An earthman stuck on a godforsaken colony planet explains how he got there in George Sandison's sci-fi story.
How 'bout I tell you a story? You wanna hear about my last flight on a spaceship? Yeah, I've been on loads of them, I wasn't born here like you. I arrived with Dora you know - crazy, beautiful, ultra- fashionable Dora, the Dora - eight months ago. Or was it ten? How long is a month here again? You don't believe me? We swooped in on the Never Never straight out of Eden, rich, beautiful and prepared to rule. You know how that feels, don't you.
I found them soon after landing. Or they found me. Or we found each other. I was still adjusting back then, sleeping through two days at a time then up for three. Colonial time, man. You know here I'm already 128 years old? I should be dead or something. That's what my soul says, anyways.
I reckon Dora was right to leave me. Some magnate I turned out to be, couldn't even see the flip coming and I was the one pulling us towards it. She looks good up there, you know? She looks happy with Weiss meeting the system admins. She can handle powerful men; make them feel safe when really she's watching them like a mongoose. You know what they are? They're from Terra. Ah forget it, you don't care.
I was still around up there when SolPol visited you know? Sure, I met President Mulatu. Scared me half to death that guy, I think that's when I first realised I wasn't cut out for it. He never stopped smiling, the crowds loved it. They loved his smiling alligator jaws.
I couldn't stop by then though, we'd bought in to the Scheme. I was meant to be on the board up there, you - what? An alligator? Mean, is what it is, now you wanna hear this or not?
Thing is that when you land at a colony with a beautiful woman and ship, money and a bunch of ideas, everyone else has their own ideas to help part you with all four of them. I wanted to make things better here. Sort out, well, bums like us. Make the planet rich, build another goddamned Eden. These guys all said the same. 'We're going to change the world, and when we're done we'll change the next one.' They were, hang on -
Spare any change buddy? Hey, I'm starving out here, just a cred for something to eat. Hey. Buddy! Just say 'no', you bastard, you could answer me! Fuckin' prick.
Where was I...? S'like Barton over there. He was going to run the 'port, used to own a fleet of freighters from Terra. They bought him out with the same cheap trick as me. Last time I heard him speak he told me the whole deal, the same damned glittering bait and the same naivety. He just growls and barks now, and clings to that stick; it's that local stuff, that 'juice' that did it. You won't catch me on it, no sir.
You know I saw some drunk break his stick once, right here under the 'port. He loved that thing like I loved Dora, have I told you about her? The stick snapped and he barked at this guy just once. I think it was an insult? Ha! I know it was an insult. But the fool just walked away and a few hours later he had another one.
I was going set up another co-op. I've seen Eden, the rumours are all true. It's not even a nice planet to live on, you know? Too cold, and some big native predators. I mean big like an elephant would freak. That's not how it got the name, it was because of - elephants are about the biggest thing on land on Terra; now will you put your arm down before I break it off? It's called Eden because of the co-op. The entire colony works for one shared budget and they use that to buy what they need; it's a place for idealists.
The system admins set up this crazy algorithm to decide how to spend the budget, make sure the big stuff was covered but individuals still got stuff they wanted too. They had this big simulation running for ages so everyone could see what would happen. I saw it too, you know? This holo of the entire planet and you could check any part at any time and see how one person was doing. It was beautiful, like staring into the heart of an emerald, these little splashes of colour like you could swim out into the middle of it and never come back.
I found this farmer on the southern hemisphere who had a broken hauler, or some prairie-hick need. His was the only family for 500 miles, but he sent a request and the next shuttle in bought something and they dropped it off the next day. Try that on Terra.
Dora said that's why she fell for me, you know? My ideals. I bought her that pendant she always wears, yeah the half-moon one. I said to her, 'Today you get the moon, tomorrow I'll make you another paradise,' and she laughed and stroked my cheek then kissed me. You think I'm lying? She's got a mole right at the base of her spine, how would I know that if I was lying? What? You don't believe me? Ahh, well screw you man, you don't even know what an elephant is.
Jesus... You know people like us didn't live long before all this. We'd die of pneumonia and TB and things like that. All gone now. We're curing all the diseases and breaking food chains across the galaxy but no-one thought to ask if any of us wanted to be wiped out. Here, have a drink. It won't kill you.
I'm just tryin' to tell you that we don't all start the same. You're young so you've got a lot of life to put up with yet. Unless you fancy doing the job yourself you've got to deal with that. Me? I'm getting back up there. I had all my jabs, i've got some time left before I need to 'juve any and I know how it works up there. All I gotta do is figure out down here and I'm home free. Maybe I'll take Dora back when I get there too, maybe.