Jacob saw the Earth speed toward him.
He cradled his head between his arms as he braced himself for the impact. The silver, bullet shaped pod landed on the soft beach sand in an explosion of dust. The wind twirled the sand into tendrils and dispersed it into clouds of earth. At an amazing speed the oddly shaped object propelled through the sand, leaving a deep trench behind it. It plunged into a sand dune and Jacob jerked forward against the restraints painfully.
He muttered softly, “This is not good. Not good at all.”
Pushing against the hatch release button, he felt a cool breeze wash over his shoulders together with a steady stream of sand.
The hatch stopped opening with a shudder and Jacob looked up. He looked up into a black night sky with a constellation of stars different from those he was used to. Lifting his hands above his head, he tried to push the hatch up and to the front, but it would not budge.
“Not good at all.”
He took a big gulp of air. The air was not as clean and rich as the atmosphere at home, but after living in a chamber for six months prior to his journey here, his lungs had become accustomed to the less oxygen rich air.
With all his might, he pushed against the hatch again. A flood of sand cascaded down onto his lap, finding its way into his shoes, and then with a screeching noise the hatch opened all the way.
He pushed against the mechanism and released the safety constraints against his chest and across his shoulders. Lifting himself upward awkwardly, he grabbed onto both sides of the opening above his head and hoisted himself up.
For a moment he sat on top of the pod and looked at the waves rushing toward him in white, luminous foam and then just as quickly it withdrew from him again. The place was desolated, and he breathed a sigh of relief when he saw there were no earthlings to witness his disastrous crash.
He slid down the side of the pod and tried to shake as much of the sand from his trousers as he could. He was not sure what he was going to do with the pod. He could not leave it where it was, and it was impossible for him to drag it somewhere safe. For a brief moment he panicked when he realized he did not know how he was going to get home again.
First things first though, and maybe, just maybe, he would be able to fix it. He decided he would have to hide it in the Mangrove Swamp, he could see a short distance away. He pulled first his one arm against his chest and then his other arm, stretching his muscles.
With a grunt he bent down and started to push against the side of the pod in an attempt to first dislodge it from the dune. Effortlessly the pod slid sideways, while Jacob jumped back in surprise. He lifted his hands, palms up, and looked at them quizzically.
Gravity here was supposed to be the same as at home, wasn’t it?
He leaned forward and pushed against the pod. Smoothly the pod started sliding across the beach.
While pushing the pod ahead of him, as it slid like a hot knife through butter across the sand, he considered this might be the reason why the pod crashed. Gravity on this planet was exerting a lesser pull than the Elders of his planet had thought. So instead of landing safely in the pre-planned ravine near his mission objective, the pull of gravity was not strong enough and caused him to crash land instead at a place he was yet to establish.
At the edge of the Mangrove Swamp, he stopped.
He leaned into the pod and pulled out his newly designed rucksack. The rucksack looked exactly like those on this planet, and it had taken a lot of research and design planning, before the Elders were happy with the one he was now lifting through the hatch.
He unzipped the zipper and pulled out the clear spectacles he had to wear while he was here, to help him with his assignment, and to help him navigate his way around this planet.
A quick peek confirmed his water capsules and nutrition pills were safely tucked away in a side pouch of the rucksack. Panic threatened to overwhelm him when he remembered he only had a six-month supply.
He pulled the rucksack onto his back, and then after he pried the hatch closed, he pushed the pod into the murky water. He looked for bubbles, because he was not sure if the hatch was still airtight. He waited for at least ten minutes, watching the spot where the pod disappeared under the water, and when he did not see any air escaping from the pod to the surface of the water, he placed the spectacles on his face. He blinked his eyes a few times, to adjust to the glare.
He touched the frame with his index finger across the top and his thumb around the bottom. It looked as if he was adjusting the glasses on his nose. This took him months of practice, to make it look as if it was a natural action.
In the left lens words appeared.
Mission: Find Amy Trotter.
Touching the frame again, he changed the view to his GPS map locator. A red dot started blinking, which he knew was her location and he estimated he was at least fifty kilometres off course.
He started walking in the direction the map was indicating to be his shortest route, and although at times the map directed him to go through a building, he managed to stay on track.
Arius was his home planet.
He was sent here to save his own planet, because although his planet was millions of years older than this planet, Earth, and people on this planet had made different choices to destroy their home, they did not make the same mistakes.
Tens of thousands of years ago, over-population had almost destroyed his planet, and then procreation was ceased amongst those who could still breed.
Relationships on Arius were banned and were punishable by execution. This eradicated the planet of a great number of people, which eased the burden on Arius considerably. Those who refused to abide by the laws and continued having relationships in secret, were put to death.
There were strict laws and regulations in place which assisted against any rebellious uprising or to stop the possibility of someone breaking the most important law on their planet - to fall in love with another and then to perform the act of breeding.
Jacob could never understand the necessity of the guards in their black uniforms marching the streets of every city on Arius or the cameras on every street within the business districts and residential areas. Jacob had always thought these stringent measures were unnecessary. He could not understand why anybody would ever fall in love with another. He did not even understand the meaning of the word, love.
New babies, such as himself, were created in a laboratory, when necessary. Jacob grew up without experiencing the affectionate touch of another being, or the feeling of being loved. Although he felt compassion, consideration, and care toward others, in many other ways he was without feeling.
Arius moved around Ra and Luna, the planets of warmth and growth, at a different speed as the Earth moved around the Sun. They had a different method of calculating days and years, and on Arius, Jacob had lived for more than eighteen thousand years. In contrast to the people who lived on this planet, people on Arius could be considered forever young.
The Elders on Arius had lived since before the time everybody else now living on Arius was created in a laboratory. They received regular DNA boosts which kept them at the age they were when the First Amendment was changed to the one it was now. A law which prohibited the free exercise of love and the right to procreate.
However, the tentacled beings from Piscibra, a neighbouring planet, had depleted the resources on their own planet and they wanted to invade Arius and make it their own. The violent battle between the people of Arius and the creatures of Piscibra had halved the population of Arius, and the laboratory which housed the female seeds was compromised during an attack.
It was decided that Jacob would journey across the space of time and light, a journey of five Arius days to establish contact with Amy Trotter.
After detailed research and reconnaissance missions, it was established that the genetic formation from the family of Amy Trotter would be their salvation, and Jacob was sent here to collect those seeds.
There was an urgent need for more people to be created on Arius in order for them to defend their home from the creatures of Piscibra.
Jacob needed to find Amy Trotter as quickly as possible, begin the harvest, get back to the pod and try to repair it, and then get back to his own home before he had no home to return to.
Jacob followed the direction on the map in front of his left eye, reflected off the glass of the spectacles he was wearing.
He left the city and the suburbs behind him, as his surroundings started turning rural. He was now walking along a black asphalt structure, which he had learned was called a highway. From the corner of his eye, he saw the sky start to turn an orange colour along the rim of the planet. Cars started driving past him with speed, lifting his pitch black hair from his forehead in bursts of air. Jacob stared after the antiquated vehicles interested. He coughed a few times and felt his lungs constrict painfully when exhaust fumes, from the vehicles speeding past him, blew back into his face.
It took a long time for Jacob to learn the language and phrases of this planet. Of those who were initially chosen to undergo the training, Jacob was eventually chosen as the one who was best able to complete the mission successfully. He knew the different dialects and practised for hours until it was perfect, until it came to him naturally. He knew the strange names of everything. He studied Earth and its population. He knew the history of the planet, Earth, since its creation. There was nothing about this planet he did not study or that he did not know about.
He remembered watching an imagery while he was in training for this mission, where there was no talking, only singing, and there was a man walking along a similar road, but the man held out his hand with his thumb extended upward. In the imagery a vehicle had stopped, and the man was offered, what was called, a lift.
Jacob pushed out his right hand and extended his thumb upward.
Gravity was starting to pull heavily on his arm, when eventually a battered vehicle stopped a short distance ahead of him. He jogged toward the vehicle in the same manner he saw the man do in the imagery, and then stood next to the driver's side window of the vehicle.
The man in the vehicle asked, “Where you headed?”
“Kloof. Approximately fifteen kilometres from here.”
The man frowned for a moment. “Get in. I am going that way.”
Jacob rushed around the vehicle. He opened the door and sat down on the bucket seat.
The man looked at him amused. “Suppose it's just around the corner and you're right keeping your backpack on your back.”
Jacob berated himself. He did so well in his training. He knew all their mannerisms and the way they did things, especially in this country, and now his first contact with an Earthling had already resulted in suspicion.
“Why are you on the roads this early, are you running away from home?”
Jacob took a large, inconspicuous gulp of air. He smiled friendly. “No, Sir. My car broke down earlier, and I decided to walk to the nearest filling station.”
“You don’t look old enough to have a driver’s license?” The man asked curiously.
“Have been eighteen for three months now, Sir.” Jacob remembered to look proud as he fished his wallet from his pocket and showed the man his driver’s license.
The man slowed down and brought the car to a stop on the side of the highway. “Here we go. Kloof.”
Surprised Jacob pushed his wallet back into his pocket. While he was walking, the distance on the map still looked so far, but with the vehicle it was just a short drive across the large hill and down the other side.
Jacob pulled the door handle toward himself and as he got out of the car, he remembered to say, “Thank you, Sir.”
“Make sure your car is roadworthy before you start driving it again. It's dangerous walking around out here.”
Jacob lifted his hand and waved at the man. He watched the battered vehicle drive away, and then he focused on the map again.
He was almost at her house, about another kilometre or two through the ravine and he will arrive at the little village called, Waterfall, where she lived with her family.Copyright © Lynette Ferreira (published by Fiction for the Soul). All rights reserved.