Dear readers, with me tonight is a young woman from the planet Sisyphus. As you may recall, Sisyphus is a particularly inhospitable world, and is home to a woman-only penal colony.

At seventeen years of age Nikki is obsessed about getting her gun to impress her mother, the director of the penal colony. For this she needs to be an adult, which – in her opinion – requires losing her virginity. The only way to do this is to lure and kidnap a man from a passing space ship, to ‘pick her cherry’, as it were.

She is here to tell us of her adventures, together with her adopted native brother.

Tell us about how you grew up.

If you ask Mah – that’s my mom – she’ll tell you I’m still not grown up.  And I’m seventeen already!  I mean, I earned my gun!  Hard way, too, not like some other girls I could name.

Okay, but do tell us a little about where you grew up. What was it like in the colony?

You mean SisPenOne?  It’s a penal colony.  Same as every other penal colony in the Commonwealth, I guess.  Well, except it’s all women.  And Mah says Sisyphus got its name ‘cause the whole planet really is out to get you.  But never bothered me… well, ‘cept for that time the toilet vacuum failed and a nosher got through and nipped out a chunk’a my butt.  Got a really great scar from it.  Wanna see?  (She turns, loosening her pants)

No, no, that’s all right, we’ll take your word for it. Did you have any favourite toys as a child? Any cherished memories?

Toys?  Oh, those fakey things you give little kids.  Dolls and stuff, yeah?  Saw some of those things in those social studies vids Mah made Sam and me study.  Never needed any myself.  Sam and me –


My brother.  Well, adopted brother, if you wanna get technical about it.  Wait a minute, I’ll introduce you –

Nikki cranes her neck toward the shadows at the corner of the ceiling. A shadow suddenly drops to the ground. It lands on eight long, hairy legs, straightens to reveal a 9-ft tarantula with blue and red markings. His eight bulbous eyes bracket a face comprised of fangs and pincers. The tarantula ambles over to join the interview. Antennae perk toward Nikki, questioning.

That’s Sam.

She reaches up and scratches the base of the nearest antenna. Sam hunkers down so she can scratch easier, his other antenna quivering happily. Nikki turns back to the interview.

Hey!  Where’d you – what’re you doing out there?


It’s just Sam.  I told you I’d introduce you.  Sheesh!  What do you off-worlders always get so upset about?

Let me just move over there for now. What do you do now?

Intro you to Sam, if you’ll let go of the door.  He’s just a male!  He never hurt anybody!…Well, long’s you’re not a nosher.  Or another male – oh.  Sorry.  I forgot.  But that’s okay.  He’s only seen one human male, so he probably won’t notice the difference.

What was the scariest thing in your adventures?

Getting dumped out in the Gotcha! Mountains. Those rocks’ll avalanche at a sneeze, so you know Mz Edith thought she had us dead.

What is the worst thing about living there?

Living on Sisyphus?  Or living in a penal colony?  I dunno… (she leans against Sam while she thinks) I mean, on Sisyphus you spend half your life running from noshers, so you don’t have much time to get bored.  Could use to find a man, though…

What is the best thing about it?

Uh… like I said… Hey, what’re you backing away for?

Whom (or what) do you really hate?

That bitch Edith.  You hear what she tried to pull on my Mah?  She was trying to convince Kekhs – she’s the local Sissy war lord – to eat… What’re you staring at Sam for?  He didn’t – oh.  No,  told you…Sam’s just a male.  He’s little.  You oughta see Kekhs…

Say, you Home World people sure do change color a lot.

What’s your favourite drink, colour, and relaxing pastime?

I dunno.  Never thought about it.  Love climbing up the silk domes and stretching out with a good book.

Can you share a secret with us, which you’ve never told anyone else?

Blushes.   Well… I think maybe there’s hope for Jake.  He didn’t sign back on that last ship out…

Bonnie Milani only learned how to talk in order to tell stories.  She wrote essays in grammar school, short stories in High School, an environmental fairy tale for the State of NJ in college, so naturally went for an MA in journalism.  After that, she freelanced features for newspapers along the East Coast, studied story structure under Syd Field, and taught writing at Learning Tree University – all while building a pair of businesses for her day job.  Finally, she gave up on sleep and extras, and went back to her one true love: SCI FI!

You can find Nikki Sotolongo on the pages of Cherry Pickers.

Take Note! Cherry pickers will soon change its cover…

Join us next week to meet the first female heir to the throne, and her complicated life in her very patriarchal society. Please follow the site by email (bottom-right), via Twitter, or like our Facebook page to be notified when the next interview is posted.