BOOK FICCTION SCIENCE

Choices

There are demons you will not be able to leave behind, even if you travel as far as to the Cygnus constellation. Cygnus lied in the plane of the milk way and is called the Northern Cross in opposite to the Southern Cross, you know the eternal necessity of human competition. The constellation blinking in the Earth night skies at a right ascension of 20.62h and declination +44.03º took its name of the Latinized word for swan.

There are demons you will not be able to leave behind, even if you travel as far as to the Cygnus constellation. Cygnus lied in the plane of the milk way and is called the Northern Cross in opposite to the Southern Cross, you know the eternal necessity of human competition.  The constellation blinking in the Earth night skies at a right ascension of 20.62h and declination +44.03º took its name of the Latinized word for swan. Maybe, the beautiful and sad myth of Phaeton, son of Helios who begged his father to run on his chariot for one day was a signal. Phaeton ineptitude to control the god’s chariot making Zeus destroy both – the chariot and Phaeton – creating with the remains the Eridanus river where Phaeton’s lover, Cygnus, dived tirelessly to collect Phaeton’s bones to give him a proper burial. Cygnus suffering touched the gods then transformed Cygnus in a swan and put him among the stars. Reading the myth, I questioned if Zeus destroyed the chariot and Phaeton because, you know, of both young men relationship. Was Zeus an open-minded or he was like the old humans who thought love was something related to gender or sex? I have not an answer.  Mythology was a religion once, and religion tends to reflect the time’s society. It was that way until the near past. After all the destruction, faith in a supreme god become much less prevalent.

Now, I signed a contract to meet Cygnus before proving the scientists and engineers I was ready and fit to go. The first test was an intellectual one. My background as an engineer helped to pass the more technical questions but was the writer inside me who gave the hypothetical questions meaning. I remember one of the topics about meeting extra-terrestrial life. What I would do? How I communicate? How Would I understand if they were friends or enemies?

From my point of view, those were futile questions. I remember when in 2020 a radio signal was confirmed coming from alfa-centaury. It wasn’t the traditional back sound of the universe or a rebound of our own radio emission. The sound was like transmission of some sort, full of communication patterns. The world was being devasted by an epidemic, and the news about intelligent life beyond Earth scaped of most human’s attention. I had followed with my husband the search for extra-terrestrial life undergoing by the SETI. Some of our home computers had analysed the data. Suddenly, SETI announced the end of the program and a few months later, the story about radio waves coming from alpha centaury appeared in the news media. Only in 2025, the first real contact come. It wasn’t on the news since the world still recovering from the pandemic. However, a scientist worldwide was aware of civilisation in a similar degree of development existed. The story was hidden from the public, not because the centaurions would be a danger for humanity, but because society was too self-centred, religious and the leaders feared lost the power they had.

Only in 2030, when the first images from the planet in alpha-centaury arrive at Earth, we finally understood our universe position. Humans weren’t unique, either the most intelligent species. There were others. “How many more?” were the questions in the headlines. “How many would be friendly?” Laughing from those questions, I put myself on their place. Why should other intelligent species want to relate to humans? Humanity was a lost child. First, they killed themselves in no ending wars, in the gap between actions they kill people because they were different. Now, the myth of human kindness was terminated. We destroyed without thought, the only place we had to live. Yeah, humans weren’t a very intelligent specie in the end.

I left the laboratory with a badge and a schedule to the next steps, two weeks of training before moving to the space base from where the spaceship will go. I have not much time to say goodbye to this life. 

The shelter where I live was nothing more than a cube with another cube serving as a bathroom. There wasn’t water, a rarity at this time, either I couldn’t have fresh food. The days were expended in books, extenuating physical exercises and sleep. Sometimes, when anguish and sadness come, I seat outside at nigh looking to the skies. It wasn’t simple, either healthy, the radiation was too elevated, and the skies were too bright. However, for someone old as I was, the memories of the soft dark blue skies pointed with bright infinity points was a fond memory I refuse to let go.

It was one of those nights when memory fuse with reality waking you. Sweaty make my shirt looks like a second skin. My movements were slow and confuse; I was uncertain where I was. A strange creature looked as I was something special, a miracle or a fantastic beast was by my side. Their limbs were much longer than the human’s limbs, and there was something odd on their glance. Focusing my eyes, I understand what was so different. That being had no pupils. The tiny circles we human had on our eyes was something few of us give so much attention. My grandmother comes to mind and her sharp voice, full of Spanish accent, repeating one of her inner truths. “You only miss what you don’t have anymore.” My grandmother was an impressive woman, someone capable to hung in a love that had destroyed her entire life. She had fought to raise six children alone under layers of poverty and humiliation. She died early without, at once, blame her husband for anything. 

Many times, when I was fourteen and observed my grandmother talking about life and relationships, I saw a woman resigned to be mistreated for life. She was a kind of martyr to herself, incapable of understanding her humanity and the rights she had. The impressions she left on my mother were deep and immutable. Never had thought how much Pedro and Ana had changed the curse of my life while raising the woman who would be my mother. The seed of resignation, the uncertainty about rights and wrongs, and the insistence that physical punishment was a form of love. All come from Ana, my grandmother. The abandonment and hate, from Pedro, my grandfather.

Have I, when become a mother broke the chain? Most part of the time, I could say ‘yes, I did’, however reflecting without passion, I could see how many times the past trap made me do exactly the same. I also felt trapped in an abusive relationship, incapable of freeing myself because, you know, “you have to eat with the spoon you chose” was the family mantra. I was too naïve and young when I chose, regrets weren’t allowed.

Something resembles a car stopped in front of the shelter. Two women in a uniform – and I never understood this necessity humans had for uniforms – walked on my direction. It was time.

“Are you ready, Dr?”

“Since yesterday.”

Since the immense flooding, when the oceans raised unexpected 4 metres, spaceships had to leave the planet from the Earth II station. It was a cylinder rotating around an axis and around the Earth, a provisional place to humans who had enough money and health to leave the dying planet behind. As I, some decided to make more of their lives than simply move to a colony in the Solar system or a space station around Mars. We were new adventures. People without links and hopes, only curious and may be courageous enough to try a new beginning. 

“The plane is ready and waiting for you and the others.”

“The embryos are already on the spaceship?”

We were one hundred and sixty courageous women and men entering an unpredictable journey to find another place to the human race — a place where we can flourish again. With us, follow millions of embryos relatives of people who chose to die together with the planet of had left a piece of themselves hoping the new Earth, located in some distant point of the universe, could embrace their offspring allowing them to grow and prosper.

“All set.” I had packed. Most of my belongings fit in a small suitcase. The house would be recycled to another person. The Earth will be finished what we have begun. The human race on Earth will be extinct in 50 years. 

One more looks around. The peak of the mountains makes me sigh. I was leaving. Choosing to be dead to the planet where I was born and the little family I still have. It’s more than a goodbye, it was a definitive goodbye.  

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