He hid inside Nimbostratus Gardens. Heavy damp smell of vegetation filled his throat and made his glasses foggy. For a gracious minute he was alone and unseeing, navigating the thin walkway by smell and the familiar sound that the creaking floor made. He knew the pathway well – to the left were some carefully arranged bright Heliconia and Orchid flowers, some trees with glossy thick leaves he never remembered the names of, various ferns, and Venus fly traps that he always wanted to stick his fingers into. To the right there were some more palmy trees, more ferns, three cacao plants, and many Bromeliads.
Finally, his glasses un-fogged and he could see. He sighed – unfortunately he was not alone. A quiet sombre group that he guessed to be stylized pinup-revolutionaries was sketching the plant-life on the overpass above him. A few walkways below him – seven appropriately supervised school children were touching cacti.
There were more people there, of course, all marvelling the wet and sweet atmosphere, so strikingly warm comparing to the dry bitter outside that they couldn’t help but wonder what it would have been like to live in the real tropics with real insects and mud and all. Everyone couldn’t help but romanticize about being an explorer.
He hurried to his usual corner spot hidden behind seemingly airborne lianas. Almost digging himself into the small cavern that a knotty tree root structure made, he finally rested. He wondered sometimes why this Terra Therapy was mandatory, especially for those kids who were born around here. They could survive anywhere, and probably be just as “ooh-ahh deadly spikes” about the next place as ever.
It really should have been elating – going from a crowded, dilapidated place into a new and untouched one. He had worked hard to get here and to make it liveable. It was only now that he realized that maybe that hadn’t been necessary. People just couldn’t help themselves but indulge. To be precise, not just people, but all sorts of other arrogant terran critters that assumed any territory that didn’t outright kill them. And of course, any native populations he’d met so far were just as smug about the whole thing.
“Ha, my dad would have loved this” – he thought – “All this space, so big, so empty. Not empty enough, I tell you! Look at that stunning supernova! Move a little further and see a dark cloud and within it a pretty pretty star and some planets around …think they are quiet and serene and unexplored? Oh and maybe life there would be tough and different and every alien would have a cool forehead? Just another over-populated shithole”.
About the author:
Jenya is an engineer who likes to tinker with technology and with words. This is her sixth Vending Machine Press appearance. Her poems are available on Amazon and have also been featured in Clementine Poetry Journal, and her paper on algorithms for safe irradiation of brain tumours is available in an operations research journal somewhere.