Chapter 5

Worriers

Beth woke early. She woke still dreaming of the music, the campfire, the peacefulness. Her energy was overwhelming. After a quick shower and breakfast, she stepped outside. The morning suns greeted her. The sky was painted with scattered clouds interspersed with brilliant blue.

She stretched and leaped. She did a little dance. She had not felt this good since grade school. ‘A leap and a step,’ appoggiatura. Gosh, she hadn’t thought of music theory in a long time. She missed music. Before she even realized it, she was humming. She walked around their home, picking flowers and dancing.

Here she was, eighteen and alone, the youngest one here so far. No girlfriends to giggle with, her fiancé now a part of something much bigger. But no longer someone she could confide or share a cuddle with him. Watching Anna and Robert rekindling their love reached the hole left in her heart.

What was her part in this mission? It was because of Johnny that she got chosen to come on the flight. Because of his highly treasured engineering skills, he was trusted to bring along anyone he needed to help him out. Beth knew how to do a lot on the ship because of his teaching. But engineering wasn’t her major in school. It bored her.

Music, music was her soul. She loved all the arts. Visual arts, theater, literature were her passions. But Music was her life. A life she had had to leave behind for survival.

Survival. Since leaving Earth, Beth had wondered what had happened to her family and friends? She remembered the times she and her friends were involved in a musical play or concert. Like last night, the impromptu harmonies that the very tonal qualities of familiar voices blended and vibrated in her head and chest. What had happened on Earth to her classmates?

Beth was now humming a slow dirge that she remembered playing at a funeral when she was about twelve. Ah, that was a sad funeral!

The boy had been out fishing with his brother. He was only three years old. The big brother turned around to bait his line. He heard a splash. In that amount of time, the little brother had fallen into the swiftly running river. The big brother jumped in, but the current just swept him along helplessly. He finally grabbed hold of a low hanging branch and pulled himself out of the river. When he had caught his breath, he ran to get help.

They found the boy’s body on a shoal down river about five miles.

The big brother was devastated. He even had attempted suicide. But he was found in time and, thank goodness, got the help he needed. But the poor baby!

As Beth remembered this, she sank to the ground. As she sat in the sand, her memories grew stronger. It felt like she was reliving that very moment of the funeral. The big brother was a friend of hers, and she worried about him still.

‘I wonder how he is now.  Well, of course, he wasn’t around anymore either!’ Beth worried about everyone, how it must have felt in those last days and hours. As she worried, there grew a sound around her. At first, it was merely background noise. She just thought it was a part of the noise in her head.

‘That is so unfair! Why should I live? Why were all those beautiful people on Earth wiped out?’ The sound grew louder and more dissonant. Now she became aware of it. Now it stopped.

She traced a picture in the sand. It became elaborate. A face took shape. It was of Johnny! ‘I wonder how he feels. Poor guy, the pain must have been horrid!’ The dissonance grew again.

She made Johnny’s face smile. The sound became harmonic and even lovely.

She suddenly stood up. “What is this?” she asked. The sound was like a cat walking on the piano. Then she looked around and realized she did not know how to get home. There were flowers, plants of all sorts, high trees all around her.

She thought that she should retrace her footprints to find her way back. She couldn’t find any. Oh, No! Lost!

With that thought, the dissonance grew very loud. A herd of elephants on the piano! That made her giggle. Elephants, tickling the ivories! And the sound was a bit of a scherzo. That pulled a laugh from her throat until she remembered how lost she was.

She looked in every direction but saw nothing familiar. What should she do? She worried more and more, and the more she worried, the louder the sounds became.

She thought about her new best friends. What would Judy do? As she tried to calm her fear, the music died down. Judy had shown her trust in Haven. Her leg visibly healed; she was the first to explore and learn some of Haven’s secrets. Judy proved that Haven cared for her new inhabitants’ needs.

Anna, blind, yet Beth knew Anna would never have gotten lost. She got upset and ran, but she found her way back. In the background was the hum of the “worriers.” She had decided that was what to call them as they seem to reflect the depth of her worry. ‘Say,’ she thought. ‘Can I control this sound myself?’

Beth thought of her biggest worry, her people back on Earth. The dissonant hum was deafening. Then she thought of how she was lost but was beginning to enjoy it, and the humming drew some harmonies. She remembered last night and the altogether wonderful peacefulness again. The plants played the song she had sung first.

Beth smiled. Suddenly she did not care that she didn’t know where the direction home. She had new friends that engaged her passion, a new instrument to learn to play.

Beth was practicing for hours without realizing the time. She looked up at the sun, only one now. She wondered what time it was. The worriers played enjoyable tunes.

***

Anna woke with the feeling that something was amiss. Someone was missing. She reached out her awareness and realized it was Beth. Before she could do anything about it, Judy was up and heading for the shower. “She’s going to be okay, you know,” Judy said.

“Wait, I thought I was the one to do the intuiting!”

“I believe you have taken a real liking to Beth. It’s almost parental! We both have women’s intuition for the people we care about.” With that, Judy went to shower and left Anna to think.

When Judy headed for the kitchen, Anna went for her shower. As she thought and worried a bit, she thought she heard music. It was probably just memories of last night singing through her head.

Breakfast appeared as she walked into the kitchen. She had not thought of what she wanted. But Judy had prepared pancakes for her; with orange juice.

“This is delicious! Thank you!” Anna said as she stuffed in another bite. “Hey, there it goes again! Have you been hearing music this morning?”

“Why, yes! I thought it was just the flood of wonder I felt from last night with all our campfire concert.”

“It seems to be prettier when we are happy or excited. Did you notice that?”

“Yes. But when you woke up and you were worried about Beth, it didn’t sound so sweet. Did you notice that?”

“Not really… well maybe, but I thought it was just that buzzing in my head that happens as my thoughts get busy. Hey, I wonder what that means?”

“I don’t know. But let’s finish up here and go exploring. Beth already has a head-start!”

Poof, the breakfast and dishes were cleaned up. “I don’t know about you, but I am getting spoiled by this!” Anna stated. “Where was this magic on Earth?”

“Anna, I need to talk to you about that, Earth. You know we are going to have to let it go. This is our new home, and Haven wants to take good care of us. We left love behind, but we are finding love here. Do you understand?”

“Intellectually, yes, but emotionally… I guess you have noticed that it is hard for me just to trust and accept. I suppose it is the scientist in me. I hope you and Haven will be patient with me.”

***

Anna and Judy walked outside. They noticed that one of the suns had already disappeared. “Oh, my; we slept late today!” Judy said. Dissonance played. “Did you ever notice this before?”

“No, but look; remember those fragrant flowers that were here that first morning? Something has changed.”

“Those were white flowers. They were similar to Earth’s white carnations. But now, the blossoms are gone. The plants are bigger, leafier, and greener. And they seem to wave as we speak. Right, plants?” Judy said as she turned to the nearest one. The plant jumped and swayed back away. “Don’t worry; we won’t hurt you.” With that, the plant widened and its color enhanced.

The ladies continued their walk. They found they couldn’t help but touch the plants as they went. Or was it that the plants reached out to touch them? Whichever it was, they found themselves quite relaxed and happy. The background played a quiet song.

“Haven is fantastic!” Anna cooed.

They walked for quite some time. But when Judy noticed that it was nearly late afternoon, she started to worry about Beth. Anna sat right down. Judy thought something was wrong.

“Shhh,” Anna hissed and touched the ground. “Is Beth okay?” Her face melted into a smile. “We need to find her. Can you lead us to her?” She jumped up so fast she startled Judy and the plants. “Sorry, let’s go this way. We need to get to her before she panics again.”

Anna did that amazing thing she did, again, and lead the way. Judy just smiled and followed. Knowing that her friend was going to be okay, and so would Beth.

***

When they found her, Beth was lying on her back. Tears were dripping down her cheeks. Judy ran to her. Anna followed, suddenly worried by Judy’s response.

“Quiet, girls. Calm your minds and listen.” Beth whispered. As Judy watched Beth’s face go through emotion after emotion, the music played. Anna sat down, followed by Judy. This concert was better than any they had ever heard. Suddenly Beth started singing. Her voice and the music perfectly matched. When the music died, Beth sat up. “I call them the ‘worriers’ as I noticed them most when I was getting afraid.” The plants bent to touch Beth and seemed to kiss her, caress her.

“That was just fantastic!” Anna swooned.

“Yes, sweetie, you have found your calling and your planet! I never knew, before last night, that you could sing so beautifully! You certainly hid it from us on the ship.”

Beth got up and brushed off the sand. She could not hide her inner peacefulness and pleasure as she helped her friends up and started walking back. The plants split and blocked to lead them back. As they walked, Beth told about her life before Johnny and about her musical passions. She did not think that they would understand, but Anna said she felt the same way about medicine and science. Judy’s passions included things like cooking, botany, zoology, and psychology. She cccthought she could lose herself when involved in any of these activities.

***

“I wonder what the guys are passionate about?” Beth asked

Judy glanced at Anna and grinned, “Well, I guess we know what Robert is excited about!” Anna blushed and gave Judy a playful shove.

They got back to base and found the guys at High Council. All were sitting and laughing together. “Well, there they are!” shouted Henry. “Leave it to my sister to lead them all astray!”

The females joined the group. “High Council and Haven want to thank you, Beth,” said Johnny. “I never knew you could sing like that. That is what I get for being so self-absorbed and ignoring what you could do naturally! The captain has something to say. Like we practiced, okay. Captain Frankie?”

The captain chuckled his famous chuckle and continued. “Beth, we are all honored to have you here. You are officially the Master Musician for Haven. She knows that the children will need someone to help them learn such an incredible skill. So please step forward.”

Beth couldn’t believe it. She was the youngest there, and yet they were honoring HER! She walked demurely to the captain. From the bamboo emerged the most beautiful instrument she had ever seen. It seemed to be both flute or recorder and harp. She took it and felt it vibrate to her touch just as the “worriers” had. She tried the mouthpiece, and the sound was mellow and exciting. She struck a chord on the harp part, and the pitch was perfect. Then she did something she used to do in front of the piano at home. She sang a note toward it, and the whole instrument vibrated to the sound of her voice. She swooned. A tear rolled down her cheek. “Thank you. I am so honored and excited at this presentation that I don’t know what to say.”

“Sing it, Dear, that is what you know how to do best!” Johnny encouraged her.

She stood at the top of High Council and sang a song she remembered from childhood. Her tone was so clear and haunting that her audience was swaying. The flute-harp accompanied her without her touching it. The plants blended in their voices. By the end, the whole group sang. Many of them had tears flowing, not from sadness but overwhelmed by the beauty and the wonder of the unifying quality of music.

When the music died down, Henry jumped up. “Hey, I know the High Council isn’t interested, I’m sure, but I’m hungry!”

***

Laughter rose from High Council and animated friends. “Let’s go get the boy some food!” Judy said.

“Just like my brother, the empty pit!” Anna teased.

They bid Namaste to High Council. Anna led the way for their kitchen.

“No,” said Adam pulling her by the arm and leading her the other way. “While you girls were out playing, we were working. Come see our new Mess Hall!”

“Work is easy here. We finished our home and then the Mess Hall and even set up another home for the next batch of people we thaw,” said Robert.

The girls were shocked to see the constructions the guys had done while they were out exploring. It dawned on all three that somehow they had explored without the guys. They felt much more self-sufficient for having gone alone. And they did not feel at all afraid to do it again.

***

The confidence growing all around Judy led the way to the new kitchen. She asked what everyone wanted and got busy. No one felt good about her doing it alone, so they joined her doing the jobs as they seemed to come up. The camaraderie continued through dinner and clean-up. The guys led them back to the guys’ home and showed them the new game room. There was a pool table, a card table, a bowling alley, shuffleboard, and a dance floor. They teamed up, and each found a game to enjoy. They laughed and teased each other about their abilities or lack thereof. Before long, they were fading, one by one. No one noticed Anna and Robert had gone out to walk. The rest just sat and told stories of the old days until time to sleep.

***

As Beth and Judy got to their home, Robert was kissing Anna good night. “It wasn’t a romantic kiss. It was just a good night kiss on the cheek!” Anna proclaimed after the girls were inside.

“Yeah, right!” teased the other two and quickly got ready for and slipped into beds.

“This was quite a day!” Beth said.

“Yes, it was. Good night Master Musician Beth!” sang Judy and Anna in imperfect harmony.

After a bit more banter between them, the ladies snuggled down in their beds.

‘How could anyone sleep after all of this,’ Beth thought. Yet when her head hit the pillow, she was out, as were her roommates.

 

Chapter 6

Exploring

They woke to the sound of knocking. “Wake up, sleepy heads; we have some exploring to do!” Henry was yelling through the door.

Beth was first up to answer the door. She let Henry in and led them to the kitchen. As he walked by, Henry couldn’t resist grabbing his sister’s foot and tickling it. “Come on, sis!”

Judy piped in, “Hey, leave my friend alone, or you’ll have to deal with ME!” With that, she jumped up and started tickling his ribs.

“Thanks, Judy, but he’s not ticklish. We’ll have to get even some other way!” Anna turned over and faced toward Judy and gave her an evil smile. “Henry, we need to eat our breakfast first. Did you eat already?”

“You know I never eat breakfast. I know, I know. Breakfast is the most important meal of the day!” He’d heard that enough over his lifetime.

“Well, at least have some coffee while we eat ours.” Judy offered with a gleam in her eye.

“Oh, no! I don’t trust you two now!” But even still, he walked to the canteen with them.

There was an hour of frivolity and food fights. The ladies took turns, leaving to shower and get ready for the day. Finally, they cleaned up and were out enjoying the two suns.

“Should we go back and get Adam and Robert?” Beth asked.

“No, they said they want to work on another home or two. Besides, I haven’t had a great hike in so long; I forgot how it feels.”

The ladies needed no other explanation. They knew they would have fun exploring with Henry. He made everything an adventure.

***

Haven did her best to put on a great display. She had put on her best scherzos during the team’s playfulness. She emitted quiet meandering music as they headed for the beach.

It reminded Beth of soundtracks from old movies. It made her smile.

***

Judy was so amazed by the unique plants and even pointed out a scurrying bug or animal. She often got distracted by the plants and had to stop and look each one over. She loved the variety. Very few were similar to the next. Even the soil in which the plant grew seemed to vary with each plant. On Earth, some plants only grew in acrid soil; others in acidic, but few could grow in soil not suited for them. So plants on Earth seemed to have their unique habitats. Cactus, for example, developed in the desert and lush ferns in the rainforests. But here, things grew side by side that did not care that the soil and temperatures were not indigenous. The ground adjusted to the plant or animal, not the other way around. How did that happen?

The little bugs and animals were fascinating. They would stop mid-scurry to check out the humans. They did not seem to fear each other or humans, even though the humans were much larger than they were. They seemed to run in packs of three or four. And they seemed to communicate with each other. The surrounding “worriers” continued to play lightheartedly, reflecting the mood of the humans.

The trip to the beach was much shorter than they had thought it would be. It had appeared to be at least an hour’s hike, but even with all the observation stops they made, it seemed to take only fifteen minutes.

***

Anna was taken aback by the aroma of the ocean. “Mmmmm! Smell that air!” she said as she stood and inhaled vast gulps of air. Somehow Haven’s sea breeze was quite similar to that of Earth, and it had been so long since any of the party had been to Earth’s ocean that they were all feeling the tranquil excitement they had always experienced before on Earth. The salty spray was invigorating. They observed birdlike creatures as they scurried between waves. The quartet threw off their shoes and ran for the water. None of them took the time to think that Haven might have dangers in her ocean. Had they thought of it, they would have quickly remembered the jellyfish, sharks, undertows, and worst of all, the pollution of Earth’s waters. But their minds were free of worry or fear. All they could think of was swimming and playing. Each one got dunked once or twice. They played a quick game of Marco Polo, which of course, Anna won every time as her senses were so keen. She enjoyed swimming underwater as she did not have to worry about whether she could see or if the water would be bad for her eyes. She swam out quite far without a thought about her friends. The water was refreshing. Not too cold, not too warm made it an enjoyable swim.

***

Judy, Beth, and Henry enjoyed a bit of body surfing. The waves were perfect for making long smooth glides back to shore. All three seemed to have their fill about the same time and worked their way back to the sand.

“Oh, I don’t think I have had this kind of fun in SO long!” Judy proclaimed. “Seems until Haven that all I have done in my life is work. This is SO great!” She smoothed back her dark hair and stretched out on the beach.

Henry dived next to her. “You bet! This is the greatest! You are a pretty strong swimmer! I thought you were going to drown me in that last race!” He lay on his back and looked up at the sky.

Beth got in about that time. She was laughing. “Okay, you guys! I’m supposed to be the best in shape! I’m the youngest! But you both wiped me out!” But she had a surprise for them. She took off her jacket and splashed the two of them.

“Hey!” Judy objected.

“Cut that out!” Henry said as if to a kid sister.

“Oh, that was fun!” She sighed as she slid down on the other side of Henry. Her long red, wet hair snaked down her neck and clung to her face. She had to finger comb out the snarls to smooth it. “I sure did need that swim!”

“Hey! Where’s Anna?” Henry asked. He stood up to focus out as far as he could. “I don’t see her anywhere!”

Judy and Beth stood simultaneously and shaded their eyes to see if they could see her. They saw nothing but beautiful water. Henry decided he should swim out a way and see if he could see her. The other two took walks in opposite directions to see if they could see her farther up or down the beach.

***

Meanwhile, Anna was having the time of her life. At first, she did not know what it was that bumped her underwater. She startled. Soon little things were sucking on her fingers, toes, arms, and legs. She could tell by the feeling that they must be tiny fish. As she moved, they would swim away, and when she was still, they would come back. They seemed to be curious about this new creature in their environment. She had fun with them touching them when she could. They seemed to want to play, so she played with them, a kind of Marco Polo for guppies (or whatever they were.)

Suddenly, something large bumped her. Now she remembered the sharks of Earth. Her senses told her that the little ones were afraid of this one. She did not know if her fears were misplaced or not. She began to panic. Again the thing bumped her. Everything inside her sent her swimming with all her might to the shore, yet she had learned enough on Haven to know that the best way to handle things here was by being calm. So she went to the surface and took a deep breath. This beast came with her. The water here must have been over twenty feet deep, so there was no way to touch Haven and ask her what she should do or what this was. The thing started chittering and squawking. It sounded like a parrot of Earth just chittering away. It bumped her hand, and she felt it pulling at her with its mouth. Then it let go and came up again and chattered. She let go of the thought of being shark-bait and realized it seemed to want to be with her.

“Are you trying to talk to me?” she asked.

The thing chittered even more. But in the middle of the chitter, Anna heard, “This is getting dangerous for human. Go Back!”

“Did you tell me to go back?” Anna asked, for she still wasn’t sure that it wasn’t just her imagination going awry.

“Ye-ye-ye-yesh!” the beast said. It took her by the hand and tried to lead her.

That was when she noticed that there was only one sun. For some reason, she could feel it; sense it. And she knew one sun was not good, but she didn’t know why. She reached out her senses for the direction of the beach. She searched her senses for her friends; nothing seemed familiar.

“Human must go back now.” the thing said again.

“Okay, but I don’t know the way. Can you help me?” she asked.

“Ye-ye-yesh!” it said. Then it pulled Anna with even force in a decided direction.

Anna had never swum as fast as this creature was pulling her. The feeling was exhilarating. As she was in touch with the animal, she realized that Haven had sent it to her to make sure she would be safe. Maybe there were unknown dangers on this planet. But even now, Haven was showing how she cared.

Soon Anna heard her brother calling her name. “Henry, here I am!” Then she turned her attention to the beast. “What are you called?” she asked it.

“Sheaaa,” it said. “Humans, go home, be safe now.” With that,ccccccc Shea gave Anna a big push toward her brother and leaped from the water to turn and disappear into the blue depth.

Henry was startled at the sight of this creature. It looked the size of a small whale but was pretty purple. It seemed to wink at him as it dove down, but he couldn’t be sure. “Out making new friends?” he asked.

***

“We need to go home quickly. I’ll tell you more when we get there. Race you to shore!” And the race was on. Anna won as she wasn’t nearly as tired as her brother. Then she looked for Beth and Judy. They were nowhere to be seen. She searched in one direction, and Henry went the other to find each of their friends.

It did not take much to find Beth as her “worriers” tattled. As Beth had gotten more and more worried, the plants reflected it and the wave of edgy sounds went farther and farther away from her. Anna caught up with her. Beth was crying, and Anna knew it was because of her. “I’m sorry to worry you, Beth. But hurry, Haven wants us to run home.”

“What happened to you out there, Anna?”

“I’ll tell you about my adventure when we are safe and sound at home. Let’s go back and get Judy and Henry.”

The two of them walked swiftly back the way they had come. Soon they saw the three indentations in the sand where Judy, Henry, and Beth had rested. They hurried past that and started calling out for Henry and Judy. They caught up with the others within about five minutes.

Anna hurried the group along to get home. She did not know what would happen, but she knew that if Haven sent someone to tell her to go home, they should. It had taken fifteen minutes to get to the beach; it only took a couple of minutes to get back. They ran inside.

“What about Robert and Adam?” Henry asked, remembering that they had chosen to stay home and build.

“I would assume that they are safe in their shelter. Haven gave me no instructions for them.”

The group went to the showers and cleaned up, then met back at the canteen. Judy rustled up some food while the others set the table. There was a knock at their door, and Robert pushed his way in, followed by Adam.

“We got here just in time!” Robert proclaimed. “Food!”

“Yeah, just in time…” started Adam but then fell flat on the floor.

 

Chapter 7

Gassed

“Stop kidding around!” Henry said, but Anna was already down on the floor with Adam trying to rouse him.

“Something is wrong!” Anna called. “Look at his color! He is clammy and cold!”

Judy had put down the bowl she was carrying and checking Adam’s eyes and looking him over. “He is grey as a ghost!”

Anna patted his cheek and hands. “Come back to us, Adam. What happened to him, Robert?” She began to wonder if it could have had to do with the thawing process. Maybe she had not done it right.

“We had just finished the last home and were sitting on the ground drinking coffee. Haven whispered to us to come here, that you needed us. She did say to hurry. But I thought that it meant that food was ready. Just as we got here, there was a very funny smell.” While Robert was talking, they were moving Adam to Anna’s bed, and Anna went about picking up this instrument and that.

“Well, he’s still breathing. Pulse is thready. He seems in shock. Where’s that tank of oxygen, oh, here it is.” Anna was searching in the first aid closet and found all she needed. Robert saw she had more than she could carry and helped her back to the bed with it. Judy placed the oxygen mask over Adam’s nose and mouth and started airflow for him. Beth remembered how the scan worked and ran it and read the numbers to Anna as she got to them.

“Adam seems to have been gassed!” Anna stated. “Robert, what has happened? If you smelled it, why didn’t you faint?

“I was way in here when I got the whiff. I feel slightly woozy but not too bad, really.”

“Run the scan on him too, Beth.” Anna paused and thought, ‘I wonder if this is what Haven wanted us to avoid?’

The scan on Robert was a little off, and so Anna had him lay back on Judy’s bed. She found another oxygen tank, and the girls set him up with it.

“Let’s take a look at the internal specs and see if there is any gas still in here.”

Judy found the air sensor on the wall and read the specs from that. “Looks like we’re okay in here. Adam must have been out there just a moment too long. Oh, look, his color is coming back now.”  Judy said.

Anna went and felt his face. “Yes, his skin is much better.” Adam, how are you feeling?”

Adam groaned a bit and seemed a little dazed at first but soon was focusing on the group. “Actually, I feel pretty good now. I’m famished!”

“Suck just a bit more oxygen to equalize that gas, and we’ll go eat,” Anna said as Beth took another scan of both Adam and Robert.

“They are okay now,” Beth stated. “So what was it you had to tell us, Anna?”

“Let’s go back into the kitchen and eat.”

***

Once they were all up and eating, Anna took time between bites to tell them about her adventure with Shea and how she was sent away so quickly.

“It wasn’t as though Haven told me what was happening or how bad it was going to be; just that we needed to hurry and go home to be safe. And you were told just to get here, thinking that Haven just wanted us to eat together?”

Up till now, this planet had surprised them with how she could heal or fix things for them. But this particularity puzzled them all. Why wouldn’t she have made sure to make them move faster or stop whatever it was that caused the gas to happen? Adam had suffered due to something on her. What could it mean? Would there be any long-term effects? They sat and discussed these questions. Each one had a theory, and each one had another problem to disprove it. But soon, the food was gone. They were satisfied; the kitchen cleaned up.

“Well, now what?” Anna asked. “When do you suppose it is okay to go out there?”

***

The group was tired of sitting in the kitchen and so wandered into the bedroom. There they saw a partial answer. There were a sofa arrangement and extra beds with plenty of comforts for all. It was a little crowded, but it was apparent that the guys were to spend the night at least. There was a cube table in the middle of the sofa set that contained games, puzzles to work with, and books to read. They deducted they were going to stay there for a while. Haven was still doing her best to keep them safe and comfortable. Haven must have her reasons, and they must trust. And the lesson learned is that when she says move it, you move it as if your life depends on it! They knew Adam was alive despite himself and because of her.

***

“So what do we have here?” Henry asked. He always seemed to be the first to have fun. In fact, that had always been the problem between him and Anna. Anna had always wanted to be serious, try to make sure everything was perfect, done correctly. Henry could get away with murder, and people would love him. He could charm Angels to help him do the dirtiest evilest act. Of course, they were never really morally wrong, just sometimes slightly bent ethically.

Henry pulled out the cube items one by one, games they haven’t played since childhood. “Well, which one first? Is everyone in?”

“Sure.”

“Why not?”

“How about Monopoly? Can’t go wrong with THAT!” Robert piped in. “But I get to be the spaceship!”

One by one, they chose their piece; the dice were tossed for predicting plays’ order.

“Yeah! Me first!” Henry crowed in triumph as if he’d already won the game.

***

Anna groaned but was a good sport and played along. She was glad to see that her brother was not only alive but in such good spirits. She realized what a hole it would be in her life if he weren’t along and knew it would devastate her if something had happened to him. She knew she needed his playful spirit to keep her from herself. Obviously, Haven thought so, too.

At first, the game was just about moving their little piece from this square to that, then buying this plot or that. As the third go-around occurred, it was beginning to get quite competitive.

Judy and Beth had never been of competitive natures, so they soon sold out to others in the game. Adam was still feeling a little woozy, so he bowed out. That left Anna battling it out with Robert and Henry.

***

Adam sat on a chair in another part of the room. He leafed through a book he had found in the cube.

Beth and Judy walked into the kitchen to get some snacks. “What do you think of all of this, Judy?”

“Beth, there have been so many weird things happen since we got here; I am beginning to try NOT to think about it and just let it flow.”

“Why do you think that the gas only affected Adam? Do you think he is okay? He seems a little ill still.”

“We probably need to watch him. Here, help me with this tray. I’ll get the other. When we settle down, let’s grab some entertainment for ourselves and sit where we can see him. Okay?”

“Don’t you think it is amazing how Haven knows what we need right down to letting out our crazy partying selves?”

“It sure is!” The two were walking back into the main room as the noise level jumped a few decibels. Henry had just bought out Robert and was gloating.

“Look at those two! I don’t think I’ve ever seen such sibling rivalry!” commented Judy.

“And yet such deep love for each other!” Robert said as he came to help the girls with the trays. They made sure there were plenty of snacks in front of the remaining players and then set the rest in the little conversational area.

“Well, there’s another stretch!” Robert said. “This room has gone from a small bedroom for three to three full and separate rooms, and none of us noticed the change!”

***

Each seat of the conversational pit had a table to hold snacks and enough room for whatever each occupant wanted to use for the duration. Robert, Beth, and Judy took turns rummaging through the tables for things they wanted to do.

Then it was Beth’s turn; she let out an “Ooooh!” She pulled out sheet music for her new instrument. As she brought it to the chair she chose, she saw that her new musical instrument also laid there. How could she resist?

The others in the room were delighted to have the music playing; even if she was still learning and had to go back and practice phrases, it was a beautiful sound that brought a certain peacefulness to the room.

Even so, the Monopoly battle continued, changes around the combatants unnoticed. Meanwhile, Robert found a book that he had promised himself to read someday, so he got cozy in a chair and eased into the literary world.

***

Judy found a large journal and colored pens and pencils. The lightly lined journal made it so that she could write or draw accordingly; it was perfect. She curled up in her chair and started drawing. First, she drew their landing area on Haven. Then she drew another of their first morning with two suns shining. She drew a picture of a before and after of High Council. Then the small city as she remembered it before their swim.

Now she decided to narrow it all down to the suns and how they looked at different times. Then their home itself, from the front door to the showers and canteen and how it had changed now.

Judy was fascinated. Their whole environment changed and adapted to each of them in less than a week. She spent time writing her memories and how it felt and realized how important it was to record this.

She thought of her days back on Earth, and her days in school were how her grandfather taught her to love plants and animals. He pointed out nature’s quirks as he walked her through his gardens and on trips through the zoo. He was so influential on whom she was to become just by who he was.

She thought of the first time he showed her carnations and their many varieties and how wonderfully they smelled. She marveled at how often carnations had played during significant events of her life, including his funeral.

How amazing, she thought, that Haven picked that flower from her brain to welcome her that first morning. She started drawing the flowers as she remembered them around their new home. She drew different angles of individual flowers and petals from her memory. Then she saw the differences from the “real” carnation from Earth. She realized then that if Haven had plucked them from her brain solely, there would not have been these differences. Were these plants natives growing as plants did on Earth? Were these copies pulled from all their minds?

At any rate, she recorded her thought and feelings. Then she drew depictions of as many flora and fauna as she could remember on their walk to the beach that morning.

Then Judy thought of the conversations between High Council and the Mobile Earthlings, and the few direct communications with Haven herself. She remembered that their answers lay in just touching the ground and asking. She wondered why they had not done that when Adam first fainted. Nor did they bother to ask how long they were to remain inside. They had assumed Haven was caring for them and would let them know when they ran out of things to do. Or when they thought to ask? Could it be?

***

 

She ran to the kitchen as she did not want to disturb the others in their reveries and games. In the kitchen, she knelt down and then sat right on the floor. “Haven,” she asked. “How long are we to stay in here?” Haven quickly put into her mind ‘two days.’

“What happened to Adam? Is he going to be okay? Did anyone else get affected?” She felt the equivalent of a laugh.

“One at a time, child! To accommodate all the plants and animals here, I need to put out this gas to help some. Unfortunately, what helps some hurts others. It is the gas that enhances all. It prevented you from a crash landing as I could send it out just before gravity took effect.  Because of that, you three were enhanced before you even became conscious. While gentling you and the explosion victims (High Council) down, I was able to sort through and chose you, Anna, and Beth as my leaders. Therefore you had the most exposure to the gas. Since you were unconscious, you didn’t have to deal with the ill effects, at first, as Adam has had to.”

“But what about Robert? Why did he only get a little?”

“He was exposed on the way down as the cryo-tank had cracked open slightly. I resealed it when I felt he had had enough.”

“Well, Henry then; what happened to him?”

“Henry was already enhanced by Earth.”

“Earth enhances?

“Long ago, she did. But when people started ignoring her spirits, she found that the enhancements merely made problems rather than solve them. So she reserved it for a very few who stayed in touch with her. Tree huggers, naturalists, and the more basic cultures and religions still received it and knew it. You knew it in your grandfather, his gardens, and zoos. You knew it as it came on you, but no one could tell you what it was. You are very special, Judy, as you are a double-blessed.

When this period of enhancement is over, High Council will call for another meeting. They will set up the missions for all of you. But I must remind you of what you already know, you, Anna, and Beth are my chosen ones. You are the ones in charge. As what happened on Earth, others will try to take that power or assume to know why they are better suited to take the lead, but none of you will learn all the reasons. I chose you three because of what I know. High Council will exalt, embrace, and support you. As Robert, Henry, and Adam have already learned to remain your guardians, friends, mates, and helpers; so each group of cryo’s will learn your place and their missions. Namaste, Judy.”

Judy was overwhelmed with all the news she had just heard. Still, she managed a most earnest, “Namaste, Haven.”

***

Pulling herself up off the floor, yet feeling the inner warmth of Haven. Still, Judy realized she might be missed and needed to get back into the main room. She knew she wasn’t ready to talk about what had just happened and needed some time to digest it all. She chose instead to whip up another tray of goodies.

As she came through the door, she nearly fell from the blast of a shriek and a crash. Anna and Henry were standing.

“Yahoo! That is the first time I have ever won with you!” Henry was ecstatic.

“Congratulations, brother, but did you have to soak me?” The game and all its pieces had crashed to the floor, and in that same moment, Anna found herself splashed with the cold drink she had been enjoying. The friends laughed so hard at this mock foray that they did not notice Judy come through with her tray. They did not see the glow around her either. But neither had she.

“Well, Anna, go clean up and come back for a refresher!” Judy managed to get out between chuckles.

Adam was up with the rest as they stood for a quick toast to Henry. Only Beth and Judy heard the inner wink from Anna. But they did not need that acknowledgment to know that Anna had let Henry win. Judy sent Anna a blessing as she knew that this was a change for the better for Anna. Anna knew she no longer had to be perfect or be known as the best at everything. The most important lesson for her was enjoying her brother and his wonderful personality.

“I am so blessed to have such a smart and fun brother! And don’t tell him how handsome he is as it might go to his head!” She said during her quick speech.

“Here, here!” They all toasted.

“I know I will never be as smart as Anna, but I toast the challenge she has always given me and the sport with which she let me win this time!” He said as he held up his glass. The warmth between them seemed to melt away the years of rivalry, and they both knew their bond beyond blood. Their spirits united in a way usually saved for best of friends.

As the toasting and cheering died a warm death, the group sat in the conversation pit and spent a long moment just enjoying each other’s company. There was a moment of silence where they all were exchanging glances. “What is it, Judy? What do you know?” Anna asked.

Judy, surprised by the spotlight suddenly on her, knew now how much telepathy they all now shared. “I just did as we Haven asked. I had questions, and I sat down and had a conversation with Her. She wants us all to do that, you know. She is very open to each of us and has a message for all.” Judy took a moment to compose herself. She wanted to make sure she said it right. Then Judy conveyed the messages as received. Near the end, she looked at Adam. “Adam, Haven has now joined you to the rest of us. Welcome! Welcome to us all!” she said as she held up the nearly empty glass. The group emptied their drinks, and with a suddenly solemn attitude, they turned to each other as a group and as individuals and bowed. “Namaste!”

They said nothing else. All six individuals went about the business of getting ready to sleep. Within ten minutes, there were six people sound asleep.

Chapter 8

Indoor Holiday

Day two of their imposed imprisonment was even more of quiet respite, reflection, and more group games. Some of the group had not even taken the time to think about their lives. And the meaning and purposes of who they were until this moment. The last days on Earth had been very stressful. Many had spent most of their lives in that constant stress of just trying to survive. Now that they knew the reason for this enforced sabbatical, they used it for mental explorations and then shared their findings.

The day went quickly, and by evening they were all wondering how they could work on the best plan of action. In the kitchen, over the evening meal, the discussion naturally led to, what next?

Judy mentally called for kitchen clean up, except for a bowl of snacks and a cup of tea or coffee for each. Each had their favorite brainstorming instruments in front of them. Anna sat back and doodled on her pad. She felt no need to write anything down as she knew others were doing that already. Instead, she let her fingers draw whatever they liked. It had always worked for her as a student. The doodles in the margin of her notes helped her remember the subject matter the best. So she was free to envision whatever was necessary.

Beth noticed musical tunes were repeating themselves in her mind. She always found she learned best with music playing, but it had always been a problem for those around her who needed silence for their thinking and studying.

“Robert, Adam, what did you do while we were on our walk the other day?” Anna asked as she put the pencil’s tip in her mouth as she thought about what she was going to draw.

“You should have seen Adam! He’s such a worker bee!”

***

Getting to know Adam a bit

 

Adam blushed. Though he was a hard worker, he rarely drew attention to himself. He became an architect to help people live and work in friendly environments. He liked to bring in and enhance the nature around his invented buildings.

The Earth Escape and Explore Team had brought Adam onboard as they needed someone to plan the ship’s environment to accommodate all the people that needed to be onboard. He had to work around the many sciences that he knew nothing about initially but had to learn about to do justice to the humans that would be onboard and the jobs and hobbies they all had. After learning all he could and going to the drawing board, he knew what kind of place and the kinds of people that he wanted to be around for the rest of his life.

Adam had not so much wanted to leave the others and the destruction of Earth to make sure this new bunch of Earthlings could survive and thrive on whatever new planet they would happen to land. When the team had seen his ship and how livable it was, they immediately made it clear that he was to be onboard. They knew he would help them create their new living arrangements on the new planet.

I merely looked at our supplies and drew out the plans. The real worker was Robert! Adam said. Of course, Haven did more than Her share, too! But I do think you will all love the town we have started with homes set up for at least the first twenty.

Robert put the credit to Haven and Adam as a team. Brawn here. He said with a wink and a smile.

“Some mighty great work from all of you, Im sure. Do you know what women think is sexy?” Anna teased.

Robert knew he was about to be had, but he played along. “No, what?”

“Brains, of course! The sexiest part of a man is his brain!” Anna giggled.

“I thought you were beyond those flirty, girly games!” Robert teased back.

“Okay, okay, you two, let’s get back to work!” said Henry. “I’d say get a room, but…This is the only one finished.” And the room echoed their laughter.

***

Adam reached into his cube and found his tablet. He dialed up the graph he’d made while on Earth. He had listed what each person would need according to each personality. Then he detailed what the team needed to do before they awoke more cryos. The group talked about how many still slept. The people were chosen for the flight for what they might add to a new society. There were older people to bring and keep the wisdom and history of the Earthlings. Many healthy middle-aged folks do most of the heavy building and exploring and procreating. There were children and babies to bring joy and a future generation guaranteed. Earthling animals and plants still were alive and needed to be brought into play on Haven for food sources, education, and companionship.

“I think it would be foolhardy to get started waking just anyone or anything without consulting Haven and High Council. Don’t you?” Judy suggested. “What if something or someone we release is potentially harmful to Haven or her fauna and flora? What if we have changed enough that it could even cause us harm?”

“Yes, of course, she should be consulted. But I don’t think she wants us to leave off thinking and talking about what our jobs should be. We have working brains for a reason, but after we make our plans, I think we should check-in and make sure. Remember how we submitted the town map as we drew it in the sand, and then she put in her two cents? That’s all I mean.” Adam presented.

“There he goes with his sexy brains again!” Anna teased. “Hey, let’s sit over there in a circle and include Haven in this brainstorming!” Then Anna led the way to a nice open spot in the kitchen to sit on the floor in a circle in half lotus or whatever was most comfortable at the moment.

***

‘Thank you,’ Haven said in the inner voice they all heard as they all got seated and quiet. Then each showed the plans they made and the slight changes here and there that Haven needed to make. They had been right in thinking that they should stay with waking three at a time and for a little while keeping it with late adolescence through mid-fifties, and she pointed out with which personalities to start. They couldn’t have problem personalities that some of the teens might present come up as of yet. Nor did they need the stubbornness of some of the more mature and set in their ways folks coming out to cause problems.

Until they knew more about the planet and the new ways they were to govern their people, they needed to populate the planet gradually. Haven pointed out the dwellings each of the groups should live in and what they should do in some of the other buildings Adam and Robert had put together.

When everyone felt satisfied with what they needed to do, they bowed Namaste to Haven and each other, got up, and went to the conversation pit.

***

They knew that the rest of the day would pass quickly, and it might be a while before all would have the chance to hang around each other like this. They played Scrabble together, and then the guys wanted to play poker. Beth bowed out to play her music. Judy couldn’t wait to begin her journaling again. Anna just wanted to climb into bed and nap. She wasn’t sleepy but just felt she needed to let her mind slow down.

She realized that they had been busy for so long that it was hard to think of being quiet. During the time with Haven, she realized the need to let things go for a while. She let her mind drift back to days on Earth and days before medical training.

She remembered days when she and her brother played hide and seek, the times when they walked to school together. He was always so much fun for her, yet as she became the grown-up age of fourteen years old, Anna felt she needed her own identity. Henry still wanted to hang out with her, but she did not want that tag-along kid brother with her and her friends. What hurt was that her friends thought he was cute, adored him, and wanted him to come along. She wished she had just let him come. But as a teen, it is hard to see how few years you have to enjoy your family.

Before long, about the time she turned sixteen, the family broke up. Henry went with their dad and Anna with their mom. She missed the male input on her life and, for some reason, felt the need to make up for it not being there. She let herself become a tom-boy of sorts and let her rebellious side take over.

Then the teen dating scene took over her friends. She wasn’t interested at first. And when she would date guys, it was hard to relate to them in any romantic or intimate way. She did learn the art of flirtation and used it whenever she needed to. But when they tried to get close, she would pull away.

As it happened, as her life progressed, the males faded away; her single female friends were all that was left, and they were few and far between. She even tried having girlfriends instead of boyfriends. But it seemed that intimacy was just something she couldn’t get.

Her studies became the most important thing for her. Anna loved helping others, so her interest in medicine was inevitable. She became more and more self-sufficient in her personal life. She learned to build, paint, repair, and do plumbing or other males jobs. She learned to do most everything for herself. Never ask for help. Besides, she could always do it more perfectly than anyone else.

When it was time to decide on a career, she decided not to entertain being a nurse. She decided straightaway to be a doctor and scientist. She was still unsure, though, which field to follow when her father died. To think that was only four years after the divorce. If only she had been able to save him. If only she could have at least froze his body until they could find a cure for him, maybe he would still be alive. And so it was the cryonics that she chose. The science was beginning to open up as they were waking early cryos, and they could save some but not others due to the methods used to freeze patients back then.

Anna worked very hard at her chosen craft. People came to her with chronic, currently incurable illnesses and asking her to freeze them until such a time that medicine progressed to the point of knowing how to heal them. Family and spouses were often calling her to their loved one’s bedside, pleading with her to freeze the loved one. Some wealthy people just decided as they grew old to have their bodies frozen just for the sake of seeing the future.

Often the job strain, dealing with near-death all the time, would cause her to break down. Her supervisors finally told her one day to leave for a while. They forced her on a month’s sabbatical. One of her co-workers bought her a ticket for a cruise.

She knew she had no choice but to go. Resting and playing were foreign to her. She was more or less forced to get involved with the ship’s activities. At one point, she tripped while tossing the volleyball over the net. At first, she wanted to yell and blame the guy that tossed it at her. Then she felt humiliated about her clumsiness and wanted to cry. But the guy called to her that he was sorry and poked fun at himself for being a jerk. It was just what she needed. He was so funny and yet understanding that she had to forgive them both for their clumsiness.

They continued the game with a better team spirit, and then he asked her to lunch with him. Robert Jackson proved to be the wonder of her life. He always seemed to know how to make her laugh. He knew what she was thinking. He was intuitive and kind.

Anna was surprised to find out that Robert was a construction worker during the summers and a humanities professor during the colder seasons. He like working with his hands but enjoyed long philosophical discussions. He could cook and sew and clean and was, in general, the Renaissance-Man of her dreams.

When the cruise was over, Anna found ways to spend even more time with Robert. The hospital and office encouraged her to take another month as they could hear in her voice that she had something to keep her very happy. They all wished her well. She and Robert then took another month to travel through Europe, India, and Asia.

When they had gotten to Greece, Anna received the call that her mother had died in a fire as a result of a car accident. She had been laughing with Robert in the moment of that call.

Robert took her in his arms and held her until she stopped crying, then helped get her back home to take care of Mom’s financial loose ends. He tried to help her through that hard time, but Anna had internalized guilt. Thinking back on it now, Anna recognized that guilt. How could she be out having fun when her mom had needed her? Even now, that guilt threatened to overtake her. She had heard it enough that there was nothing she could do; it was all so fast. That she would get past this and life would get to be normal again.

Robert did all he could to bring back the fun-loving Anna he had gotten to know over the last couple of months. But she had just faded away.

Even more, Anna went back to work, determined to save lives, and forgot to live for herself. She got angry with Robert when he tried to get her to go out and have some fun. She eventually sent him away, figuring he needed someone else, not her. In her moments of quiet, she felt sad that she would never see him again. Now she realized it wasn’t so much losing him as the loss of herself that she mourned.

There wasn’t much time to mourn, though, because Earth would not last much longer with the diseases, quakes, and accelerating wars. When the Earth Escape and Explore Team called her, she knew she would have to bring as many of the cryogenically frozen along with the people the committee thought should be cryo-ed for the long space trip. She had not known that Robert had been chosen, due to his range of abilities, by academic society. That same society had chosen to care for many of the talented of Earth’s population. It was while taking a long walk among the cryos that she saw his name. She still wasn’t sure it was him. There had to be many other Robert Jacksons. So she hushed her feelings and continued to monitor and take care of her sleeping patients until the crash.

***

Anna suddenly became aware of the world around her. The guys laughed about the game; none of them were great poker players, so they were all trying to teach each other what they knew. Robert laughed and said, You know, I think we ought to give it up. Let’s get some snacks. Later on, when we all have time, I suggest we learn this game for real!

That was such a comforting voice to her. Anna got up and went with them to get the snacks. Robert did not even need to see her coming up behind him; his arm just folded her into him, and he gave her a sweet kiss on the head. She felt so loved. How could she have ever let him out of her sight? He opened parts of herself that she spent years trying to hide. She wondered what in the world he saw in her. But she was always afraid to ask. She did not want him to see that she wasn’t able to help him feel good. Poor Robert! How had he done it and managed to keep that wonderful spirit of his? And here she was in the company of her brother, too. Henry: her first best friend, the first one who knew her spirit and could make her laugh. But deep down inside, she couldn’t help but feel the responsibility of the crash that caused the death of those nine people out there. It could have killed the rest of them, including Henry and Robert.

Robert felt that old depression engulfing Anna. He pulled her face to his and kissed her eyes and forehead. Then he indulged himself with a long romantic kiss.

***

“Hey, guys, if I knew it would do any good, I’d say-Get a room once again!” Henry laughed.

Adam just enjoyed the sight of these two people in love. “I believe unless you bring enough for everyone to share.” But of course, that was a bit more than his face could stand, and the blush was back.

“Oh, hush guys and hand me some of those chips! Adam, get you a beer. You need to loosen up!” said Robert, then he walked over and got a bowl of chips for Anna and himself and a couple of beers for them.

Henry hustled up a tray for the other girls and took it to the sitting area where they were both involved in their arts.

“Well, now,” Judy said. “That’s different!” It felt nice to have someone else wait on her for a change. “Thanks, Henry!”

It was harder for Beth to come back to reality after playing so long. She said thank you for the snacks but couldn’t quite bring herself to stop playing. She went into a scherzo to lighten her mood and then made herself stand up and look around the room. She stretched and felt the tension she had built in her fingers melt away.

“That was just beautiful, Beth! Where’d you learn to play with such feeling?” Adam asked as he came through from the kitchen with his chips and beer and an extra for her. He hadn’t realized that Henry had already brought extra in. He felt a bit silly, but Beth felt special for being thought of by her new friends.

“Ya know, I don’t feel like a beer, really. Let’s make that a cup of tea. There, thanks!” Beth sat back down in the conversation pit and sat back to sip her tea. Then she told of her days as a musician, lessons, and the struggles. She missed Johnny still, but the music helped her.

Adam was very sympathetic. He knew the struggles of the artist. He knew about broken hearts. Well, maybe not a broken heart, but he had always loved afar and known the unrequited longing. He was always too shy to go up to a woman to ask her out. He had worked and gone to school with ladies he thought would be great matches, but he always talked himself out of it when it came time to make a move. So he buried himself in his work and perfected what he did for a living. His career became his mistress. Within her grip, he felt confident, sure of himself.

“Your music speaks to my soul in ways and places I have never known, Beth,” he said to her. Beth felt the sincerity in his albeit corny articulation; and felt humbled by it. She spoke to him about his architecture and how fascinated she was by the work he had accomplished. She brought up buildings and malls on Earth that she knew he had done. Adam was amazed that this fascinating young woman had ever taken notice of such a thing. Before he had the chance to feel self-conscious, Henry came by and pulled another game from the cube.

It wasn’t but moments that Henry had everyone involved in the game. The competition was stiff for this one, and yet the happy banter continued. Everyone relished their time together this way.  They felt bonded in a way they knew never would have happened; Haven brought all of them together this way.

Beth won this game. It shocked everyone, but the question brought her to that coveted station was a music question, What is an appoggiatura? Of course, she knew the answer. She won! She demonstrated first the ballet step, and then she went to her instrument and played one.

“Sing for us,” said Adam. The others joined her in the sitting area and begged to hear her voice.

Beth gave them a small concert, and then after the third song brought them into the spell of the tunes, she set up a canon to sing in a round and then songs that their voices easily could sing in harmony.

The hours of mirth were nearly over. Each of them faded off to their beds. Haven cleaned the messes and smiled to herself at the wonder of these humans. She was so happy to have them, so happy they had sought her out of all the planets. She set up the room’s temperature and faded back to chat with High Council.