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Art by Melissa Mead

Girl Who Asks Too Much

A Nebula Award nominee and a winner in the Writers of the Future Contest, Eric James Stone has had stories published in Year's Best SF 15, Analog, Nature, and the Blood Lite anthologies of humorous horror, among other venues. Eric is also an assistant editor for Intergalactic Medicine Show. His website is www.ericjamesstone.
Wise Ones, see here in front of you Girl Who Asks Too Much. Such a name does not cause pride to the Folk of the Egg. Dare not speak to her, or she will ask of you all the day long.
Why are some plants food for the Folk and some plants death?
Why are some beasts food for the Folk and some beasts death?
Why do the beasts that are death live when they feed on plants that are death?
Why are the plants and beasts that feed the Folk death for the beasts that are death for the Folk?
Fool girl, I tell her, the plants and beasts that feed the Folk all came from the Great Egg. They are a gift from the Egg, that they should be food for the Folk of the Egg. The plants and beasts that are not of the Egg are not for us.
But that does not stop Girl Who Asks Too Much.
Why did all things not come from the Egg?
Did the beasts and plants that are death come from an egg that is not the Great Egg?
Ask no more, I tell her, or I will change your name to Girl With Mouth Sewn Shut.
But that does not stop Girl Who Asks Too Much.
She wants to see the Great Egg, and I take her so she will not ask me more. Let her ask the Great Egg. It does not speak now, as in old tales. Let her ask, and it may be that the Great Egg will speak, if but to tell her not to ask more.
I and the girl walk for three days.
If we came from the Great Egg, why do we live so far from it?
Hush, I tell her, or I will leave you here and your name will be Girl Who Got Lost In The Woods.
That stops Girl Who Asks Too Much, for she knows we are near the Great Egg, where she may ask all she wants.
The Great Egg lies on a plain. Its height is more than a tree. The crack that split the Egg in two is dark, but the white of its shell has not dimmed.
Plants grow near the Egg. They are like the plants the Folk eat, yet not. They have more leaves, or are too thin, or twist in strange ways.
I think that Girl Who Asks Too Much will ask me why the plants are strange, but she does not. She runs off and goes in the crack of the Great Egg.
Such a thing is not done. The Folk came out of the Great Egg. Does a chick go back in the egg? Does a child go back in the womb? In the old tales, to go back in the egg is to get sick and die.
But I may not leave her and change her name to Fool Girl Who Ran In The Crack Of The Egg.
So I go in the Great Egg, too.
I find rooms in the Egg. I find Girl Who Asks Too Much in a room where she sits on the floor. It is not dark in the room, for parts of the walls shine.
She talks to the Great Egg.
Why are things that came from the Egg not the same as things that did not come from the Egg?
The Egg does not say a word.
Why do hen's eggs just hatch one kind of bird, and not all kinds of birds and beasts? Why are the plants near the Great Egg strange?
She asks and asks and asks, and the Egg does not say a word.
I tell her that she must come with me, but she will not. I tell her that she will get sick and die, and I will change her name to Fool Girl Who Would Not Hear And Got Sick And Died, but she will not stop.
I grab her arm to pull her with me, and then the Egg speaks.
I am not an egg, it says. I am a boat from a star. Much has changed, so I learn your new words from this girl.
Wise Ones, see here in front of you Girl Who Asks Too Much. Such a name does not cause pride to the Folk of the Egg. So now I name her Girl Who Talks To The Boat From A Star.
Such a name should cause pride to the Folk Who Came From A Star.
The End
This story was first published on Thursday, March 24th, 2011


I wrote this story for a flash-fiction writing contest with other members of CodexWriters.com. We each had to write a story of no more than 750 words in a weekend--each weekend for five weeks. This story was my entry for week four. It was based on the following prompt: "Develop a creation myth for a fictional culture. Write a story where someone's actions are influenced by that myth." I decided on the creation myth that might arise in a human interstellar colony that just barely managed to survive a disaster with their colony ship.
Because it was flash fiction, I decided to experiment with style by writing the whole story using words of only one syllable, in order to give the language a primitive feel.

- Eric James Stone

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