“A Second Chance at Eden”

Christy Fessler

All rights reserved by the author

 

“I still distinctly remember the smell of all the hyacinth; that’s one thing I will always miss.”  At the confused looks the children gave him, Noah continued, “That’s a different kind of flower.  At least, there it was.  They must not have developed here.” 

            “Tell us what else you remember Grandpa!”  The children wanted desperately to quench their thirst for the knowledge of humans’ dark, curious past. 

            “Well, for one thing, I remember the sunset.  Earth’s was very different from Eden’s.  It lasted longer and happened less often.  It was so beautiful.  But, unfortunately, it’s your bedtime.”  He saw the pitiful faces they all made; “We’ll finish the story another time!”  After rounding them all up and sending them to bed, Noah sat down on the couch with his wife.  “No matter how many times I tell them, they just can’t comprehend that it would be any different from their life here.  I just don’t have the heart to tell them the horrors of the end of it all.”

            “Well, there’s no need to tell them.  It would only be harder for them to understand and they don’t need to deal with the troubles of our past right now.  We’ll tell them when they’re older, when they understand, when they can make the decisions so that it doesn’t happen again.  They’re smart, like you.  They’ll know what to do.”  Evelyn smiled, quietly kissed his forehead, and went up the stairs to bed. 

After watching a bit of the news, Noah also went to bed.  As he lay there, memories of Earth ran through his head, memories of his school in Washington, D.C. and all of his brilliant students.  That was the hardest part for him to deal with.  Years later, he still couldn’t let go of the fact that so many children with so many bright futures didn’t even have a chance at life.  After a while, he let himself relax enough to sleep, only to relive the past in his dreams, as always.

 

Tuesday, March 4, 2178

           

            “And don’t forget, your projects are due on Friday.  No excuses, I want them on my desk by the end of class.  If you have any questions, anything you are confused about or don’t understand, come to my office anytime and we can go over it.  Okay?  See you all tomorrow then.”  Noah never had to be strict with them.  He knew they’d all have their projects on his desk because they knew he meant no excuses. 

            One of his students approached his desk.  “Mr. Connor, umm, I was wondering when I can come in tomorrow to go over the last test with you?”      

“Anytime, Becky.  I never leave my office during school hours unless I’m here with you guys.  Okay?  Come in whenever you can and we can look at what you didn’t understand.”  He smiled, and went to his office.  After many restless hours of work, he finally went home. 

Noah tried not to be too strict with his students.  The times alone were hard, not to mention the fact that many of their parents were either with the government, or the military.  They had a much harder time with it than other American children.  It wasn’t just the Americans though.  All children, all over, were feeling the pain and loss of the war. 

Everyone’s fears of the great World War III had finally become reality.  Not only was every country at each other’s throats, but now that technology had come so far, it really was only a matter of time before the people of the world destroyed the planet.  Only now, after the Cold War scare, people knew that bomb shelters wouldn’t save us.  Even if they could serve as some protection, there would be so much radiation, there wouldn’t be any place to hide. 

But the kids, they would never know what it’s like to live in a world with peace.  Even Noah could hardly remember what that was like.  He thought of his fiancé, Evelyn, and thought of what little time they had together.  He was never in denial about it all.  He knew that the end of the world was going to happen, and soon.  He knew the fighting wouldn’t end until it came to that. 

As he walked through the door to his apartment, he smelled the sweet aroma of the hyacinth; Evelyn loved hyacinth and always made sure they had some in the house.  He walked further and smelled dinner: pasta and shrimp.  He heard Evelyn singing in the kitchen, “Hey honey, I got home early from the hospital, so I made us some dinner.” 

Perfect, he thought.  She’s absolutely perfect.  He slid down into the couch and turned on the television.  The newscaster’s first words stung.  “…killed at the Pentagon just minutes ago. China has attacked the United States with full force.  Again, if you are just tuning in, minutes ago, the Pentagon was attacked.  Masses of employees are inside the building.  Rescue teams have been sent in, but we are not sure how they will attempt to enter, the landmark has been blocked at most exits.  Those who got out of the Pentagon in time are safe, receiving only a few cuts and bruises from debris.  We are unable to tell how many are trapped inside, but the fire department has made o formal statement that they will not stop until they find everyone.”

He stared in disbelief.  Evelyn, who had been in the other room, had heard and was rushing to get packed and back to the hospital. 

“So many of them.  They’re my students parents.” 

“I know Noah.  I’ve got to get back.  Once they get those people out of there, we’re going to need all the extra doctors we’ve got.”

 

Wednesday, March 19, 2178

 

            In the past two weeks since the initial attack on the Pentagon, countries became relentless in their following strikes.  The United States did plenty of damage alone, but there is only so much we can do in a nuclear war to prevent the destruction of our own country.  Noah began working with the government to do all he could in the prevention of total destruction. 

Although only a high school Physics teacher, he was well versed in all sciences.  He was at the top of his class at MIT and even graduated from high school two years early.  He was brilliant.  Although no one understood why he ever became a high school teacher, he loved working with students.  He knew that he was able to teach kids in a way that not many people can.  They just seemed to get it when he taught.  Although no one understood it, they knew he was damn good at it. 

He began working with the government when a friend from college called and simply asked.  Brian Grant knew that he was the best person to ask.  No matter what the field, Noah just seemed to get it.  With this though, there was nothing for anyone to think of that would help. 

Noah sat at his desk before his next pointless meeting.  He missed working with his students, but the school decided that for the time being, it was unsafe to have all of the students in the school.  It had been cancelled until further notice.  It wasn’t that he didn’t enjoy helping, but it didn’t do any good.  He was packing up his briefcase when a woman walked into his office.

“Hello Dr. Connor, my name is Catherine Anderson and I’m with NASA.  I was wondering if I could have a word with you.”

“Well, I’ve got a meeting in about five minutes, so maybe we could get together after.”

“Please Dr. Connor, your coworkers have been informed that you will be arriving late.  This is urgent.”  She walked out and he followed her to a small room down the hall from his office.  “I’m sure that you know how close we are to total world destruction.  Well, NASA has been looking at this possibility for some time now, and we’ve been looking at reassignment locations; in other words, a new planet for humans to live.  We have come down to one last possible choice and we are now going through a selection process to find suitable inhabitants.”

Noah sat in silence for a few moments, going through what she just said.  “Are you trying to tell me you are going to take a bunch of people out into space and you actually think we’ll survive?  Are you insane?  We don’t have the technology for something like that!”

“I know that it’s hard to believe Dr. Connor, but citizens are not always informed of major breakthroughs, especially during war. We have found an inhabitable planet around the star 23 Librae, and we do have the technology to get there.  Granted, only a select few will be chosen to leave.  There would never possibly be enough room on a star ship to accommodate the entire human race.  That is why the people are not informed you see.  If everyone were to know, well, I’m sure you can imagine what uproar there would be when people realized that not everyone could leave.    Which is why I’ve come here to talk to you today.  You have been selected as a major candidate.  We would really like you to come with us Dr. Connor, it would be an honor.”

 

Friday, March 21, 2178

 

Noah waited for the rest of the scientists to enter the room before they all got started.  He couldn’t believe he had actually come.  Evelyn had wanted him to do it.  She told him he was the best person to go and that it was more important that he worry about the project having people that could take care of themselves rather than worry about those who couldn’t go. 

Catherine Anderson walked into the room with a short, round, balding man.  “Dr. Connor, this is Dr. Brewer.  He will be explaining to you all that you need to know.”

“It is a pleasure Dr. Connor.”  He shook Noah’s hand.  “Well, I suppose I will jump right into it.  As you know, only so many people can come to the Librae planet, two thousand to be exact.  We are looking for the best of every field.  You, Dr. Connor, are the best at what you do.  As a Physics teacher, you have had some of the highest test scores to come out of your students and you are brilliant in any aspect of your field.  That is why we want you.  One of the requirements is that no one person can be at all closely related to another.  You, having no living relatives, are also a prime choice.  A little bit about the project, the trip will take about a year and the planet is quite comparable to our Earth.  It has a 260 day year, and the cycle of a day is about twenty hours.  We have only about ten more people to select until we are ready to go.  So Dr. Connor, what do you say?”

I don’t understand this.  You people think you can decide who should live and who should die?  What about all the children who will loose their lives?  Do you actually think that it’s your place to decide who is more important?  How can you make that kind of decision?

Dr. Brewer calmly responded.  “We can understand your confusion Dr. Connor.  Actually, it’s to be expected from all our candidates.  That is why we will give you a week to think it over and get back to us.”  He handed Noah his business card and they all quietly left the room.

 

 

After many hours of sitting in the local diner, Noah pulled out the business card that Dr. Brewer had given him.  He took out his phone and dialed the number.  “Dr. Brewer?  This is Noah Connor.  I’ll take that position on one condition.  My fiancé, she’s a doctor.  You have to take her too.”

 

Sunday, May 24, 2178

 

            It had been almost two months since they left the Earth behind them.  Little did they know that had they waited a week, they would have never left.  What was left of our world was uninhabitable due to radiation and pollution from the nuclear war.  Noah was able to convince Dr. Brewer to allow Evelyn to come as well.  She was well qualified, becoming the head doctor on the starship.  She and Noah decided to get married on Earth, before they left in case anything happened on the trip to Eden.  The scientists decided to name the Librae planet Eden.  They felt that if the name sounded peaceful, people wouldn’t be quite so frightened by living in a place no one had ever seen before.   

It was about eight o’ clock when Noah got out of bed to get ready for work.  Since there were no children yet in the new civilization, he had no teaching to do, but he was also quite helpful with the scientists.  They had sent out a satellite before leaving Earth so that they could have pictures of the planet ahead of time.  Noah thought it was somewhat pointless because they wouldn’t have anything to do if they realized that there was a problem.  Nevertheless, at least they would know what they were going to be dealing with. 

Today they were supposed to be receiving the first pictures of planet Eden, and Noah was incredibly excited.  As depressing as it was to leave his entire civilization to die, it was a high point in the time they were out to see pictures of another planet in another solar system from our own.  Noah got dressed as quickly as he could so he could get down to the lab.  Evelyn came up behind him in the kitchen when he was making toast. 

“Guess what.”  She had a devious look on her face.

“What?”

“We need new quarters soon,” She said.

“Why, what’s wrong with ours?  I told you Evelyn, they are all the same, unless you have a family, and no one has those quarters yet,” he gave her a strange look, wondering if she meant what he thought she did.

“Well, maybe we should contact the residence coordinator.  Cause in a few months…we’re gonna need one.”  She gave him a huge smile.  Noah started laughing and gave her a hug. 

“Finally!  Oh, that’s great!  We’re having a baby!  Oh man, I’m really sorry, but I really have to go to the meeting, but when I get back, we’re gonna have something great for dinner to celebrate.”  He kissed her forehead and left the quarters.

 

He entered the room with as much energy as a little boy.  He could see that the rest of the people in the room were in the same position.  This was huge.  No matter what they found, it would have a huge impact on all their futures.  “Sorry I’m late.  What have we found?”

“Noah, this is more than we could have ever expected.  Much more.  Noah, we found life.  Past life.  Past intelligent life.  It looks as if there was some kind of ice age in the middle of it all.  Like ours, but we found shelters.  And Noah, this is the craziest part.  We found a body.  They look a lot like us. So much so, it can’t be a coincidence.”  Catherine Anderson said it. 

“Wait, so what are you saying; they have to be human?  How is that possible? We barely have the technology now to do this.  How can they have gotten here before us?”

Dr. Brewer stood up from his seat.  “We have been looking at all of the possibilities.  We’ve decided there is no way they can be from Earth.  There are too many complications in that theory.  But there is one possibility.  Do you know what the theory of Panspermia is?”

“We learned the basics, but I haven’t put much trust into it.”

“Well, to give you an overview, it says that life is transported through tiny organisms in space and seed, if you will, other planets.  Well, we have been looking at this theory to explain this situation.  Although many people never thought it was likely, there has never been any strong evidence against the possibility of it happening.”

            “I understand the basics, but how can that explain the fact that they look just like us.  I mean, there are tons of different ways for organisms to develop and evolve.  It’s impossible to say that they would look at all like us.”

            Dr. Brewer continued.  “That’s very true, but there is another theory that coincides with Panspermia.  It’s called Cosmic Ancestry, or Strong Panspermia.  Some scientists, who have been seen as extreme, have been investigating it. It says that the organisms that we come from are programmed.  The evolution if these organisms is programmed.  Every civilization that has ever developed has developed just like us.  That is, what other civilizations there are out there, if any others. According to these theorists, we all evolve the same, look the same, act the same. All life is connected.  Noah, if this is true, we are related to these people.”

 

Thursday, February 9, 2207

 

            Noah woke up startled.  It always took him a while to realize that he wasn’t still the virile twenty-six year old that traveled to this new planet.  He was now fifty-five, a strong fifty-five, but the dreams were so realistic; it took him a long time to realize that’s all they were, dreams of the past. 

            Evelyn had already gotten up.  She always got up early when the grandchildren were over to make them breakfast.  Since she retired, she struggled to make sure she had something to do.  She couldn’t stand to be lazy.  Noah got out of bed, got dressed, and went to the kitchen to find all ten of his grandchildren. 

            “Grandpa!”  As they saw him enter, they all got up and circled him in a huge hug.  They all looked at him as their own personal hero, though, it was hard not to.  He had so many great stories to tell them.  Having been at all the meetings about the new planet, he knew more exact information than all the others, who had been on the star ship, did. 

            It turned out that their suspicions were correct.  They found too much evidence saying that humans and these creatures were related for it to possibly be a coincidence.  Even the other species on the planet all related to those on Earth.  The evidence showed that the different species of this planet were probably at the point of development that the Earth was in the seventeen hundreds.  Although, strangely enough some species, like the hyacinth, never developed.  They assumed that it was due to small variations in the environments that caused such things to occur.  Even the slightest difference could have caused it. 

Although it came as a shock at first, the people of Earth learned to accept the fact that we are not unique and learned to live on Eden happily.  Most families had many children, to help the population grow.  Noah and Evelyn had six children, yet only three of them had had children yet.

It was difficult making a whole new life on Eden.  Construction workers had also come on the starship from Earth to ensure that they could have proper shelter.  They actually were able to take ideas from the past civilization to make the best homes possible.  It made it that much easier for humans to make a new life on Eden because they had much of the same plants and animals as they did on Earth.  Everyone even had similar, if not the same jobs on Eden as they did on Earth.  After people began reproducing, which was quick, Noah soon became the general science teacher.  It was harder than it sounded though.  He had to teach students all throughout their school career, but he also had to teach the incoming students.  After a while, they were able to have more teachers, and he went back to teaching high school Physics. 

It still bothered Noah that he had to leave so many lives to die, but it was amazing watching a civilization thrive and grow.  He loved his new life here.  He loved his children, grandchildren, and his wife very much.  If it weren’t for his beautiful love Evelyn, he wouldn’t have lived to see this new world.  He had such amazing memories of Earth and the escape to safety.  But no matter what, he would always miss the sights and smells of Earth.  When he dreamt that night, he didn’t dream of the loss of the Earth, he dreamt only of the love that saved him and the scent of the hyacinth.

 

© Copyright 2004 by the author

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