Tuesday, November 23, 2021

Microstory 1762: Pegasus Fountain

I’ve lived alone on this world for the last fifteen years. Actually, if we’re talking about the time it takes for the planet to orbit its host star, then it’s been 38, but I can’t get used to using any other calendar than the one I grew up with on Earth. Our world was dying, and our civilization crumbling, so we were sent to look for a new one. We weren’t trying to save everyone, but our species. Only the peaceful would be allowed to migrate, while the rioters and warmongers stayed behind to fight amongst themselves. Our ship crashed here, and I was the only survivor, so I don’t know whether any of the other scouts were successful. I can only hope, but it’s entirely possible that I am the last human in the entire universe by now. I’ve spent my time here doing what I do best, which is building things. I started with a Columbarium, so I could lay my comrades to rest, but I didn’t stop there. I constructed cages to trap the albibirds, which is the only source of meat available. It would be crazy if only one animal species lives on this whole planet. They don’t act omnivorous, but perhaps they hunted everything else to extinction long before I showed up. I’ve traveled great distances by now, but not everywhere. My helicopter has a short range, and I don’t like to venture too far from home, so it’s not like I’ve been able to cover the entire planet. That changes today. I finally fixed the ship. Well, I didn’t so much as fix it as I took it apart, and built a brand new ship from the wreckage. It’s much smaller than the one we took to get here, but since it only needs to accommodate me, that shouldn’t be a problem. It’s not fast enough to reach Earth—or any of the other candidate settlements—in any reasonable amount of time, but it’s much better at handling atmosphere, and that’s all I really need.

The protium harvesters worked, and the fusion reactor is operational. It would be great if I discovered how little of the surface I’ve truly explored, and the rest of it is lush with vegetation and game. It will be sad, of course, leaving the cremains of my friends behind, but I have to focus on myself now. Either I’m on a desert planet, or I just happened to end up in a desert on a normal planet, but no matter what, I have to know the truth. I spend months surveying the land, searching for anything better than what I started with, but there’s nothing. There’s no ocean, no mountain ranges...certainly no signs of animal life, let alone intelligence. The computer generates a map for me, and I start to see a bigger picture. It is all desert, with oases scattered throughout, and not randomly either. They’re equidistant from each other, which is the most bizarre thing I’ve ever seen. It makes no sense; nature would not distribute them so evenly. Then the computer spots something even weirder, so I drop down to check it out. It’s another oasis, but it’s unlike any other. In place of a more natural-looking well, there’s a gigantic fountain; probably larger than anything made on Earth. It’s the only sign of evolved life I’ve found on this rock. It’s filled with statues of creatures I’ve never seen before, spewing water out of their orifices, but I’m drawn to their eyes, which seem intelligent. I think each represents an evolved alien species. The largest one in the center looks eerily like a pegasus from Earthan mythology. It’s uncanny, really, the horse and its wings. That’s when I notice that I actually do recognize one of the statue creatures, standing proud below the pegasus. It was carved in the form of a human, but not just any human. It’s me. It looks exactly like me. Then a real pegasus flies down from the sky to greet me.

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