I lived in a Quadrant close to the Earth. For centuries we had been close enough to view the unfolding history of that world but no one was allowed to go there. It was touted as one of the most beautiful places in the galaxy. It was carbon based and hosted many life forms. But though it was possible for most things to survive in its atmosphere it was considered a class R planet.
As a child I wondered what the classes meant. No one ever explained it to me that I could remember. They would just drop planet classes at the drop of a hood. It didn’t take long though as I got older to understand there was no mystery in the classes. L class meant livable, and these were worlds at maturity that we could visit and explore. U class were unstable, and though they were not forbidden to venture to, they were not considered safe because their environment was unpredictable. I class were inhabitable, mostly uncharted but wild, untamed places explorers and the like dreamed to go. But the R class planets had only two categories, uninhabitable and restricted access.
The reasons why the Earth had been R classified were due to the nature of its inhabitants. They had a fear of things being different, despite the fact that on a scientific level their Specia had no differences. They were chemically, biologically, and genetically the same. They competed or should I say fought among themselves about everything. Their inability to exist without conflict sparked many wars, a great deal of which were about the Earth itself. It was always a surprise to me in my studies that they could fight so vehemently over something they didn’t give a lot of care to, polluting and destroying it’s atmosphere in as many ways as possible.
We had had wars in our history, many more than centuries ago but it had not taken us long to discover that it did not promote the advancement of our Specia and we found other ways to resolve our differences. When we discovered a member of our civilization who could not or would not consider a more amicable solution, as punishment they were sent to Earth. The beautiful, inviting, livable, planet was merely a prison for us.
It was considered an offense to simply speak of wanting to go there. Not a punishable offense, but really who would want to go to prison. Unfortunately as a young adult I was enamored of the planet’s charm. I fantasized about the feel of the blue waters, and dreamed what it would be like to attempt survival in it’s different climates. I marveled how they survived ingesting other matters, or eating as it was referred to, and wonder how the same process could both sustain and kill them. My parents were concerned about my fascination and cautioned me that no good could come of fantasizing about prison. I was sure to end up there.
There the possibility of survival diminished to a percentage for our Specia that was less than calculable. You see, there we had to live with something that did not exist on our planet, Fear. Not just the type of fear caused by the unknown but also fear of the known, and fear of being discovered. Many human beings were afraid of things they did not understand. Things like that died horrible deaths even when it was something as insignificant as a different culture. They were also afraid of things that were known so they kept many relevant truths secret, and used the lack of that information as a tool to oppress each other. But the fear of being discovered was the greatest of these fears for members of our Specia. Discovery meant scientific experimentation, exploitation, torture and often sudden death.
Of course while I was fantasizing about what being there was like, I had no knowledge of these things and felt my parents were over exaggerating. Of course I learned quickly during preparation to travel there that it was considered one thing to dream or talk of going there and yet another to actually plan. This was considered an act of planetary discord. In the language of earth, it might be considered treason. I was tried, convicted and sentenced to five Earth rotations. My parents were sad, but I was clueless and excited.
The trip there for our ships took the better part of months but it could have been days and I would still have been overwhelmed with the anticipation of arrival.
My companions, 2 other of my own Specia, a Hybrid, and a Visitor spoke openly of the horrors of the planet. One claimed to have falsely been convicted, which didn’t happen on our world, falsehood would be a punishable offense in itself, in which case the person who accused him would be sitting next to him. The other claimed he had escaped and been sent back, and was even now trying to devise a plan to avoid being left there again. The Hybrid had heard stories of humans and was concerned that he would be victimized simply because of his appearance. Color seemed to be an issue that they could not get past. I did not speak. It was hard to explain that I had wanted to go there.
The Visitor, looked at us strangely.
“I understand what it is that you fear. I have been a human being on occasions. I have studied their history, their behaviors, their science, and even their lifestyles and have come to the conclusion that they will destroy themselves and everything they touch. I had once hoped to help them, to teach them, to save them, but have learned it my studies that it cannot be done. They do not want to survive.”
I looked at the Visitor amazed. “How could a Specia not want to survive?”
“You will see when you get there. Hopefully you will not have to stay for long. If you do, I can’t guarantee you will survive the experience.”
* * *
That was more than four years ago Earth time.
At landing I had been left in the dark. Those that greeted me neither restrained nor confined me. They handed me a fist full of planetary currency, and told me I was on my own. I was given a primitive computing device, an antiquated communications device, and a map from my own quadrant. I was told I would have to guard that it was never discovered.
When I discovered that they valued currency over even the lives of their fellow beings, I was careful not to exhibit possession of any. Though I was physically superior, I was equally vulnerable to damage by their primitive weapons. Having none, I learned quickly to avoid areas where one might be deemed necessary. My map indicated these areas. Though small areas seemed safer, large locals proved to be more liberal and that made it possible for me to survive more easily. Not that it was easy.
I had no history, no checkable references, no identification, and despite having lots of currency, the people of Earth were not trusting. So instead I used my computer to create myself an identity, establish necessary credentials, and secured myself gainful activity hoping to do my time undetected. I watched media and found the Shawshank Redemption amusing as from my prison, there was no escape.
I managed the first two years learning, trying to enjoy the surrounding, but people were miserable and made it difficult. I now understood exactly what the Visitor had meant when he said they didn’t want to survive. They did not understand that survival had to happen as a unit, which meant everyone. If one part of the Specia failed, all parts were at risk. But they did not want all parts to survive. They were not interested in the survival of all parts. When I discovered this, it changed the way that I interacted with the humans.
Sometimes in attempts to help, people became inquisitive about my ability to help with such meager resources. At the beginning of my third year it was necessary for me to relocate to avoid discovery. A small child had played with my map, questioning, “Why do you keep that broken Etch a sketch?”
“It is not broken,” I replied, “I just need to touch it, and it displays what I wish.”
The child deeming it magic enthusiastically shared the information with her father, who showed up at my door. Not willing to present the device to him in order to debunk his child’s misconception, he became suspicious and threatened to call the authorities.
I had gotten too relaxed, and reminded myself I was not staying here permanently. If I lived, I was returning to my own galaxy. If this world was going to survive, they would have to want to save themselves. I packed my belongings and moved immediately. When their authorities arrived, the domicile was abandoned.
I have since traveled the entire surface of the planet searching for even one human being who cares about the planet. I have met many, but the masses do not listen to them. My time here grows short, less than 4 lunar rotations and my ship will return for me. I stay near to the drop off point and have discovered that it is monitored frequently and may be difficult to depart from. I secured the necessary credentials to proceed to the location unmolested, and wondered what they would do when the ship actually arrived there.
As I entered the gated area, I looked around in trepidation. I had expected the authorities to prevent my passage. I had thought there would be guards with weapons, but as I approached I was greeted by the Visitor, he reached for my hand and shook it. “Fear not,” he said, “I have arranged for your passage, and there will be no difficulty. Your redemption is at hand.”
I responded, “I have been bombarded with fear of everything and am not certain when I arrive home if I will be able to ever live without fear again, but one thing is certain, I have had to rethink my thoughts in regard to redemption. Here from fear, attempts to escape are futile.”
R Class Redemption © DJuna Blackmon 2014, All Rights Reserved