Ghost In The Ruins: Chapter 2

2.

“What will you do on your next outing to Earth, Billy?” His mother asked.

“I think I will explore a bit,” He stated, “and test to see if there is water anywhere.”

“Have you cleared this with the elders?” She inquired.

“Not yet,” He shook his head, “but will soon enough.”

“What if they tell you no?” She pressed.

“On exploring?” He returned. “Or on the subject of seeing if there is water?”

“Either,” she answered, “or both.”

“Then,” he smiled sadly, “I guess that I will have to obey their wishes.”

“So,” she frowned, “You won’t break with their decision?”

“If they believe that the idea of searching for water is unnatural,” He sighed, “no. If they have no preference, then I will do as I wish. I would rather they grant me permission outright.

“As for exploring…I will accept their decision as one of protection. No need to put myself in danger against their will. What harms one, harms all.”

“Well,” she breathed, surprised, “you are learning!”

“Of course!” He assured her.

He had not told her that he would have disobeyed if he felt there was something just beyond sight that was of importance. Or that he had already spoken, beforehand, to the council of elders on the possibility. After all, he was but a student and did not make the first trip without their permission.

She would have been a bit disappointed had he done so. She was always trying to find ways to discourage his curiosity and to curb his desire to know. She was, after all, his mother. 

Well, to be more precise, she was his parent. Humanity had become asexual as it evolved, making two parent families a thing of the distant past. He simply called her mother, as she preferred a feminine presence.

He, on the other hand, would be known as someone’s father since he preferred a masculine appearance…though he could change at any time. Strange how evolution worked. 

Still, evolution drove the wheels of nature. Change was inevitable. And what was now the norm would, somewhere down the line, be phased out as sexual coupling had been. 

And gender. Gender was not really necessary either. Not really.

He knew neutrals who had hundreds of children. Neutrals resembled neither and yet both. They were what ancient Earthers would have called androgynous. 

He smiled. What a wonderful time he lived in. How different humanity was than it had been. 

It was now without hate. But then, it was no longer bound by religion in any form. No texts told them how to believe. 

Difference was seen as simple individuality. One could choose their gender appearance. Or they could choose to remain neither. 

No one sat in judgment of any who desired to be any of the three. After all, they had learned that the soul had no gender. Not really. 

Genders began blending when sexual unions became a literal fusing of male and female. Then, there was no need to fuse. The two halves were born as one. 

That wasn’t to say that one couldn’t have multiple partners. On the contrary. One could.

But it was rare. Almost no one sought a second pairing. Almost.

Besides. It wasn’t necessary. It wasn’t really sought after.

They had come a long way. As a race. As a society.

They were no longer divided by color. They were all the same drab grey. They all looked pretty much the same. 

Everything that had driven humanity on Earth was gone. It had all been replaced by sameness. Dull. Boring. But enlightened.

***

“Billy,” the head elder began, “we give you permission to explore the ruins of Earth. We also give you permission to scratch the surface to see if there is indeed water there. If your findings come back positive, then Earth is indeed healing itself. If they come back negative, then we will know that there is no possible future for the planet.”

“Thank you, oh great ones,” he bowed, “while I hope for the best possible results, I realize that things may not go that way. I am fully prepared to fail in finding any sign of life or even water.”

“It is good that you are ready for such,” the elder responded, genuinely surprised by his honesty, “for you must not forget that prehistoric man, our ancestors, had what they called biological weapons as well as something called nuclear weapons. By the exodus, they had developed such horrible weapons that could cause mass destruction on a global scale.”

“I understand that, oh great ones,” he nodded, “and I understand that they constantly warred with one another over such things as color, creed, sexuality, and all the base things.” He hesitated. “But I do not understand how long it took for some of the effects of their weapons to degrade.”

“Hundreds of years,” the elder stated, “so most of the radiations should be gone.even those that were left unused and that have begun to degrade, should be harmless.”

“Then,” he looked at the elder, “I should be safe?”

“Yes,” the elder nodded, “does your parent know that you are doing our work for us?”

“No, great ones,” he shook his head, “she does not. I…have  not told her.”

“Do not inform her that we are behind your expeditions,” the elder ordered, “she does not need to know. At least not yet.”

“And if my findings are positive?” He asked.

“We fully intend to send back a few colonists to reclaim the planet,” the elder replied, “once it is proven that the planet can successfully sustain life.”

“Will my experiments cause change?” He inquired.

“They might,” the elder averred, “but it is a risk we are willing to take.” He paused. “Take seeds. Plant them. Monitor them over the next few expeditions.”

“Grass?” He pressed. “Trees?”

“All the plants in hydroponics,” the elder instructed.

“Yes, great ones,” he bowed again.

“Your parent should stay with your ship,” came the final instructions, “and monitor for offworld messages and your data transfers.” 

“Then,” he was surprised, “she would not accompany me into the field?”

“No,” came the answer, “you must do all on your own. In secret.”