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Runner-up: The Last Night on Lookout

Leland Bishop

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(( A Memory ))

He had no memories before the age of five, and those memories were of smoke, rock dust, and blood. All of his memories of his early childhood were gone. For the boy, his memories began that dark, choking night on Lookout.

He didn't remember birthdays, or the wonder of leaving Earth for a distant world. He didn't recall the pride he knew he must have felt in his parents for leaving everything that was familiar behind and making their destinies in the far reaches of space. He didn't even have a sense of what his parents looked like – other than the last picture that was burned into his right eye before the murderers brought a sharp rock down on it. The picture of his parents bodies mutilated beyond any description a five year old boy could ascribe to it.

He did remember the last words he would ever hear his mother say to him. The words she screamed to him as she stood silhouetted in the doorway of their home, back lit by flames and underscored by the screams of the dying...

“Lee! Stay here! Hide, Lee! I need you to hide! You are not to come out of this house, do you hear me? No matter what... Whatever you hear outside... Stay here, sweetheart... I love...”

His fathers arm had pulled her through the door before she could finish. Into the night and into death.

The killers came to Ceres IX shortly after the sun had set. The long shadows of their hulking forms blotting out the faces of their victims as their long blades closed in. The shadows... and then the wet sounds and screams cut short. Little Lee could not know why his parents had gone out into that dusky Hell. Only later could he speculate that were trying to lead them away from him. At that moment however, and forever in his memory... His parents left him alone with monsters at the door.

He hid in a small dark space between his bed and the wall and listened as Ceres IX – Called Lookout – became a slaughterhouse.

He wouldn't know until later that the monsters were Klingons, they very people who his father had come to negotiate with on that barren rock. In the fading light, they had become nightmare shapes barking in their strange language as they moved among the huddled homes of the colony. He saw them moving past the doorway... Past the window... Moving with their cruel knives and hunting down the people who's only crime was to be living on a planet that had suddenly become valuable overnight.

He vaguely recalled a discovery... Or the talk of a discovery... In the mines. The adults had talked about it only a few nights before. It was something exciting... He remembered that. His parents friends were celebrating it... They thought that all their hard work would be rewarded.

It was rewarded. With pain.

Only later would he learn that these particular demons weren't the gruff, swarthy people his father had traded with for months. They were outlaws. Pirates who had intercepted a stray communication about the mineral strike and were looking to make a quick profit. He only learned it later, after years of studying their harsh and brutal language and reading Starfleet after-action reports. Reports that made what happened that night seem so... clinical.

Lee had been a quiet little boy who loved his books and played games in his own imagination. Now he saw the children he would never get to know being pulled behind their captors. By their hair... By their legs. Sometimes to a dark corner, but more often simply to the center of the main road. He watched them being cut down and left in a growing pile. Children he would never know or laugh with.

If he ever laughed again.

The crashing, breaking, and screaming night seemed to last forever. More likely only an hour or more. An hour that ruined the innocence of little Leland Bishop (he would never be called Lee again) and set him on a bitter course that would twist him and tear at him for the rest of his life.

His mother came to the door one last time, but he would never be sure if she could see his face in those final moments. Her face was a mask of blood. One side almost completely burned away by the green flame of a disruptor beam. For the last time in his life Lee allowed himself the luxury of tears, the luxury of screaming...

He crept to the door with one last desperate hope that his mother might hold him again. But his movement caught the eye of one of the monsters. His hand had only brushed her hair when a grip like iron came down on his neck. All he wanted was to die in that moment. To be free of all this horror.

His captor tried to oblige him. His feet scraped they gray rock as he was pulled by his hair to the pile of bodies in the center of town. When he was hurled atop them he landed cheek to stubbled cheek with the body of a burly man his father had known well... One of the geologists... Leland lay there screaming against the dead man watching as the dark creature above him put it's knife away. He could not see it's eyes but he could still feel their gaze. The beast had put its knife away because it didn't feel Leland was worth the stroke... Somehow he knew that. The shadow picked up a jagged rock and raised it over the little boys head.

As it came down on his right eye to blot out the world, Leland Bishop thought: How sad it was that the poor man beneath him hadn't had time to shave.

Leland Bishop

Diplomatic Attache

USS Victory

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