Welcome to Blue Planet

Archipelago Intro Contest:

Entry by William Hindmarch (#2)

by William Hindmarch
Someone once told me that Mother Earth was dead. Slain, I imagine, by
Fischer's hands during the Blight. I pictured her hanged, twisting in space,
but I cant find much beauty in that image. A travel agent in Quito suggested
to me that she had relocated to Luna. I remember his smile, drying like
discount oysters. 
When I left Equador that summer I saw Earth, the whole Earth, for the first
time. It looked tired, like everyone on the lift with me. Panama hats and
Benvolio suits hung loose on the people sweating in the coach transport. My
arms stuck to the seat. The trip to the Skyhook inched forward. I thought I
had actually gotten used to seeing a planet from the outside. I sunk into the
equatorial humidity trapped in the lift with us from Quito and slept in my
sweat, dreaming of fishes and slow rain. But it was just the magazine under
my arm and drops from my hair. The space stations, the space craft, the
dockworkers and the meatpackers all became a blur to me. Too many pipes, too
many arms, too much metal and not enough heat. My clearest memory is trying
to fall asleep in the IHMS pod.  I felt as though I'd gotten more sleep on my
trip from Quito. 
Space lag had messed with my head. When I was free of the spacers and their
ship I didnt even know what day it was. I wobbled through a deep doorway
filled with spinning yellow lights and past the polished natural stone of
Prosperity Stations foyer with the rest of the passengers in gray
hospital fatigues and a jacket. A woman to my right said something in Polish.
It felt like stepping off a cargo ship onto Ellis Island. I felt young in an
old world. A wide avenue of glass, thicker than I am tall, stretched away
from us, lined with concrete and wooden walkways. Storefronts, banners and
tents made up the walls. A dozen languages crisscrossed the room, bounding
off the crowds throughout the concourse. It occurred to me how old the stone
of the ceiling and walls must have been underneath all of the polish and
posters. We were standing inside a rock that might have been floating in
space longer than the Earth had been. 
Air. Brought to you by: Biogene, advertised a feminine voice from hidden
I passed my eyes over the bright lights that hung from the ceiling, the
television monitors grouped in fours, the Oriental rug salesman, a
candlemaker, a woman selling red and yellow bundles of flowers from an alien
world, and the marquee opposite us.  Digital letters displayed the number
Is that was time it is? a man nearby asked his wife. I think
so, she wondered back. 
As I walked down the center of the avenue I stared through the
glass floor. I was hanging, moving, above a spiraling white pattern on a
watery background. Beneath me was the blue planet. I was looking down on
 I had imagined it would look like Earth, but it didnt. Not at
first. The clouds were bright, the air moved quickly across my skin, and the
streets of Haven smelled nothing like Quito. I could taste something like
green onion in the air, and shrimp. My lungs felt deeper than before. My toes
had never wanted out of my shows so badly. I thought that maybe
Mother Earth had come here, built a new house.
But the natives would have none of it. I had mentioned my
impression to a man named Veji who actually came from  Shangri-La and he
laughed and laughed. He had knotted his hair into a complex rope of
dreadlocks and kelp from the Dolphin Sea, and it whipped against his neck as
he breathed out in his laughter. We met at a charter service in Haven's thick
tourist neighborhood. He worked for a man not unlike the one who sold me my
ticket in Quito, all thinning wet hair and smiles. Veji agreed to take me
southwest to Babylon if I would cook for them. 
When he laughed at me it was around a mouthfull of rubber shrimp quesadilla I
had made. I mentioned I knew a few recipes for shrimp but he said I didnt
need to worry about that. You wont find any shrimp in the Archipalego unless
you brought it with you, he said to me in that peculiar accent he had. I
thought he might have been Jamaican by birth, but he sounded like hed been
raised in a traditional Kyoto household. 
Once he had the quesadilla down he looked me in the eye. Poseidon is its own
world, friend. It doesn't need any foster parents from Earth to
dysfunctionalize the family or nothing. You mention that to Kualo and he
won't even sit in the same room with you. Then he winked, and looked out at
the Lam
Serpent. I still couldn't get used to the idea of it as the sun.
Kualo wouldn't talk to me anymore because I drank the water coffee he gave me
with the wrong hand and disobeyed local custom. It bit me back when I swallow
it. I thought maybe it would be seawater or something, but its actually not
even coffee and is only called water because of some local expression. Veji
said the closest translation would be huevos.
You'd think Poseidon's parents weren't home, Veji said from his seat at the
back of the catamaran. With the way all you come over here to party. He
looked at me again and winked his one green eye. Wanna drink all our beer and
sleep on our couch.
I smiled at him as I looked into the water next to us. A clan of
colorful fish, like tiny dolphins with too many eyes, were keeping speed with
us in the sunset-colored water. We just like it here. It reminds me of home.