Author : Jedd Cole
This kind of epilogue ends with a beginning, just as Homo sapiens began with an ending in the dark garden of forevers past. They believe it is AD 2476. They march through empty space with their idols under their arms. Earth burns behind them along with the little unnamed ones–the poor and the needy. Being unnamed, they are soon forgotten. The small unsponsored flotilla presses on towards the people’s recourse: a cold red rock, the shell of an empty colony, and other idols.
Heléna bends over with arms outstretched, holding her little daughter far away from herself in a corner of the compartment where the mob has been herded and penned. The child empties her bladder onto the hard metal floor. The stream makes unpleasant smacking sounds and splashes onto Heléna’s shoes. Twenty feet away, people pretend not to watch with their faces.
Heléna thinks about what happens when the royal are made refugees. She remembers with unidentified feelings the flat she and her daughter fled in such a hurry, leaving everything behind to save their lives so they could pee in the corner of a starship compartment. Cargo ship. It has never tasted human flesh before, nor does it wish to. Two months ago it was full of tiger nuts out of Valencia. No one will be interested in tiger nuts anymore. All the little wrinkled tubers were left behind.
Heléna’s husband used to eat them plain. He was also left behind.
There is a preacher in the midst a while later, speaking soft and confident words to the people. He meets Heléna’s stare. They talk about the disaster and where they used to live and what it is to be lonely among so many people. It turns out the preacher had owned a house just a few kilometers from Heléna’s flat. He tilts his head towards her and asks if she has been saved. She looks around and says yes with some confidence.
Heléna loses sight of her daughter among the thousand people in the compartment and never sees her again. She thinks about Baal and Moloch and passing children through the fire. She and the preacher are making plans for their future together when she gives birth to a new child three days before the ship reaches Mars. They name him Esperanto, speaking strange things to him.
Their new home will become ancient.
Heléna writes a story about the flight from the old place, and how everyone was saved, especially from the large countries. She writes from the carefully airtight hovel. Esperanto plays in the hydroponic garden. The preacher works in the chapel made of red dirt. He dies several years later of complications from AIDS.
Esperanto keeps Heléna with him in his pocket. She’s been dead for twenty years. She dwells in the paper, the story about the old place, the earth that perished. He contributes to the making of a new old world here. Planeta rojo.
Heléna had written of the burden of the removed generation.
Esperanto speaks strange things to his daughter, whose mother he does not know. There’s a former preacher’s son who lives in the hovels a block away and with whom Esperanto’s daughter plays for eternal segments of time.
Forever comes and goes. Esperanto thinks about what happens when refugees are made royalty. He turns it into a thesis, and the thesis will burn some people alive, including, eventually, himself.
Before that happens, he becomes their leader in the dark. Renovations are made. Rages aimed. Governors deposed, but not for good. The seeds of change wrinkle in the sun atop fallow Martian soil, where new men have proclaimed old things, and triumphed over the mere words of scribes.
Esperanto has died, his daughter has been lost, and new ones have been born in the interim to continue the unspoken religion. The epilogue remains an unwavering line that begins with Heléna’s manuscript and shoots into space along the route of the ancient fleeing ships. The fresh, sprouting heads write their own stories. The people proclaim themselves Genesis, the beginning of creation, and they cover the red planet with origins and fables. By inertia, the descendants of Heléna, Esperanto, and their daughters become the writers, builders, priests of the new old, of Baals, of Molochs, of fires. Children passing through them, most unnamed.