Pitas.com!

evacuate & flush
lopati@excite.com

 

There were a number of themes that I wanted to get across in this story. The main theme is that mankind was not supposed to (or is not evolved enough) to venture into space. Another is how a global space program could become the underpinnings of a Utopian state. The ideals of venturing into space embody our ideas of what a perfect society should be like. Perhaps pursuing such a random goal as "seeing what's out there" could bring about such an ideal state. I also touched on such issues as mass culture in today's society and our knowledge of ourselves as the only sentient beings in the universe. Well, that's about it, enjoy!

 

It Came From Earth

The rockets had been streaming into space for centuries. From the space ports of Canaveral, St. Laurent, Xiaming, Adelaide, and Novobirsk hundreds of rockets lifted off daily with their precious payloads of life. On the sprawling complexes of the Moon and Mars, to the fledgling mining bases on the Galilean moons of Europa, Ganymede, and Callisto, to the outposts on Saturn's Titan and far flung Pluto the rockets arrived. They came with the traditional accompliments that man has always needed to survive: food, shelter, water, fuel, air - things in scant supply around the solar system... at least for the human animal. The boundary into space had been breached for nearly a millenium, but the umbillical ties to the earth had never been severed.

"You've been picked Dave. Out of countless billions, you're the one."

"Thanks for laying it on me lightly Stan. So I'm the one, huh? When does the transformation begin?"

"In a couple of weeks. Take it easy till then, won't you?"

"Yeah, you too, eh."

The supreme achievement of humanity had been the founding of a bucolic space faring civilization, the merging of an agrarian society with high technology at the expense of the dismantling of the corporate industrial state. From its tenuous beginnings, however, one would not have thought this would have been the case.

"I guess this is it," Dave thought to himself as he surveyed the room he had resided in his entire life. His bed occupied the northwest corner of the room, the blue sheets had been crisply folded at the foot. Beside it stood a nightstand with a lava lamp and a chinese puzzle on top. The lamp's lava had congealed in a single lump and was undulating slowly, never quite breaking apart. In the middle of the wooden floor lay an oval rug with concentric rings of varying shades of green. "You, Mr. Rug, I wish I could take with me."

The colonization of the solar system was a monumental undertaking that had required the cooperation, dedication, and resources of the major powers on earth. Starting in the middle of the the 21st century Russia, the United States, China, and the European Community embarked on an ambitious program to establish a base on the moon. This was the culmination of a limited number of joint missions that had taken place during the previous 50 years. It had been hard going. Since the late 60's space exploration had taken a back seat in the national priorities of space faring nations. Space programs around the world received only tentative funding and then only for weather and commucication satellite technology. Instead, natural disasters, wars, disease, entertainment, love - all consumed the public consciousness. The proliferation of tv shows, books, and music on these topics during the turn of the century reached astronomical heights, an introspection of the sort that numbs the mind. The notion of journeying into the unknown had nearly faded away. However, unbeknownst to mankind in the seeds of a stripped down moon base, due to funding cuts, a revolution was under way.

The house stood on a hill overlooking green fields and forests. The day was somber and drizzling. On the second floor, Dave stepped over to the window and saw the faint light of rockets taking off in the distance.

Ignominiously, the moon base acquired the reputation of a pleasure palace. It was dubbed Xanadu by the private enterprises that had bought space on the degenerating research station, and against all expectations Xanadu had become a hit with the world's poplulace. Overnight, the romance of space and all the old visions of the future that came with it captured the imaginations of ten billion people. Tired of poverty, useless politicking, and division the people of the earth in an unprecedented demonstration of solidarity declared the world a federalist republic. From pole to pole governments were dissolved and a United Earth was established under the ideals of dignity, decency, fraternity, generosity, and humanity.

A flurry of activity ensued, a neo-renaissance was sweeping the globe. Spinoffs from the space program greatly enhanced man's ability to live with himself. Research into extending man's ability to live in space led to advances in fusion propulsion, neural-crystalline processors, vacuum resistant insects and plants, artificial organs, and of course, golf balls. Artitistic representation during this era focused less on love than in the previous post-modern age. In this regard cultural expression was closely related to those of explorational nation states of preceding centuries. Like Odysseus of ancient Greece or Magellan of 16th century Portugal tales were told of the exploits of those who navigated across unknown realms. Playwrights, dancers, painters, and directors all toiled in praise of space, science, and as always, beauty.

"Alright Dave, we're going to put you to sleep now. When you wake up you're going to be a new man." A needle was carefully inserted into his vein and a clear liquid drained into Dave's body. Nothing prepared him for the darkness that unexpectedly came upon him. "Nighty night."

Not everything can last. This golden age lasted one thousand years, not bad as ages go. Little by little the poetry of lonliness crept into the vocabulary of earthlings and in its way offered comfort and solace to a solitary species. The realization that nothing was out there came as a slow surprise. Again man turned inward. Gaia withdrew her fingers from their deft and constant work, her children came home, and the rockets ceased their continual assault on the sky. The bases were left to fall into disrepair, all except Xanadu, a nostalgic playground left open to the public.

"Alright, let's pop the skull, we're going in!"

From here mankind did not degenerate into anarchy and barbarism. Indeed, humanity had matured, there was a plan. With tremendous effort they had tried to colonize their solar system yet never did any of their bases achieve any measure of self sufficiency. In his present guise man was not prepared to leave the cradle, a metamorphosis was in order. With the determination of ages and the same fervor that had launched man into space the scientists of the world gathered together for Project Chrysalis, its objective: to create a vessel that could traverse the galaxy...in search of others.

Little by little Dave regained consciouness. First a whisper rushed through his mind, and then a low mumbling sound. He thought he had heard voices from a distance that was inside his head. Feeling disoriented, he opened his eyes... to look upon the stars.

The sleek black carapace stretched for miles, grown for over a decade in a metallic soup from the enhanced DNA of a beetle. It's twin Rolls-Royce fusion engines placed side by side within the abdominal cavity provided a billion tons of thrust and had the ability to refuel by collecting scattered hydrogen atoms from the void. Also contained within the insulated interior were the biomechanical organs that would for the most part lay dormant while travelling between the space of stars. Dave's brain was one of those organs.

"Hey, you alright up there?"

Floating in space, exposed to the cold vacuum with the earth slowly rotating beneath him, Dave had never felt better. This is what he had been raised to do, "just fine," he responded, "I'm itching to go."

"Yeah, well hold your horses. We're still running the final diagnostics on your subsystems. Did you get that last download?"

"Yup, all systems go."

"Alright then, you're clear for takeoff, buddy."

"See you in a couple bill, Stan."

"I doubt that, but hopefully we can arrange a nice party before the nova, how's that sound?"

"Just fine, Stan, just fine."