This evening, I’m excited and getting ready to spend part of the weekend at a Science Fiction and Fantasy Literature convention in Dallas, called FenCon. If you’re in the neighborhood, you definitely should check it out. The people are great every year, and the panels are extremely helpful to be a better writer. The weekend proves to be a great time, and a great chance to grow as well.
This week, though, I was able to take a look at the Mid Week Blues Buster prompt. It’s a song that I’ve liked for a long time, and yet, this time I had a different perspective about the reasons people could go separate ways.
The alert screams out across the control center, easily silenced with a finger angrily stabbed at the console. The usual argument happens briefly in my mind as I confirm that the catastrophic event alarm was merely triggered by the expected navigational anomaly. Should I just disable the alarm? What happens if a truly catastrophic event happens? I suspect if it truly happens, I won’t need an alarm to tell me, and another loud noise likely won’t be very helpful. As the internal debate continues, the computer’s elegant wiring remains safely untouched for now.
As my scout ship moves past the warning beacons scattered through this system of planets, it approaches one of the smaller spheres. I bring all the displays to life and darken the overhead lights so that it’s almost like floating in dark vacuum. In front of me lies the sickly green planet that I’ve come out of my way to see, covered in swirling vortexes of toxic gas punctuated periodically with lightning. Watching carefully, I see an eddy break free from some upper atmospheric turbulence and a slice of land shows through the opaque blanket, for the briefest of moments. My heart leaps with joy at the lifeless brown husk, even as it is obscured once again. My imagination races with possibilities at the people who once lived there, seeing vibrant homes and fields of green leaves as far as the eye could see. The lives they could have lived stretch before me, tantalizingly distant from my life of recycled air and food rations.
My thoughts are brought back to the present by the scraping impact of debris across the hull. No real damage done, but it punctuates the futility of coming back here. Simply put, I miss it. We may find other planets to live on, changing them and settling down, but none of them are home. Earth will always be the planet that humans grew up on, and I miss her, regardless of the illogical sensibility of assigning a gender to a ball of rock. That is especially true of one that’s been poisoned and killed by decades of war. Still, even in death, the planet below is magnificent.
As a young man, one of the last people on the surface below, I had a love. We would sit under the protective domes and look at the rainbows of sunset as the light fractured through the polymers and poisons in the air. As the deserts around our biodomes cried out for clean water, we would sit and consider the past and fear for the future. Our people have moved on, out amongst the stars to better places. When the final evacuation came, we were separated. Hopefully, her ark made it to a lush green world. Now, as I make my rounds through the galaxy, searching for survivors, resources, and safe places to settle, I still come back here every chance that I get. Hope was one thing that I left behind on the surface. Looking at the past of our people helps me to remember what we’ve lost, and what I truly hope to return to some day. After an hour of mourning over the planet’s corpse, I set a course for my assigned route, and get back to work.