Horizon Line – Short Story

sunsetHuman Remnant living on Lux: Year 34 after leaving Oldearth

Ooohh, feeling kinda ancient today… If I close my eyes, I can almost smell oranges, honeysuckle, and Kendra’s perfume…

“Hey Doctor Mike.”

I have to block the glare from my eyes to see the silhouette of a young man standing before me.

“Hmmm? Peter?”

“Thought I might find you out here.”

“Step into the shade; I can hardly see you. Sun’s so blasted bright.”

“You’re not wearing your sunshields.”

“I’m sorta old for those things. Feel like a kid trying to look cool.”

“May I sit?”

I glance at the cave-like hollow I have nestled from the sweeping branches of the mammoth tree and grin.

“Sure, the shade’s for everyone. You know, this tree is nearly twenty thousand years old.”

“Pretty impressive.”

“About the only thing around here that makes me feel young, except every dang Luxonian alive…”

“That why you like this spot?”

“Yeah, and the fact that few people like to hang out under the Luxonian sun, except Luxonians, and they don’t usually sit on the ground under a spreading Niomi Tree.”

He’s shifting around, eyes darting… He’s got something to say but…

“What’s on your mind, Peter? You didn’t come all the way out here to spend time with an old man—”

“You’re not the only one getting old!”

Uh oh, his face just contorted into bitter  ridges of rage, not something I’d expect from his usual cool, collected personality.

“Okay, let it out. What’s going on?”

“Nothing. That’s the problem. Mom and Dad always hoped I’d make it back to Earth some day but that’s not—”

“Resettlement will happen. Just give it time.”

He’s on his feet again. Hmm, I didn’t think there was room to pace like a raging bull in here. Guess I was wrong.

“Time has passed! We’ve been stuck on this planet for almost forty years. How long is it going to take before the Luxonian Judges deem us fit to return?”

“You’ve got to remember, a lot went wrong at the end. The entire Luxonian population carries vivid, grievous memories of those days. They don’t want the whole cycle start over again.”

“Who are they to decide my fate? I belong on my native planet. It’s my right!”

“Slow down, boy. Listen to me; Mark and Jackie were two of the greatest human beings I ever knew, but they also had a blind spot when it came to humanity. They refused to see our dark side.”

Now he’s staring at me like I’m a traitor. Can’t be helped.

“Like Luxonians don’t have a dark side!”

“We all do. But we don’t like to face it… You know all the old stories, but I rarely talked about my old friend and colleague, Doctor Peterson.”

“You mentioned him.”

“Yeah, but I never mentioned that he fell into madness before the end.”

Flinging his his body to the ground, poor guy’s covering his eyes with his hands. He is so human. Refreshing after so many years of perfect Luxonian self control.

“You’re not helping. I want to get back. It’s…I don’t know, a calling, a need…”

“You will. I firmly believe that. I wish I could go with you…but that’s not gonna happen.”

“You could—”

“Heck, Peter, I’m seventy…something. Luxonian years mess with my time line. My life has been full to the brim, and I’m not complaining, but I know when my horizon line is drawing close. I won’t live to see Newearth. But you will.”

“When?”

“When the time is right. Now stop grumbling and help an old man to his feet. I’ve got something to show you.”

Groan. Maybe I’m closer to eighty…

“Where’re we going?”

“I’ve got a surprise. Cerulean’s been helping me.”

“What?”

“Boy, don’t you know the meaning of the world—surprise?”

~~~

We just entered my inner sanctum. Okay, it’s my hobby room. I stride (hobble?) over to my worktable strewn with various plans, stand tall (let an old man dream) and spread my arms wide.

“Now listen. When I pass on, I want you to unveil this on the day they lay me in the ground. On Newearth.”

I wave the holographic image into the room. It’s every bit as gorgeous as the idea I carried around in my head for so long.

“Surprised?”

Judging by the wide eyes, dropped jaw, and shaking hands, I guess my surprise had the desired effect.

“Doctor Mike! By the Eternal, when? How?”

“I told Cerulean some time back that I had an idea for the first settlement on Newearth. He was kind enough to humor me.  I’m not holographic specialist, but he has a few friends, and we worked on this model for a looong time… It’s been a labor of love.”

“It’s terrific! Everything looks perfectly to scale. It’s got hospitals, schools, a business district…even a hilltop— What’s that?”

“It’s idea, a sort of dream really, an Inter-Alien Alliance where humanity would have our Capitol and aliens could come and petition for representation on Earth.”

“It kinda looks like a church.”

“Well, it’s suppose to represent something bigger than us…something nearly supernatural. You can hardly understand how sheltered humanity was from the greater universe. I suppose we still are. We’ll never be done discovering how much we don’t know.”

“But…”

“It’s not a place of worship, but a place to remember and act like beings with vision…beings who still have a lot to learn.”

“I’m… I don’t know what to say.”

“Just say that you’ll do as I ask. Bury me there, in Newearth soil, and unveil this plan. Cerulean’s been working with the Supreme Judges and they’re close…very close. In fact, I believe that your son will be born there.”

“Huh! If I ever have a son. No woman will have me.”

“That little Miss Violet has eyes for you.”

“She has eyes for every male this side of the Luxonian Divide.”

“Then there’s that shy Rose… She’s a sweet thing.”

“She’s not interested in—”

“Listen, Peter, you’re going to have to do some of the heavy lifting here. I’m an old man; I can’t do everything. Here’s your fist settlement. Name it whatever you wish, just bury me there and get yourself a wife so you can bring your son to the top of that hill and tell him about me… Okay?”

Tears course down my cheeks, but I don’t care. I’m an old man. And old men do foolish things, dream visions and ask for the impossible…after all…our horizon line draws near.

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