Far Horizons: Tales of Sci-Fi, Fantasy and Horror. Issue #13 April 2015 - Page 28

1. UnionCon There were times when I felt less like my planet’s representative to the galaxy and more like a B-movie celebrity. Most events at UnionCon were at least nominally about promoting goodwill between the systems of the Galactic Union. The meet-and-greet, on the other hand, was primarily about signing autographed photos for groupies. Yes, I had groupies. Ben and I sat at a table with stacks of photos. Scores of young ladies—at least, I was pretty sure they were mostly all ladies, though with some races it wasn’t that obvious—stood in lines waiting to talk to us. Ben put down his pen and cracked his knuckles. “So, how’s your girlfriend?” “You mean Janet? She’s fine. She’s not really my girlfriend, though. Not the way you mean.” Ben shook his head and laughed. “C’mon, Wayne. She followed you to college, even though she can’t really afford it. I’ve seen her picture. She seems pretty enough. If I wasn’t already semi-serious about a girl, I’d give it a shot.” I rolled my eyes. “Oh, like you’d have a shot.” “Hey, I’m Ben Elan, Umea Bakearen of Deneb!” “That might mean something here at UnionCon, but on Earth, you’d be as much a nobody as I am.” “You’re not a nobody. You’re Wayne Freed, Umea Bakearen of Sol III!” “You don’t get it, do you? Two booths at the food PAGE 28 court could probably fit all of the people of Earth who know about it. Janet’s not one of them.” Ben gaped. “Why does she even like you, then?” “O h, thanks for the vote of confidence. For your information, she’s my sister’s best friend. I’ve known her for years.” “Well, think about this, then. If you and I had not been exchanged at birth, I might have been the one carrying her picture around.” I hated conceding the point. Ben and I had been exchanged at birth to ratify the Sol-Deneb treaty. As long as we both remained alive and unharmed, Earth and Deneb would remain at peace, and all life on Earth would not be exterminated by Deneb. As a result, we were treated as celebrities almost everywhere in the known galaxy, except for one glaring exception. Earth was not yet a member of the galactic community, so my identity was a state secret. Even in my family, the only one who knew was my dad. Mom’s memory of the event had been suppressed, for reasons I still didn’t fully understand. Not even Lucy, my younger sister, had a clue. There were times I wished I could tell Janet everything, but I was bound by treaty not to talk about it to anyone not already in the know. Ben had no idea how good he had it, not having to keep secrets from the ones he loved. I sighed. “You keep thinking the grass is greener on the other side of the galaxy, don’t you? It’s not as simple as all that. If it weren’t for Sol-Deneb, my family wouldn’t have moved to Oklahoma in the first place. I never would have met Janet.”