Chapter One – The Earthly Planet
The room was filled with chairs, each of them occupied by a well-respected news journalist from various parts of the world. There wasn’t an overload of people since we didn’t want to frighten the guest. We had no idea how he would take to a bunch of faces staring back at him. We knew each other’s faces of course due to press releases, but enclosing us all in a small room was likely to be uncomfortable for the visitor. Besides, they would inevitably all ask the same questions anyway, in many ways; as was customary and typical.
“Well, here’s what I can tell you for the time being.” The short stranger sat into a chair carefully, allowing his very thin, almost ribbon-like legs to stretch out beyond the edge of the seat. He pulled in a long breath, making his chest rise several inches outward, pretty much like a balloon blowing up. The odd part of it was, it didn’t go back down as he exhaled, he remained fully blown up. It didn’t seem like he was even breathing, just full of air like a bullfrog.
It was easy to tell that he was trying to accommodate us with his delivery as well as his calmness. I was pretty sure that his opening statement was an effort to humanize his speech pattern, having talked to him several times since he came to the offices here.
“Many centuries ago, the crust of the Earth formed a hard spot, a lump if you will, that was roughly continent-sized. It was an oddity that floated in the masses of gases trying to form some kind of land mass over the top of the sub-layers below. They kept us separated from the gasses and heat below our island of land. I almost giggled when he said, “masses of gases”, knowing that it was a deliberate attempt to ease us with a bit of humor, an illiteration perhaps. I giggled the first time he had said it and had to explain my reaction. While it didn’t cause him to smile, he noted that several of us in the back room had reacted to it.
“This formation was solid for many many eons. It was a fluke, a hard lump that moved about in the lava of molten rock and wafting poisonous gases that didn’t allow any kind of life either above it or below. This was temporary, but on a Universal scale of course. We are talking about millions of years where there was absolutely no notable change.
“Of course it did change. Just as the earliest glob of pre-life eventually established itself for your current human existence, it happened millions of years ago also, maybe millions of centuries. I would have to check my records.
“About how long would you say that was approximately?” I asked, hoping for some range in the hundreds of centuries. I worried that it wouldn’t be possible for the stranger to be exact, after using a term like ‘glob’ before. But once again, he was probably attempting to pacify us with our own language.
“Oh, I couldn’t do that. We don’t deal in approximations. We can find out exactly, as near as we have calculated it out so far, but we don’t give half thought out answers.” He looked at us with his large eyes widened, we could see his hope in them that we could accept his lack of an answer. He hesitated, then began again. I still couldn’t help being confused with his need for exactitude right after using a non-homologous term for life just before.
“The similarities between our civilizations are very similar, at least for the first four million years or so of each of our evolutions.” The rest of us looked at each other, then at the thin man telling us that we were similar. It was hard to imagine that our paths had ever crossed, but we let him continue. He did have two arms and two legs after all.
“We lived many years longer than your current civilization, the Earth Island evolving nearly identically to the current planet.” He stopped to gauge our reaction. So far we hadn’t changed much in our millions of years. Our jaws hung open in a perpetual droop. We had to accept that he knew what he was talking about because of his obvious superiority in terms of years and the addition of their space travel as well, but it wasn’t making total sense to us late-comers.
“As with this current structure of land masses, it was temporary on a universal scale. It wasn’t pollution, or even atomic weapons, which by the way, were hardly large enough to change the structure of the land masses anyway. Not even our island or rock.” He added quickly.
“Instead, the floating island of rock, our continent, began disintegrating. We lost a million soles in one disastrous collapse of an ocean shore. Economically, it ruined the whole structure of society. Between everyone who was affected directly by someone, or many who perished, the world was dropped into a world-wide status of depression. People died daily due to everything from suicide, to starvation because they just didn’t feel like eating or living. Most of the society died one way or another. Many who had any social consciousness at all simply grieved themselves to death.”
“What were left were the highly motivated scientist types who never had a social aspect of their lives in the first place. They were affected of course, but they dove into their work at an accelerated level, pushing anything else out of heavily-focused minds. It also resulted in a limitation in the number of people that could be affected by their abilities and discoveries. This also created new opportunities as well, such as the lack of having to make decisions about who would stay, or who would go.”
Finances were not a concern after having half of the population dying and leaving their share behind, another half of that going into a kind of life-denying somatic state and not requiring money or possessions other than to take care of their minds and bodies.
He hesitated, I think to give us a break in our swirling minds. I looked at the alien chest to discover that it had collapsed back to a somewhat normal level. As it expanded once again, I thought that this was probably the real reason for his pause. It bothered me to keep thinking of the swelling up of a bullfrog in comparison, but I couldn’t help seeing the similarities. Even more insulting, I began thinking of all the old space movies where the aliens were some kind of reptilian life form.
“Well, over the next few thousand years.., or so.” I noticed he looked up at us, wondering if we caught his effort at appeasing us by allowing less than absolute precision in his thoughts by adding, ‘or so’. His hesitation before it was very obvious. “There were many more calamities around our tippy landmass.” He sat up suddenly, startled at something he had remembered.
“Oh, I forgot the mention the effect of the first extreme disaster.” Missing the chronological order was not pleasing to him, almost painful. His agitation cause him to spring to his feet. He nearly fell headlong until he suddenly lifted his arms straight into the air and seemed to balance himself. We waited for him to continue, hoping some of his exact details would be passed over so that we might advance with his history lesson. We also hoped it would occur before he collapsed on the floor from either a lack of balance or a lack of strength to survive in our gravity.
“The collapse cause a wave never witnessed earlier, and probably had never happened before. It took out millions of people living on the other end of our landmass. This pattern continued while it tipped back and forth, clearing out population after population on various shores as it dipped around and around, diminishing slowly. This continued due to collapse of more land on all the edges of our world crumbling from the tsunamis send all around the world several times, causing more and more death. The possibility of the island sinking like the rock that it was, was very probable.
This of course was followed by suicide on a societal level, entire groups, that you might call countries, killing themselves in various disguises. Some claimed starvation due to shut down of life sustaining services, others became cults of death that enacted mass suicidal pacts, which were successful. No one knew if they should even try to stop them. There was talk of developing nuclear warheads that could be aimed at themselves, clearing an entire continent in a single instant.
It was also discovered that part of the problem was within our heads. Our sense of balance was being eroded as we tipped and dipped back and forth daily, crashed downwards during earthquakes, and swayed with the waves as they rippled across the land. It was fortunate in only one respect. We came to conquer our future space sickness fairly quickly on, the continual motion to keep our ship in place from firing rockets didn’t bother us any longer after a century or two.
Seeing us getting antsy at his telling of the various cities succumbing to this disaster, he paused and deciding to alter the topic a little for our comfort. It was actually a sense of relief and some excitement to hear about their spaceship planet, but he misread our expression. No one wanted to interrupt him, just to correct his perception.
“Our rock was destroying itself along the edges. We began noticing some very unsettling vibrations that ran from shore to shore. Whole cities were getting physically sickened by some kind of motion affecting the very balance system within our brains. This itself created another mass of self-induced deaths. Our scientist remnant was determined, in the center of the landmass, and everyone was urged to move inland. A little to one side of course, as the exact center was a very large depression that would likely fill up with water during one of the pivots. A small mountain range was being eroded, and when it happened it would be a short time before the area was flooded. We fully expected the Island to sink from the weight as quickly as this happened.
By the end of the night, even our excitement couldn’t keep up with the information we were receiving, the analysis we were giving it, doubts about its truth, its accuracy, and the numerous other things that could be thought about. As a group, we practically fell asleep in front of our extraterrestrial guest. He was disappointed, but understanding as well. Scientific seminars had never passed along this much information in a single evening. He expected that there may have been a change in his brain through the millions of years they had been living in space, waiting for this return home. Probably making it more efficient as well as having more capacity as far as concentration over much longer periods.
“With the closing in of our shorelines, our pimple in the middle of vast and increasing seas was experiencing the wobble. With the right wave hitting us, it could upright the whole mass in a single tipping, similar to a ship going down at sea. An end tips, and then it breaks in the middle and falls off into the sea. There would be no hope for the remaining piece of land to survive the resulting wave as it washed over and eliminated everything down to the mantle. “
“With our advanced instruments, we determine the precise date that this would occur by measuring all depths of land, the circumference of the planet, fractures already in the land, and several other determining factors, the least of which being weather.” Planetary positioning had more of a consequence to us than the weather over the whole of the planet.
Chapter Two – The Spaceship Planet