#spacerex Garden Planet
Garden Planet 1
The entire basement is filled with a syrupy protoplasm that slurs against the joists of the first floor and makes a vague sucking sound when the building changes direction. Bubbles of cinnamon-scented gas rise up from the deep and break the surface. Blop, glug, slurp. It’s like living on a floating dock. The entire building, with an ice cream scoop of downtown Los Angeles street beneath it (encompassing the 4 story parking structure), is encased in an egg-shaped plasma bubble. Shimmering in the light of of our terrestrial star, our SafeDome 6 security system, whose robotic protocol, “secure those within,” coupled and compounded by my mother’s, amazing intellect and instinctive protectiveness, maintains air and gravity within. On the outside, in the vacuum of space, our egg-shaped home has enough of a gravitational pull to carry along various satellites, effluence-sicles and frozen corpses, that have accumulated or which have, through unfortunate miscalculations, been sucked from our sanctum into the vacuum of space–grisly reminders to keep our hands and feet inside the bubble.
We have been broadcasting a distress signal for several months and only recently were answered by what we took to be fellow survivors of the apocalypse. That they turn out to be members of our grandparents’ generation, living in the past and utterly ignorant of the cataclysm that awaits them, explains the sometimes-pedantic tone I will adopt for those unfamiliar with the past hundred years–or the future hundred years, depending on your perspective. It’s a long story and I will warn you in advance that you will not find out any time soon how I ended up in space orbiting a dead earth.
These days, in the hive mind, with the personal memories, and, indeed, the very people who remember them alive in the sentient protoplasm beneath my feet and the public, police, news and covert ops recondroid footage, complete with GPS and timestamps, readily accessible in the mass of living goop, I can replay the past twenty years in living color, sound and smell from as many noosgnats, droids, and surveillance cams as were rolling at any time, as well as the imperfect recollections of humans and animals that were involved–which are always the best. With the human propensity for capturing things they might otherwise just sit and enjoy and the corporate and government paranoia of terrorists and spies, there is a LOT to go through, and it’s mostly dreck.
The story of the planet’s biology as a whole is even more important than the history of it’s penultimate surviving species– which, for you dummies, means “the second-to-last species to survive.” Also housed in the murky depths of my parking garage are the memories and the genetic blueprints of what was left of our ecosystem since we started melting everything down to ship it to PBR12. I haven’t done an exhaustive inventory, but I believe that there might be enough diverse terrestrial plants, bacteria, fungus, arthropods, small animals and crustaceans to recreate a viable system, if we find a way to get to the edge of the solar system and through the wormhole to PBR12. That is the long-term goal. If I could get Mom to stop sulking and make some calculations, we might get this red brick and dirt-based starship pointed in the right direction.
#spacerex Garden Planet
THE WORLD THAT WAS AND WILL BE 2
Call me Rex. When I was just a boy my mother, who was short on money and depressed at the prospect of living through another recession, sold her body to Fat Baby Food LTD’s genetic research division. With the money from my mother’s retirement, I was able to study genetic engineering at her alma mater in the hope that I might one day find a way to get my mother back from Fat Baby Food LTD. I took a job in a lab, as my father, Ullyses Flynder, and my mother, Kali Flynder, had done before me, and became one small cog in an immense machine whose alleged goal it was curb the growth of various poorly engineered hybrids struck from extra-terrestrial dna–which, among other things, turned people into stupid biting disease vectors we called ghouls. A ghoul, like the fictional zombie, fully embodies the misery loves company attitude, seeking single-mindedly to spread it’s infection to the uninfected. But, unlike the fictional zombie, a ghoul has a chance of getting cured. But we will get back to that.
There were two main rivals, Fat Baby Food LTD® (FBF), in America, and Gongsi Bang Ji® (GBJ) in China. Their name translates from chinese to “Smart/excellent Flesh Corporation.” There was also a host of international players like Utter Whiteball®, a conglomerate of smaller british and australian corporations, Sheeghrata Lagligt®, an indian and swedish conglomerate, Kuanguo Yumi Lu® (KYL Corp), whose name means “Multinational Corn Syrup Company” in chinese– though their enterprises span food, space exploration, weapons of mass destruction and retirement facilities, YouXian Gongsi American Dan®(YGAD), another semi-feudal chinese vertical monopoly, Spooner Botco®, the multinational hardware giant, and countless smaller specialty vendors who were forever negotiating the fragile détente between the rest of them. I worked at one of these smaller companies in the United States, which was comprised of what was left of NASA after the privatization of space exploration. It was called Bellefore®, after the USS Belleforest, the ill-fated, yet-glorious last NASA mission through the wormhole.
Because they shared the charade of a noble goal, feeding, clothing and curing the survivors of the various natural and man made disasters of the past and present, a certain level of cooperation existed between the Corporations. If you looked behind this cooperation you’d see the unfinished plywood and steel jacks of a stage set, but appearances are, as they say, something. We used to jokingly call it co-opt-eration.
The earliest forays into genetic engineering and epidemiology, in the wake of the second world war, ran quickly into the hard fact that one cannot separate the knowledge gained in the study
of cures from the knowledge of it’s opposite number. One need only tweak the intention to take what is achieved toward one and use it for the other. You could even argue that the first dickhead to think of catapulting a plague infected corpse over a stone escarpment or selling TB-infected blankets to American Indians laid the foundations. Good scientists have been baited and switched since the before the advent of the lab coat by evil plutocrats who would bring such wonders into the world as plague-infected rodent fleas dropped from airplanes over china in the 1940s, anthrax bombs, antibiotic resistant smallpox designed for aerosolized delivery during the cold war, and, our own proud contribution, Aicorn®, a ghoul-vector self-sowing, roundup-ready invasive corn plant. Why settle for killing them when you can turn them into feed?
The profit motive for finding cures, and their opposite number, were well beyond the dreams of Avarice and corporate espionage, sabotage, hostile takeover bids, and murder were as plentiful as the food was scarce. God help you if you weren’t an employee of one of the big multinationals, if you were one of what the americans used to call “The Ninety Nine Point Nine Percent,” and lived outside the bubble where the constantly mutating invasive protoplasms (we were allegedly trying wipe out) were still gnawing away at the planet’s biosphere. The problem with the alien dna that we used so liberally in our constantly evolving bio-tech was that it tended to sequester oxygen–which means “oxygen went in and didn’t come out.”
I’ve never liked those rollicking, family dramas, usually written by Mexican or Colombian novelists that start with “to understand my story I will have to tell you about my grandfather…” but in this case, as the light reaching your retinas is ancient history, and, while I may be omniscient and time may have no meaning to me anymore, I must conform to your idea of chronological history, if only, ultimately, to defenestrate it–which means “throw it out the window.” So I will start at the beginning. Lucky for you, I’ll go back just one generation. There will be no steamer ships laden with family furniture from the old world or horse drawn prams or spanish moss-draped mansions at the edge of the woods, but magic realism does come into it. Though it’s mostly scientific.
#spacerex Garden Planet
ULLY ON EARTH 3
Little Dick, that was me, (I’ll get back to why I changed my name later) was way more trouble than my father had ever bargained for. I was an undernourished and colicky baby. Suddenly, and for what seemed like the longest year of his life, he was thrown into a life of shit, interrupted sleep cycles, food lines, and my heartrending, incessant, throat clacking cries. And motherhood had turned his wife toxic. Human milk, pinnacle of planet earth’s food cycle and the product of all hers and half of his food ration, was both nutrient and toxin-rich. It was the allergies I had to the toxins in the rations she ate that set me screaming, and, ironically, the only thing that would shut me up again. Clean baby formula was far beyond their means and her nipples became a painful and constant reminder of everything she hated about her current predicament.
As if the hooded figure of Death, stooped over his infant’s crib, skeletal hands poised, empty sockets burning hungrily, weren’t enough, in the tiny bed beside him, in their stack-able student housing container, my mother, a sleepy arm’s movement away, kept her lactation-grade breasts strictly off-limits. The brief respites between my screaming and feeding were fraught with sexual frustration and resentment. Toxic. Her breast milk was the least of it. She blamed my father for everything.
But then hope returned, briefly, when an opportunity arrived for both of them to save the world and launch their careers aboard the most incredible ship ever built.
Rats returning from distant galaxies, inexplicably smarter than they were when they left, with pictures and biological samples of alien life forms that both of them were uniquely suited to study?
A conference that required their combined expertise?
A chance to work with the legendary Frederick Tilton?
Their ship had literally come in.
The playback from the wormhole mission stunned the world. A planetary system with PBR12, (I think the publicist was in the toilet when they named it) that had, as it’s sole inhabitants, huge primitive organisms that hoarded, within their fruiting bodies and mycelium, enough oxygen, nitrogen and other trace elements to create an earth-like atmosphere around the otherwise inhospitable planet. A panel of earth’s greatest scientists, including Kali and Ulysses Flynder, my parents, was convened to study these fascinating organisms and devise a safe, efficient and cost- effective way to kill them.
The USS Belleforest, a genetic research lab and terraforming vessel was prepared and launched before the scientists had figured out exactly how to free the life-sustaining elements within the PBR12 organism into the atmosphere and create a rich topsoil for the new Earth out of their rotting biomass. Time was of the essence. The team was divided between the earthside and the Belleforest and each team of scientists would maintain constant contact while the Belleforest lumbered toward the edge of the solar system. The most sophisticated equipment on earth was built into the ship, but the plan to terraform PBR12 required resources well beyond the onboard lab. They would have three years to collaborate before the Belleforest nosed into the far side of the universe and lost contact for another twelve and a half years.
My mother, whose intellect may well have surpassed that of my father, was asked to stay behind and figure out how to grow the primitive alien organisms on terrestrial mediums so that the terraforming invasives could be tested on an endless supply of living alien tissue. She was very good at it, and quickly became indispensable. No one said it out loud, but she was also likely chosen to stay behind because she had a small child who was too sickly to suffer the rigors of a three year space flight. My father, who had become increasingly distant from his wife, despite improved rations and lodging, was glad to be tapped as lead biotechnician aboard the outbound Belleforest. He was simultaneously supporting us, leaving her and saving the world. It was the end of my nuclear family and the last I’d see of my father. The mission to PBR12 was to be a disaster.