Two Moons and Warm Tea
Things had not gone well for me on earth. I’d lost everyone I cared about. It was obvious I was the only choice for the mission. They were worried about the state of my mental health, but I was the only one willing to do it so they took the chance, overcome by scientific curiosity, buoyed by the availability of a willing guinea pig.
They’d discovered a planet in another star system, many light years from earth, which they believed to be habitable for humans. They didn’t tell us much, but from what I could piece together from inflections and whispered comments, their research had been going on since the ‘50s, in cahoots with the Russians if you can believe that. The Cold War apparently wasn’t as derisive as they lead us all to believe. I guess when it comes down to it we’re all humans after all, one species united in our quest for survival. Sounds poetic doesn’t it. But the truer reality is that we’re like maggots crawling over a dead carcass, drilling deeper and deeper to sustain ourselves, until every morsel is gone and we need to find a new host.
I didn’t care about their research; I just wanted to leave.
Earth Time: 6:00
The voice of the pod computer, whom in some last ditch, skewed attempt at human connection, I called Mabel entered my consciousness. “You have arrived, wakey, wakey.” They’d even programmed her with humanisms. “All vital signs are good.”
I was walking around the pod in my tight black space suit. Honestly it felt like such a cliché. I never knew if sci-fi movies were inspired by the real thing, or were the NASA designers inspired by fiction? I felt a lot like Aon Flux. Hey not complaining. I checked the stats. I’d been asleep for 123 years, 9 months, 15 days, 6 hours, 47 minutes – but hey who’s counting.
My first solid meal in almost 124 years (if space food can even be called ‘solid’ or ‘food’). Felt good. The deep sleep physio had kept my muscles from atrophying, but I was still a bit shaky on my feet. Prescribed exercise regime started.
“Mabel, how is Earth?”
“That information is classified.”
“You’re so helpful… Just tell me, is there still an Earth at all? Things were pretty grim when I left.”
“Yes there is still an Earth.”
We’d been orbiting the edge of this new planet’s atmosphere. All these moments and maneuvers had been programmed back before takeoff. Clearly they had not factored in intelligent life on this planet, so it was a shock when the warning light came on indicating another craft approaching.
I’d felt someone in my head. It doesn’t sound right but it was as though my thoughts were being shuffled around, like books on a library shelf. Then I could have sworn someone said, “Welcome”.
I woke up in a bed, a regular bed, like on Earth. I looked down and saw that I was no longer in my space suit. I was wearing… Pyjamas! I must be going crazy.
I guess I passed out, because next thing I knew I was opening my eyes and there were people above me. Yes people. Not aliens, ETs, greys etc. People that looked just like me, like any of us on earth. I could hear them talking but their lips weren’t moving.
By now I’d realised they were communicating telepathically. At first it was jumbled, but then slowly I began to understand. They’d learnt my language by sifting through my thoughts.
“It’s okay, don’t be afraid, we’ve been expecting you. We knew the moment you left and were on your way. We’ve been monitoring your progress, and keeping an eye on your wellbeing.” The woman who ‘spoke’ looked familiar but I couldn’t work out why.
Even though I was able to walk around the pod, after 124 years of sleep, the gravity of this planet (which I guessed must have been about the same as Earth’s since everything looked so similar) was too much. So I was wheeled around in what resembled a wheelchair but made of something different and so much more, well, sophisticated. It’s hard to explain, everything looked the same but more refined, more beautiful and clearly created with a much higher intelligence.
Little hands kept slipping themselves into mine, attached to smiling faces; children welcoming me. I felt both intimidated by all this attention and warmed by it. Underneath there was a source of sadness I couldn’t quite place.
I think perhaps my consciousness was still waking up because I was becoming uncomfortable and questions were streaming into my mind. This was all too weird. Was I dead?
They’d responded to my dis-ease immediately, as though expecting it. Now I felt really crazy because I was sitting in what looked like my grandmother’s garden, under the Jacaranda tree, a pot of tea in front of me and two teacups, except the woman sitting next to me was not my grandmother. She was the same person who had first spoken to me, and I now knew why she’d looked familiar. She was one of the NASA team preparing me for departure.
“Where are we? What is this place?”
“We call this place ‘Htrae’.”
“How is it that it looks so much like earth, only…”
“Better?” She finished with a wry grin.
“Yes exactly. How is this possible?”
“Anything is possible,” she replied playfully. She obviously sensed my annoyance and continued with a more satisfying reply. “All planets and everything exist only in our minds. The solid part anyway. We all have the ability to be anywhere at any given moment, but we get so stuck in what we think is ‘reality’ that we trap ourselves. It’s only when ‘reality’ no longer has any allure that our minds are ready to truly be born, truly travel, experience, live. And that’s what this place is. Spell ‘Htrae’ backwards and what do you have?” She saw comprehension dawn across my face. “Yes, that’s right, it’s a bit of a joke really,” she chuckled.
“But if each of us can be anywhere at any moment, why here? Why are we not all in different ‘places’, in our own ‘realities’.”
“Good question, those cobwebs in your mind are beginning to lift! The way it works is we’re all part of one consciousness, like the ocean, experiencing itself as both individual raindrops and simultaneously as one great body of water, ebbing and flowing. On our own we either fall naturally back into the ocean or evaporate into gas and still eventually rejoin the ocean that way. So here we have come together to dream a new ocean according to our understanding of our own consciousness.”
“Whoa, wait, that’s pretty out there. Is this just my subconscious weaving together every sci-fi movie I’ve ever watched?”
“Partially, after all, fiction, creativity, design, words… it all comes from this one ocean. Like droplets that splash out from a wave and momentarily hover before rejoining the infinite expanse.”
“So why here? Why did I have to travel in a spaceship for 124 years to a planet in a distant solar system?”
“What do you mean I didn’t?” I was annoyed now, feeling as though I was being toyed with.
“We had to give your mind boundaries that it was accustomed to. Otherwise it would have been too much for you too soon. So hence all the props.”
“So have I really been travelling for 124 years?”
“Yes and no.”
“Argh, you’re really beginning to irritate me!”
Chuckles. “Even the great minds back on Earth knew there was really no such thing as linear time. It’s merely a construct of that dimension of awareness. So yes in a sense you’ve been travelling for 124 years, and in another you haven’t been travelling at all, you’re still in the same place and time.”
“Okay, okay, so next you’re going to ask me to choose between the red pill and the blue pill right?”
More chuckles. “Sure if you like. Or you could stop being a baby and jump in to colourful, limitless pill bottle that is your true reality.”
I don’t know how long we’d been talking. All I knew, it was dark, there were two brilliant moons shining down on me, the tea was somehow still warm and I felt awake.
>>> Leonie Orton is a writer, editor and marketing communications consultant. She'll create communication mediums in the shape of words, graphics and webs for your business, connecting you with the people who need you. Get in touch byemail, facebook or twitter. And if you're not already signed up for new writings and special offers, get hooked up here.