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26th December
2012
posted by amber

The Search

The woman walked out of a cloud of dust that had circled her body in a clandestine shroud.

She stopped, closed her eyes, and dusted herself off, allowing as much of the remnants of the dust cloud to fall from her hair and clothing.

“Where am I?” she whispered to herself as she looked around, taking in all that she saw.

“Or,” she added unconsciously, “When?”

The landscape was that of a million time spans, a billion worlds…a trillion possibilities…

A lone creature of some sort soared overhead, circling in the intense heat, riding the rising air that included traces of the dust from her arrival.

From a satchel by her side, she removed three small metal tubes, each identical to the other, and set them down on the ground beside her left foot. Removing a wider, longer tube, she than retrieved one of the tubes from the ground and inserted it in one end of the larger tube. Holding it up, she waved it in the air back and forth, and then removed the small cylinder. She than placed another one in and stabbed it into the ground, removed it and picked up the third small metal tube. Looking around her, she noticed a small plant and, removing a small instrument from the satchel, removed a small part of the plant, and placed it into the last tube. Then, removing a rectangular silvery box from the satchel, she slid all three tubes inside, and, pushing a black button on the side, held it in her hand as she studied the area directly around her.

She had landed in a small depression in a largely flat, unassuming terrain. Surrounding her was small, scrubby plants, the drifting creature, which by now was only a small dot up in the azure sky, and a lot of stone and sand. She looked towards a small, cylindrical pod that rested on the ground, its exterior scarred, dented and blackened, with faded, almost indistinguishable numbers and letters flanking two of its sides.

It had been thirty three years since she had left.

Thirty three years ago, Terran time, since they sent her off on a mission to find a habitable place for what was left of human kind. Thirty three years of been transported through the cosmos in a dire search to aid in the survival of her species. She had lost contact with Main Control just over two years after she had first left, but continued on her search; the pod itself would return back to Earth when the mission was over. If a planet was immediately deadly to human life, the pod would not open, but continue on its journey, only stopping to allow measurements in places that could sustain human life even for a short time period. She hadn’t even looked at the instruments that told her her position when she had landed; she hadn’t paid attention for a while. She didn’t even know which planet she had landed on.

The rectangular box chirped twice. She looked at the box.

“LIFE NOT SUITABLE FOR HUMAN SURVIVAL.”

She clicked another button, and the machine scrolled through a series of data. Her face went pale as the last screen appeared and gave her current position.

“VIRGO SUPERCLUSTER-LOCAL GROUP-ORION ARM OF MILKY WAY…”

Tears slid freely down her cheeks, leaving sooty rivulets behind them.

“THIRD PLANET FROM THE SUN.”

The pod had brought her home.

1 Comment

  1. 07/01/2013

    This tale has a nice visual quality, but I would urge you to bring out more emphasis in the repetitive quality of the searcher’s task, so that her neglect in not noticing what planet she’s on can be more understandable. Your line with million, billion, trillion has strong repetition and you could go from there to showing how her job has become rote, possibly hopeless, to her.
    In an early paragraph, you bring in ‘a lone creature of some sort’ – describe it better, ‘some sort’ is way too vague. Perhaps you mean it to be birdlike, but she doesn’t notice that it actually is a bird. If you are going to introduce it, you need to make strong use of it in the story.
    And be sure to check your story over, so words such as ‘been’ isn’t used when you really mean ‘being.’
    - Amber

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