The Pearl Fishers


The Venusian pearl, a seed that starts from Pikka dust, thrown high into the pressure-cooker planet's atmosphere and left to fall, snowflake-like, snowballing, gathering to itself layer upon lustrous layer of pink-black-green, amber-like lacquer from the soup of compressed chemicals -till it lands, crystalline and iridescent, upon the planet's storm-raked, semi-molten crust.


Demi was a pearl fisher. She had beautiful long black hair, porcelain skin and a swimmer's body with strong muscular legs. She and the other fishers lived in hollowed out caverns beneath the planet's surface which were cooled by a technology they didn't yet understand. In those caverns, were discovered hibernating aliens -reptilian beings with green scaly skin and red bug eyes. All attempts to wake them failed, so with powerful lasers, they were sliced open, and their skins used as the only suits able to withstand the harsh Venusian climate.


It wasn't by any disguise that the world wanted Venusian pearls, but it was already a foregone conclusion that nobody sent there would ever make it back alive. Dropped to the surface in a drill ship, the 12 fishers had scant hours to tunnel below the surface and hope to hit a cavern mapped out by the Martian codex, discovered on the red planet along with a few of the priceless pearls. They made it, but there was no way back home -no escape from the super dense Venusian atmosphere.


Demi slipped into the bile tanned alien skin, naturally adapted to the extreme heat and pressure. It was soft on the inside and brick-like on the outside but was adequately flexible. Air bladders and recycling filters squished around her as she rolled the skin tightly over her chest, sealing it. Looking out through the bug eyes, she could see the fluorescent Venusian auroras above her, into which she had to dive, and deposit the Pikka dust.


She waited for the twisters to descend as they did every evening, catching one with her arm, she was lifted into the air, undulating, and kicking, she surfed the storm winds into the opalescent nebula, and scattered the Pikka. Swiftly as it had come, the twisters dissipated, and Demi descended, spirally, upon the dying winds.


Many of the vitals for survival were discovered by the fishers including bathing in alien blood. It never got dirty, and eating the strange alien hanging mushrooms that grew on the cavern roofs which were their only source of food and water which condensed in their gills. The mushrooms grew by prayer. When the fishers didn't observe the delicate ecosystem, there would be fewer mushrooms, and when their intentions were pure, the fungus was tastier and juicier.


The caverns housed many other alien technologies. A neutron schooner was discovered in a launch silo. Ragged cone-shaped, as high as an obelisk, the monolithic alien ship seemed to have no doors or means of propulsion. It was also made of material so dense; it could not be scratched or chipped. The fishers suspected that it was made from super dense neutron star carbon.


In a deep and secluded cave, alien hearts were kept alive and beating, attached to their brains. They communicated that it was okay for their skins to be used -that Venus was a hopeless cause of a world. Demi knelt before the throbbing purplish hearts and washes of kindness came over her. Do you want to leave? The aliens pushed into her mind. She nodded. The alien organs squelched, and she put her hand in between them. It came out sticky with mucus that fizzed against her skin.


She went to the silo where the schooner was, crystalline and smooth. This time she noticed grooves zigzagging up the monolith, and she climbed them gingerly. At the very top, exhausted, and trembling, she found nothing but a pyramidal point. She cried. There was no way off the planet, no way to sell their pearls. With her sticky hand, she rubbed the spiked tip and prayed. The alien fluids seeped into the capillaries of the diamond spar and the tip began to lift.


Demi crawled into the space it left. It was large enough for one person. She didn't know what to do so she sat in the cold hard hole cross-legged and prayed. The shard tip descended and sealed her in. She felt a vibration, like someone swinging a gimbal. And she was connected to the ship's intelligence. She asked it if she could return to Earth, and it replied that she could. How? She asked. By ejecting thimbles of neutron star, came the reply, we will soon be clear of Venus, then I must return. Demi thanked the alien gods and asked how she would survive the journey. The ship replied that it had plenty of food and air but only for one passenger at a time. Then let it be me, she said.


She was awakened as if from a night's peaceful sleep by the ship's intelligence, having eaten but 3 mushrooms and breathed 2 sacs of air. We are in orbit about your planet. You must speak to the space authorities. Demi smiled, her hands clutching a string of the most beautiful iridescent Venusian pearls.

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