Aphelion Issue 272, Volume 26
May 2022
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The Lighted Fountains of Nereid

by Steven Translateur

Angie Emerald paid the 50 unit fee and entered the Fountain Park of the Planet Neptune satellite Nereid. She beheld rows of lighted fountains with sculptures of every conceivable God and Goddess including Zeus and Aphrodite. She approached one - a fountain of Athena.

She kneeled before it in reverence. "Oh great Athena," she implored, "please use your wisdom to find me a husband!"

She needed marriage not for the money but the companionship. She tried everywhere - night clubs, personals, comrade parties, etc... She could not find Mr. Right.

Everybody on Nereid was wealthy because of their ownership of shares in the Neptune Water Company. Angie was worth 8 million units. She kept it a secret because she did not want people to love her only for her resources.

At the Apollo fountain, she found orange colored water spewing forth and strobe lights blinking. The God of music & poetry & ethics! There were two handsome males gazing at the spectacle. She approached they. "Hello," she said, "I hope you do not think I am too forward by introducing myself. But my name is Angie and I could not help notice you."

"Hello. Not at all," said one of them. "Our names are Todd and Reginald."

It was love at first sight with Todd. She clasped his hand. "I've been looking for you my whole life! This place is magical."

The artificial gravity kept everybody on the ground. But Angie and Todd's hearts soared.

They spent the next few weeks in a whirlwind romance. They visited the Orbital Amusement Park and rode the Arienne roller coaster; they swam in the Sea of Butterflies; they dined in the Sky Tower Restaurant; they frolicked in the Pools of Sorcery; and they made love in the Hotel Melted Ice. They fell deeply in love.

Their marriage was a magnificent affair of 500 associates, a gargantuan chocolate wedding cake, and a live band playing the hottest tunes of the outer moons.

After the wedding, tragedy struck. A spartan rival Moon, jealous of the breezy lives of the Nereidians, invaded Nereid. The robbed the inhabitants of their ample servant robots, and put everybody to work. The invading powers that be assigned Todd to work in a factory that manufactured flashlights, while Angie was forced to be a waitress in a busy establishment!

The two of them toiled for months. They hoped to find solace at the Lighted Fountains but the invaders closed it. They closed all attractions and pastime joints. Misery came down upon the Nereid colony.

The senators of Nereid appealed to the Solar Government for assistance in the Solar Parliament on Planet Mars.

“Ladies and gentlemen,” said Klide Cormer, plenipotentiaries of moon Nereid to the senate chamber, “My home Moon is in a state of crisis. Since last December and it is now March, Nereid has been occupied by rival forces. They have wrecked Nereidian lifestyle, and compelled everybody to give up their leisurely ways and get back to work! This is all well and good except that the great people of Nereid had earned their way of life through shrewd investing combined with the manufacturing of fantastic, loyal, hard-working robots and androids. The robots were doing all the work and amen to that! What is so wrong with that? It freed up the Nereidians to devote themselves to their hobbies including music and art! Please, I am imploring the senate to order solar forces into battle with the invaders to free Nereid and restore Nereid liberty! Please do not be jealous of the Nereidians. They want the best for everybody – you and you and you, including wanting to retire everybody. The theory of work on Nereid is that it is for the automatons! People should be free to do whatever they want and have long, extended lives on top of that. Nereidian technology allows for such a lifestyle. If you support Nereid, you too may someday benefit from the advances of Nereid. Thank you and please help us!”

A vote was taken and 90% of the senators were in favor of helping free Nereid. The mighty Armed Forces of the Solar System, with the endorsement of the Solar Precept and Parliament, swung into action. They sent 50 warships to Nereid to challenge the invasion and succeeded. The invaders withdrew.

The Nereidians rejoiced as their home was restored to its former glory. Music and art shops reopened, robots were rebuilt, and everybody celebrated!

At the Lighted Fountains, Todd and Angie frolicked once again, taking photos and even swimming in some of the pools. Their love grew stronger and they had a large family of Nereid offspring who were born wealthy and blessed. One of their brightest offspring became an engineer though, who helped construct the next generation of Nereidian robots – androids that closely resembled human beings – so much so that they were nearly indistinguishable; this improved the quality of life for everybody substantially.

In his memoirs, Klide Cormer reflected upon the Nereidian way of life with glee, emphasizing its many many virtues including all the free time that adult Nereidians had to explore the lighter side of life. In one chapter, he also gives high praise to amusement parks like the Lighted Fountains for all that they do to entertain, inspire, and help pass the time of the lucky Nereidians.

In the post invasion land of Nereid, music and art flourished immensely. There were new songs and artwork. Heavy percussion crept into Nereidian music, the kind that you could feel right down to the bones when it was blasted. This sort of assertive sound expression was an outcry of the Nereidians against the stifling oppression of their former invaders. Art was just as dramatic – swirls of colors adorned abstract outrages against oppression and unnecessary toil.

Angie and Todd and family lived happily ever after. And the Lighted Fountains of Nereid, where they met, was expanded to 200 fountains of deities of all persuasions and all perspectives.


2019 Steven Translateur

Bio: Steven Translateur's work has appeared in a variety of publications including ANTIPODEAN SF, MIND IN MOTION, and NEXT PHASE.

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