Author : Roger Dale Trexler
They answered the distress beacon but what they found was unexpected. The planet was far off the beaten path, and it was sheer luck that they received the transmission at all.
Still, it was a requirement of the Space Guild that all distress calls be answered.
Cramdon guided the shuttle into the atmosphere of the planet.
“It’s amazing they haven’t colonized this world yet,” he told Bruen, who sat in the co-pilot seat.
Lena Bruen was a lovely woman. It was rare that such a woman would join the Space Guild, but Tom Cramdon wasn’t about to complain. A pretty face in outer space was a rare thing indeed.
“It’s too far off trading routes,” she said. “There’s no money in it.”
“Money,” Cramdon replied, shaking his head. “When did the universe get so hell bent on turning a profit?”
“When the Space Guild took over,” she said. “My dad was a lifer. He remembers when it was about space explor…..”
She hung on the word. They broke through the clouds covering the planet and, below them, they saw lush, green wilderness. But, it wasn’t the beautiful landscape that dumbfounded her. No, it was something far more unique….and it was man-made.
“What the hell is that?” asked Cramdon.
Bruen, too shocked for words, could not reply.
Cramdon arched the ship around the monolith. The thing was taller than a skyscraper back on Earth and, as they circled it, he realized that it was a humongous hand reaching up toward the heavens.
“It’s a hand,” Bruen said. “Holding a heart.”
They circled the thing several times, admiring the detail and artistry of the sculpture. It was so perfect, so human.
“Who do you think built it?” asked Cramdon as, finally, he set the scout ship down on the ground at the base of the structure.
“I don’t know,” she replied. “But the more important question is why?”
Cramdon was about to speak when he noticed the red light flashing at the base of the sculpture.
“Looks,” he said, pointing.
They disembarked, each of them clutching their blasters tight. As they approached the flashing light, they saw a door. The door opened with a soft hydraulic hiss as they stepped up to it.
Cramdon looked at Bruen, and then stepped inside.
Lights flickered on as the station in the base came to life. They walked by a small living quarter, and came to a door. That door opened and they saw a man, long dead, slouched over a console. A red light flashed and, when Cramdon touched it, the distress beacon stopped.
Bruen jumped when a hologram came to life in front of her.
A tired looking old man, whom they realized was the dead man before them, spoke:
“My name is Jamison Dent. I am an artist. I am also a citizen of the universe. I once lived on Earth, as you did, but that world became a farce to me. So, I left. I traveled out into space where I could pursue my interests without the restraints of a world I no longer loved. I wanted to create art. I wanted to leave a legacy that had nothing to do with the petty economy or politics. I have summoned you here to see my life’s work….I love you, Alaina.”
The hologram died off.
“Jamison Dent,” Bruen said. “Could it be? I remember reading about him as a kid. He and his wife, Alaina. They were inseparable.”
“And she died,” Cramdon said. “He became a recluse after that…then he disappeared completely.”
“He hasn’t been heard from in fifty years.”
“Till now,” Cramdon said.
They turned, walked outside, and looked up at the monument to love that a lonely man had built.
Suddenly, nothing else seemed as important.
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