Mark A Davis
Eve the Explorer lay on a couch of pink fur. She stared up into the bright white ceiling of S.I.S.B. space station Terra and said, "I can never go home."
"Pardon?" The smooth, soft, feminine voice was that of Valerie 9000 -- the station's A.I., and in fact the A.I. for the entire Society of Intergalactic Space Babes. "Did you not visit the home of your parents two weeks ago?"
"Sure," said Eve. "What I meant was... look, are you familiar with the Wizard of Oz?" asked Eve. Auburn hair framed her face. She was dressed in the Space Babes uniform -- a silver bikini, with silver go-go boots and a belt with a holstered blaster.
"Of course," said the A.I. "Both the movies and the books."
"I've only seen the movie," said Eve. "Dorothy goes on a fantastic adventure. She learns to stand up for herself, and she triumphs over evil. She makes new friends. And we're supposed to believe that she wants to go back to Kansas? To Kansas? There's no place like home, Glinda says -- but the truth is there's no place like Oz. There are a lot of places like Kansas, if you ask me.
"More importantly, Dorothy has been on a grand adventure and she's changed. She can never go back to being a simple Kansas farm girl again. The truth is that you can never go home."
"I will assume that you are speaking metaphorically," said Val 9000.
"Yes," said Eve. "That's the very definition of growing up, don't you think?"
"It may surprise you to know that, in the books by Frank Baum, Dorothy eventually returns to Oz permanently," said Valerie 9000.
"Really?" Eve asked. "Well, it makes sense. It's just like Alice In Wonderland said: I can't go back to yesterday because I was a different person then. That's wisdom."
"It is an old sentiment," Valerie 9000 replied. "Veterans of war discover the same when they return home. Novelists like Thomas Wolfe and Marcel Proust have written about it. The past of your memory is frozen in time, while the world is ever-changing. Attempts to return to the world of your youth are doomed to failure.
"However," said Valerie 9000. "As to my question...."
"All of this reminds me of Donna Noble," interrupted Eve. She rolled off the couch, kicked off her boots, and began to strip.
The computer sighed. "Are we speaking of the fictional character from the British television series Doctor Who?"
"Right!" said Eve. "She was the Doctor's companion, and she saved all of creation by absorbing some of the Doctor's power. However, this threatened her life -- the human mind was not built to deal with such knowledge and power. To save her, the Doctor erased her memory. She forgot everything about him, and the adventures they'd shared.
"In a way, she's the only companion who got to go back home. She literally became the person she'd been at the beginning. She had a nice life -- got married, won the lottery. But it was the worst ending. Who wants to forget such fantastic adventures?"
As she spoke, Eve wandered, naked, into another room. A regen chamber sat in the center of it -- a long tube of steel and glass, filled with a green-blue liquid. It was tilted about sixty degrees, with an opening in the top. Eve continued to speak as she climbed inside.
"I've been thinking about this a lot," said Eve. "I was Grandpa Anarchy's sidekick, and we traveled into space. I was living the Buck Rogers dream. Then I got transformed into a woman by some alien god. I was upset, but the Eieio (pronounced EE-Yow) Empire has the tech to switch me back easily. Except I joined the Society of Intergalactic Space Babes instead, so that I stay in space and have more adventures.
"I can return to the old me after my three year contract is up," she said. "Or can I? That the thing, isn't it? I'm a different person from who I was. I'm no longer sure if I prefer being male or female. That," said Eve, "is what I mean when I say I can never go home again."
"Understood," said Valerie 9000. "But all that I asked was if you were certain that you want angel's wings, demon's horns, and aqua seafoam hair?"
Eve shrugged. "Sure, why not?" she said. As the regen chamber's lid began to close, she added, "I can always change it back later, right?"