Jaren stopped at sight of a hand extended from the earth. It was holding a book. “One point in their favor. They read.”
“But obviously,” Sem said, sniffing, “they didn’t think, or they’d still be here. Their world would not have ended.”
“Their world is fine. What ended was them.” He bent and peered more closely at the cover. “Tom Sawyer. Are you familiar with this work?”
“Never heard of it.”
Jaren gingerly touched the bok, then stroked the blue hand. “It’s a statue, I think.” Standing, he kicked leaves and dirt over the thing. “Not human.” For a brief moment, he’d hoped… well, the moment had been brief. There hadn’t been humans on E19 for forty thousand years.
“Oh. Well then, who cares?” Sem looked away. “At least there are trees again, and the plants seem to be making a comeback. I wonder how Tee and Su are doing with the oceans? Last time we were here, they were highly acidic and devoid of anything but single-cell organisms.”
They’d been sent to see how much this Earth had improved since their last visit. A long time ago, it had suffered sudden massive climate change and been removed from the list. Some on the council wanted it put back on. The debate had stupidly raged for several hours, and in the end, a task force had been assembled and told to check it out. Jaren and Sem had been assigned the large land mass formerly known as North and South America. Tee and Su had been given the oceans. Three other teams were investigating the remaining land masses.
“No birds yet,” Jaren noted.
“Maybe there won’t be birds this time around. Maybe they’ll get something entirely new in the evolutionary crap game.” When longing for his snug little burrow, Sem could be pedantic, which to Jaren was the same as annoying.
Before Sem could get too deeply into his theories on reborn life, Jaren cut him off. “Let’s walk a bit before we go to the next area.”
This Earth was quiet but for the wind moving through the leaves and rustling the long grass. The silence was soothing.
“Still way too hot,” Sem said. “We’d have been fried if we weren’t wearing our environmental suits.”
“Should we bother with the remaining tests?” Jaren asked. Suddenly, he longed for home.
“We’ll make it quick. Pop in, get our samples, pop out. Back to E1 in time for dinner. I fancy some mahi mahi with a really fine wine. What do you say?”
“Sounds good to me.” Even wearing the suit, Jaren was sweating. His helmet display was showing the temperature as 55 Celsius and the sun had only just come up. “My recommendation is to keep E19 off the list for at least another ten thousand years. Do you concur?”
Waste of time going on, Jaren thought and thumbed the button on his belt. The portal opened. “On to the next stop.”
They stepped in together.
Word count: 494
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This flash fic deals with parallel worlds, the subject of my current WIP. They fascinate me. Now that I’m using Scrivener, I’m hoping to make great progress with the book, and get it out before I die. 😉