t been drawing yet,” Daddy interjects.
“I’ll have to show you how, then,” the storekeeper says.
“Show me, too,” Allison begs.
“Also me,” Matilda begs.
“That’s a good idea,” Daddy says, “Nathaniel, Allison, watch the man and learn.”
The storekeeper retrieves a sheet of paper from somewhere and proceeds to show all the children how crayons are used. Haticat is overjoyed. He can now make color-pictures. His thoughts can be almost real! “How do you make so many different colors?” Nathaniel asks.
“Binerty is one of several planets mined for color-essence. Our Color Wizards then use a complex process I don’t understand myself to extract the different color-essences from the various materials they attach to and transfer them into wax, which is then shaped into crayons,” the storekeeper answers.
“Wow,” Haticat says.
“Pick out some colors to buy,” the storekeeper says.
The children scatter, selecting from among the thousands of crayons on each shelf. Nathaniel walks up and down the aisles, looking at each crayon. There are many colors he is sure he has never seen before. What an amazing discovery! Nathaniel decides to look for books on color-essence extraction the next time he visits the library. There is yellow, green, peach, ivory, blue-grey, and red-violet. There are shiny, metallic colors, such as copper, silver, gold, and iridescent blue. There are transparent and translucent colors that allow other colors to show through from beneath them. There are even some colors with crazy names in categories of their own, such as new star milk, left shoulder, swinging soup, glueball-green, flagpole, clowncake, and dragon-eye Charlie. Each has a unique effect. Black hole is a black so dark it makes other blacks seem to shine like the sun. Angry ocean is a color that seems to vibrate with life and dominate other colors nearby. Quantum purple is just plain weird. Nathaniel carries as many in his claws as he can. “This must be a crayon planet,” Nathaniel concludes.
One aisle is different. It has not crayons, but tools called colored pencils, chalk, pens, and markers. “What are these?” Nathaniel calls to the storekeeper.
“Those are for adults. Don’t think about them,” the storekeeper calls back. Nathaniel is extremely curios about this, but knows better than to ask an adult any questions. He will have to learn about these in the library as well. Crayons are enough for now.
Fred grabs four black crayons, expecting to use a lot of the color. He wants to draw a spacescape. Matilda grabs one of every red. Nathaniel tries to retrieve some crayons from the purple shelf, but Allison is in the way. She just stares, being indecisive. Nathaniel waits. “I want a crayon,” he says. Allison scowls but does not move. Impatient, he cannot wait any longer. He tries to reach in front of her carefully for an indigo crayon.
Allison’s view of the shelf is partly blocked! She lashes out with her claw, scratching Nathaniel up the arm. Before Nathaniel even has the opportunity to make a conscious choice, he instinctively reacts by shoving Allison hard. She collapses to the ground and starts screaming.
The couch-unit veers around the corner. “Don’t hurt your sister,” Daddy bellows.
“She hurt me!” Nathaniel protests.
“I don’t care,” Mama and Daddy speak together.
“Remember to use your words to let her know,” Mama says.
“Don’t take the rules in your own hands; come and tell us if there is a problem,” Daddy dictates.
“There wasn’t time,” Nathaniel claims. Allison continues to scream and cry. Why doesn’t The Mama-And-Daddy punish her?
“Keep away from Allison from now on!” Daddy commands. Nathaniel is teleported to the next aisle. He is hopping mad. He wants more purple crayons! He doesn’t want anything from this aisle. Why does Allison get to stay where she is?
Nathaniel paces back and forth and cannot keep his mind on collecting crayons. Far too soon, Mama calls, “Nathaniel, it’s time to go. Bring your crayons up so we can buy them.”
Nathaniel angrily brings his crayons to the checkout, joining Allison, Matilda, and Sarah. Fred, Haticat, and Doctor Bill also bring up crayons. Doctor Bill has the foresight to grab a stack of coloring paper also. Mama hands the storekeeper some large coins, and he puts all the crayons and paper together in a large bag. “Have a good day,” the storekeeper says.
After leaving the store, the couch-unit returns to the ship. Once inside and warm again, the children spread out the paper on the floor and draw. Fred draws a spaceship. Matilda draws flowers. Doctor Bill diagrams a roller-coaster idea he has. Sarah draws fancy belts, scarves, skirts, and shoes. Haticat draws a pterosaur. Nathaniel draws a swarm of quoidibookaloofs. Allison draws a giant cake coated in different types of candy. The boys notice that the girls draw rather sloppily and continually ask each other (and sometimes the boys) the names of the same colors over and over, forgetting that the crayons are all labeled. Girls are not very smart.
Nathaniel has a lot of fun allowing his imagination to become something real. He makes a mistake, making a green mark in an area meant to be brown. How does one erase crayon? He doesn’t want to start over on new paper. He gets a brilliant idea. Pressing down hard, Nathaniel mashes additional wax onto the mistake. The wax adheres to itself stronger than it does to the paper, allowing him to scrape it off with his claws. Only the faintest hint of green remains. What a great invention! He tells his Gruezhlings immediately.
“That’s a good idea,” Fred says, “I made four mistakes already.” Having no fingers, Fred holds crayons by wrapping the ends of his short, stiff, stumpy arms around them. He experiments with different ways of holding them – by wrapping the ends of his arms the opposite way, by using both arms together, by using his mouth. It takes him a while to get the hang of things.
Haticat experiments with color combinations. He finds that blue and yellow yield what appears to be green and that red and green yield what appears to be brown. He really likes to draw.
Nathaniel looks around for a yellow crayon to finish a quoidibookaloof. Allison has collected them all – every shade. Nathaniel reaches for one. Allison slams her claw over them and growls.
“Give me the crayons,” Nathaniel orders.
“No!” Allison yells.
While Nathaniel glares at Allison, Sarah runs over to Nathaniel’s pile of crayons and grabs all of them, running back to her spot. “Hey!” Haticat yells and chases after her.
Nathaniel raises his arm to strike Allison, then stops. He decides to use his words instead. “I need a yellow to draw a quoidibookaloof. Then you can have it back,” he explains.
“No!” Allison yells.
Nathaniel glares at Allison for a moment, and then runs to the nearest set of polyp-heads. Pulling at both Mama and Daddy, he tries to get their attention. “What do you want?” Daddy asks angrily.
“Allison and Sarah are keeping the crayons and won’t let me draw!” Nathaniel reports.
“Stop whining! I don’t want to hear it!” Daddy says to Nathaniel.
“Whining annoys us,” Mama explains.
Thinking about it, Nathaniel realizes he had sounded a bit whiny. He tries again, this time careful about the tone of his voice. “Allison won’t let me use the yellow even after I told her I needed it,” he states.
“You’re still complaining,” Mama and Daddy say.
“We don’t listen to complainers!” Daddy says.
“Grrr! You told me to use my words!” Nathaniel shouts.
“Well, you’ll just have to figure out how to solve your own problems and learn to share. We can’t always be here, so you kids have to learn how to get along without complaining,” Mama says.
“I’m already sharing. It’s Allison that won’t share!” Nathaniel yells.
“It’s against the rules to yell at us!” Mama and Daddy say. During this conversation, a full-scale fight has erupted among the Gruezhlings. Haticat grabs Sarah’s paper and tears it to pieces. Fred and Matilda punch and shove each other. Doctor Bill twists some paper into a funnel-shape and threatens Allison with the sharp end. Allison just screams. “Stop fighting!” Mama and Daddy yell, “Go to your room!”
All the boys suddenly find themselves in their room, with no crayons and no paper. “Aaaaaah!” Nathaniel yells, kicking the wall. Things had been going well for so long. Nathaniel usually is only in trouble three times a week. Now that Allison is born, she gets him into trouble all the time.
“I hope the girls were sent to their room, too, so they don’t use up all the color in the crayons,” Haticat says.
“We shouldn’t be here at all!” Nathaniel says, “They started it!”
Fred pushes on the door. “Hey, it won’t open,” he says.
“The Mama-And-Daddy always locks it when we’re under punishment,” Haticat explains.
“Then how do we get out?” Fred asks.
“The Mama-And-Daddy will let us out when the punishment is over,” Haticat says.
“That’s not fair,” Fred says.
“Life isn’t fair,” Nathaniel says, “That’s what The Mama-And-Daddy says.”
“Why do adults have to ruin our fun just because they don’t have fun?” Fred asks.
“I don’t know if that’s the reason, but all adults are like this. In fact, some are much worse. We just have to learn to live with it, I guess,” Doctor Bill says.
It is about twenty minutes later when The Mama-And-Daddy finally releases the boys. The girls are heard giggling down the hall. “I don’t want to be anywhere near the girls. Let’s play with blocks,” Nathaniel suggests.
“Good idea,” Haticat responds. The boys walk down the hall to where they last left their blocks. Each of them builds a tower. They connect them all with walls, arches, and courtyards. Leaving the other three to work on the combined structure, Nathaniel moves to the other side of the room to build the largest tower he can. He makes it hollow with windows and ledges sticking out in all directions. He builds it higher and higher. Soon, it is up to his shoulders. He crosses the room to retrieve more blocks.
While he sorts through the blocks for suitable shapes, Allison runs into the room alone, screaming. The boys cover their ears in shock. Allison runs three times around Nathaniel’s tower and then knocks it down before running out of the room. The boys just stare. Finally, Nathaniel runs to a polyp-head and gets the attention of Mama. “Allison knocked my tower down!” Nathaniel says.
“She did?” Mama asks, looking around at the blocks scattered on the floor.
“Yes, and she screamed really loud and hurt our ears, too,” Nathaniel says.
“Nathaniel, it’s not nice to tattle on your sister when she does something wrong,” Mama says.
“Tattling is against the rules,” Daddy says.
“Go to your room,” Mama and Daddy order.
Nathaniel suddenly finds himself in his room alone. “What?” he says in stunned confusion.
Twenty minutes later, he is let out. He runs to the room of blocks to find his Gruezhlings. He finds them scattered unconscious in the hallway outside. They awaken as Nathaniel walks past, feeding on his boy-play-energy. “What happened?” Nathaniel asks.
“The girls took all the blocks,” Doctor Bill reports.
Nathaniel quickly checks the room. It is empty. “Those are my blocks!” Nathaniel says angrily.
The four boys run back and forth through every level of the ship until they find the girls in the most remote corner of the ship. The girls play with the blocks, but stack them awkwardly and almost randomly. Matilda just chews on one with her toothless mouth. Nathaniel is appalled. Fortunately, Gruezhlings have no saliva glands, their mouths being used only for speech. “Those are my blocks!” Nathaniel yells. Allison sticks out her tongue and throws a block in Nathaniel’s direction.
“You don’t own the blocks. They belong to us,” Mama suddenly announces from nearby.
“You bought them for me,” Nathaniel says.
“We bought them for all our children to play with,” Mama and Daddy say, “You can share.”
“You had your chance to play with them, now it’s Allison’s turn,” Daddy says.
“She’s not even building anything good,” Nathaniel protests.
“Allison can do whatever she wants with them,” Daddy says.
Nathaniel almost shouts, “Ugh,” but stops himself and instead turns around and stomps his way to his room, his claws clicking and clacking on the floor.
“Stop stomping inside the ship,” Daddy shouts.
Feeling a little tired, Nathaniel decides to read. His Gruezhlings join him, each reading a different book. Nathaniel reads about robots. Haticat reads about cooking with worms. Fred reads about bomb manufacturing practices. Doctor Bill reads about Saturn’s rings. About twenty minutes later, Allison, Matilda, and Sarah run past, making strange noises. “Go away!” Nathaniel yells, trying to concentrate.
Less than a minute later, Allison pokes her head around the doorway, making weird noises again. Matilda and Sarah giggle behind her. “Go away!” Nathaniel yells again. Haticat sighs. Fred gets up to close the door.
Less than a minute after that, Allison bursts through the doors with a bang. Before she has a chance to do anything more, Nathaniel yells his loudest, “Stay out of my room!!!!!”
Allison runs out of the room, crying. Getting the attention of Daddy, she whines, “He yelled at me!”
“Don’t yell at your sister!” Mama and Daddy yell at Nathaniel.
“Hey, she’s tattling, whining, and complaining. Punish her,” Nathaniel protests.
“We’ll deal with her later. All you need to be concerned with is yourself,” Mama says, “Yelling at Allison is against the rules.”
“You told me to use my words; that’s all I did. Next time, I’ll be sure to hit her instead,” Nathaniel says defiantly.
“Hitting Allison is also against the rules,” Mama and Daddy state.
“What else am I supposed to do? You won’t let me tell her to stop making me angry, you won’t let me tell you, and you won’t let me stop her physically,” Nathaniel asks, hopping up and down and waving his fists.
“Don’t be angry,” Daddy says.
Now completely frustrated, Nathaniel shouts, “I can’t not be angry is someone or something is making me angry!!”
“No, you choose to be angry,” Mama and Daddy say.
“No one can make you angry,” Daddy says.
Haticat just covers his eyes, shakes his head violently, and collapses. The stupidity of the adult is too much for him to handle. “I’ll remember that the next time you’re angry,” Nathaniel counters, pointing a claw at Daddy.
This clearly angers Daddy a lot. “It’s against the rules to point!” A lightning bolt snakes its way to Nathaniel’s finger, stunning him.
“Don’t talk back to us!” Mama screams, eyes yellow, angrier than Nathaniel has ever seen her. A second lightning bolt knocks Nathaniel over.
“Stay in your room until I let you out!” Mama and Daddy yell.
Nathaniel ignores the pain in his side and leaps at Daddy’s now-deactivated polyp-head. He chews at it ravenously for thirty seconds but only succeeds in making one of his teeth loose. The ivory-substance is impenetrable! Nathaniel is now angrier than he has ever been and whatever choices he might make, he is unable to control the emotions exploding inside him. Eventually, he cools down. It is three hours later when his parent lets him out of his room for mealtime. Allison is as picky and stubborn about food as ever. It is nice to see The Mama-And-Daddy scold her for a change. Nathaniel explored a new planet and discovered crayons today. Still, he is a little angry at Allison and at The Mama-And-Daddy. He isn’t sure whether this is a good day or not.
The next morning, Nathaniel walks to the kitchen for breakfast and passes Allison in the hall. She draws on the wall of The Mama-And-Daddy with crayons. Pink scribbles are everywhere. She doesn’t even draw real pictures. Nathaniel just stops. Allison briefly looks at Nathaniel and then turns away, scowling. Nathaniel realizes she will be in big trouble when their parent finds out. He savors the thought. Before he can tell, or even realize that tattling might get him into trouble again, the polyp-heads activate nearby on their own.
“Allison! Drawing on our walls is against the rules!” Mama yells. Allison starts to whimper.
“Clean this up at once!” Mama and Daddy yell together.
Nathaniel starts to smile. “Nathaniel! Help her clean!” Mama orders.
“Hey! I didn’t do anything; I just got here,” Nathaniel protests.
“You didn’t stop her. You are older; you should set an example,” Daddy states.
“How can I stop her? Hitting her and yelling at her is against the rules – and I just got here,” Nathaniel argues.
“I’m not going to argue with you. Do it!” Mama commands.
“Ugh!” Nathaniel exclaims. He gets into trouble for taking the rules into his own hands and he gets into trouble for not taking the rules into his own hands!
“For that comment you can go to your room when you’re done,” Mama adds. The Mama-And-Daddy provides Allison and Nathaniel with moist towels to wipe down the walls. Nathaniel tries to get the ordeal over with quickly. Allison can’t seem to figure out how to use her towel efficiently, wiping some areas already cleaned repeatedly and missing other spots entirely. Nathaniel ends up doing ninety percent of the work. He does not go to his room afterwards.
After breakfast, the couch-unit takes Allison, Nathaniel, and their Gruezhlings on a mandatory walk. They take a meandering path between the blob-plants in the crisp air. Nathaniel is fascinated by the variety of textures and shades of green possible and is able to easily discern different species even though the plants have no well-defined overall shape. He and Doctor Bill poke and prod them. Some are softer than others. Some remain dimpled where they are touched, others spring back, and still others overcompensate by forming a protrusion where they were once dimpled. Most are cold to the touch. Some are warm. Some are wet and sticky. Most are dry. “Hey, this one smells like beef,” Nathaniel reports.
“This one smells like bacon,” Haticat reports.
“This one smells like vanilla and roses mixed together,” Nathaniel reports.
“This one doesn’t smell like anything,” Haticat says. Fred and Doctor Bill run around smelling each plant in turn to learn the names associated with each scent.
“This is boring!” Allison exclaims. “I don’t want to take a walk.”
“See the big stone hill? We’re just going to go around that and come back,” Mama and Daddy speak simultaneously. Allison groans.
What? That’s not far enough. There is so much more planet to explore! “What if there’s another hill on the other side? We’ll have to keep going,” Nathaniel declares.
“Nathaniel, I don’t want to hear it,” Mama and Daddy say. Nathaniel groans.
“Nathaniel!” Mama says sharply.
“Hey, if you’re bored, we should race,” Nathaniel challenges Allison, “First one to the hill wins!” Nathaniel and his Gruezhlings run ahead.
“Don’t run too far,” Mama and Daddy warn.
“I won’t,” Nathaniel says. The hill isn’t too far ahead, is it? What is too far ahead? He isn’t planning on leaving the planet. He runs a short distance further before looking back. Allison is not running. She just plods along at a slow and steady pace with a scowl on her face as always. Nathaniel stops running. He is quite a distance ahead of her. He decides he can afford to rest.
He walks the last few steps to a narrow grove of trees stretching to the horizon in two directions. These plants have tall, smooth, blue trunks terminating in large, dark-green, blister-covered blobs at the top. Their long, massive, bumpy roots curl and knot around each other. Nathaniel and his Gruezhlings step slowly and carefully through the thick tangle of roots. “There’s water under here,” Doctor Bill notes, looking through a gap between the roots. “And it’s flowing.”
“I hear it,” Haticat says, looking around, “Where is it?”
Further out than the others, Nathaniel looks down. There is a river underneath the root system! He can see it froth. The four boys spread out to explore the grove. Only the trees on the edge and a few on islands in the middle of the river are rooted in solid ground. These trees hold up the entire root system, suspending the trees in the middle over the river. “I’ll name these river-trees,” Nathaniel proclaims. He looks everywhere for signs of animal life. He hopes to see a fish, a crab, or something. There seem to be no animals anywhere. “This must be a plant planet,” he concludes.
Nathaniel looks up and suddenly notices that Allison and the couch-unit have passed him. He runs to catch up. It doesn’t take long. Allison abruptly stops walking. “My feet hurt,” she complains.
“Stop complaining; it’s not a long walk,” Daddy states.
“Complaining is against the rules,” Mama says.
Allison just sits down on the ground. Mama and Daddy keep ordering her to get up and threatening to punish her. Still, they are much more patient with Allison than they ever were with Nathaniel.
Soon, Nathaniel and his Gruezhlings are again far ahead. They stop for a moment to rest and are immediately distracted by a sudden breeze. The air rips short, black, needles off of tall, black plants shaped like irregular columns. The wind redeposits the sticky needles onto other plants of the same kind. Looking around, the boys observe large, black masses of needles in a wide variety of wind-carved shapes. There are flat fins, overhangs, and complete arches. This is a very interesting species of organism. The boys watch as the wind slowly reshapes the black blob-plants, closing some holes and opening others. They run around excitedly in circles and leap. Then the wind stops. Nathaniel sees that Allison has passed him again.
The boys chastise themselves for being so easily distracted. They soon catch up with and pass Allison and her Gruezhlings. “Can we stop now? I’m tired,” Allison whines.
“Don’t whine; whining is against the rules,” Mama says. Allison groans and drags her feet.
The boys run over a short, broad ridge and enter a wide plain just before the big stone hill. This plain has what appear to be large haystacks. On closer inspection, they turn out to be round blobs textured and colored like hay. They are warm to the touch. Nathaniel stops for a moment to lean on one and falls in!
It is lit inside the haystack blob. Nathaniel is able to see several centimeters through the loose, yellow, glowing, hay-like structures that vibrate all around him. The oxygen level is lower inside the blob and he struggles to get out but can gain no purchase on his surroundings. The closer he drifts into the center of the blob, the hotter it gets. Seconds later, he comes to a large mouth. It has thick lips covered in horny teeth and appears just large enough to swallow him. He can see even more hay-like material through it. The lips are colored glueball-green and the teeth are colored angry ocean. Nathaniel is both fascinated and terrified, a potent combination.
Suddenly, he finds himself teleported outside in a standing position. The couch-unit hovers next to him. The next second, the haystack monster is teleported several hundred meters away. “You should stay away from those!” Daddy says. Nathaniel does not argue. His parent had rescued him. Maybe adults aren’t completely bad after all.
Shaken, Nathaniel returns to his trek only to find Allison far ahead, just short of the hill. He runs to catch up with her, but she touches the base first. “I win! Ha! Ha! Ha!” Allison gloats.
How unfair! Allison never even tried to beat him in a fair contest of speed. Instead, she took advantage of his being distracted. Nathaniel is supposed to be the fastest dinosaur. “Grrrrr,” Nathaniel growls.
That afternoon, all the children return to playing with crayons. Nathaniel draws a detailed diagram of the inside of the haystack monster for his Gruezhlings to see. They are all fascinated. Today is the most fun adventure any of the boys have ever had.
That night, The Mama-And-Daddy is so busy dealing with Allison’s pickiness during mealtime and her refusal to stop playing at sleeptime, that it doesn’t even notice Nathaniel’s existence – which suits him just fine. Nathaniel even starts to feel sympathy for Allison, thinking it wrong that she isn’t allowed to make her own choices – as stupid as he sometimes thinks they are. Then he remembers how obnoxious she is and the feeling passes. Today is a good day.
“Do I have a sister in real life?” Nate suddenly asks.
“Yes, you do,” the woman answers, “She visits you all the time, but you don’t remember.”
“Do my parents visit?” Nate asks.
“No, your parents are dead now, but your sister tells me you were quite close,” the woman answers.
“You told me they were abusive,” Nate says.
“No, I never said that,” the woman says.
“Yesterday. You told me it was in my file,” Nate says, confused.
“No. You and your parents always got along very well from what I hear. There’s no mention of any abuse in your file. I should know; I read it four times,” the woman claims.
Nate tries hard to remember exactly what the woman said yesterday. He can’t be sure. “Oh, it must be my weird memory again,” he finally says, “What’s my sister’s name, by the way?”
“Allison,” the woman answers matter-of-factly.
“Oh, it is?” Nate says, smiling. “Then my fantasy dromaeosaur sister is probably based on her more than on you. I thought we decided it was based on you because your name is Allison.”
“My name is Alisha,” the woman says.
“You just told me today it was Allison,” Nate claims.
“No, I told you it was Alisha,” Alisha corrects, “I was almost named Allison. My father wanted to name me Allison, but my mother changed his mind.”
“No, if you told me it was Alisha, why would you try to claim that fantasy-Allison is based on you? The only reason you told me your name in the first place was to support your hypothesis. It wouldn’t have made sense for you to do so if you had told me your name was Alisha,” Nate reasons. He starts to become unnerved and even a little angry. Is this woman playing mind games with him?
Alisha looks sad. “I never said that, and you’ve never had trouble remembering me before,” she says.
“You told me yesterday I always forget you. You told me you visit all the time, but I never remember you,” Nate says, “This is only the second time I remember ever talking to you.”
Alisha still looks sad and concerned. “No, you never forgot me before.”
Nate grits his teeth. “It was today! You just told me your name was Allison!” Nate stops a second. “History really is changing!”
“Nate, you have a condition that does not allow you to form normal memories, but your brain compensates by creating elaborate fantasies based on real events and storing those as memories,” Alisha explains.
“I know that. That’s what you told me yesterday. But you just told me your name was Allison. I remember it as clearly as our present conversation. It is our present conversation,” Nate counters.
“Ten seconds in the past is still the past, Nate. It’s still a tainted memory,” Alisha says.
Nate reasons this through and finally accepts it. “I suppose so.”
“Good,” Alisha says, “Now I still believe you have part of the truth wrapped up in your fantasies. They are based on real events, after all, and I need your help in knowing why you ran away from the facility three months ago and how you eluded security.”
“I ran away?” Nate queries.
“Yes, that’s the purpose of the interview,” Alisha explains.
“Oh, is that when the crime occurred?” Nate asks.
“What crime?” Alisha asks, furrowing her brow.
“The crime that you told me I was…never mind,” Nate sighs.
After a pause, Alisha continues, “Why don’t we take a break for today? I’ll come back tomorrow and we’ll talk more about your trip to Binerty.”
“No, I’m fine, really,” Nate says.
“Okay. Let me know if you need a break,” Alisha says.
“I want to get through this,” Nate says.
“Okay,” Alisha says, “Tell me what happened next.”
“Next, we left Binerty and explored a planet named Cartop,” Nate says.