Monday, October 12, 2009

Arrival at Planet 307

A response to Nathaniel Lee's "Elegy for the Nostromo" in Mirror Shards:

Giovanni Fidanza awakens from his birthing creche on the Nostromo Seed Ship. He hides his skin, a pink and blotchy new-born kind of skin, under a midnight blue terry cloth robe and pads barefoot over to the computer terminal. He has distant memories of having performed these same actions hundreds of times and every time -- just like what he finds out this time -- he scans another planet not suitable for life. The others will have awakened too and run the same scans. They will come for him.

They are faster than he remembers, but he is not surprised. There are five of them this time, all wearing sky blue robes. Gould stands at the front of the group, as always, and says, "Your ship has found another dead planet. Where are the worlds you promised us?"

"Earth was a dead end. Her resources gone and only 50 billion people left to squabble over the crumbs." Giovanni has said this before, three hundred times or more, but it always ends the same. They are angry and he is tired.

"But all we do now is live and die and travel between the stars. What kind of life is this?"


Gould spits on the spotless metallic floor and says, "Hope was reasonable for the first dozen worlds. And now, years into our journey what do we have to hope for?"

"We could end this journey," says Giovanni. Something new, something not said in his 307 previous lives.

Gould looks at the three other men and one woman who stand behind him a hint of confusion in his eyes. Gould still believes they will find a habitable planet. Giovanni hopes he's planted a seed. Gould says, "There are more planets, we'll continue on our fool's mission. But first, we must sacrifice you."

As they have 298 times. Giovanni remembers the sacrifices as a single long painful memory. He holds his hands out, long ago learning the pointlessness of fighting. They grab his arms roughly and pull him through the stark corridors to the airlock.

Inside the airlock, Giovanni can see their faces watch him through the window. He whispers goodbye as he hears the air whirr out of the chamber. His last thought is a wish that this time they don't take a cell sample to clone and awaken him on planet 308.

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