“Venus” is one of the outstanding stories of the first biannual International Short Story Contest 2018 written by Edna Sadiković, OŠ "Lipnica" (Primary school "Lipnica"),Tuzla, Bosnia and Herzegovina.
The sound of silence in that moment was the loudest noise she ever experienced. The flickering lights of cheap billboards were so bright they hurt her eyes. The street that she went by numerous of times now seemed so distanced and over exaggerated. This might be the last time she will ever experience any of these. It was an unthought decision to make. Maybe she bit off more than she could chew after all.
The crew was ready. She was the only one they waited for.
"Is she even coming?"
"How long are we supposed to wait for her?"
"Is she really that necessary?"
Marcus Maximus was patiently waiting. The mumbling and outcry of his crew were no distraction for him. On Earth, they were none of his worries.
This wasn't the first time he was doing this. He was once just a rabbit caught in the headlights. He, however, returned, unlike everyone else on that ship.
On the horizont, under the dim lights, a figure was moving with small hesitant steps. The previous complains now turned into incomprehensible monotony. The one they all waited for has arrived.
As a lieder and a captain, Marcus was the first one to approach the shadow from the darkness, a young woman with uncertain posture. Compared to Marcus, tall muscular middle-aged man, she seemed tiny and weak, but there was so many more to offer under that feminine shell.
"Please, call me Venus."
"Venus." Marcus stopped for a moment to look deeper in her frightened blue eyes. There was something off about this woman. It wasn't the way she looked or how she behaved. It was an anomaly so obvious, and yet so surreptitious. It made a moment gazing in her eyes feel like millenniums. It was something so hounting that once you notice it, your mind was never gonna forget it, an advantage and a curse in the very same time.
"We were waiting for you." Marcus continued as if nothing happened, still arrogant as always. A perfect figure of authority, with his poker face always on.
Without waiting for Venus's response, he turned around with movement strong and steady, leaving a miniature pit behind him.
The nonexistent brightness woke them up. No one could remember a thing. Like the trip never even happened.
The sound of confusion filled her head.
The unhuman voice corrupted her brain, but she couldn't obligate its commands.
What happened? What could she remember?
"My father was a scientist. He always claimed that Venus was the most perfect name for me, and he was right. I, too, was never a lieder, rather a loner, a hasty lover, always following my own path. Full of fire, so familiar, and yet so distanced and complicated, never letting anyone near me, seemingly venomous, and yet always so bright. Always an outsider, I never belonged anywhere. Like a clay pigeon, determined to achieve the goal my father never managed - to reach for the stars. I lived on Earth, among other humans. As far as I know, I'm now far away from that horror."
The memories she wanted to bury forever now came back from dead, and the thing she hated the most was now the only thing on her mind.
The world wasn't always this way. It was never perfect, but back in the times, it was at least functional. The world she saw around her, with the last steps she made on Earth, was nothing like that. It was a dark place by every meaning of that word. But now, she has finally left that rotten world of chaos and hatred behind.
The lost scream of desperate passenger brought her back to reality.
"We are free."
Everyone looked at her, and it was the first time it didn't bother her.
"Death and disaster are now our past."
Every person in the room listened to her.
"We made it to Povert!"
"But how?" the voice from the mass spoken.
"That I don't know. I came... somewhere. And then, darkness. But now we are here, and that's the only thing important!"
The mass has spoken again. But it was now the sound of hope and excitement.
Venus turned back to her spot. She was finally happy.
? 12 days later
Panic coursing through Venus's mind. What has she just witnessed?
She rushed to captain Maximus's office and stormed inside without a warning.
"I demand answers!"
"What's happening Venus?!"
"How could you? Those are humans in there!"
"Calm down and start talking rationally! I can't understand a word you're saying!"
"The basement! The "secret lab"! That's what I'm saying!"
"Close the door and sit down."
She did as she was said to.
"Now tell me, what exactly did you see?"
"The human experiments. The suffering in their eyes. The screams so loud not even the heavy isolation door could hold them in. People who begged for mercy, but couldn't speak, who looked for escape, but couldn't see. The living graveyard and dead kept alive. Everything I tried to escape."
Marcus waited for her to calm down, and then continued:
"What you saw was not pain, but a cold hand of justice. What you heard were not screams, but a rage unleashed for their acts. They are not humans, but the cold blooded monsters."
The expression on Venus's face had no trace of emotions. Her black hair fell over her, now completely blank eyes. She didn't feel rage or sorrow. She felt absolutely nothing at all.
"Miss Peterson, there is a monster inside each one of us. So why not wake it up?"
She faked the smile on her face and turned to Marcus.
She stood up and left. Marcus hesitated for a couple of seconds, and then, with a click of a button, brought the official announcement:
"Don't let her escape!"
She was in trouble and she knew it. The secret tunnel lead her out, as the images of terror she had witnessed flew her mind.
"Why did I do that?"
Just then, something in her head clicked. She had to go back.
Her mind screamed no, but her body kept on telling her yes. She bursted through the door once again, with Marcus waiting for her.
"I know what's wrong with you. Your eyes are supposed to be brown, not blue." He raised his look, staring into her, now unfamiliar eyes. "What have you done to real Venus?"
The evil smile occurred on Venus's face. Without hesitation, she grabbed his throat and threw him on the ground.
"Darling, we all go a little mad sometimes. Some of us just don't come back."
Bullets started flying the second door slammed open.
"This is the end..."
Her last moments, and her mind was yet again filled with harsh reality.
"My name is Marie Universe Peterson. Venus was my siamese twin. She died during the separation. Father always called me by her name. He believed she was doomed for great things, and I took that chance away from her. There was nothing I wanted more than to make him proud. He was the mad scientist that doomed the Earth. I was even madder for continuing his work."
Everything goes black. Until she wakes up.
She woke up drown in sweat, breathing heavily.
"That dream again?"
Marie Universe turned around. It was her favorite nurse. She spoke to her with a forced smile:
"When are you gonna get me out of this straitjacket?"
"The moment your nightmare is over, my dear."
Lights dim, and she's yet another time leaving the Earth.
Just a living nightmare all over again.