Optzeci de Schite
The full title of the book from which this short piece is taken is Ocolul Pamantului in 80 de Schite Umoristice, which means Around the World in 80 Humorous Sketches. All were translated by Dr Petru Iamandi and the book was published by Editura Axis Libri. The book includes work by writers such as Isaac Asimov and Mark Twain, but I have chosen to include something by... guess who?
Noul Eden/New Eden appears in Romanian and the original English. I apologise for the missing accents in some cases. This is because of the font limitations in the program I use.
It previously appeared in Checkpoint and elsewhere.
Gratie îndemânarii inginerului Eva Moran reusira, doar pentru câteva clipe, sa readuca la viata propulsorul neutronic, îndeajuns ca sa împiedice nava sa se prefaca într-o stea cazatoare. Dar stiau ca, odata atinsa suprafata planetei, nu aveau cum sa o mai paraseasca vreodata.
Cele câteva instrumente aflate înca în stare de functionare aratau ca viata era posibila pe acea planeta si, într-adevar, apropiindu-se, vazura nenumerate forme de viata Ce ironie! Sa cauti atâta vreme o planeta locuibila si misiunea ta sa se sfârseasca atât de brusc si fara speranta, tocmai în ziua marii descoperiri! Acum aceasta descoperire nu mai putea fi cunoscuta de semenii lor, care abia îsi mai gaseau loc într-o lume atât de suprapopulata.
Dupa ce mai încercara odata sa se asigure ca nu exista nici un pericol, parasira nava pentru a pasi în lumina str?lucitoare a noii planete. Nici el, nici ea nu se asteptase ca privelistea din jur sa fie atât de coplesitoare.
- Vai, Adam, ce minunatie! În viata mea n-am vazut paduri mai verzi si mai luxuriante, un cer mai albastru... Uita-te la fructele din pomul ala! Ce mari sunt! Ce mai, locul asta e chiar Paradisul!
- Da, Eva, e chiar Paradisul. Si chiar mai mult de-atât. Ce pacat ca nu le putem spune si celorlalti despre el.
Eva ramase tacuta un timp. Apoi se întoarse spre Adam si îi spuse cu ochii plecati:
- Poate ca asa ne-a fost scris. Poate ca soarta ne-a ales tocmai pe noi ca sa luam totul de la început. Poate ca lumea asta ne-a fost daruita pentru ca specia umana sa se regenereze...
- Vrei sa spui ca...?
- Da, zise Eva si obrajii i se îmbujorara iar glasul îi deveni soptit. La fel ca în vechile povesti. Eu cred ca ne-a fost oferita sansa de a... de a popula aceasta planeta.
Eva ridica ochii spre Adam, a carui privire ramasese pironita asupra muntilor învaluiti în ceata albastruie din departare.
- Stii, înainte de plecare am fost sterilizat, spuse el.
Somehow, thanks to the skills of Engineer Eve van Dam, they managed to coax the neutron drive back into life for long enough to prevent the cruiser becoming a meteor in the planet's atmosphere. By some miracle they had managed to make a soft landing on the surface, but both of them knew that they would never be able to get away from it again.
The few instruments that were still working told them that the planet could support life, and indeed that there was life in abundance already present. How ironic that their scouting mission for habitable planets, for so long fruitless, had to end on the very day that they found what they were looking for. Now they would not be able to share their discovery with their fellows on their weary, overcrowded home world.
After making such safety checks as they could with the undamaged instruments, they emerged into the pre-dawn of the new world. There was a sweetness in the air of the planet, a sense of peace and calm, a feeling of richness and ripeness all about them. If they hadn't both been scientifically-trained members of the Astroforce, they would have said that this place was a garden, created just for them.
'Oh Adam, it's beautiful,' said Eve. 'I've never seen forests as lush and green as these, nor a sky of half so intense a blue. And just look at the size of the fruits on that tree. Why, this place - it's Paradise.'
'It is Eve. All of that, and more. What a shame that we won't be able to tell the others about it.'
Eve was silent for a long moment. The others ... yes, of course ... but couldn't Adam see that this place was meant to be more than just a colony, more than just somewhere to unload a few billion people from their tired world? It could be that what she was going to say was wrong, but it was as if there was a small voice in her ear, telling her what she must do. She turned to Adam. Her eyes were downcast as she spoke:
'Maybe it was meant to be like this. Perhaps in some strange way we were chosen. We may have been given this world for a reason - to give our people a fresh start.'
'You mean ...?'
'Yes.' A flush showed itself on Eve's cheek and her voice became soft and low. The Class A Engineer had become a temptress. 'It's like the old stories. We've been given the chance to ... to people this world.' She lifted her eyes to look at Adam. Was it so very wrong? It would be more wrong to let this chance pass.
Adam didn't look at Eve. His eyes remained fixed on the distant hills, over which the sun was now rising, marking the dawn of the new day. He fell sullen as he spoke. 'I've had a vasectomy,' he said.