Kompot Made on an Alien Planet

Deeppyre-761c was identified as an Earth-like planet for the Maria-3 expedition to investigate. It was a rocky, terrestrial planet, with evidence of liquid water found on its surface. It had an active surface with mountains and plains. All features one expected on a theoretically-habitat planet. It also had plants, some of which looked very much like species native to Earth.

On the fifty-third day, Zuzanna left the BioDome and ventured out on her own, looking for those plants that produced fruit, or something close. She knew it probably wasn’t the best idea, but it had been so long since she, and her company, left their homes for the darkness between stars. It’d been longer still since they landed on Deeppyre-761c and began to explore it.

Besides, she reasoned as she sampled one of the plump, purple berry-like fruits, the security system of the BioDome hadn’t identified any natural threats.


Inside the BioDome, Zuzanna brought a pot of water to boil. She washed the fruits she had collected, removing pits or seeds from tender flesh and cutting the fruits to more manageable sizes. Then she added her small harvest to the boiling water. 

Zuzanna leaned against the makeshift countertop. The Company had outfitted them with all the comforts of home for this long journey. That just meant liquified foods that should have never been made liquids and facsimiles of apartments for all of the explorers assigned to the mission. In Maria-3’s case, all twelve of them shared a kitchen, dorm-style.

“Uhh,” said Zbiggy, with perfect timing. He was supposed to be in the laboratory. “Tell me you’re not doing what I think you’re doing.”

Zuzanna stirred the fruit in the pot, lowering the temperature, just a little. Already, it smelled sweet, green, and just slightly herbaceous. “We’ll have kompot in half an hour.”

“Zuzka, no, for real. This goes against Company protocol. And probably any standards of safety,” Zbiggy leaned against her, tilting his head as he peered into the pot. “Kompot was included in our ship manifest. You could’ve just made that.”

“That powdered shit? You know that’s no good.”

“It’s safe,” stressed Zbiggy. “Unlike whatever you found on a literal alien planet.

Zuzanna waved him off. “You’re the botanist on crew. Consider it an experiment. Give me your potato starch ration for the day and I’ll make you kissel out of the leftovers.”

Zbiggy paused only briefly before giving in. Even if he argued for the sanctity of instant kompot, nothing positive could be said about the instant kissel the Company supplied them with.


In the end, all twelve of them gathered inside the sad little BioDome, on chairs that had obviously been picked up from an IKEA sale, with little cups that looked like their grandmothers’ fine glasses made out of plastic. 

They drank the kompot quietly. Zuzanna refilled each of their cups when they were looking close to empty, until the pot itself ran dry.

The kompot tasted like home, even if it was wrong in every way possible. This kompot hadn’t been made with apricots or strawberries or cherries or whatever else was grown in their grandparents’ gardens, so long ago, so far away. It was different in a way that couldn’t be ignored, and yet, it was still kompot. It was still a piece of home, undeniable and unshakable in its strange familiarity. 

Zuzanna held onto her little cup tightly, blinking rapidly a strange onslaught of tears. They’d come so far, so damn far, to find their people a new home; all they found, in the end, was themselves missing their home.

“Well,” said Zbiggy, thumbing his empty cup. “Maybe it wouldn’t hurt to try other combinations of native fruits. For research purposes, of course.”

The rest of their company murmured to one another in agreement. Maybe they had suggestions or recommendations for the fruit. Zuzanna didn’t hear them.

Zuzanna stood and collected the pot. So far from home, but at least she could make kissel now.

J. Kosakowski is a writer of queer speculative fiction. They are based in New York City, where they try to pet all the bodega cats. He has previously been published in Small Wonders Magazine, Baffling Magazine, and Daily Science Fiction. When not writing, he enjoys crocheting and collaging. You can find them on twitter @kosakowski_j.

Kompot Made on an Alien Planet is the winner of the Apparition Literary Magazine February Flash Fiction Challenge.

Photo by Garreth Paul on Unsplash

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