Trying to post a fiction piece — Prologue and Chapter 1

Pro­logue

With a sigh, Dar­ren leaned against the cold white wall and watched peo­ple wan­der slow­ly into the amphithe­atre. They would run if they knew what this is about, he thought. And when they do know, a few of them may run the oth­er direc­tion. He chuck­led silent­ly and threw a glance at the blond-haired man sit­ting in the first row of seats. He winked and threw a quick smile at his part­ner, Aron, who returned the expres­sion with a casu­al salute.

A large group of peo­ple entered the room, talk­ing ani­mat­ed­ly. A few of them went to the podi­um and spoke to Dar­ren, mak­ing quick, per­func­to­ry greet­ings to his hus­band. Dar­ren spoke with enthu­si­asm, ges­tur­ing to data on a com­put­er screen on the podi­um. One of the women laughed aloud, cov­er­ing her mouth as she blushed and cast her eyes down­ward. Dar­ren ran his left hand through his wavy dark hair and gri­maced. He cast anoth­er look at Aron and winked.

As the room filled, the lev­el of noise rose until all that could be heard was a dull roar of min­gled human voic­es. Soon Dar­ren stepped up to the speaker’s place at podi­um, see­ing that the room was near­ly full and assum­ing all four thou­sand colonists were present. The air in the amphithe­atre grew warm and close, caus­ing a low whine from the air con­di­tion­ing. A few thou­sand peo­ple offered a cool­ing chal­lenge, even in a room larg­er than most homes.

Dar­ren pressed a but­ton on the podi­um and anoth­er on his col­lar. The lights in the room dimmed and the white wall behind Dar­ren began to glow soft­ly. An image of plan­et hang­ing in the star­ry void of space appeared on the screen. Waves of white clouds moved slow­ly through the air of the world spin­ning in its orbit.

We received a down­load from the terrabots ear­li­er today,” Dar­ren said. “They have reached full accel­er­a­tion and are on their way plan­et­ward. In the past few weeks, sev­er­al groups have received their own bots’ teleme­try and have depart­ed. The Islam­ic Jihad Avert­ed has already launched. So have the Bud­dhist Nir­vana, the Deist Per­se­ver­ance, Quak­er Friends-Ship and Wic­can Lord and Lady. The Mor­mons have final­ly decid­ed that this is the only option left for any of us and their Lia­hona should be launch­ing with­in the next year. Unfor­tu­nate­ly,” a frown of con­cern crossed his face, “that is after the dead­line the Rat Auts have giv­en.” He smiled at the rip­ple of uneasy laugh­ter run­ning through the room as he used the deroga­to­ry term. “We need to think of them and remem­ber them in rit­u­al and prayer. They need to escape as des­per­ate­ly as any of us.” He inhaled deeply. “Our own Sacred Cen­ter is set to go in forty-eight hours.” He wait­ed for the expect­ed mur­mur­ing to rise and sub­side. “The bots will arrive rough­ly one thou­sand years before we do. That should be plen­ty of time for them to com­plete the ter­raform­ing of at least the pri­ma­ry con­ti­nent and to have begun work on the oth­er four.

Despite the lack of options left to any of us in this room,” Dar­ren con­tin­ued, “any­one who wish­es to back out now is free to do so.”

Toward the cen­ter of the room, a man and woman stood up. “Direc­tor,” the man began, his voice picked up by the micro­phones in the room and played through the speak­ers, “my fam­i­ly and I have decid­ed to with­draw from the migra­tion.”

Dar­ren nod­ded his head. “As you wish. May I ask why?”

We have dis­cussed it and we’ve decid­ed that we don’t like the chances.” The man paused for a moment. “We don’t feel com­fort­able with the deep under chances…”

There is less than a three per­cent chance of dif­fi­cul­ty,” Dar­ren said, “but yes, it is a real chance.”

And then there’s a chance that the bots won’t make it to the new world. And even if they do, there’s a chance that they won’t be able to have it ter­raformed before we get there. There’s a chance the ter­raform­ing won’t work and the ship will arrive at a world that we can’t live on.” He sighed. “We can’t take that chance. We have chil­dren and grand­par­ents with us and those are just too many things that could go against us for us to risk our fam­i­ly like that. We’re sor­ry. We thought we could do this. It’s a good idea, but it’s still too risky.” He looked at his wife, she nod­ded weak­ly, and the pair sat down.

Valid rea­sons,” Dar­ren said. “Unpleas­ant to face, but valid.” He looked across the span of the wedge-shaped room. “If there are any oth­ers who feel the same way, please see myself or one of the Coor­di­na­tors after this meet­ing. We will miss any of you who choose to with­draw, and there is noth­ing we can do about return­ing your pos­ses­sions to you; you’ll have to take that up with some­one from your Autho­riza­tion Cen­ter.”

Allow­ing a few sec­onds for peo­ple to think about what had just hap­pened, Dar­ren spoke again. “We have less than twen­ty-four hours before we are required to vacate this facil­i­ty. Trans­porta­tion has been pro­vid­ed to take us to the lan­der base, and then we’re up to the ship. By noon tomor­row every­one will be expect­ed to have all per­son­al effects packed and ready for depar­ture. Your respec­tive Atten­dants will con­tact each of you to ensure that there are no prob­lems. Should any­thing hap­pen, the Coor­di­na­tors will be avail­able con­tin­u­ous­ly until launch­ing hour.

Now…please return to your quar­ters and begin prepa­ra­tions. The time allot­ted us is much short­er than it sounds.” He stepped down from the dais and walked toward Aron.

Almost imme­di­ate­ly, the Coor­di­na­tors, Atten­dants, and many oth­ers gath­ered around him. Sev­er­al con­ver­sa­tions flew through the air, each per­son try­ing unsuc­cess­ful­ly to be under­stood over all the oth­ers.

Forced back­ward by the crowd gath­er­ing around his hus­band, Aron stum­bled against one of the seats. He winced at the sharp pain in his leg and reached down to rub it. Over the heads of many peo­ple, he saw Dar­ren smile wry­ly at him and shrug help­less­ly.

Aron nod­ded his head, a sad expres­sion on his face. He turned and slow­ly left the room.# # #

Star­tled out of his sin­gle-mind­ed pack­ing, Aron spun when the door to the room opened. He laughed at his own reac­tion, know­ing no one but Dar­ren would be com­ing in. His hus­band walked in and smiled at him.

Star­tled out of his sin­gle-mind­ed pack­ing, Aron spun when the door to the room opened. He laughed at his own reac­tion, know­ing no one but Dar­ren would be com­ing in. His hus­band walked in and smiled at him.“Some days I feel that we are over­see­ing a rabid pack of insane hye­nas,” Dar­ren said, falling onto the bed.

Oh, I beg to dif­fer,” said Aron.

Dar­ren looked up. “How?”

You are over­see­ing a rabid pack of insane hye­nas. I am not the one in charge of this; that is entire­ly your job and your own fault.”

That is a hor­ri­ble thing to say and the fact that it’s true just points out how evil you are to men­tion it.”

Aron shot the oth­er man an offend­ed look. “Me? Evil?” he asked in mock affront. “I seem to recall a con­ver­sa­tion that went ‘If we don’t migrate, we’re going to be locked up or worse. Oth­er groups have already left, I think there has to be way to get enough of our own peo­ple togeth­er to do it.’ And then I seem to recall a cou­ple of years of some­one con­tact­ing every sin­gle per­son he could think of who might be able to help him with fund­ing and locat­ing a world.”

You,” Dar­ren said in a tired voice, though a twitch in the cor­ner of his mouth showed his humor shown through the fatigue, “are a hor­ri­ble per­son and I no longer love you. I want a divorce, and, if you would, please find your­self anoth­er plan­et to migrate to. Maybe you can still get signed for Val­hal­la. A nice­ly frozen world would fit your cold heart, don’t you think?”

Aron laughed and threw him­self down on the bed beside Dar­ren. He draped one arm over the oth­er man. “That bad?” he asked.

They’re insane. I love them, and I’d do any­thing in the world for any one of them, but they’re all com­plete­ly and irre­deemably insane.” He rolled his gray eyes to look at Aron. “And they think that I am a god incar­nate and expect me to do more than is human­ly pos­si­ble.”

That,” Aron said, “is because you keep doing more than any human should. If you were a lazy slug like the rest of us, you’d get some peace.”

Lazy slug, indeed! How much have you been work­ing on…” He stopped as a loud knock­ing sound­ed at the door.

Who?” Aron asked, look­ing at his hus­band sharply. “Please tell me this isn’t going to be anoth­er night of con­fer­ences until gods­for­sak­en o’clock.”

I told them there would be no con­fer­ences. I have no idea who this is.” Dar­ren got up from the bed and opened the door.

A man with a shaven head and a bright smile walked in; a woman with dark hair glid­ed in behind him. The woman held a cham­pagne bot­tle and four glass­es.

Aron smiled at the new­com­ers. “I didn’t think we’d see you until tomor­row,” he said, get­ting to his feet.

Did we inter­rupt some­thing?” Maria asked.

Not yet.”

So sor­ry,” said Poul, his tone and expres­sion show­ing any­thing but sor­row.

Are you going to be such a bad liar on the new world, too?” Aron asked sar­cas­ti­cal­ly.

It’s one of the charms we’re try­ing to save, isn’t it?”

You, my friend, have been look­ing at the wrong agen­da.”

What? You think humor’s going to stay off the list of spir­i­tu­al crimes around here?”

Humor doesn’t include the com­ments you make.”

Remind me once again why I’m friends with you.”

Because I made a bet with the gods….and lost!” Aron shot a hard look at Poul, then the two of them laughed and threw their arms around one anoth­er.

Hi, Aron,” Maria said, hug­ging him and kiss­ing his cheek. “We haven’t seen much of you late­ly.”

Well…you know how it is. My social cal­en­dar has been so full late­ly.”

Maria wrin­kled her nose in a famil­iar ges­ture of humor. “Then we’d hate to keep you from a more press­ing engage­ment if you don’t have time to have a glass of cham­pagne with your friends.”

Well,” Aron said with mock exas­per­a­tion. “I sup­pose I can ask the Sev­en Heads of State to post­pone our ban­quet, but only because it’s you.”

Maria laughed and hand­ed each of the men one of the glass­es, keep­ing one for her­self. Quick­ly, she poured each of them full of the pale gold­en liq­uid, then looked expec­tant­ly at Dar­ren.

Dar­ren raised his glass and looked at his friends and part­ner. “To our own lives on our own world,” he said. “May we do less dam­age to the new one than mankind did to this one.”

Four glassed clinked togeth­er.# # #

Are we doing the right thing?” Aron asked into the dark­ness.

Are we doing the right thing?” Aron asked into the darkness.In the curve of his arms, Dar­ren stirred slight­ly. “What do you mean?”

Aren’t we basi­cal­ly going to be set­ting up a theoc­ra­cy of our own? How can we jus­ti­fy flee­ing one if all we’re doing is cre­at­ing anoth­er one?”

Dar­ren turned in Aron’s direc­tion, unable to see him in the unbro­ken dark­ness of the room. “Isn’t this a lit­tle late for philo­soph­i­cal wor­ries?” he asked.

Do you mean late in the night or late in the whole process?”

Yes.”

Dar­ren sighed. “You’re feel­ing the same thing I am,” he said. “The only dif­fer­ence is that you’re allowed to express doubts. If I were to say some­thing like that, every­one in this com­pound would die from explod­ing cra­ni­ums.”

Aron tight­ened his arms about the man. “Well, that’s what you get for being the strong one,” he said.

Both bull and shit,” Dar­ren replied. “We are the strong one. Aron and Dar­ren,” he empha­sized the rhyme of their names.

Aron smiled and repeat­ed line that had become such a joke between them. “We’re not a cou­ple, we’re a cou­plet.”

And don’t you for­get it.” Dar­ren laid his head on his husband’s shoul­der. Soon his breath gave way to the gen­tle rhythm of sleep.

Chap­ter 1

Griev­ous­ly Awake

Aron stirred fit­ful­ly, feel­ing pain shoot through his body as aware­ness returned to him. He stretched his left arm out­ward, feel­ing what felt like the weight of a city’s pop­u­la­tion press­ing against his mus­cles. A weak groan escaped his lips as he forced his eyes open. White light that threat­ened to sear his blazed down on him. He winced and clenched his eyes closed again.

Uhh…” He felt as if that utter­ance exhaust­ed his entire avail­able vocab­u­lary. Sharp elec­tric pain cir­cled inside his skull and raced down the length of his body.

Lie still,” said a thun­der­ing whis­per near his head.

Som…” Aron began. Fin­gers that weighed sev­er­al tons each pressed them­selves to his lips.

Qui­et,” said the thun­der, set­ting his head to throb­bing. “Be still. Give it some time.”

Gen­tle heat rose from the padded table beneath him, seep­ing into his protest­ing mus­cles. Relief from pain moved through him, though at a snail’s pace. Final­ly, after what felt like hours, his body relaxed and the pain fad­ed from him. The table began to move, gen­tly acti­vat­ing rollers beneath its sur­face to mas­sage the man lying help­less upon it.

How are you feel­ing?” asked the voice, less thun­der­ing now, though it still echoed in Aron’s head.

No’ good,” he said truth­ful­ly. He tried to open his eyes. Light burned through his corneas, bypassed the reti­nas, and fried his brain with the bril­liance of a sun seen from a place clos­er than life could sur­vive. “Is’t shif’ time?” he man­aged to ask weak­ly. Not right, he knew, strug­gling to form a coher­ent thought. Something’s wrong.

No.” The voice – it seemed famil­iar now – said soft­ly. “We’ve entered orbit. We’ll be land­ing in a few days.”

Tha’s no’ ‘ri’,” Aron slurred. Some­thing cold pressed against his lips and deli­cious liq­uid flowed down his throat. “Two m’re shif’s ‘fore orb’t.”

Don’t wor­ry.” He put a name to the voice now: Maria. “Everything’s fine. You’re going to sleep for a while. Just sleep…no more deep under for you.”

Unable to speak, Aron nod­ded his head slight­ly as sleep crept up on him.# # #

Gen­tle light streamed through Aron’s half-opened eye­lids. Strong dis­in­fec­tant smells reached his nose and words muf­fled by dis­tance or obsta­cle float­ed in to his ears. He opened his eyes, winced once at the bright­ness, then opened his eyes ful­ly.

Gen­tle light streamed through Aron’s half-opened eye­lids. Strong dis­in­fec­tant smells reached his nose and words muf­fled by dis­tance or obsta­cle float­ed in to his ears. He opened his eyes, winced once at the bright­ness, then opened his eyes fully.He lay in what could only be the ship’s med­ical cham­ber. Walls of off-white reflect­ed the light from over­head bars of illu­mi­na­tion. A floor of smooth gray tiles glim­mered at the edge of his vision. Racks of med­ical instru­ments lined the walls. Above his head, just beyond his field of vision, he heard the cold­ly insis­tent beep­ing of what he took to be a device to mon­i­tor his con­di­tion.

Hel­lo?” he croaked, find­ing his dry throat unable to call out as he intend­ed.

Almost imme­di­ate­ly, a door opened on the longest wall. A tall woman with dark hair pulled into a tail behind her walked in, her steps brisk beneath her long, pale blue coat. She smiled warm­ly when her gaze fell upon Aron’s open eyes. “How are you feel­ing?” she asked with a curi­ous incli­na­tion of her head.

Fine,” Aron said. His voice cracked on the word.

Maria took a bot­tle from a cup­board inset in the wall and removed its cov­er. “Here,” she said, press­ing the bot­tle to Aron’s mouth. He swal­lowed half the mild­ly sweet con­tents greed­i­ly before she removed it. “Care­ful,” she said. “Your sys­tem isn’t ready to han­dle much yet.”

Aron nod­ded his head, send­ing waves of dis­ori­en­ta­tion crash­ing through his body. “Did you real­ly say we’re in orbit?” he asked.

Yes. We entered orbit almost two days ago.”

Aron took a deep breath. “Why was I kept deep under for my last two shifts?”

Maria looked away, not meet­ing Aron’s gaze.

What’s wrong?” he asked. He grasped the woman’s arm and pulled her toward him, exert­ing the lit­tle strength he had. “What’s wrong?”

Maria swal­lowed audi­bly. “We lost almost two hun­dred peo­ple,” she said. “They didn’t make it through deep under.”

More than we expect­ed, but we knew that might hap­pen,” said Aron. “We all knew that.” He felt a cold hand clench his heart. “Maria…” he began. He swal­lowed hard, fear­ing the answer to his unspo­ken ques­tion. Why would he have been kept asleep dur­ing two work shifts?

She nod­ded her head. “Dar­ren was one of them,” was all she said. Tears start­ed run­ning down her cheeks.

Aron choked, unable to breathe as grief closed his throat. He trem­bled inside, his mind whirling about the idea. Dar­ren was dead. His part­ner. His hus­band. His love. Gone. “How…” he couldn’t get the words out. “How long ago?” he final­ly man­aged to ask.

About eight hun­dred and twen­ty-some­thing years.” Maria turned her tear-streaked face toward her friend. “That’s why we left you under and had oth­er peo­ple cov­er your shifts.”

The bo…the body?” Aron asked. He knew the answer before he even asked.

Cre­mat­ed.” Maria clenched her eyes shut. “The…container…is in your per­son­al effects.”

Were you there?”

She nod­ded. “Poul and I were on our shift when he was found. We…we made prayers and offer­ings for him,” she said. She bent down over the bed and drew Aron to her in a hug. His gold­en blond hair pressed against her long coat.

The man’s tears final­ly began to flow as painful sobs racked his body. Quak­ing with the force of his grief, his body trem­bled in Maria’s arms. He felt the world crum­ble about him as he acknowl­edged the loss of the per­son he loved most.# # #

Lean­ing toward the enor­mous win­dow, Aron looked out into the void of space and stared down at the plan­et below him. Con­ti­nents of vari­col­ored greens and browns rest­ed on oceans of deep­est blue. White clouds obscured much of the details of the land’s shape. In the south­ern hemi­sphere a storm of epic pro­por­tions raged in the mid­dle of an ocean.

Lean­ing toward the enor­mous win­dow, Aron looked out into the void of space and stared down at the plan­et below him. Con­ti­nents of vari­col­ored greens and browns rest­ed on oceans of deep­est blue. White clouds obscured much of the details of the land’s shape. In the south­ern hemi­sphere a storm of epic pro­por­tions raged in the mid­dle of an ocean.“Do you know where you’re going?” a voice behind him asked.

Aron turned list­less­ly to look at the man walk­ing toward him. “No,” he said, shak­ing his head weak­ly. He looked at the man’s tall frame, dark hair, and angu­lar fea­tures. No one he knew. Not sur­pris­ing, of course, con­sid­er­ing how many peo­ple had paid every­thing they had to be on this ship. No one could have been expect­ed to know all four thou­sand colonists. “Just out­side of town. I don’t know where.”

You don’t have a stake claimed?”

We…I have a stake, but from here I can’t tell where it is.”

The man reached into a pock­et of his one-piece out­fit and took out his com­put­er. “What’s your place’s desig-num­ber?”

Aron closed his eyes and flinched against a new onslaught of sor­row. “Eight-four-four-sev­en-nine,” he said, blankly.

The oth­er man rapid­ly touched the com­put­er pad and smiled. He walked over to the win­dow and point­ed toward the plan­et. “The con­ti­nent com­ing into view on the hori­zon there is where we’re set­tling,” he said. He looked at the com­put­er again. He whis­tled and raised his eye­brows in sur­prise. “How did you man­age to get such a prime stake?” he asked. “Who’re you sleep­ing with to get a claim like that?”

Aron shot him a look of min­gled wrath and grief.

Sor­ry. Bad taste. I’m famous for it.” He gri­maced and turned back to the win­dow. “Anyway…see that riv­er run­ning through the con­ti­nent? It comes off the moun­tains and gets enor­mous by the time it reach­es the plains. If we can see it from here, it must be even larg­er than the Mis­sis­sip­pi used to be back home.”

Back on Earth, you mean,” Aron said auto­mat­i­cal­ly.

Huh? Oh…right! Back on Earth.” He smiled wry­ly and shrugged. “Anyway…see that riv­er? Fol­low it north­west to that paler green area. That’s the start of one of the moun­tain ranges. That’s where the terrabots built the first city. Your stake is just upstream from the city. If things are like the bots were pro­grammed for, you should have a house there already.

My stake’s just a place in the city. Maybe I’ll see you. I’m sup­posed to be set­ting up a shop once we get down there.”

Feel­ing no curios­i­ty, ask­ing only to be polite, Aron said, “What sort of shop?”

My wife and I are set­ting up to be tai­lors.” He grinned bright­ly. “We even had our names legal­ly changed to Tai­lor. Evan and Son­dra Tai­lor.” He put one hand to his head and tipped an imag­i­nary cap. “At your ser­vice. Maybe you’ll come see us some­time. Everyone’s going to need clothes.”

Aron past­ed a weak smile on his face. “True.” He held out his hand. “I’m Aron. Aron Bros­field.”

Nice to meet you,” Evan said. He cast anoth­er glance out the win­dow. “I’d bet­ter get back to my wife. We’re on the third shut­tle. What about you?” He paused. “You’re on the first one, aren’t you?”

Aron shrugged. “’Fraid so.”

Who are you?” Evan cocked his head slight­ly. “Prime stake. First shut­tle. Are you some­one impor­tant?”

Aron shook his head. “No. I just hap­pen to know the right peo­ple.” The right peo­ple, he thought. If you call the fact that the man who start­ed this whole trip was my hus­band “know­ing the right peo­ple” then…yeah.

Evan nod­ded doubt­ful­ly and left the room.

Heart­sick, Aron turned back to the win­dow. Tears streamed down his cheeks and fell to the cold floor, evap­o­rat­ing almost imme­di­ate­ly as the air cir­cu­la­tion sys­tem in the ship dried up the unplanned mois­ture.# # #

Toss­ing uneven­ly in the gust­ing wind, the land­ing shut­tle slow­ly descend­ed to the ground, its flight smooth­ing out as its alti­tude decreased. Vis­i­ble only by the light of the set­ting moon and the lights from the shut­tle, a large mead­ow spread out below, its lush green grass cov­er­ing the gen­tle hills and wide plain. On firm foot­ing for no more than a few min­utes, the door opened, drop­ping from hinges at the bot­tom to form a shal­low-incline cause­way. Mov­ing slow­ly, Aron walked down the incline, fol­lowed close­ly by Maria and Poul, the oth­er man’s shaven head catch­ing the light of the ris­ing sun. Sev­er­al dozen oth­er peo­ple came after them, all spread­ing out to stand near the shut­tle, milling about and star­ing at the new world before them.

Toss­ing uneven­ly in the gust­ing wind, the land­ing shut­tle slow­ly descend­ed to the ground, its flight smooth­ing out as its alti­tude decreased. Vis­i­ble only by the light of the set­ting moon and the lights from the shut­tle, a large mead­ow spread out below, its lush green grass cov­er­ing the gen­tle hills and wide plain. On firm foot­ing for no more than a few min­utes, the door opened, drop­ping from hinges at the bot­tom to form a shal­low-incline cause­way. Mov­ing slow­ly, Aron walked down the incline, fol­lowed close­ly by Maria and Poul, the oth­er man’s shaven head catch­ing the light of the ris­ing sun. Sev­er­al dozen oth­er peo­ple came after them, all spread­ing out to stand near the shut­tle, milling about and star­ing at the new world before them.Aron, Maria, and Poul walked to the top of a small knoll not far from where their shut­tle rest­ed. A lone oak tree stood there, its branch­es reach­ing toward the sky, green leaves emerg­ing from buds along its lengths. A stone well stood near­by; the water in its depth could be heard as a dis­tant flow­ing sound. Form­ing the third point of the tri­an­gle, a cir­cle of white stones ringed a raised patch of bare ground; sticks of wood rest­ed in the cir­cle, piled neat­ly and await­ing their use.

The bots did a good job,” Poul said, nod­ding with approval at what he saw. He looked at Aron. “Are you going to be up to this?”

Aron nod­ded. “This was my job any­way, y’know.” A weak smile crossed his face. “I’ll be fine.”

Six oth­er shut­tles land­ed near­by with­in the next few min­utes. Soon every­one stood on the mead­ow, their atten­tions turned toward the knoll. Thin, dim rays of sun­light began to peek over the hori­zon.

A woman with long red hair, car­ry­ing a large leather bag, stepped from the crowd and stood to the side of the tri­an­gle formed by the fire, the well, and the tree. She removed a lap harp from the bag and sat down on the damp earth. She strummed the instru­ment soft­ly, its bright tones spread­ing out in the pre-morn­ing air and car­ried through speak­ers in the com­put­ers every­one car­ried. The crowd qui­et­ed at the first sounds of the music.

Join­ing in song, the gath­ered crowd sang a hymn of praise and wel­come. As the peo­ple sang, Poul, Maria, and Aron walked for­ward. Aron stood in front of the ring of white stones; Poul took his place at the side of the tow­er­ing oak; Maria stood by the well. The three of them looked at one anoth­er, nod­ded their heads, and turned to face the crowd. The song end­ed and the massed hun­dreds direct­ed their atten­tion toward the knoll and the three who stood there.

Aron took one small step for­ward. “We’re here at last,” he said. “It was more than twelve hun­dred years ago that we left Earth. We lost a lot of peo­ple we loved dur­ing the trip to bring us here.” He paused to let the lump in his throat drop to his stom­ach. “But this is our world now and the ones we have lost will be among the first to bless our pres­ence here.” He stepped back­ward, regain­ing his for­mer posi­tion.

Maria dropped a nugget of sil­ver into the well. “Ances­tors and beloved dead,” she said solemn­ly, “all you who have gone before…we greet you. Bless our pres­ence on this new world, and know that you are always remem­bered. And you are always loved.”

As he tied a braid­ed cord of gold, sil­ver, and white around the tree, Poul said, “You spir­its of nature, you who are the soul of this new place, we greet you in love and respect. We seek your friend­ship and offer you ours. Look upon us, we ask, and know that we hon­or you.”

Aron took a small rod and a pack­et of white pow­der from his pock­et and touched the rod to the wood piled in the cir­cle. A flash of light from the rod set the wood on fire. The blaze spread quick­ly and burned bright­ly, its light cast­ing a sec­ond set of shad­ows along with those cre­at­ed by the ris­ing sun. “We pray to the gods of our peo­ple,” he said, look­ing toward the sky. “We have come to this new world so we may wor­ship you as we feel is right.” He frowned slight­ly, feel­ing some­thing amiss. Maria shot him a ques­tion­ing look, an odd expres­sion on her face. Aron shook his head slight­ly and con­tin­ued. “Look upon us with favor, Great Ones. Know, we ask, that your peo­ple greet you after our long sleep.” He opened the pack­et and threw the white pow­der onto the fire. The flames flared up and briefly became a deep blue in col­or.

The crowd stood in silence for a moment, then Aron stepped for­ward again. “Today is the spring equinox on our new home. This is our first sun­rise. From now on, this shall be New Years Day for us. It’s time to begin life on this world. We have named this world Con­feld, after the ones who orig­i­nal­ly found and claimed it.

This place will be made into a park to com­mem­o­rate the place where we first set foot on this world. The Fire, the Well, and the Tree will remain here; let them be con­stant reminders of what we have giv­en up and what we have come here to gain.

Every­one who wish­es may come up here now and make what­ev­er offer­ing you have pre­pared. Then, go to your shut­tles and go to the city. Claim your homes. Our lives here begin today. May the gods and spir­its watch over you.”

The peo­ple massed in the park stepped for­ward and placed coins, bits of food, flow­ers, and oth­er small items in the Fire, in the Well, or at the base of Tree. As each made his or her offer­ing and prayer, they then went to the shut­tles.

Short­ly, all the shut­tles but the first one lift­ed into the air and moved toward the city that stood await­ing them. The peo­ple who had arrived in that first lan­der board­ed until only the three who had stood before the crowd in the rit­u­al remained.

Are we ready?” Poul asked, putting his arm around his wife’s waist and look­ing at Aron.

Maria nod­ded her head.

Just a minute,” Aron replied.

He stepped to the Well and looked deep with­in, see­ing the ear­ly morn­ing sun­light glim­mer­ing on the waters. He took a small knife from his pock­et and light­ly nicked one fin­ger. Sev­er­al drops of blood fell into the waters, the rip­ple they cre­at­ed unde­tectable. “I’ll always miss you,” he whis­pered. “I love you.” He sighed. “It won’t be the same with­out you, but the dream you had for us is com­ing true. I’ll do my part.”

Aron turned from the Well and went back to his friends. “Let’s go.”

They board­ed the shut­tle and flew toward the city.

Posted on October 10th 2006 by James

Filed under Fiction | 2 Comments »

2 Responses to “Trying to post a fiction piece — Prologue and Chapter 1”

  1. Daniel responded on 19 Aug 2007 at 4:05 am #

    I couldn’t under­stand some parts of this arti­cle Try­ing to post a fic­tion piece — Pro­logue and Chap­ter 1, but I guess I just need to check some more resources regard­ing this, because it sounds inter­est­ing.

  2. James responded on 19 Sep 2007 at 5:14 pm #

    Hel­lo. I didn’t real­ize any­one had com­ment­ed on this post­ing.

    What I put on that arti­cle was the first part of a nov­el I am work­ing on. More will be forth­com­ing.

    Thank you for read­ing my blog. I hope to see you here again.

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