Eve and Tom

Eve and Tom

Status: Finished

Genre: Science Fiction

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Status: Finished

Genre: Science Fiction

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Summary

A simple love story about a man who finds love. When love dies, man creates the essence of life and humanity is born.
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Summary

A simple love story about a man who finds love. When love dies, man creates the essence of life and humanity is born.

Content

Submitted: August 28, 2016

A A A | A A A

Content

Submitted: August 28, 2016

A A A

A A A


 

prologue

 

There are many ideas as to where we come from. Many times the reality is much more simpler than any complicated crazy theory concocted by lopsided evidence taken out of context.

With that in mind, just about anything can be taken out of context when one doesn't take the time to find the full story

chapter one

Space, for as far as instruments can sense, is huge, dark and foreboding, filled with wonder, dismissive of the foolish who venture within its domain, unconcerned by their death.

A small ship glides by, followed by another, then a dozen behind it.

Tom, short, thin but otherwise perfectly shaped, leans back and looks at natural space with deep appreciation.

"And beautiful." Tom thinks ironically.

Symbiont, a slurry of chemicals, elements and a miracle of programing, swirls throughout Tom's body as they sense each others thought patterns.

"It is a rather humbling experience for one to have to leave a galaxy." Symbiont notes without a trace sarcasm.

Tom knows enough to wait for it,

Symbiont continues, "Because it has become too small."

Tom mentally bites his tongue knowing that there is a rather large stone of truth to that statement.

As if to provide a reason for provocation Symbiont continues, "You see I find it rather ironic that . . ."

"I don't think you should finish your statement." Tom mentally yells, "Before this body gets to small for the two of us."

Tom can feel Symbiont literally retreat from his head.

It’s not often a symbiont and their host mentally separate. For most of Tom's kind the separation can very quickly lead to mental anguish and often suicide, something Symbiont is well aware of.

Returning his attention to his instruments Tom watches as a new system's sun comes into view as a warmly glowing star.

The planet closest to the sun speeds past the bottom of the viewer. As we pull away from the sun there is another planet gracefully spinning by.

As another planet, green and blue with white swirls and three moons gracing it's orbit fills the screen.

Out of habit Tom checks the scanners looking for anything that could distract him from the mental silence. His brow furrows as something different than what he was expecting shows up.

Tom’s subsequent euphoric rush of excitement brings Symbiont back.

"A planet we missed!" He blurts out loud in the ship. "How could we have missed this one?"

"This is loud enough," Symbiont pleads, "for the others to hear."

Again Tom mentally bites his tongue before quickly checking a different set of sensors.

Symbiont performs double duty of physically calming Tom's body and rummages through Tom's short term memory to find the planet readings for redisplay in his retinal receptors.

To 'help' Symbiont, Tom starts taking deep breaths in an effort to calm down.

"I wish you wouldn't do that." Annoyed at Tom for taking an active role in what is considered to be Symbionts duty.

Quickly forgetting the complaint, Tom concentrates on his present task of gathering information..

 

chapter two

 

Tom walks along the time beaten path, barely stepping aside in time to avoid getting run over by an electric car.

Leaning out the of the car the driver looks apologetic, "Sorry"

Tom smiles in return, "Sorry"

"I'm beginning to think that word has more meaning" Symbiont waxes philosophical, " . . . than I originally gave it."

"Has a strange calming effect." Tom replies as he mentally resolves to be more careful as he continues his journey,

Looking back every once in a while Tom marks his progress by how the town seems to shrink as it retreats into the distance.

For almost a week he had been in town wandering its limited number of streets, marveling at the simplicity at how the inhabitants seemed to live their lives.

One more look back Tom sees that the town is now out of sight and pauses before taking out the local newspaper, 'The New Organ' and again tries to re-read the article, again failing to finish.

Perhaps it was the alluring picture of the author, Eve FairBairn, a beautiful woman in her mid thirties, confidently looking at who ever happened to be looking at her photo in the newspaper, that drew Tom's to this town . . . planet.

Refocusing his attention Tom reassures himself that it was the intellect that went into the article that caused him to stop on this planet.

"She is beautiful?" Symbiont remarks.

Tom responds by putting the newspaper back in his inside jacket pocket before continuing in silence.

"I should be more tolerant." Symbiont says.

"Think nothing of it." Tom continues walking. "I just hope this is the right thing to do."

Symbiont monitors Tom before going into standby mode, this conversation has been played out many times already.

Tom continues walking marveling in the experience. It has been years, dare it be said, centuries since Tom had felt this . . . naked.

The crunching of the graveled road under foot, the breeze on his face, the sun . . .

Tom takes out his kerchief.

. . . that's something to get used to.”

And dabs his face of sweat again, marveling at the dampness from previous dabbing, which reminds him of Symbiont's earlier advice.

Quickly taking a small swig of 'water' from his drinking bottle, Tom looks at the half empty bottle, "Got to be careful, don't want to run out." before taking another longer drink of 'water'.

An odd stone pushes into his foot as he steps on it.

Tom almost spits out the mouth full of 'water' at the sudden new pain and forces himself to hold back his response so as to not wake Symbiont.

Slowing down to make limping easier Tom carefully puts his drinking bottle back in the pouch.

The babbling brook, running through the ditch, provides the distraction as Tom waits for the pain in his foot to subside.

Kerchief in hand Tom dabs his brow again and looks at the dampness frowning at a new thought, "What if I never stop sweating?" putting away the carefully folded kerchief, "That could get annoying."

Pain subsided, Tom is about to take the newspaper out of his inner pocket when he suddenly sees the house through the trees, right where the townsfolk said it would be.

Despite his efforts, Tom’s leap of excitement is what brings Symbiont out of standby mode who quickly takes stock of the situation and realizes that Tom is just standing still staring at the efficiently built two story house.

There is a banging sound of a hidden screen door slamming shut. A woman appears with a basket of clothes.

Symbiont increases Tom's visual abilities so he can see that it is the woman pictured in the newspaper. Tom watches as she walks to the clothes line and starts hanging out her wash.

Eve pauses looking up at the sky frowning. There is sparkling flash of bright light which can even be seen in the blazing afternoon sun.

Tom glances at the phenomena.

Symbiont retrieves the memory.

- The planet passing through the mineral trail left by a passing asteroid one hundred and thirty seven years ago.-

Mesmerized Tom takes a step towards Eve and promptly buries his foot ankle deep in . . .

Just as Eve had completely cleared Tom's mind of all else, the stream, used earlier as a distraction, now clears his mind of all else.

For the initiated, those born on a planet, this is a childhood experience that everyone remembers.

"Where is my foot?!?!"

Both Tom and Symbiont can not believe what they are seeing.

Instinctively Tom puts his other foot in the mud and they both watch as it disappear as well.

"A Trap!!"

Of the two of them Tom is the only one able to speak out loud.

Instinctively Tom makes his next step bigger, thankfully on firm ground, and is relived to see his foot still at the end of his leg, completely covered in . . .

Hoping for a repeat Tom pulls his other foot free, still attached and also covered in . . .

Having escaped the trap Tom stands triumphantly before realizing that something different as a whole new set of sensation emanate from his foot. Well, just one foot.

Puzzled, Tom looks at his foot and once again he and Symbiont can not believe what they are seeing.

There is no shoe on his foot.

What sort of device could do such a thing?

Looking at where is his foot had been stuck Tom can clearly see his one shoe protruding from the mud behind him.

Despite being several hundred years old Tom could never have imagined anything like this happening.

"Maybe if I . . . "

Reaching down Tom triumphantly pulls his shoe out of the mud with a loud sucking sound followed by a second sucking sound as he pulls his other hand, used to balance himself, out of the mud.

Surprised Tom looks at the stream, his muddy hand, then back to the stream again as realization and logic slowly replaces wild imagination.

Slowly Tom raises his hand to touch his protruding tongue.

Actually, if one were to look very close, they would see Symbiont covering Tom's tongue in a silvery coating and possibly even see tiny tentacles reach out and take a tiny sample of . . .

"Mud!"

"Yes." Symbiont uses it's best reassuring tone, "Mud."

Still unconvinced "A primitive trap?"

"It occurs naturally, a mixture of dirt and water."

Completely reassured Tom puts the retrieved shoe in the crook of his arm . . .

". . . mud"

. . . so he can wipe the mud off his hand . . .

"That was easy."

. . . onto his other hand . . . before using his pants.

Tom puts the retrieved shoe on the ground and fits his foot back in with a squishing sound.

Kerchief out, Tom dabs at his brow again, leaving streaks of mud across his face, and suddenly realizes he is folding a muddy kerchief and mentally steps back and looks at himself.

". . . I am a mess."

"A complete mess." Symbiont confirms.

"A complete mess." Tom reaffirms.

"You can't let Eve see you like this." Symbiont cautions

"You’re right, I can't . . . "

Tom suddenly remembers where he is.

Slowly looking up he sees Eve looking at him.

Just as the stream had completely cleared Tom's mind of all else, Eve’s presence completely clears Tom's mind of all else

Their eyes meet, Tom's filled with admiration, Eve's filled with . . . amusement?

Symbiont checks again.

"I was hoping . . . " Tom reaches for the newspaper and sees himself covered in mud and is reminded as to how he must look.

Not amusement, hostility maybe.” Symbiont corrects.

Tom's first instinct is to explain the situation and quickly realizes there was no known language with enough words to undo what Eve had just seen.

Closing his mouth in crushing defeat Tom turns to leave and realizes that he would have to walk through that mud again. A quick look both ways shows no other way. Symbiont works overtime to keep Tom's vitals in check, to counteract the crushing defeat leaving him with no choice but to retrace his steps.

"Not from around here?" Like a hammer striking the anvil Eve question cleave through Toms tormented mental haze.

Though, there is that split moment when Tom toys with the idea of pretending not to hear but reluctantly turns to face Eve. ". . . you said?"

"Everyone knows about my creek." Eve explains, "Keeps people out . . . "

Symbiont checks again.

". . . usually." Eve finishes.

A glimmer of hope, "Oh, so I am not the first to step in . . ?" Tom gestures not finding the right word for what he is covered in.

" . . . mud. And . . . " Eve almost smiles, ". . . you're the first."

Symbiont increases Toms visual abilities so he can see Eve relax, even allowing a smile to creep onto her face.

Tom brushes off some of the dried mud, "I would say it works."

They are silent for a few minutes.

Suddenly remembering why he is there. "Your article . . . "

Tom reaches for 'The New Organ' and sees the drying mud on his hand. Realizing that there is nothing he can do to salvage the situation.

He muddies the newspaper by taking it out.

" . . . they said you would have nothing to say." Tom shows Eve the article, "But I believe you have much to say."

Curiosity getting the best of her Eve softens her attitude towards Tom's bumbling effort.

". . . nothing to say." Eve smiles slightly amused, "Is that what they said Mr . . . "

It takes a moment for Tom to realize the unfinished statement was in itself a question.

"L'Amour, Tom L'Amour." Tom wipes his hand and offers it but retracts it when he sees how clean Eve's hands are. "That was one of the more . . . polite things they said."

Eve looks off towards town with no small amount of bitterness in her smile. "Well Mr. L'Amour . . . "

"Tom? I prefer . . . Tom."

Eve watches Tom closely, "Why are you here . . . Tom?"

Tom looks at Eve's picture which can't compare to Eve Fairbairn herself.

With a slow knowing smiles Eve continues, "Maybe my chickweed tea?"

Tom blinks confused, ". . . tea?"

"Some kind of beverage?" Symbiont offers.

Eve motions Tom an invite, "There's enough for two."

"Yes . . ." Tom grasps at the life preserver called . . . tea, " . . . that's the other thing they mentioned."

Catching Eve's wry look Tom indirectly apologizes ". . . too much?"

After few minutes with the garden hose Tom stands bare footed and mostly clean giving his clothes one more dose of water.

Standing just inside the screen door Eve pauses.

Besides the weirdest looking boxer shorts, Eve notes that Tom is a good five inches shorter than she is and frowns slightly, “Seemed much taller.” Eve thinks before shaking the thought from her mind.

Tom shakes his pants out before putting them on, completely dry.

Unable to frown more Eve looks at the clothes she is holding before throwing them onto a nearby chair.

Pushing the screen door open Eve pretends to not notice the totally clean and dry clothes but motions Tom to a chair at a table already set with a small tea pot, a single cup and other 'tea fixings'.

"I'll get a second cup." And disappears back into the house.

Tom can hear Eve move about the kitchen getting whatever was needed for . . .

Tom looks at Eve's cup, ". . . tea" in silent wonder.

"Some kind of beverage." Symbiont offers.

"You already said that."

" I would need . . . "

Eve interrupts Symbiont and Toms mental conversation. "So you came all the way out here just to see if I look like my picture?"

Tom's eyes immediately dart to the picture in the now soggy newspaper.

"No!" Tom quickly responds as he accepts the cup of tea Eve passes him.

"That would be a very . . ."

There are moments when your conscience can objectively see a life changing moment in process.

Tom sips his tea.

. . . and that moment passes.

". . . trivial thing to do."

Tom valiantly hides the fact the tea is the vilest liquid to pass his lips. He looks at his cup wondering if maybe he had something different then what Eve was contently sipping.

Eve puts down her cup, "I'm just going to get a sweater, it's been a little chilly these past few nights."

Tom nods and watches Eve enter the house again.

The door had barely slammed shut and Tom pulls out a mini probe from his watch and dips it in the tea. So quickly was the scan performed that he had time to put the probe back in the watch before Eve could return.

"So, you still haven't mentioned your thoughts on the article."

Without thinking Tom takes a sip of the tea.

"That's if you read it." Eve continues as she scoop a tiny amount of sweetener into her tea. "Oh, sorry, sweetener if you need it."

There is a brief moment of distraction as Symbiont flashes a revised meaning for the word 'Sorry' as Tom pushes the tea down his throat.

"Um, thank you." Hoping his distaste wasn't being broadcast as loud as he felt it was.

"Others say they read my article." Eve continues as she looks away.

Using the opportunity, Tom quickly scoops in three generous portions of sweetener.

"Despite the oppressive religious views of leaving your planet." Having no idea of the insult he just perpetrated Tom continues, "I was struck by your calculation of the speed necessary to make it to another planet."

Eve finishes, "That would not disprove our Gods existence."

"Mm, I read that part too." Tom tries another sip of tea and finds it a little easier to swallow.

"That's more energy of mind than most." Eve gives Tom a sideways glance.

"That's usually the part where everyone pottles off."

" . . . pottles off?"

" . . . pottles off?" Echoing Symbiont's dismay at another word not found in the local dictioanry.

Tom notes Eve gazing up at the sky as stars appear and uses the opportunity to deftly scoop in another generous dose of sweetener and tries another sip of tea.

"The action of a person who uses oppressive views to lose interest." Eve looks at the half empty bowl of sweentner and smiles.

In the following silence Tom surrenders to the idea he will never like Chickweed tea.

"Do you think anyone is out there?" Eve asks.

"Someone out there is asking the very same thing." Tom states.

Curious, Eve looks at Tom gazing at the stars. Sensing her, Tom meets her look and smiles.

Eve makes her decision, "You probably should head back to town, otherwise you'll lose the money you paid to rent the room."

And for the first time.

". . . wouldn't want the towns folk . . ."

In a long time.

". . . to waste a 'Told you so' . . ."

Tom has a reason to smile.

". . . because of me."

Symbiont sees changes never encountered before, "Would you be OK?"

Within a thick blanket of contentment Tom easily ignores Symbiont.

"I hadn't pay for tonight yet."

 

chapter three

 

Eve is sitting at the bridal table looking at the double ring that is binding two of her fingers. It had come as a surprise from Tom who, in the most romantic way, proposed at the kneeling stone.

Eve checks herself in the mirror again for the hundredth time making sure that everything was just right for the ceremony.

The bride handler, after fussing over every detail. finally tells Eve that she is ready.

Eve didn't care that the walk seemed much longer than when rehearsed but used the time to beam at those who said her controversial ideas would cause her to 'expire' a spinster.

The ceremony, short, meaningful, still had everyone curious about the frail man she was to cleave to.

And curious they would stay.

Tom and Eve deftly bypass the crowd as the couple, then as two, now as one, cross the threshold of Eve's house which Tom insisted they keep.

Day of being 13.2456

Eve, sitting at her writing desk, listens intently as Tom, in the midst of his shower, comes to a possible end of his current song.

Despite the haunting sadness and the strange language, a smile plays at the corner of Eve's lips as she returns to her last entry to reread it as she navigates the terrain of her words and feelings.

It is with joy that I take on the traditional task of binding my life to words, to mention that which I thought could never happen which has come to pass. I must admit my happiness of being within the presence of one whom I have seen to be above the mettle of all others before.

Perhaps it is but the joy filled blood that courses through my veins, or perhaps that which is just commonly called love. None the less it is I who can say 'I am the happy one'.

Day of being 45.2458

Eve sits at her writing desk that gives her an unobstructed view of her beloved approaching his task of turning the spring soil for their winters planting.

There can be no bounds to the joy that I can say is felt by both of our beings.

It has been pushed into my mind that my beloved has found even the smallest physical affliction a thing to give him reason to marvel. It was with consternation that I was thus summoned only to have him reveal that his minor affliction of pain brought joy to his being.

My beloved could easily be mistakenly accused of being a simpleton rather than the obvious joy of breath.

Day of being 57.2460

Eve is sitting at her writing desk with the 'pregnancy ' test laying within view. Eve watches the analog readout holding her breath as a quiet beep, the read out showing 'Negative'.

Eve sighs in disappointment.

I have fearsome misgiving about my standing as wife. What is it that my beloved has that prevents my role within the community as cradle of life.

Day of being 134.2468

Eve is sitting at her writing desk as she tries to find the right words to describe the past week of symposiums. Tom had been very helpful in providing ways in which to prove a theory that Eve had been working on for a while.

Can it be that my beloved is a genius without recognition? If so, how would one pass their days of being for so long without the accolades of others to sustain such wondrous thinking.

Perhaps training of such minds is different from where he has thus from. But how can such training take place without records?

. . . where is thy beloved from?

Day of being 42.2476

In the middle of the night Eve wakes to see Tom not there.

It distresses me to think that I have unioned with a non-collaborator of propagation.

Day of being 86.2479

During an event it is noted that Eve is aging faster than Tom.

It is of such sightedness that even those of whom I have never peered upon can see that I am of such homeliness when compared with the beauty of who I have unioned with.

chapter four

Tom brings in the last of the dishes and puts them in the water for washing.

Tom pauses for a moment as he watches the soap bubbles run off  his hand to reveal worked hardened calluses. A short look of wistfulness crosses his face and Symbiont, having much time to itself, reappears on the edge of his mind.

"Something amiss?"

The kettle whistles giving Tom a way to ignore the question.

Pouring two cups, adding the tea, setting them aside to steep before he continues washing the dishes.

From the kitchen window Tom can see Eve, much older but still beautiful, standing, looking up at the stars as they start appearing.

Tom pauses at the back door with the two cups steaming, a feeling a dread passing over him.

Reaching out with her cup Tom hands Eve her tea and it is only then that the age gap between them becomes obvious.

Tom finally breaks the silence. "You seem as far away as they are."

Without turning from her study of the stars Eve responds quietly.

"I can't help but notice . . . as I age . . ."

Tom closes his eyes as a look of dread clouds his face. "Healthy living, good food . . ."

The pained look in Eve's eyes as they search his face makes Tom instantly regret what he just said.

Eve goes back to studying the stars and the silence draws on.

"Do you really like Chickweed tea?" Fearing his response Eve refuses to look Tom's face fearing his answer.

Tom looks down at his cup in silence.

Eve continues, "So many times you say things, but you never 'tell' me things."

Deeply sighing Tom makes a decision and tosses his tea on the ground. Eve looks at the spot as it steams momentarily before finally looking at Tom to see his faced haunted by the pain of memory, . . . and waits.

"We perfected war to the extent it became a social pastime, with social events, that became smaller and smaller, we would talk about who killed who, and how . . ."

Tom seems stuck on a memory.

". . . what started it?" Eve asked, not for information but to help Tom continue.

"Who knows." Tom shrugs, "By the time I joined, the war was already hundreds of years on, we needed help otherwise we would . . .

Tom cups his hand and asks Symbiont to show itself.

"We developed an assistant to take care of us." Eve looks at the silvery puddle in Tom's hand somehow not shocked or surprised.

". . . it worked?" Again Eve speaks as encouragement for Tom.

The silvery puddle disappears back into his hand.

"Worked so well we decided to make the war an exclusive organization." Tom pauses looking at the stars, "18.62 billion people within a half hour."

On a planet with less than 80 million Eve is dumbfounded, "You killed . . . "

"Everyone not participating in the war. Three quarters of our population." Tom looks at Eve, "Rather ironic, find a way to live forever so that we could kill each other in a war without meaning."

"But why?"

Tom shrugs, "Why do you study?"

There is a long silence as Eve thinks. "What do you mean . . . live forever?"

Tom reaches out his hand and whispers, "Easier to show you."

Suddenly wary, Eve slowly accepts his invite.

There is a slight sound of rushing wind and they are standing on a hilltop.

Eve exhibits the mammalian reflex as she turns to see her house, lights still on, a great distance away.

Eve catches her breath thinking that there is nothing more, only to see solid rock shimmer as they walk through it and step inside a small space ship. Eve has a hard time catching her breath as she tries to take everything in.

Eve looks around, "You really should have prepared me for . . . " and pauses on seeing there are two seats.

Like a child enthralled with the aspect of having free rein at the toy store, Eve slowly sits in one of the seats beaming, ". . . why did you wait so long?"

"I figured it would be OK as long as you thought I liked your tea."

Eve takes a moment from marveling at the ship," You never did like it." smiling at Tom's puzzled look, "You used a fortune's worth of my sweetener."

Tom suddenly feels like the toddler caught in a fib.

Eve smiles knowingly at Tom, "Show me your world."

"Will be a rather disappointing trip." Tom takes his place in the pilots seat, "Seeing as we made it a monument of our destructive power over a thousand years ago."

Eve looks at Tom in breathless anticipation.

Tom shrugs as he set about plotting the course.

chapter five

Tom wakes Eve. "We're here."

Pushing herself up Eve silently winces in pain and favors her wrist.

The planet surface is shrouded in a thick brownish fog, the landscape pockmarked with huge crates, fires that somehow still burn, even after so many years.

Eve is silent as she sees the total devastation, radiation storms and moisture soaking heat waves that leave the surface parched and blisteringly hot.

Relying on instruments only Tom pilots the ship towards a destination that could only be found if known where to go. Suddenly from the brownish mist an oasis of beauty, greenery and health springs into view.

Eve is taken aback. ". . . what is that?"

"A testament of regret."

It takes a few tense moments for Tom to coach the docking system to open and allow the ship to slid in out of the devastating atmosphere. The decontamination process takes hours to complete.

Tom finally opens the door and Eve leaps ahead and enters a beautiful oasis of what Tom's world used to be like.

Eve starts wandering off, absentmindedly rubbing her wrist.

"Careful." Tom warns.

Turning with a smile Eve barely has time to jump as a tall plant seems to shift and 'lunge' at Eve, it's huge green 'jaw' snapping just missing Eve.

Completely white with fear Eve allows Tom to collect her shaking body in his arms.

"Not everything is safe here."

A wispy cloud floats towards them and form into a simulation of a face, and speaks in a very fast paced language. Tom responds in like manner.

Refusing to leave the safety of his arms, Tom looks at Eve, "Interested in learning our language?"

"It sounds like a difficult language to learn."

Tom smiles, "Just breath in the cloud, it should only take a few minutes."

Eve looks at Tom fearfully.

Not letting Eve go Tom points at the mist to reassure, "That is safe."

Tentatively Eve sniffs in the cloud.

Within minutes Eve can understand every word, the spaz of pain in her wrist forgotten.

chapter six

Back home, looking younger, Eve flexes her wrist as she stands, hidden within the shadows, wondering how she could be so lucky that she had found the only person who could give back her youth . . . literally.

Frowning at the despair and disappointment that is obvious in the soul crushing sigh and sagging of Tom's shoulders.

Suddenly Eve's heart goes out to the man she loves realizing there must be something he has not spoken of and steps into the room jolting Tom to the present.

"I'm sorry," Eve whispers.

So common the word neither Symbiont nor Tom respond to it.

Eve sits down beside Tom, "But it looked like you bear the weight of something you can't keep in."

Making no effort to hide the holographic projector, Tom relaxes and shows the simulation. that reveals a huge asteroid.

"SIMULATION".

His life, as he loves it, is coming to an end. The asteroid impacts the planet and the devastation is complete.

"IMPACT 387 CYCLES".

Eve frowns trying to understand what the implication are. Tom brushes a strand of her hair away. "My hope was to live here."

Still not understanding, "We are . . ." But there is something in Tom's face. " . . . I mean, we could come back." Eve continues.

Tom smiles at Eve's lack of understanding, "The destruction will be complete, nothing will be survive.

"We'll have our children somewhere else, doesn't have to be here."

Tom smiles in agreement, "You're right."

It is days later standing on the same hillside that Eve and Tom take one last look at their first home together. Above them, radiation pushed ahead of the asteroid, colors the sky a sickening purple.

They turn and enter Tom's ship.

Orbiting the planet from a safe distance, Tom lovingly holds Eve as they watch their home planet consumed by the violent impact.

Eve winces as the sharp pain of arthritis, an unheard of affliction, stabs at her wrist again.

Concerned, Tom looks at Eve who returns a reassuring smile.

"I apologize for the lose of your people."

Eve can't help but smile at the condolences, so clinical, calm and distant. Coming from Tom, a race of people whose sole purpose in life for the last thousand years was to try and kill another, this was the closest he could get to sympathy.

"Are not my sympathies to your liking?"

Eve draws herself up and in Toms language recites the acceptance phrase, "They are noteworthy and I accept them graciously."

Tom notes the way Eve is favoring her hand and frowns slightly, "But . . . ", dropping back to her native tongue, "It is very . . . "

"Rehearsed?" Tom subtly starts a bio scanner, "I suppose . . . "

The scan results gives cause for Tom's distraction as he gives his full attention to the troubling readouts.

Eve looks at her hand worried.

Tom's ship, pitifully small amidst the expanding debris field of a once beautiful planet, drifts slightly in the invisible currents of space.

Inside Eve, frail, thinner and ill, watches Tom as he desperately searches for something his technology was not designed to search for, the essence of life.

So much had been put into the war effort, in understanding the ability to kill, to end life that it had never occurred to anyone the need to understand the beginnings, the essence of life,

Eve's heart goes out to Tom knowing that his, tireless, unending search is for her sake and in all probability, is also killing him.

"You have given me a full life." Despite her efforts, the illness does not allow her the luxury of hiding her weakness with a strong voice.

Almost reluctantly, Tom looks at Eve as she smiles weakly, "More than I could have hoped . . . "

By her side he holds a hand that he does not recognize anymore.

"The radiation from your planet, it . . . " Tom gestures helplessly. Eve smiles weakly understanding what Tom isn't saying. It was the radiation from the planet that allowed it's inhabitants that ability to live, to have such a full life, to stay so healthy.

Despite the efforts of Symbiont, Tom is unable to stop the bleeding of his soul, "What will I do . . . without you."

"I'm sure someone else is asking the same . . ."

It takes several moments for Tom to realize that Eve will never finish her sentence and for the first time in centuries, that small place deep in his being a rage starts to boil and seethe and emotions roar to full life.

Tom collapses unconscious as Symbiont pinches an area of his brain deemed off limits.

Being unconscious had only been for a moment but for days Symbiont has remained hidden in the darkness, not daring to come out of the recesses of Tom's body for fear of what would happen.

Barely visible through the helmet lens Tom is a mask of calm, years of training and practice keeping his emotion intact and held together by fierce power of will.

"Please, you can come out." Tom wills the words into Symbiont, "You are all I have left."

Curiosity getting the better of it, Symbiont peers out and realizes that Tom is floating in space holding a shrouded body.

"I want you to help with these last rites." Tom pleads.

For a long moment both Tom and Symbiont look at the center of the disaster area as he slowly pushes the shrouded body towards it.

Symbiont swirls around Tom's body, programming not designed to deal with this situation, and something changes. Changes so profound, so different that even Tom senses a difference.

". . . I am sorry . . . "

Understanding crashes through Tom's frail conscience.

" . . . I am so . . . "

Understanding smashes through the centuries old barrier releasing the . . . 'other' part of his brain

". . . sorry . . . "

Confused Symbiont Swirls around Tom's body. How could these changes happen? How could programming, stable for so long suddenly rewrite itself.

Symbiont suddenly stops swirling and looks at the shrouded body drift towards what was once her home.

Like Tom, Symbiont finally understands and the last bits of code are rewritten.

Through Toms emotional anguish Symbiont hears the roar of what it is beginning to understanding.

It's so simple . . .

"Life"

chapter seven

Purpose.

What has started as desire has now turned to purpose

That one simple word can do so much to change a persons life, point of view, direction.

Tom sits in his seat, looking younger, as he studies the remnants of a destroyed home, a destroyed planet, a marble, broken open to reveal a hidden truth just waiting to be discovered

The inside of the ship is different in it's clutter, filled with new technology used to pry open the secrets of life, each piece of equipment breaths new life into Tom as he formulates and computates, as formulas and equations flash across multiple monitors and readouts.

The answer is cause for joy that even Symbiont can celebrate.

Life.

A goal, a destination, a direction.

Purpose.

. . . but first a helping hand.

His back to what was once his home Tom is once again floating in space and with a small ceremony releases a small gangly robot into the void.

"I have designed you, given you purpose and now breath life into you."

The robot jolts 'awake' and, as a newborn, struggles for a few moments before finding it's 'feet'.

"And I shall give you the name Forste."

Time alone is a witness to the passing of years, turning to decades, to centuries as hordes of Curators of every imaginable design and complexity swarm the system as they mine huge fragments of the destroyed planet, as they smelt, manufacture pieces and parts that encircle Tom's ship.

Tom sits stoically in his seat as the moon sized sphere is built around him.

The outside of the Eve Machine looks featureless and smooth, except for one area that is a tangle of machinery and technology.

Looking at the picture of Eve saved from the newspaper Tom boldly states "I promised you eternal life and now, I shall give everyone life from you."

The huge moon sized sphere drifts over a, lifeless planet. A pillar of green light streaks down to the surface.

Once again we are witness to the passing of years, centuries, eons as the planet comes to life, vegetation, animals and finally humans.

 

chapter eight

 

The interior surface of The Eve Machine is vastly different, honey combed with gargantuan enclosed terrarium that team with exotic life.

A collection maintained with pride, or just biological samples of the many worlds seeded?

To answer that we must journey up to the center of the Eve Machine to the end of a long platform that ends at what is left of a small ship, where Tom stands gazing at all that he has built.

From the inside pocket of his coat Tom pulls out an old newspaper already opened to the picture of Eve Fairbairn.

"My final gift to you."

Tom symbolically turns the picture of Eve toward what he gazes upon so they can watch together.

Behind him on the control panel as if by magic, a new key uncurls, like a fresh new leaf and laying itself among the other control keys.

The keyboard is now complete.

After years of labor, planning and building Tom is ready.

He places a picture of a child and presses the new key.

. . . nothing . . .

Confused, querying, Tom looks around, ". . . nothing?"

Unlike evolution, creation is different, hidden, not what Tom expected.

Despite the years of building new life and creating the nearly impossible, it is the genetic response of centuries of war that causes Tom the miss the little spark of life.

How much time passed before Tom closes his eyes in defeat, Symbiont did not measure.

For the second time in a thousand years Symbiont sense a change within it's programming.

"I am sorry . . . ." Symbiont whispers softly.

The newspaper falls from Tom’s hand.

Tom looks dejectedly at the blank monitors, "There is nothing that you can say."

Symbiont retreats to the outer recesses of Tom's mind and waits.

 

chapter nine

 

There is a rare plant that Tom's people know about, a plant that does not grow in nature but has to be coached and cultured, and drawn into being.

The knowledge of this plant is kept hidden, deep in the farthest recess of the mind, farther than the vault that held his emotion in check for centuries, where even Symbiont could not go.

Carefully Tom steps off the hover cart into one of the terrariums completely void of all life but for a small patch of ground that Tom now tediously works.

Pausing, Tom looks up at the platform in the middle of The Eve Machine.

Desperately lonely Symbiont peers from the recess of an equally lonely mind, shocked to see how much Tom has aged. With old, but steady hands, Tom wields the mini hand held laser as he carves an intricate looking cane.

Taking a moment, Tom holds it up admiringly, "A cane fit for a beloved companion."

Slowly Symbiont climbs up into the clear, coherent mind of someone with a new purpose.

To Symbiont the design and purpose of the cane is clear in it's use. and a sense of sadness floods through Symbiont's being.

"And this is . . ." Symbiont can't bring itself to say the words, " . . . your decision?"

Tom almost has a moment of regret but it quickly passes. "You will live on, you will do more, possibly even tells stories of me."

The traditions Tom refers to, never spoken of but still known, is enough for Symbiont to end the conversation as he withdraws to 'get ready'

"You will live on." more to himself, "You will live on." Tom repeats before continuing his work on the cane.

From a short distance away Forste watches as Tom, looking even more frail, uses his new cane to approach the small plot of dirt.

"Ah, you are ready." And pulls a small plant out of the ground, careful to avoid the small hissing mouth that tries to bite him.

Forste carefully encases the plant into a special pot and waits for Tom, who speaks to the plant, "You, my friend, shall be a reminder to all that life, not only has an ending, but also a beginning."

Tom turns, almost forgetting his cane.

Forste reaches to pick up the cane.

"NO!" Tom draws himself up to his full height. "You are not to touch this."

Tom picks up the cane, holding it lovingly. "Only one is worthy of this."

Tom peers up at the platform, eyesight already starting to fade.

Forste suddenly wakes from standby mode and beeps an alarm.

Tom continues his heavy breathing, indicating deep sleep.

Forste beeps the alarm again, louder now as hearing, as well as sight, has begun a rapid deterioration.

Groggy but awake Tom, looking all of his forty one hundred years, peers at his plant, now placed in a pot closer to his command chair. It has lost it's luster and hisses less when Tom, now confined to his platform, carefully pulls a petal off and lays it on his tongue.

In an effort to keep from thinking about what he is doing, Tom hobbles to the edge of his platform.

Despite not actually being able to clearly see his collection of life quietly living their lives in terrariums, it still makes Tom happy, giving him the sense that he has come full circle.

The leaf, dissolved and coursing through his bloodstream, causes Tom to lean on his cane as waves of pain wash over him. A silvery liquid gushes out of his hand and runs down the cane freezing into the intricate design.

Feeling light headed Tom recovers from the effects of the leaf and suddenly wishes he could have lived his life as those in the terrariums far below.

In complete oblivion.

Forste, always close by now, carefully 'hands' Tom the elegantly engraved box.

Lifting it almost to his face Tom takes a final look at the engraved picture of the child before smiling.

Painfully and careful beyond all measure Tom slides off his command chair, grunting at Forste's attempt to help. Tom puts the box down just within the ring of light.

Beyond the ability to feel any kind of joy, Tom doesn't even bother to look out over his creation.

Stooped and using a beautifully ornate silver cane, Tom hobbles back to his command chair and pauses, slowly turning and for a long time peers in the direction of the box just inside the ring of light.

Despite being almost blind Tom can still make out the darker blur of the box.

With a sudden change of heart, Tom slowly hobbles back to carefully move the box just outside the ring of light.

Hobbling back Tom doesn't realize that Forste helps him back into his command chair where he carefully hangs the cane on the arm of his chair.

Staring at the cane, a bright glow in his ever waning sight, Tom changes his mind and hangs the cane on the table. Only someone who would understood the purpose of the cane would see the drops of blood evaporate off the intricate silver design.

The last of his strength waning Tom deliberately reaches for the second last petal from the plant and with a shaking hand lays it gently on his tongue and holds it there for a second before closing his mouth.

There is a slight frown of pain as he closes his eyes.

For a long time Forste watches Tom laying still barely breathing.

With great effort he opens his eyes and slowly turns to look at the carefully placed box.

"My love . . ." Tom whispers, "My child . . . "

He smiles gently as he closes his eyes.

His hand relaxes it's hold on the note and picture he is holding.

 

Epilogue

 

At this point time has no meaning and the depths of space is common knowledge. It should be of no surprise that something can exist where logic tells you there should be nothing.

The form of a small baby floating in a violet sea enclosed in a capsule floating in space.

Close by Sentinel hovers, protecting a spark of life, where life should not be.

THE END

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 


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