Cities and suburbs, real and imaginary.

Wednesday, October 1, 2008

file under: too many story ideas, not enough time...

Abandoned Fragment of a Clone

We don’t have to colonize other planets. Our clones do it for us. We train for months and years to prepare for our landing on the foreign world. We scan our brains, right then, at the peak of our interplanetary colonization knowledge. We dump our DNA into the machines, with our scanned brains.
We don’t even need that large of a ship. Really, you only genuinely need one tank for the cloning. You pack two or three tanks – in case one breaks – but really the ship we send is smaller than a space shuttle. The machines do all the work. Mostly, what you need is compressed air. In space, compressed air gives you the course corrections you need when the gravity of a stray asteroid pulls you a few inches away from your desired vector. Thus, the computer can aim carefully at the destination planet or moon. The ship will slip into orbit, and start making clones.
First, a mechanic. Second, a pilot. Third, a co-pilot.
The mechanic’s job is to make sure nothing is broken. He or she will monitor the tanks while more clones emerge, wet and glistening and terrified from the machine. The pilots will prepare for their landing at a spot chosen for its optimal colonization potential.
So it takes centuries to reach another planet. So what? Clones can wait in their mechanical Guff. They won’t notice a thing. They won’t get bored, or hungry, or worry about hull breeches.
If something happens to the ship, it isn’t really much of a loss. The ship isn’t that large. The clones aren’t born, yet, to be lost.
The other thing a mechanic does, while the pilots work on their perfect landing, is send back a signal to the homeworld. We’ve arrived.
Then, after landfall, the co-pilot is the one who has a moment to send back a signal. We’ve landed.
The training that the clones learned works, or not. Most people only get to send out a clone to one planet. Some – with rare genes or rare abilities – get to go to two or three.
The interplanetary colonization classes, or as the kids call them your ‘I.C. Core’ are all part of the core curriculum in college. If you pass – and passing is a requirement for graduation – you get your brain scanned upon graduation.
The best thing to do, according to the advisers, was to space out your I.C. Core throughout your major, so your clone would not have spend two years drinking and putting on Shakespearian plays with the Theatre Department between their last geological surveying course.
The mechanic path is the worst. It’s very selective. It takes five years of strict science and engineering. It’s a degree unto itself. Of course, after you graduate, you have a solid foundation in cloning and aeronautical engineering. They always make good money when they graduate.
We graduated. We had our brains scanned. My I.C. Core was in botanical engineering. I always liked gardening. When I graduated, I got a job teaching Algebra in a local elementary school. I saved up my money to buy a botanical fabricator. I filled my apartment with long vines. I shaped the branches of the vine into soft, hammock-like furniture.
When the woman who would become my wife first saw my furniture, she laughed and clapped her hands. She leaped onto the couch, and plucked a flower from a pillow, to wear in her hair.
Her I.C. Core was in Atmospherics. Later on, she took my flower pillows and turned them into her personal perfume.
We wondered – everyone did – about our clones, floating in space. We checked the progress of our ships sometimes, too. Everyone did. When we graduate, we watch for news of lift-off. We watch videos of our ship swooping around the planets for the gravity slingshot that would propel them past the Oort cloud in a dash.
After that, life moved on down here, on Earth.
I got married. My wife’s ship was destined for the habitable moons of a gas giant below a red dwarf. Mine was off to a planet like earth before the bacteria learned to produce oxygen among the protoplasmic volcanoes. We didn’t really check that often on our clones. We had you children, now. We had jobs and children and pets. Sometimes, we logged in and took a peek. Of course we did. Our clone had made it out into the open, empty places. It would be decades before any passing thing might loom in its sky.
We forget about them. Why shouldn’t we? They were just time capsules shooting through the night sky. We lived down here. We loved down here. We died down here.
When you get depressed – real depressed – that’s when you log in and check on your clone. When my wife left me after the affair, and my children weren’t speaking to me, yet. I logged in every day. I wished a better life for him.
I tried to build furniture with my botanical fabricator. My wife had taken all the furniture with her when she left me – we had normal furniture for years by then, not plants – and I needed to make furniture, anyway.
I couldn’t remember the art of it. I made malformed footstools. The hammock died within hours of birth. The couch was too weak to hold a man on the left side. The flowers of the pillows were small, and sticky, and wouldn’t last the night.
I logged in. I watched the latest blip on the starcharts, where my clone soared through the dark, to a new world, a new love, a new career.
It’s what I was thinking about when I shot myself.



I will likely return to this little journal sketch and flesh it out somewhere in space, or earth, or wherever. Some fine day. Later on. Much later on. Next year, maybe?

I don't need anyone else's story ideas. I've got plenty already.

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