While sheltering in place, I thought now might be a good time to exercise some nouns, verbs, and other parts of speech. So, I decided to rewrite one of my screenplays, Two Weeks in Roswell, as a novel. Here’s the TWIR script pitch: “When an alien Dad takes his family on a vacation to planet Earth and his son is kidnapped by tabloid journalists, the rest of the family must leave the safety of their tour and work together to rescue the kid. The aliens have landed and they’re on vacation!”
I hope to post more chapters as I go along, in 500-word chunks. Without further ado, here’s the first part of Chapter 1…
Chapter 1.01 – Planet Earthnot
In the words of Shakespeare’s Hamlet, “There are more things in heaven and earth, Horatio, than are dreamt of in your philosophy.” Which shouldn’t surprise any of us, since Horatio barely scored a C- in his Philosophy of All Things Great and Small midterm exam.
Let’s face it, you don’t have to be Shakespeare or one of his characters to realize that with a radius estimated to be in the neighborhood of 45 billion light years, the universe holds many surprises. Which is why …
Fourteen-thousand feet above the surfers, the W.M. Keck Observatory on the big island of Hawaii searches for cosmic surprises. The world’s largest telescopes at the Mauna Kea Summit work in harmony to probe the sky, regularly blasting signals through the twinkling stars, scouring a vast and seemingly endless universe looking for any signs of life: Cassiopeia, Betelgeuse, the Pleiades, the Andromeda Galaxy, the Whirlpool Galaxy, the Sombrero Galaxy, car headlights on the L.A. Freeway, fireflies. These powerful telescopes—each visually a cross between a giant golf ball and a cyclops—are never-ending in their pursuit of extraterrestrial life.
But the best we’ve got is still not good enough, for we have yet to discover a very special planet that is much like Earth but, at the same time, is not Earth. We shall call it, ahem, Planet Earthnot.
Earthnot is a planet far, far beyond our galaxy and far, far more socially sophisticated and far, far more technologically advanced and far, far more just about anything else than our own simple gee-whiz planet. Simply put, that particular spinning rock way out there in space, a planet that even our greatest telescopes can’t see, billions of light years from our own spinning rock, is everything Earth is not.
So, why is Earthnot unlike our planet? For starters, it’s a planet of quick learners. The Great Insurance Scandal made them understand how nobody should get rich from someone else’s fears or anguish or accidents, which is why they decided to cover everyone—from cradle to grave. Ditto lessons they learned from The Great Pharmaceutical Drug Scandal, The Great Climate Destruction Scandal, The Great Corrupt Politicians Scandal, The Great Game Show Scandal, The Great What’s that Floating in My Water Scandal. They have 250 words for “great” and 115 words for “scandal,” but prefer to use “great” and “scandal” instead of their many other options, a reflection of their natural frugal tendencies. And they may be right, too. Why spend 250 words when one word will do, especially when that one word means the same thing?
[okay, it’s not a cliff-hanger, but, as they say, to be continued]