Molly liked to dance. She dreamed of dancing on Star Universe, a dance show that was pod-cast world wide once a year. People from all over came to compete. Only the best dancers made it onto the Solar Stage.
The Solar Stage was a colorful platform made of solametal that hovered above the lower dance floor. Solametal, a man-made substance, could be infused with various colors to create a flashy effect and was light enough to create hover-floors. Dancers that were good enough for Solar Stage were brought up from the lower dance floor by means of the solametal plates that made up the lower dance floor.
Molly was especially fond of 1950's dancing even though it was out of date. There was a problem however. Though she loved to dance, she was too shy to do it publicly. The thought of dancing in front of complete strangers made her insides turn to jelly.
Her older sister, Bella, had danced on the stage when she was sixteen. She was gone now, studying at some university. Molly wished she could talk to her. Bella had always known what to do.
"Miss Thorn? Would you care to join us and answer the question?" The scorn laced voice cut into Molly's thoughts as rudely as a bucket of ice water. The holo-teacher was looking down at her disapprovingly. Her classmates snickered and whispered among themselves. She sat up straighter at her desk and blushed with embarrassment.
Her humiliation was completed when she noticed Jal Dorien looking at her with a smile. He was easily the cutest guy in school. He was also the most popular. When he winked at her and looked away, her blush deepened. She lowered her head and read the question on the monitor in front of her.
When was the first colony on Mars established? The words flickered briefly and then solidified as if in mute accusation. Silently, she typed in her answer and the holo-teacher moved on to the next student.
Her day didn't get any better. When she returned home she found her parents drunk and liquidizing on the couch. It looked like she was going to make her own dinner tonight... again. With a sigh, she capped the bottle of Blue Smash and went to the pantry to get the buckets.
After pouring her parents into their tubs, she went to her room and sat at her desk. She was supposed to study the eight laws of mathematics, but she couldn't concentrate and found herself staring out the window. The glittering skyscrapers created a stunning a backdrop against the darkening horizon.
She knew why Bella left as soon as she was old enough. Who wanted to be around a couple of drunken shifters all the time? Loneliness settled over her. Why had Bella left her behind? A soft mechanical burr interrupted her thoughts. It was the data-phone. Molly answered the call and was rewarded with the sight of Bella on the screen.
"Hey little sis!" Bella said brightly. "How are you doing?"
Molly shrugged morosely. "Mom and Dad are drunk again." She replied. An emotion that might have been guilt flickered across Bella's face.
"Did you have to dump them in their tubs again?" She asked sympathetically.
Molly nodded. "I wanted to dump them out on the sidewalk." She muttered.
Bella laughed and nodded. "I know what you mean. Hey listen kiddo. I've got a surprise for your sixteenth birthday tomorrow."
Interested in spite of herself, Molly leaned forward. "A surprise? What kind of surprise?"
Bella grinned. "Now it wouldn't be a surprise if I told you! Just dress in your best stuff and be ready by six o clock for the car."
"Car?" Molly asked. Her head was spinning with confusion and curiosity. "What car?"
Bella smiled. "You'll see little sis. I have to go now. Love you!"
The screen went blank and Molly sat back in her chair. Emotions were tumbling through her. Anger, curiosity, fear and excitement. Calls from her sister always generated mixed feelings. Once, she'd asked Bella where she was. Bella had replied that she wasn't allowed to say. Molly hadn't asked Bella anything since then. If her own sister couldn't trust her with a secret, than what was the point of talking to her. Bella seemed to sense Molly's feelings and kept her calls short.
Molly went back to her homework. She tried unsuccessfully to push her useless feelings aside and concentrate, but it was hopeless. Two hours later, she gave up and went to her tub for the night. Shifters needed roughly eight hours of rest in an unstructured form each day to regenerate the special enzymes that helped them function properly. Molly settled into the tub and drifted to sleep, still full of questions.
By six o clock the next day, Molly was ready. She was dressed in a flowing white dress with a pink waistband. Around her neck was the gold heart locket that her sister had given to her when she was twelve. She wore three jangle bracelets on her left wrist and matching jangle earrings. The flashing multi-colors complemented the dress perfectly. Her dark hair was up in a beehive fashion and held in place with imitation bobby pins the drone closet had supplied for her. Her pink ankle boots were the most comfortable pair she owned and matched her waist sash.
Her parents were deeply involved in Space Survivors on the holo-tube and didn't notice as she walked past them. When she stepped out of the building, she saw the "car" immediately and thought the word was a gross understatement. It was a sleek black hover-car decked out with gold writing on the side.
When she read the words, she froze in disbelief. Star Universe. No way! Tickets to Star Universe cost a fortune. The car couldn't be for her. She looked around to see if there were any other cars waiting. The street was empty.
An android chauffeur stepped out of the vehicle and opened the back door for her. Slowly, she moved down the steps and toward the car. The inside was amazing. There was a holo-tube, a wet-bar filled with drinks and plush seating. Molly managed to find a soda in the wet-bar and settled back against the seat as the hover-car rose smoothly into the air.
For a while, she watched the passing scenery without really seeing it. Was she really going to Star Universe? How was her sister able to afford the ticket? Then she saw the small gold ring lying on the seat next to her. Her heart jumped in her chest. Was it a message from Bella?
Molly picked up the ring and placed it on the small silver disc that popped out of the car door. Bella's image sprang to life.
"Hi there little sis! Happy Birthday! I know you're wondering if all this is real. The answer is yes. I'm sorry I left you behind. Please give me the chance to explain.
When I was your age, I danced at Star Universe and made it to Solar Stage. I was offered a lucrative contract with an exclusive dance studio on Mars. I saw it as a chance to free us both.
The studio is called Dance Discovery and they believe that dancing may be a way to bridge the gap between certain races that we could learn so much from. That's why I couldn't tell you where I was. There are some... forces... that don't want that communication to happen.
I've been working hard to save up every cent so that you can have the chance to be free and choose your own path. You'll find the ticket in an envelope under the seat. Good luck kiddo!" The image blew Molly a kiss and then vanished.
Molly suddenly felt as if a great weight had been lifted from her heart. Her sister hadn't abandoned her after all. Smiling, she reached under the seat and found the envelope. With trembling hands she drew out the ticket and looked at it with wonder.
The hover-car began to descend and Molly stared out the window with amazement. Below and getting closer was the Star Universe building. She couldn't believe it. She was really here! Colored searchlights waved back and forth around the building, lighting up the air. Then the car was on the ground. The chauffeur opened the door for her and helped her out.
"Good luck madam." The android said in its steely machine voice. Molly barely noticed as she drifted toward the entrance and presented her ticket to one of the bouncer droids. The glass doors parted and she stepped inside, feeling like she was in a dream.
The music throbbed, vibrating the air. Colored lights strobed throughout the vast room. People moved, restlessly, overcome with dance fever. High above the rest of the room was the Solar Stage, glittering in the light. The dancers up there moved with tireless sensuality and they were beautiful. Beautiful! She stared up at them with awe.
Then she saw Jal Dorien dancing near one of the massive pillars on the ground. He was dressed entirely in black like some 1950's rebel. His jacket was black leather with silver embroidering along the collar. Beneath the jacket was a tight black shirt that lovingly revealed his lithe form. His black leather pants were tight enough to make her blush and decorated only by the chain belt he wore. The chain was held together by a silver shooting star.
Mesmerized, she drifted closer. She hid behind the pillar and peeked out at him. Up close, he was even more breathtaking. His white-blond hair shown like angel hair in the dance lights.
Then her sister was at her elbow. She was led out from behind the pillar. "Dance little sister!" Bella whispered fiercely. "Dance and be free!" Molly looked at her big sister with surprise. Bella gave her a thumbs up and grinned.
With a mixture of fear and excitement trembling in her belly, Molly turned toward Jal again. Her mouth was dry. Why would he dance with her? She was a nobody.
Jal looked up just then and his light blue eyes caught Molly's gaze. Still dancing, he smiled and held out his hand. Molly still felt as if she were in a dream. She could hardly believe this was really happening. When their hands touched, she felt a spark of electricity leap between them. He pulled her closer and leaned toward her.
"Let's rock this joint!" He said in a bad imitation of Elias Elliot, an old time singer from 2021. She laughed and suddenly everything became real. Her fear melted away and they began to dance. The music ebbed and pulsed around them like waves in an ocean. They moved together in perfect harmony. It was as if they were psychically linked. No move was out of sync or awkward.
When the floor began to move, Molly didn't miss a beat. Jal pulled her against him and spoke in her ear. "We're going live baby. Stay with me." Her heart was pounding with excitement as they ascended to Solar Stage.
Jal twirled her onto the levitating dance floor. The crowd below was clapping and cheering. The beat of the music intensified. Suddenly, spotlights shown on the two of them. It was time to really show them her best stuff.
Molly looked Jal in the eyes. "I'm not going anywhere!" Her voice was strong. He grinned and gave her a fist bump. They started to dance.
Together they rocked the house.