Chapter 1: Re-entry

… 2 days ago in Outer space …

The first inkling of danger tingles like a feather against my cheek while I sleep. I bolt awake from hibernation-mode as alarms sound.

A great blue marble surrounded by the empty black depths of outer space appears in front me. Earth! I hadn’t expected it so soon.

This is a huge problem because I’m currently travelling at nearly the speed of light, awakening from sleep mode will take a few seconds … by then it will be too late. I am set for a direct impact.

Buffeting. Shaking.  Increasingly out of control. My vision dims and consciousness fades as all my power is diverted to shields and reverse thrusters.

… 45 seconds pass …

My consciousness reboots followed a few seconds later by my vision. My eyelids are full of grit. It’s sandpaper as I open them. Everything is pitch-black. I lie, confused. Dust and rocks rain down upon me, clanking and clanging.

With difficulty, I use my arms to push myself over onto my back with a thud-crunch.

Feeling the sun’s familiar warmth on my skin, I begin to evaluate the damage from impact. Most of my systems are only partially operational, but my memory has been damaged. I can’t remember what day or time it is, or where I am. A feeling of panic creeps over me … Oh no!! How will I be able to complete my mission?

I try to sit up. My head is heavy. My mind spins like a dreidel.

Looking around, I see that I am in the base of my own impact crater. It is about 100 feet deep. Twisted roots and shattered tree trunks lie strewn about. 

Fires smolder around me. Smoke wafts across the crater.

I move my legs slowly and they snap and crack into place. I feel dazed and confused.

Bobbing and rocking, I try to stand. My legs collapse and I drop like a rock.

…48 hours pass…

I wake up.

I am passing in and out of consciousness. I am lying in a bed covered by a warm and fluffy blanket.

The sun is streaming through the window. Birds call. Water gurgles. I am startled to see a portly figure with a big bushy head of red hair, and a shining nose, sitting on a chair across from my bed.

“How are you doin’? You were very nearly killed by an asteroid. I found you near the base of the impact crater. I thought you were dead at first, but when I came closer I felt a faint pulse.

“You’ve been unconscious for two days. We brought you to our house. You can take a shower if you’d like. I’ve left some clean clothes for you on the dresser here. When you’re ready, come downstairs.

“Oh, by the way, I’m Gardener,” they say, approaching and shaking my hand.

Gardener’s eyes have yellow retinas, which almost seem to glow.

“Thanks,” I say with a wheeze and a cough—my first word in eons. “I’m Hope.”

Gardener smiles, saying, “Welcome Hope,” before bowing and leaving the room.

Dropping my legs one by one onto the floor, I haltingly make my way to the washroom.

A large set of windows on one side of the room look out to a gently blowing canopy of trees. Dappled sunlight pours in.

Above me a shower head hangs from the ceiling in the middle of the room. Warm water flows immediately. The drops glint and sparkle in the light.

After what might have been a decade, I shut off the shower and dry myself with a soft linen towel. The clothes that Gardener left are piled on the dresser beside a blown-glass pitcher of water and two porcelain cups.

The clothes smell faintly of cedar and sage. Some of the garments have embroidered patterns around the cuffs and seams. Much love and labour has been invested in each item.

Looking around as I get dressed, I note wooden columns and beams holding a ceiling carved with intricate patterns and shapes reminiscent of plants.

The walls are a delicate plaster, painted with vines of green ivy and scenes of the journey of an explorer through a land of monsters and giants.

Overall the room is spare and empty of furniture or decorative items. I can see where the wall meets the floor. I can see the corners of the room where two walls meet the floor.

Even though it is simple, it is complete, harmonious. Those few things which are in the room have the patina acquired by generations of loving, daily use. They are sturdy, elegant, durable, essential, and useful.

A small bench sits below the open window. The curtains billow. Dappled sunlight pours in. I walk closer to look out.

The first thing I notice is the roof to my right. It is covered in a dense mat of plants, herbs, and flowers. I see white, red, purple, and yellow blooms.

A puff of wind carries the refreshing smell of cilantro past me.

Off to my left is the roof of a long, low, single-story building. On the other side is a porch with large columns. 

A group of four people come into view carrying scythes and shovels. They wear long tunics, sturdy high leather boots, wide fabric belts, and hats of different shapes and colours. 

In the middle of the courtyard is a bed of vegetables and greens. A few people are harvesting herbs and vegetables.

One person, wearing a dark brown tunic, with turquoise belt, exclaims loudly and pulls a truly giant carrot from the ground, brandishing it like a trophy.

I hear the clamour of bells and distant barking. Well beyond the house is a forest. Patches of sunlight show grass and herbs beneath the trees. 

A herd of sheep comes into view. A few hundred pass before a motley pack of shaggy white dogs appear. The dogs play with each other, roaming around, exploring, smelling, foraging, and managing to keep the sheep together and safe from predators. 

A minute or two later, a trio of shepherds walks into view. Even from this distance I can hear their loud banter. Behind them walks a half-dozen donkeys with saddlebags.

I am distracted as two butterflies with vermillion and violet wings flutter onto the balcony railing in front of me.

A hummingbird zooms past, followed hotly by another. Maybe they are fighting over the red trumpet flowers on the vine hanging over the porch in the courtyard?

A stream flows by the house, over a water wheel, and into a small pond. Even from this distance, I see fish as flashes of silver at the surface. A flock of ducks waddles into view and launches itself into the stream. 

… an aside …

Before we get too far into the story there is something you should know about me, dear Reader. 

I am an Android. 

I was created not from the loins of people, but by their minds and hands.

I was created, for one purpose: to find a replacement Earth in case humanity kills the first.

Since my creation and launch into space, I have travelled many gazillion of light years and landed on thousands of earth-like planets. On each planet I explored the chemistry, geography, flora, and fauna. Asking myself, is this a suitable replacement for Earth? Could this be Planet B?

That is why I am back! I have found a replacement! I have found Planet B! To complete my mission I need to share the coordinates with my Mom. 

Yet, the Earth outside this window seems very different from the Earth which I departed. I remember a world on the brink of collapse. Earth on track to be a parched desert and putrid sea, full of jelly fish. Yet … Outside this window I see a lush, abundance. A feeling of harmony is in the air. Could this really be Earth? And even if it is really Earth, but my memory does not recover, how will I be able to complete my mission?

I start to panic. Maybe I can try to orient myself. Once I have found out where I am, then I can make my way home to Mom.

The thought of mom calms and re-assures me … I’m sure she will be able to restore my memory. She created me after all.

But now … hm … I am a worried again. The world outside this window seems so very different. The  feeling of worry blossoms into out-right panic. I get light-headed and begin to hyper-ventilate.

Laughter rises from downstairs.

I take a deep breath, steady myself, and decide to head downstairs to investigate.

Read the rest of the Story

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Utopia: A Permacultural Vision eBook (PDF & EPUB)

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  • 186 pages in 16 chapters
  • 2 diagrams explaining core concepts
  • Bibliography with recommended readings
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