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120

FINALIST
Jury Selection

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The figures were reflected in the thick lenses of his glasses as they sped past. His hands darted nimbly around the keyboard, the fingers moving frenetically and with ease over the keys.

It had been a considerable task to accomplish. But now, he was finally nearing its end. Sitting at his computer, his eyes reddened by the light of the screen, he glanced one last time at the interminable succession of binary codes and pressed the ‘Enter’ key.
Yes, that was it! His calculations had been correct. They made it possible to prove the existence of another habitable planet, a twin sister to Earth.

In the heart of a dense, damp forest, a weather-beaten man was sitting before a wood fire. He was preparing a concoction of plants which he drank after pronouncing some unintelligible words.
With his chin on his chest, he was overcome by uncontrollable shaking. Then his body, marked by scarification, became covered in a film of sweat. Suddenly, all his limbs stiffened. Throwing back his long hair, he raised his face to the sky, his eyes bulging, and let out a long death rattle.

For Yusei it was a source of intense joy to have confirmed the existence of this new planet. Only one irritating fact prevented him from being fully satisfied with his discovery. The star was in fact so far from the Earth that traveling there with the means available was unthinkable. That being so, how could you tell if life there was really possible?
That was what Yusei was thinking as he sank into a deep sleep, after the many sleepless nights he had spent in front of his computer.

Yusei moved forward in the mist, taking care not to stumble over the roots sticking out of the muddy ground. He found himself in a strange forest whose plants were unknown to him. He was lost. He could have stayed put and waited for help. But how could he know that someone had set off to look for him, since he himself did not know what he was doing there? So the best thing was to move forward. As he made his difficult progress, the mist slowly lifted. Then he caught sight of a man with skin covered in marks who was advancing towards him with his hands joined together, and his arms stretched out. His open fingers revealed a dark stone covered in minuscule characters.

Yusei woke up with a start, astonished. Sweating in his armchair, he forced himself to regulate the pace of his breathing. When he had calmed the movements of his chest, he hastened to enter the figures he had seen in his dream into his computer and the result appeared instantaneously. These were GPS coordinates, pointing to a little point on the globe, right in the middle of a large green area, the Amazon forest. For a moment he was sceptical, then he burst out laughing. After all, it was just a dream. Why should he pay it any attention?
Completely occupied by his work, he eventually forgot this unlikely story.

When he met the shaman in his dreams for the second time, Yusei immediately decided to go to the place indicated on the stone.
During the journey, his mental images of the shaman came back into his head. The visions which the man had revealed to him during their second dream meeting crowded into his mind. Could it be that these images were those of his extrasolar planet?

When Yusei found himself at the place indicated by the coordinates, he saw the shaman who invited him to sit near a fire.
The ritual lasted all night long. At dawn, Yusei was in a trance. From his half-open mouth there came a filmy stream. From these scrolls of vapour arose a double of himself which rose slowly into the air, straight up to the sky. Then he gradually picked up speed, left the exosphere and reached the planet he had identified at a prodigious speed.

At the sight opening up before him, Yusei was overcome with emotion. Everything seemed in accordance with the results of his research. Without wasting a moment, he began to explore. Thanks to his special powers, it took him little time to cover a great area. He was delighted to discover that life was indeed possible on his planet. Obviously, the species that were evolving here were not identical to those found on Earth, although they were relatively close to the Mesozoic Era. So Yusei took an indescribable pleasure in observing the living beings he came across.

Yusei was like a child at a theme park, so that when the shaman asked him to go home, he refused.
The shaman watched with concern as Yusei’s face grew pale. His aim had been to liberate the young man from his frustrations. He knew he had a great future before him, and that his work would influence the future of humanity. But to make progress in his research, Yusei had to dispel the doubts otherwise his genius would eventually run dry.
The shaman absorbed a quantity of poison in order to re-establish contact, but once more met with refusal.

It was over a large desert that Yusei experienced the first difficulties in maintaining his flight. He lost altitude bit by bit, then touched the ground.
Surprised, he tried to take off again, but was only able to do so by a few feet. He tried to make contact with the shaman, but he did not reply. Yusei began to feel afraid. He had to accept the evidence: he had not taken heed of the instructions and he had stayed too long. He made one last effort to return to Earth.

The shaman buried Yusei’s body with his bare hands. The first scavenging insects were swarming around. Suddenly, as if struck by an electric current, the limbs of the dead man began jerking convulsively. Then, in one movement, his torso sat up. Yusei raised his head and took a deep breath. With his pupils dilated and his face covered in mud, he exhaled slowly. His eyes rolled in their orbits then met those of the shaman which were filled with tears.

Translated by Wendy Cross

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