Read on for my interpretation …
“I wonder what it’s like to live on Earth.” Leda sighed while she pressed her nose to the glass of the space station. “Earth looks so peaceful. All of the aqua blues and whites swirling together. It doesn’t look like a diseased and evil planet.”
“How would you know what an evil, diseased planet looks like,” Eos asked while appreciating the beautiful planet beside her.
“Have you seen Mars? I think that looks like an evil planet. All the varying shades of reds.” She shuddered and moved away from the window. She sighed, crossed her arms and studied Eos. “Don’t you ever ever get tired of living here? Never being able to go outside, feeling the sun on our faces, the wind in our hair …”
“You’re been playing on the simulators again,” Eos laughed.
“I know I’ve never actually experienced all of these things, but still, the simulator makes me nostalgic for … more. It seems so sterile living here.”
“It is sterile,” Eos laughed.
She punched him playfully in the arm. “You know what I mean. I just wish we could have experienced what it was like to live on Earth before everything was destroyed.”
“I’m sure the elders could tell you a story or two.”
“I’ve actually approached them,” Leda said. “But they refuse to talk about it. I know the attack was terrible, or at least, I can imagine it was based on what we’ve been taught, but it must have been pretty awesome before the attack.” She sighed and wrapped her arms around Eos’ waist. “I need a change, I guess. I feel restless. Like something is missing or I’m missing out on something.”
Eos hugged her tightly to him. She placed her ear against his chest and listened to the steady thump of his heart.
“We have everything we need, Leda. We are very comfortable. Everything is sterile. We are self-sufficient. I’m just glad we’re alive and safe.”
“Do you think there is life on Earth?”
Eos shook his head. “I don’t, actually. It might look pretty and alive up here, but I believe it’s a wasteland down there. I can’t imagine any human is alive, not after what happened.”
“It’s so evil, what they did to each other. It started with a virus, a harmless virus that at first presented as a cold. But then, after 14 days …”
“…it mutated into something evil and began gnawing at people’s brains, turning them violent and into monsters,” Eos finished.
“Did they ever figure out where the virus came from?”
Eos shook his head. “No. There were so many rumors and speculations that it was impossible to find out the truth at the end.”
“I’m so grateful that Commander Sanders had the foresight to have a backup plan. I just wish he could have saved more people.”
“Earth people thought he was crazy and shunned him. I’m just grateful that our parents were smart enough to listen to him.”
A gong sounded twice overhead.
“It’s time for the meeting. Let’s go.” Eos slipped his hand into hers and they walked down the long, white hallway toward the dome room.
Their long green robes swished softly around their ankles as they joined other people heading toward the room. No one said anything, they simply nodded. Leda wished someone would do something spontaneous, even outrageous. She wished she had the courage to do something like that. She looked up at Eos and studied his profile. He had a strong chin, a prominent nose and just a hint of a beard shadow.
“You should have shaved. If the monitors notice you’ll be fined.”
Eos shrugged. “I can’t help how fast my beard grows.”
She squeezed his hand and smiled. She loved how defiant he was at times. She again wished she had the courage to be defiant.
They walked into the dome room. Leda loved the dome room. It was so huge it made her feel small. It was surrounded by windows on all sides. The stars twinkled a greeting as they moved to sit on a bench. The walls were dripping in fat, dark green vines and it smelled like vanilla and lavender.
They smiled at other people as they started filing in. “What do you think this is about?” Eos asked under his breath.
She squeezed his hand, sat up straight and closed her eyes. She focused on slowing her breathing but answered him in a soft whisper. “Changes are coming.”
She could feel Eos relaxing beside her and he worked to put himself in a meditative state as well. She never discussed her clairvoyance with anyone else though she thought Eos likely suspected she had a gift. But she had always had the ability to see things in her dreams before they happened. Her first dream was when she was five years old and she knew, with absolute certainly, her father would show up that night with a new doll for her. She even knew what it would look like – gold hair and deep purple eyes.
She worked very hard to pretend to act surprised when her father presented her with the gift. She had fooled her father, she had not fooled her mother.
“I know, Leda,” she had said the next day once her dad had gone to work.
“Know what, mommy?”
“You have the gift.” She went on to explain what the gift was and how important it was to treat it with respect and to never tell anyone what she could do. She said she had had the gift, too, and that her grandmother had it as well. All of the women in her family had the gift.
She emptied her mind and focused on the room around her.
She could hear people around her breathing simultaneously. It had taken them a long time to learn to do this together but now that they were used to each other, it seemed second nature. She continued to focus solely on her breathing though thoughts of Earth kept crowding in. She kept thinking about what it must be like now and why didn’t anyone suggest they revisit Earth? Surely, after so many years, the virus was dead and things had settled down once more. Was it habitable? What would be the harm in checking it out?
“Because Leda,’ she heard the voice in her head. “Our home is here and we have no need of Earth anymore. Why potentially open ourselves up to corruption and sickness when we have created the perfect home here in the stars?”
Leda’s eyes popped open.
Eos turned his head to look at her. “Did you hear that?”
Leda blinked at him and nodded, momentarily robbed of speech. A few people around her also turned their heads toward her. “We heard him, too!”
“How can that happen? How can you hear the voice in my head?” Leda asked.
“This is one of the changes I’ve been talking about.” Commander Sanders walked onto the stage in front of them. He crossed his arms and buried his hands into his sleeves. He smiled gently at all of them. “How many of you heard my response to Leda’s thought?”
A number of hands went up, mostly around Leda.
“Ah.” Commander smiled and nodded, pleased. “We’re making progress. In the past, only one or two people nearby the subject could tune into the conversation, this time it looks like we’ve expanded that number to around ten or fifteen.”
Several people gasped and looked around to gauge others’ reactions.
“We are evolving into better humans,” Commander said. “We are better, stronger and smarter than the humans on Earth ever were. We are a new human race and we will multiply and grow into a superior species.”
There was a smattering of applause at his announcement.
Leda looked around and reluctantly clapped her hands . What was he talking about? A new human race? She looked over at Eos who simply shrugged his shoulders.
Commander continued to smile and nod. He lifted his arms. “Let’s take a moment to enjoy our lavender tea. We will talk afterward.”
Leda and Eos took a steaming mug of tea off the tray that was being passed around.
Leda took a sip and turned toward Eos. “I’m worried,” she whispered.
She took another sip and leaned closer to Eos keeping her voice extremely low. “Don’t you think the Commander has been rather …” she stopped to search for the right word. “Ambitious lately?”
“We used to talk about Earth and how we all hoped we could go back one day. But now, it seems that is the last thing the Commander wants. What do you think changed?”
“I don’t know. Maybe they figured out that Earth is a lost cause and they are starting to turn their focus on bigger and better things. If we can’t go back to Earth, then what? Stay in this tin can forever? I don’t know how that is possible. We’ve grown so much in the past year – I’ve never seen so many babies born. It’s like there is something in the water,” Eos laughed and took another gulp of his cooling tea.
Leda watched his Adam’s apple work as he swallowed his tea then looked down at her own tea. In the water? She sniffed her tea and looked around the room. People were absently drinking their tea and talking amongst themselves. No one gave it a thought. They simply drank. What if something was in the tea?
Leda cupped her mug and lowered it to her lap. She sat for long moments staring at the swirling liquid. When did they start drinking tea? Why did they start drinking tea? She tried to think back to the time they started their tea ritual. She honestly couldn’t remember a time they hadn’t been drinking tea. Had the elders put something in their tea? But why? What was the goal? She never felt drugged though she definitely felt more relaxed after drinking it. But wasn’t that the point of tea? To relax you? She shook her head as if to shake loose her crazy thoughts. She was just being paranoid. Her over-active imagination was getting the best of her again. She lifted her mug to take another drink and looked at Eos. His eyes were glazed and he had a goofy grin on his face. She looked past him and noticed that everyone in their row had the same look. She then noticed that the entire room looked like they were in some sort of trance.
What the hell?
She dropped her mug back to her lap and sat up straighter. What was going on?
The Commander had been quietly talking to his second in command when he abruptly stopped and looked directly at Leda. He narrowed his eyes.
She blinked in confusion at his attention. He had read her thoughts earlier, was he reading them now? She assumed a similar expression as her seatmates and purposely emptied her mind though she could feel her heart rate pick up and her bowels gave a nervous grumble.
“Okay everyone,” the Commander said while tearing his eyes off Leda. “Let’s get started.” He went through the normal routine of the meeting, calling on various team leads to report his/her departments progress and challenges for the week. He re-assigned a few people to work in a different section recognizing their talents and making it sound like they were being promoted. The meeting lasted for nearly thirty minutes before he paused, looked around the room and then smiled.
“So. If you haven’t heard the rumors,” he paused, “because even though rumors are highly discouraged, they still happen.” He continued to smile but it didn’t quite reach his eyes. A few people chuckled nervously. “We are leaving Earth’s orbit.”
Whatever trance people seemed to be in during the duration of the meeting disappeared. Nervous murmurs began trickling around the room.
Commander held up a hand. “I know. It sounds scary. But we’ve been working on this for quite a while and we think we have enough power to make it happen. We tested smaller, unmanned ships, these past months and the last two ships showed promising results. Earth is dead.” He paused again to allow that to sink in. “We sent probes to Earth and they came back with dismal results. It’s no longer hospitable to human life. We can’t orbit a dead planet forever. We need to explore and ultimately find a new home. We’re looking to Mars but who knows? Perhaps the other planets hold possibilities. And as most of you have noticed, there has been an explosion of new births this past year, we are growing and our ship is getting smaller. We can’t sustain this growth, we need to find a new home.”
“You’ve sent probes out,” Leda said, “but have you actually sent a human down to Earth to assess the situation? Maybe the probes are wrong.”
Wait. Did she just say that out loud? Judging by the horrified looks her way, she had.
The Commander narrowed his eyes at Leda in irritation, then leaned over and whispered something in his second-in-command’s ear.
“Leda, what are you doing?” Eos hissed. “No one ever speaks out at these meetings and no one ever questions the Commander!” His face drained of color and he mouthed “sorry” to those closest to them.
“Leda. It’s not appropriate to disrupt the meeting. If you have questions, you may ask your team lead,” the Commander chastised. The second-in-command motioned to a nearby monitor and that monitor moved to stand at the end of Leda and Eos’ row.
She swallowed nervously.
“But since you have brought it up and I’m sure you’re not the only one with that question, I shall address it.” He offered another smile but his cheeks were flushed and he looked angry. “We actually tried your suggestion, Leda.” More surprised gasps from nearby people. “We sent Luther down a few weeks ago to check things out. He has not returned.”
“Oh my God,” a girl near Leda clapped a hand over her mouth in horror.
“We haven’t heard a thing back from him. We lost track of his ship and we are assuming that he succumbed to whatever is going on down there.”
“So. We’re just leaving him down there? Can we send someone down to look for him?” Leda again asked. She wasn’t sure why she felt compelled to question the Commander but suspected it had something to do with the fact that she hadn’t drank her tea. She began to suspect that the Commander and his leadership made them drink the tea to keep them complaint and agreeable. She wondered if it would be possible to take her tea with her after the meeting so she could analyze it but she didn’t think that would be possible as the monitors were now openly glaring at her. The male monitor to her left kept flexing his fingers into a fist as if he couldn’t wait to get his hands on her.
“What do you propose we do, Leda?” He snapped. The Commander didn’t even attempt to keep his voice soothing. “If we send another person down, there is a good possibility that we would lose that person, too. That would be foolish. We have tried, repeatedly, to try and communicate with Luther, we even put a GPS tracker on his ship but we haven’t been able to locate his ship – he has simply disappeared. We don’t know what happened to him but we have to assume he is no longer alive since he hasn’t tried to reach us, or he’s unable to try and reach us, for whatever reason. We can’t keep sending people down to God knows what, that would be cruel. No,” he looked out over his people. “That experiment was enough to convince us that we have to move on and find another home. Earth is no longer our home. Okay,” he pressed his hands together and touched his nose. He worked on controlling his temper and after some moments, lowered his hands and smiled at his people. “Let’s get back to work. We have a lot to do before we leave Earth’s orbit.” He nodded once then exited the stage.
Everyone stood, bowed their heads and chanted, “Thank you, Commander.” People began filing out of the rows murmuring nervously to one another. The monitors didn’t move until it was Leda and Eos’ turn to step into the aisle.
“You need to come with me,” the monitor scowled. He was a large man with large biceps. A tattoo on his left arm peeked out from his uniform though Leda couldn’t tell what it was.
Leda nodded. She knew she would be reprimanded for daring to speak up during a meeting but she had no idea what her punishment might be. The monitor grabbed her arm and roughly pushed her forward. Eos started to follow.
“No. You are not permitted to accompany her,” the monitor stated in gravelly tones.
“But I’m her husband. It’s against the rules to allow a mate to be out without her husband.”
“We are well aware of the rules, Eos. But the Commander said to bring her alone.”
Leda looked over her shoulder, eyes wide in fear, her lower lip trembling. “Eos?”
The monitor jerked her away from him.
Eos watched her go.
Luther stepped back from the telescope. “I can see the ship, she’s still in orbit.”
“Well, that’s good news. How close were they to leaving orbit when you were aboard?” General Adams asked.
“They had just acquired the power necessary but they needed to reinforce the ship for the additional stress necessary to pull against gravitational forces. So, I would estimate they will be ready to go in about three more days.”
The General nodded briskly. “Then we have a lot of work to do, people. Let’s go.”
The room emptied out leaving Luther, Gayle, Toby and Peter.
“I still can’t believe you were able to get away from them, Luther,” Gayle said while wrapping her arms around his waist.
“It wasn’t easy,” Luther said while placing a kiss against Gayle’s temple. “But I was motivated to make it happen,” he smiled down at her.
“I still can’t believe they were able to launch their ship,” Toby said while moving to the telescope to track the ship’s progress.
“It was chaotic back then,” Peter said. We didn’t have the technology that we do now. Things were happening so fast. It’s a wonder that people were able to survive at all.”
“Still,” Gayle continued, “it seems incredible that the ship was able to take off in the midst of all of the madness.”
Toby grunted and stepped back to regard his team. “It’s like Commander Sanders knew shit was going to go down and was ready for it.”
“Do you think he was the one that started it?” Gayle asked.
Luther shrugged. “I wouldn’t put it past him. He’s an evil man and the people on that ship are in grave danger and have no idea what he’s capable of or what he has planned for them.”
“All the more reason to get them back,” Peter said.
They all looked at the stars through the domed skylight.