Love without conditions
means when my daughter
hollers through the
bathroom door that
she is leaving for school
my response is not
“I love you.
Lock the door.”
She usually does.
And even if she doesn’t
the dogs are on guard
though they are more
likely to befriend
a thief but if they do
not then whatever is
taken is not as precious
as a daughter who knows
she is loved without
the baggage of her
I stopped writing my summary and leaned back in my chair. The rest of my report to the Travel Bureau could wait. I could tell them this much, but the rest I would have to lie about. If I told them I knew their “precious” secret, I would be terminated, swiftly and without mercy. What I’d written would probably make them suspicious anyway, but all of their haggling and discussion over my summary would buy me plenty of time. Plenty of time to . . .
I reached into my pocket and pulled out the silver coin I had found on Earth. It was partially melted but I could still read the writing inscribed on its surface: E PLURIBUS UNUM.
Yes, I had found Earth and soon I would return to it to make it a great and peaceful world once again.
Written November 22, 1983
Part of the Cold War Kid collection
The darkness of early night brought me back to the present and I hoped I hadn’t wasted valuable time daydreaming. I hurried over to my over-terrain vehicle and climbed in; making sure all of my equipment was secured safely aboard.
I started the vehicle’s engine and, after flipping on its powerful headlights, began to drive through the desert-like landscape ahead. The headlights stabbed through the black night and presently, they pointed out what seemed to be a primitive road. I began to follow the road, driving very carefully so as to avoid the many cracks and fissures that littered its surface. After a few miles of this constant maneuvering, I stopped the vehicle dead in its tracks.
Before me lay something that was so extraordinary I could not believe my eyes. In the bright glow of the headlights, I could see a city! A manmade city, intelligently built! Had I found Earth?
As I walked through the streets of the old city . . .
I live in the city of Terra, the capital of the planet, Vulcan. Vulcan is the home planet for the Galaga Federation thereby making it heavily populated and Terra very large. This being the case, I make it a habit in my free time to explore it. It is when I am walking along Terra’s shady, tree lined avenues that I am most contented.
It was while I was strolling the streets of the city on one such exploration that I came across an old, deserted house. The sign hanging beside its broken door in huge red letters pronounced CONDEMNED! No one could have agreed more totally than I.
Most of the house’s windows were boarded up to keep the glass panes intact, though judging by the amount of shards that littered the street, they had done little good. The remains of what probably had been a beautiful veranda lay rotting on the ground. The house had such a ramshackle appearance that any “sane” person would never have ventured beneath its sagging frame. That is precisely the reason why I stepped through its door.
Inside, the house was totally barren. Except for the dust of many ages that had settled on its surface. Nothing remained on the rough wooden floor, except . . . My eye caught something white stuck in a crack in the floor. It was paper! Paper had been outlawed many years before by the International Council of Censors! I eagerly picked up the scrap and noticed that it had writing on it. The writing was of a strange, ancient text, but I could still read it:
Earth was beautiful once upon a time, but now it is barren and the sun frowns upon it, for it is no longer its child. Long ago Man destroyed Earth and now is getting rid of all the history concerning it so no one will know of the great destruction that was wreaked upon it. Earth, I weep for thee . . .
Here the writing ended because the rest of the paper had been torn off. I suspected that after the Federation Police raided this joint, its owner had received a sentence similar to the one tacked outside the door behind me. His carcass was probably rotting in one of Terra’s musty prisons. I, suspecting which planet was this mysterious Earth, made provisions to . . .
The XZ-900 Space Cruiser slowly came to a rest on the old unused docking port, using its lower thrust engines to maneuver onto the platform.
I picked up my flight bag and made my way to the front of the passenger cabin. There I was assured by an almost-too-polite stewardess that my “important equipment” was being unloaded outside. I thanked her for making mine such a marvelous trip and made my way off the ship.
Outside, the crewmen had finished unloading the laser rifles, rations, and over-terrain vehicle I would need for my exploration of this barren planet. I thanked them for their help and then they boarded their ship.
As I watched the powerful liner disappear into the already darkening sky, my mind flipped back over the events that had brought me to this so-called “uninteresting” planet.