I first walked on water about ten years ago, and I could breathe beneath the surface not long after. In the last week or so I’ve learned to fly, and I finally found a place to stay just last night. It was a different planet, a place of freedom and equality, and I got talking to one of the elders about how it all came to be.
THE HISTORY OF THE WORLD (PART 3)
Hers was a world where the superior race was gifted with an awareness, of themselves and others. This extended to a spiritual empathy with all those they shared a home with, the animal people. Her world was a planet-sized brain, with every living organism a neuron glowing in the harmony of symbiotic thoughts in a self-sustaining hive mind. It was an organic supercomputer, born of quantum physics, which had given its makers the answers to life, the universe and everything through universal translation.
While humans spent their evolution destroying each other and their shared world, the animals took care of the essentials (food and shelter) and concentrated on the more important, long-term things. Like telepathy.
The Babel fish had required a quantum leap in human science but therein lay the keys to the animals’ voices. That small in-ear device allowed humans to understand any language, including those of the animals.
For centuries humans had been fighting among themselves over things which only they held a sense of entitlement over. Once they heard the animals talking, they realised how much more there was to life outside the one they’d made. Rather than a common foe to unite warring factions, The Conversation was something humanity wanted to be a part of, a common goal for one united race.
Humans weren’t yet evolved enough to explore space using the same sub-atomic energy they’d threatened nuclear Armageddon with. Stuck on one planet, they listened to the animals and resolved to use their unique abilities to clear up the mess they’d made. It was a moral duty to the home they shared with those who were there first. It was their planet and humans were only meant to be passing guests, but humanity felt obliged to make itself more welcome if it was staying (the animals could talk now, and give them feedback).
Before I left I got to test my flying skills, when I was offered a guided tour. I couldn’t fly far but what I saw in my limited perimeter gave me hope for the rest of the world. There are no factories, with heavy industry moved to orbital cloud cities long ago. Humans are almost exclusively vegetarian, freeing up millions of square miles of land formerly used to rear livestock and grow crops to feed that human food. The Babel fish had a lot to do with the mass conversion, when someone had to die for a human to eat.
We still have money, but there’s a universal income, financed by a personal data tax levied on the companies and agencies which harvest our lives to feed theirs. The basic income provides for essentials (food and shelter), allowing people to develop themselves to be the best they can at whatever they enjoy the most, therefore giving and receiving the most back. And what goes around comes around.
History is cyclical, and I hope I witnessed our bright future and not just a personal utopia. I asked if I could stay, and the elder said no. When I asked why, she said that I was part of the old plastic population and that I was polluted. Until me and my kind repair our damage and restore things to the way they were, there’s no room for us in that heaven.
“You have a common cause, and you are unique as a species in being the only ones who can put things right and ensure the future of the planet and all who live there. When are you from?”
“2018,” I said. I remembered dropping off at just before 8.20 that evening. “Where are we now?”
“Well into a new dawn,” she replied. “Your Doomsday Clock back home will pass midnight soon. Only you and your race can stop the clock or wind it back.”
I asked the elder her name: She was Katrina, or Kat. She saw me off at the coast, walking through the waves with me until I floated off alone. I looked back and Katrina waved.
I woke up and someone was waving in my face. “Welcome back,” a girl’s voice said. “Do you know where you are?”
I did. I looked at the clock and it was 2359.
© Steve Laker, 2018
(Writing prompt: ‘Water’)
Cyrus Song (a Douglas Adams tribute, and a perfectly plausible answer to life, the universe and everything) is available now.