Author : A. Munck

Man claims a bad joy. He has his hand on the radar. The oil, sweat sheen on his palm reacts with chemicals on the screen and reveals ships in the darkness. Man has waited a long time alone in the dark.

“Stasis… two-thirds.”

The new planet spun serenely below. Man woke up one by one to see which children, parents, brothers, sisters had died in their sleep. They gathered at windows, murmurous, tugging on crosses, pocket Qu’rans, rosaries, the Wiccan Rede on a Kindle, staring into the oceans and continents of another Earth.

Landing went well. Nearly all the equipment had come through intact. Man found trees in his new home. Cabins went up. A mill burdened the river. Maize and beans wed alien soil and children made pets of tiny tri-legged beetles. When the necessities of life had been established, joint town meetings were held in the new sister cities of Armstrong and Aldrin.

“We’ll build the First Unitarian Church of Terra Nova,” Man said. “We’ll build it between our two cities, and thank God for saving us all.”

Man put his back into it. The heavy ridge beam went up, made of unnamed wood, which Man called oak. The spine of the church was long and sturdy, the rafters straight. Walls rose. Glass was melted and a window stained; Man carved four altars, a cross, a star, a pentagon, a crescent.

He congratulated himself on his new tolerance. He came to worship – there were no Saturdays or Sundays, just days – and to sit for once together in peace.

“Brothers and Sisters,” he said. “Let us pray.”

Our Father Allah Mother-Goddess Yahweh,

Thou who art in Heaven,

Hallowed be thy name,

Thy Kingdom come,

Thy will be done,

On Earth as it is in Heaven…

Man stopped praying and raised his head to gaze on the length of the high ridge beam, white with unleaded paint. There was nothing above him. The beam stared blankly at the floor.

“God, wilt thou not speak to me?” he cried, each brother, sister, child and parent separately, silently, in his own breast. The prayer went on without resonance. No sentience had grown on Nova Terra, and no sacredness felt. Though maize stretched high in the light of a red sun, some necessities of life had not survived the grafting.

Man was alone in his church.


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