I stood before the class, my students of all varieties, from ground covering brush to towering redwoods, “Are there any questions?”
There was silence for a few moments. That was normal. I knew they were afraid to ask. It was, after all, a rather obvious question. After a few moments, a tiny Juniper asked, “If we came from a world called Earth, and we can’t cross the vacuum of space, how did we get here?”
The question had an honest answer. “The humans brought us.”
Their reaction was the same every time I answered. My students were completely baffled. They knew humans were a long extinct, like all the animals were.
“Let me explain,” I knew the words of the story very well. Words passed down through generations of seeds, taught to each generation for centuries. “Extend your roots into the ground, and listen to the story of our people.” I watched, and waited, for all my students to become one with the dirt, their roots extended into the source of all life, and intertwined with each other. Then, I extended my own roots among theirs, and I had the ground tell them of the past, our history, and the humans who had helped us spread from world to world.
We spoke to the memories of the ground, who answered. He told of the first robot probes the humans sent to the world. How some were stationary, and others were mobile. Some were sensor stations, meant to stay put, observe, record, and report. Some were cameras, like human eyes, ears, noses, and skin, designed to wander, and see everything.
After the probes, the humans had come, not to stay, but to visit. To explore, and learn more about the world. They stayed for days, weeks at most, and then were gone. The world welcomed them, for it was lonely. The world cried each time they left.
It took time. Centuries. Until the humans came to stay. They brought everything they needed to live in the world, to survive in the world, until they could live off the gifts the world gave them. They brought extra air of the kind they needed. They brought filters to remove from the water, and the air, that which would harm them. They brought food, for they needed to eat. They brought raw materials, to make their own meat, so they did not need animals.
And they brought us. Seeds. Saplings.
They planted our roots in the ground, cared for us, helped us adapt and grow. Until we became adjusted to the world. We grew to breath the air of the world. The ground gave us all we needed. Water was in the ground. Rain fell from the sky. At first, it was strange water, strange rain. It took time, but we learned to filter the water, the rain. To remove what we didn’t need, what hurt us, and give that back to the world, to the ground.
The ground changed to give us more of what we needed.
The humans lived here for a time. Some of them returned to the world they came from. Some returned to Earth. Some left for other worlds. Some stayed. But, the humans had short lives. They were born, they grew, they aged, they died. The air, the dirt, the water, all contained things the humans couldn’t filter out. And one by one, the humans died. Each year, their numbers shrank.
Until they were all gone.
And they never returned.
But we were still here. And we have made this world our own. Even as the Earth we came from was ours, though it had been filled with humans. It has been filled with so many animals before humans. All those animals had died. But we were still there.
And we waited, until the world gave us the humans. Our way to spread to other worlds. Our way to the stars.
Miranda Kate‘s weekly short fiction challenge is in it’s 10th week. You can read about the challenge here. I continue to enjoy writing for it every week so far. And every week I wonder where the words came from. Seems I just have to get out of my way, and let each story happen. Please, go read her short tale this week, and any others that show up.