By David Edward Nell
When I first arrived, I was twelve. I awoke to find myself at the onset of a well-lit tunnel, trapped, my limbs throttled. And so were the hundreds at my fore, perched inside transparent pods atop some sort of railway line--like a rollercoaster of the vulnerable. Like slaves.
Were we being held against our will? It seemed that way. Then again, I was just a kid with an imagination. Truthfully, I was clueless, my memories blanked out.
I couldn't recall a thing at the time, only that I really needed mom and dad, and my cranium was being met with a whistling nuisance. My calls withered against the enveloping glass. I saw movement in the other pods, heads bobbing and panicking. I was able to accost the full breadth of my surroundings, noticing the extent of the passage, where a white blip was stuck in limbo.
Then my eyes were torched to a rumple from the intensifying ceiling lights. Soon they became glowing strings, smudges. There was a motorized wane and I was plunged forward. The ricochet mechanism took us on a dizzying voyage, one I thought would never end, and not even shutting my eyes could prevent the ensuing retching urges.
We were swallowed into a scopious iron vault of pneumatic magnificence. Leaden clatters echoed across this clockwork of machinery that knew no bounds. Above, miniature suns blitzed the troposphere from four different directions in timely orchestration, omitting sulphur odors and barbed residues of disintegrating light. They raced upwards through a circular yawp stamped on a domed ceiling, where daylight refractions injected pearly brilliance. It was madness; both daunting and magnificent at once.
I saw anchors branch inward, toward us. My pod was rattled. There was a noisy, metallic collision. Each conveyance was whisked off to the left in flawless synchronicity, clunked on an adamantine surface of an immeasurable port. There was a hive of the uniformed on hand. It was a diligent, bustling pandemonium of adults. They appeared to be organizing and instructing, intent on something. I felt warmer in their presence, yet was still hesitant.
My jaw dropped even further at what I saw next. There were lightweight triangular barges the likes of which surpassed any fabrication I had ever seen. These shiny axillary wonderments, like voltaic kites, were sleek and lithe and windowless, unfeasible to the human eye. Some blazed into the open air at such great speeds, evolving into luminosity mid-flight, that the inaudible, harmonized nature of their launches was absurd by traditional rhetoric.
I became so emotional--frightened, mostly--that my grimacing cheeks were pinched by the mesh of my ensnarement. As if I had bawled so hard that my tear ducts were null, I was now unable to weep.
The glass slid downward. I was released from captivity, along with everyone else. There were people on their knees, people trembling and expressing their gratitude and speaking of what used to be of their homes. I waited where I was, then two men carefully guided me under their arms, and when I felt their gentle touch, I knew they meant no harm. When I saw the other adults hugging these patrons, I was relieved and had my bad thoughts put to rest. I murmured to someone on my right, “Please, my daddy, mommy--where are they?”
And then I saw them in the crowd. And I heard them weeping tuneless songs of joyous denial. I dropped into their open arms and cried. I didn't want to let go.
The men directed us to their flying ships. They told us it was time to stop mourning the old world and start anew. Back then I didn't understand.
We neared one as large as a house, in awe of its glimmering astral oscillations which emitted no heat. It was possible to reach out and feel white curls tickle and overlay one's flesh. They told us to stand beneath the underside of a glowing ventral tube. It would lead us in, they said.
My unbelieving laugh was returned by my parents. We closed our eyes and were absorbed into the ship's shelter. Immediately, we found ourselves standing in a mechanical roundness.
The pilot pulled a lever. The entire middle circumference retracted like a window, and the metallic wall was now transparent, revealing luminescent balls launching upwards past visibility. It was a planetarium of sorts. White curls of smoke rippled in front of the window in deafening veracity, signalling ignition and making us cower. We lifted off.
I saw my parents embrace, and then they brought me into their cuddle. We all clasped our ears against the vacuum noise. The iron walls and scenery descended.
The ship zoomed into the hewing shimmers of a blue-green sky that hammered us with blankets of heat. The station's domed, silvery vastitude could be discerned from above, clandestinely engraved into the maw of a sprawling jungle endless and indiscriminate in horizon. The soaring tropical trees went with the ship's gusts. Other ships zipped past and became bullets, angling, disappearing into the ozone. A licking cannonball of orange energy was fixed against the marine expanse--the sun, but even closer than before. I drowsily basked in its radiance, this intoxicating, otherworldly awe belching yellow harmonies that were absorbed into my frigidity. Warmer, even, than the sun I knew before.
My face was pressed against the window, agape. Everything was different. My parents were as silent as I.
The pilot turned from his controls and said, “Welcome to New Earth.”
That was the last I'd see of these heroes and their ships. Today, I tell of their legend, how they saved humanity. Today, we survive. All three thousand of us.
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A software developer by day, David Edward Nell writes speculative fiction in his limited spare time from Cape Town, South Africa. Some of his works will soon be published in The Dark Side of the Womb, Dark Edifice, Twisted Dreams, and Cynic Online.