She had expected disbelief. She had thought she would deny everything and find every reason to doubt her senses. But everything told Imogen the truth of it all. The sun was smaller and more yellow, the moon was tiny and had a completely different face.
Around her the noises of animals was nothing like anything she'd heard on a hundred field trips. And the plants: one had leaves divided on horizontal and vertical axes with the horizontal leaves green and the vertical purple. A clever way to maximize photosynthesis on a world with a weaker sun.
And the plant had to grow quickly. It was browsed by large quadruped herbivores. Their dung hatched small creatures like an eight legged beetle. The chitinous armor glistened in the sun with hues of red unlike any insect or arachnid on Earth.
Purple stems sent up transparent flowers which sweat something that small flying creatures feasted upon.
In the distance were huge flying creatures which seemed to defy any Earth-formed categorization.
“Welcome to my home planet,” said Steve.
Okay, now that was strange. The moon was one thing; the eight-legged beetle was another; but this guy (and he was just a regular guy, and rather hunky now that she got a look at him) was speaking English. On this "alien" planet. And he identified himself as Steve. Not Klrg'wphth, or El-dur-Blathonal, or even Gort, but Steve, for cryin' out loud.
Imogen chuckled. Those clowns running the trans-warp chamber. It was to be her first solo off-world space-shift, and this was the best they could come up with for her hazing? A weed patch on the outskirts of Barstow or someplace? A few plastic plants, an animatronic bug or two - how cornball could you get? The sun and moon weren't bad, though, she had to give them that. She'd have to worm that secret out of them when it was over.
"Come, I'll transport you to our capital city." Steve gestured to a three-wheeled contraption nearby. As he turned, his metallic tee-shirt stretched tight across his rippling abs. Hmm . . . this escapade might hold some interest after all.
Not surprisingly, the capital city consisted largely of commonplace commercial districts and strip malls. But as they traveled the streets, Imogen felt a growing unease; something wasn't quite right. Then it struck her: block after city block, building after building - there wasn't a Starbuck's in sight! Incredible! She really wasn't on Earth!
Opening: D Jason Cooper.....Continuation: Paul Penna