Liv Lenertz was a student in Matt Smith‘s World Building: Science Fiction Workshop for high school students at the 2021 Portland Book Festival. Their pieces written during that workshop are published below.
About the Author: Liv Lenertz is high school student from the Portland area who enjoys Marvel films, politics, and their pet cat. They like reading books that focus on the specifics of science fiction, like iRobot, as well as questioning the complex moral implications brought up by the medium. They hope to one day craft thought provoking works that make the reader question their own place in our ever-changing world.
Cages lined the walls, stacked tall and imposing, entrapped in cold concrete- except they didn’t look like what one would expect when they thought of cages; far from it. The densely populated towers were adorned with windows, speckling its brutalist exterior. Its residents, equally as mundane and exhaustive as the building, heralded it as a haven from their poverty-level industrial jobs. They painted their prison, held meetings and clubs, played basketball in the parking lot on Tuesdays. However hard they tried, they couldn’t cover the reek of its true intention.
A human zoo.
Cont. the Sentence
“A screaming comes across the sky. It has happened before, but there is nothing to compare it to now. It is too late.” I’ve found throughout my albeit short life that world-ending events tend to happen only once — as in the world ends right afterwards.
A screaming comes across the sky, silent and striking. It comes, and with it, the universe. It happens too fast, or maybe it just felt that way. I’ve watched meteors before with Pa out in the fields, late at night after long days, but nothing compares to this. The loom of its all encompassing size alone could kill all life, so large its mear glance would obliterate everything. I watched it for far longer than I should have that day, and when others were holding their loved ones tight in prayer to an unheard God, I stood alone in that field.
Then it was over.
Describe the image
It was an odd sort of unreality, living on the rings. They circled the shell of Earth that was resting just above the atmosphere. To call it peaceful would be inaccurate, for any anarchist commune is always at least a little bit insane — but hey, at least the giraffes aren’t carnivorous. The “rules” were more of guidelines, if anything. Don’t break anything we can’t fix, don’t kill someone without asking nicely first, no opening the hatch and sucking us all into the ever-present endless expanse of space. You know, basic things.
I liked walking at what constituted ‘night’ in the place that never sleeps, through the river ‘Floyd,’ which snaked through every level of the rings. It was cold, deep, and I liked to imagine Earth had rivers like it, but without the toxic sludge.
I met a stranger one afternoon, alone in my apartment. One usually does not expect to find 8 foot tall extraterrestrials on their balconies, certainly not on a Tuesday.
They stood, head not visible through the door, uncomfortable. They looked cold. I could tell they were not from around here, but I didn’t want to call them alien — it makes me feel unwelcome enough already whenever I present my ID at traffic stops. So I was cautious, respectful. They handed me a little worm-like creature, and gestured to their ear gently. Placing the babbling creature in, I felt its slimy, smooth body wiggle into my brain painlessly.
Under the Sea
It was murky and dark down on the seabed. Almost like a separate world, distanced from the stench of humanity, free of their ilk — silent. Or, at least, it had been. Long ago for some, the station had been built, embedded on the ocean’s bottom; hidden in plain sight from passing sea creatures and intrepid explorers alike.
Their true name unpronouncable by human tongue, Xion watched and catalogued flora in relative peace, unknown for years. It would’ve been far longer still if the ilk hadn’t spread, starting at the industrial revolution. Xion had helped with that, as war was not their speciality but instead industry; that was what they loved. They built those vermin their cars, helped plan their cities, aided in restructuring of Government — but time had weighed heavy on their heart and morality hung their head. So they gave humans advanced electricity, alternative power to replace the rot of coal, and left without word to their station under the sea.
That was then, and this is now. Trash floated on turbulent waters, and microplastics fed the plankton. It seemed it was time to put those humans in their place once more.
Six Word Stories
Wow, that’s a lot of stoats.
I take your hand, left disconnected.
Battlin’ brawlers dance the promenade nightly.