Self-Expression by Gabriel Sampedro

The engine hovered over the rusted floor. A fierce wind gusted toward the red dusty desert, meanwhile, vines native to the jungle swayed as it rode the breeze. The aircraft latched onto the surface like screws to a wall. Mist floated gracefully as the silver metallic door propped open gliding downward to a steady stop. His glimmering boots flared from the bantam cracks split in between trees. His suit was neatly sealed to prohibit threats such as frostbite, and at times, the dust from thick storms. Focused and prepared, he leaped steadily onto the surface of Jupiter. It was a feeling of an elastic sponge. It reminded him of spider webs back home, only without the sticky feel that whispered death was coming. He rebalanced onto his feet and looked into his bag to grab a rope to which he carefully knotted to create a pulley system, and attached it to the nearest branch.

A minute into propelling himself upward, he searched for a suitable location to nest his capsule in neatly. After moments of peering from above, he noticed a slight twitch about a kilometer away. No noise, simply movement. Out of fear he stayed silent to act invisible. After a few light breathes, he unzipped one of his many pockets quietly, and rose his binoculars to his eyes, to which they could magnify, state temperature, record movement, and identify organisms. But of course, on a strange planet, no creatures are classified. Yet the binoculars could still allow for a quick study.

For a moment he set his binoculars down to rest on his neck, as he raised his pad and pen from his backpack to sketch the figure. His pen glided across the pages of his journal as he exploded with curiosity. Within seconds a faint image of a muscular model was sketched, alongside a detailed diagram listing all its characteristics. The species appeared to be a modified version of a koala. It’s two sets of arms germinated from its abdominal region. It’s lengthy arms grasped nearby branches bursting with pinkish square fruits that the creature would poke holes through to suck the juice out of. As the explorer continued to sketch a figure, he noticed the skin was comprised of a smooth like texture, perhaps one that was dense or thick, as it was topped with various shades of colors.

Below the knee, the author sketched what appeared to be bright spots along the lower regions of the legs, perhaps a characteristic for show he thought. Shortly after that prediction, he noticed the spots glow came to a halt when the creature did as well. As the glow continuously gleamed and faded, it, ever so slightly imprinted a trail of vivid stains. The explorer suspected that this glowing trail could help others find one another during times of separation. In other words, this animal was not a threat, but rather another creature in the mists of life.

During his experience encountering this creature, the explorer’s hands became sweaty, for he lost grip of his light blue pen. Despite this planet’s weaker pull of gravity, the pen slid to the end of the page as if it were a person freeing themselves from a prison cell. The explorer’s heavy gasp fogged up his mask, and for quite some time it remained that way. With nothing more to do than wait patiently for the fog to clear, the explorer sat there in distress. By this time, a different black creature had arrived at the foot of the tree to which the pen had fallen. It was circling the pen as do sharks to seals. The explorer dared to look down and when he did, that light whisper of death swarmed his mouth before he could scream.

He awoke on his ship safe and sound. All is well.

The intention of this project:

As someone who loves film, I love to be reminded of all the little particles that help create a film. In particular, I like to be reminded of the importance of the script. To me, the script serves as the foundation to which characters will demonstrate how they interact, how they will grow, and how they will develop among every challenge they encounter. With the self-expressive story above, I believe I was able to create a narrative for which a script can be written off of. In doing so, the screenwriter will be able to cut and paste different phrases and do their best to keep the character intact with what they would truly do.

This story takes place on Jupiter, but it also never really ‘happens.’ It was a dream that drifted into a nightmare. Much like the ying-yang symbol in which the good side includes a little bit of badness as well. I wanted this story to convey the power of dreams. Both literally and figuratively. In a literal sense, I wanted the audience to know that you should always chase what you’re truly passionate about, but note with a single slip-up it might cost you your career. And in a figurative sense, curiosity, the thing that drives us all might end up hurting us more than we expected. This relationship was something that genetics inspired me to do. With gene-editing technology like CRISPR, I am more than ecstatic about new research, but with newer innovative technologies, comes a wave of harmful setbacks. Setbacks that perhaps are more damaging than the initial goal.

However, for the most part, this project was enlighting because I had a chance to simply let my curiosity run wild, and for a brief moment I get to chase it. This project is something I intend to build off of in the future and perhaps create into a live-action film. Nonetheless, this experience helped me organize my thoughts, and do my best if I were in the position of a set designer, to offer a true and unique set design. Imagining all the infinitesimal details in a strange new world can be daunting, but with passion and determination, anything is possible and I believe in 500 words I was able to do so.