Septemus 45


Dear Sept,

I’m grateful we have a project to work on together.

You’re getting older and more independent. You’re even heading out alone to visit some of your siblings: Panda in Forgotten Hollow and Manny in Oasis Springs.

When we talked about it, and I volunteered to go with you, I’ve got to admit, if I’m being perfectly honest, that I hoped you’d say you wanted me to come along.

I wonder if you knew I felt this way. Probably. You looked a little uncomfortable when you said that it was something you felt you had to do alone.


I understand. Or at least I imagine that I do. I’ve been spending a lot of time trying to imagine what it must be like to be telepathic. It means what I feel, imagine, and think is right there for you to feel, imagine, think.

It seems kind of noisy, to me.


So when you go to see your siblings–especially for the first time–I can imagine you might need to reduce some of that noise. Maybe you don’t want to be tracking my thoughts and feelings while you’re tuning in to your siblings initially.

I mean, I know that you’re always connected with your siblings. But it’s different when you’re in physical proximity, isn’t it?

That’s how I imagine it, at least.

At any rate, you told me thanks. That you appreciated it.


You’ve grown into a young man, son.

I know I have to let you go. A few years, and you’ll finish high school. Then what?


College? Career?

You are free to do what you want. We don’t have much money, but then neither did Nonny and Poppy when I went to university and grad school. We’ll qualify for grants. You’ll get scholarships. Student loans won’t kill a person, though I’ve got to admit I’ll be relieved when mine are finally paid off five years from now.

You’ve developed good habits. I’m proud that you’ve taken it upon yourself to clean up the park.


I even find you out there at night, mopping up the spilled paint and graffiti.


You’ve got a good work ethic, too, son. Not a day has passed when you don’t do your homework.


I’ll tell you one thing: We couldn’t build this rocket without you.


Of course, if it weren’t for you, we probably wouldn’t have a cause to build it, since it was your people who gave it to us, after all.

I’ve asked you many times what you think it’s for. You reply is always the same: “Just in case.”

But “just in case” of what, I don’t even want to imagine. I shudder to think of any situation where a rocket might play a part in the contingency plan.


I try to not even think about there being a rocket in our backyard. A rocket. In our backyard.

It doesn’t phase you, though. You’re reaching the age of independence, and there’s a rocket in our backyard, and you look as if the entire universe were your turf.


And I am trying not to worry.

Maybe if I give you enough independence, you’ll have no reason to ever leave, and you’ll stay.

Do you think?

You’ll always be my boy.

–Your pops

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Septemus 39


Dear Sept,

You’ve always been a thoughtful kid. And you’ve always looked like part of you has been tuning in to some frequency I can’t quite hear.

But after my abduction, the times when you listen to those unsung voices seem to have increased.

I don’t dare interrupt when I come upon you listening.


But sometimes, what you hear makes you so sorrowful that it hurts to stand by.


You don’t reveal much when I ask you about it.

“I’m unpacking it, Pops,” is the most you’ll say.

One day, you hopped up to announce, “All right! I am ready! Let’s build that thing!”

You led me out to the tiny tarmac. Per your instructions, we’d ordered 144 sheets of titanium.

Without hesitation, you began instructing me in the construction. We worked for a few hours. By the time we stopped for a break, we actually had something that looked a little bit like the base of a rocket.


“Where’d you pick that up?” I asked you. “From school? From those projects we’ve been doing after school?”

“I downloaded the information,” you said.

“Downloaded? Like from the Internet?” asked Darling, who’d dropped by for a visit.

“Not exactly,” you said. “The downloading part is easy. It’s the unpacking of it that’s difficult.”


It seems the downloading can happen at any time, and it’s not something you can control.

You picked up whole packets of data the other night in the middle of one of our noisy parties.


I’m not the only one who notices when this happens. Miko watched on distraught. I pulled her aside later to tell her you were all right. It was just one of those things.


When this episode passed, you seemed more than all right. You smiled one of your basking-in-the-benevolence-of-the-universe smiles. All is right in the world. I heard you say, “Squeegee,” though your lips didn’t move.


It’s not easy being an extraterrestrial on this harsh planet. It’s not easy connecting with your people ten thousand light years away–or more. What do I know of light years?

It’s not easy living here with those of us who can’t access our own deepest thoughts, feelings, and memories, and so have not a chance of accessing those deep regions inside others.

But here you are. When I see you smile that way, it makes me feel that you are indeed–and will be–all right.

–Your loving pops

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Septemus 38


Dear Sept,

I felt so strange the next day after that dream, as if I weren’t all there. While you were at school, I painted. I have no idea where this composition came from–three fish, swimming through space. These were no ordinary koi. These are cosmic koi.

I felt drawn to the blackness of space.

I had to go inside and sit down. I felt so strange.


What could it be? Why could I only remember fragments of that dream?

A few years back, Brio sent me a letter. I looked through the folder on the computer where I save all my correspondence. There it was.

“I know for a fact that me carrying my children had to do with those hours I cannot recall…”

Those hours I cannot recall…

Why can’t I remember all of my dream? I was still trying to reconnect with that dream experience when you came home from your study session at the library.

“Son,” I asked, “do you ever have dreams you can’t recall?”

“I forget them in the everyday,” you answered, “but on some level, their traces remain with me always. What’s up, Pops?”

“I feel odd, son,” I confessed.


“Let me see you, Pops.”

I stood before you. What came next can only be described as the sensation of a total and complete body scan. It wasn’t unpleasant. It tickled. But it felt like blue rose petals, and it brought me back to myself.


“You’re OK, Pops!” you said. “You’re fine. You’ve just had your first extra-terrestrial experience, that’s all!”

“Oh, man. What do you mean?”

“That dream? That was no dream!” you said. “You met my peoples!”


“How can you be sure?”

You launched into a long, detailed explanation about the storage of memory within the consciousness of cells.

“Nothing’s ever lost, Pops. If it happens, it’s there somewhere.”

“But what about dreams? Maybe the cells were storing dream-experience?”

“Nope. Dream-memories taste different. This was my folks, Pops.”

“What’s the purpose? There’s got to be some reason for this, right? It’s not just some random act.”

“Well,” you said, “I suppose it has something to do with me. They want a connection to the person I’m most connected to, which would be you. They like you, Pops. In fact, one of the data-pieces I picked up in your cells contains a very specific coded message.”

“And that message would be?”

“You’re to expect a very special delivery,” you reported.


A few evenings later, it arrived. We heard a whirring noise, and when we went out to look, we found a pile of crates sitting on a tiny square of tarmac.

“This is it, Pops!” you said. “Our very own rocket-kit! Straight from the Far Star!”


I guess maybe your folks thought we needed another father-son project.

Looking forward to doing some building with you, son.

–Your pops

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Author’s Notes: What… you were expecting a different sort of delivery? So was I!

Many thanks to Kira for writing Brio’s letter! You can find Brio and his family’s story at KK’s Sims Stories.