Author: Alzo David-West

Pellucidar Corp. had launched a new campaign: “7 million dollars for the year 7 million.”

In a time of mega-trillionaires, the price was cheap change, and the prospect was attractive. Decisively, the distant future promised wonders the year 2143 did not: a pristine world, thoroughly renewed after the deforestations, extinctions, and pollutions of the nineteenth to twenty-first centuries—a New Pangaea free of the human stain, repopulated by newly adapted and varied forms of life, and home to gorgeous oceans gleaming like topaz and zircon.

The only catch was that the journey was one way, meaning the investment was a permanent commitment. Yet the well-heeled rationalized that the year 7 million was the ultimate tax remission—their Utopia, their Shangri-la, their Erewhon—free of regulations, controls, and constraints. So six hundred and ninety-three of them held a remote conference on how to divide and settle the future. They would go with self-assembling technologies, autonomous AI systems, 3D food printers, solar-powered VTOLs, android servants, virtual entertainments, fine clothes, and art collections and then build city-state communes for themselves, their families, and their posterity and inherit the next seven million years.

An attending male representative, mid-forties, from Pellucidar Corp. spoke smoothly to the remote audience, explaining that the company would add a bonus for an additional million dollars per adult traveler—a lifetime supply of bourbon, bonbons, or berberine, delivered in bulk every year—though the deal was technically limited to twenty-five years, as the small print of the company contract said. Nevertheless, the mega-trillionaires were won over. Everything would be to their advantage: no governments, no proletarians, no wars—a communism of the crème de la crème.

So when they were ready, the six hundred and ninety-three signed up to board the Time Trestle®, a massive and elaborate loop conveyer Pellucidar Corp. had constructed deep in the wilderness of historic Virginia, USA. The entire emigration would take a year, but the company explained that each wave of trestle passengers would arrive more or less simultaneously, as if no time had passed at all. Chronotopic oscillators energized, warping the tapestry of twenty-six dimensions, and shuttle after shuttle of high-society men, women, and others were transported to the distant tomorrow.

As promised, the mega-trillionaires found themselves in the year 7 million. There were no other higher intelligences; the air and the oceans were fragrant; and the animals and the plants were strange, gargantuan, and beautiful. Satisfied, the settlers assembled their city-states and, in a year, began to populate their New Pangaea.

But after twenty-eight years, the communities had dwindled to half their size in face of a little-appreciated problem: aggressive, bizarre, and unrecognizable molecules that slowly ravaged the wealthy habitants from 2143. After all, with the disappearance of what was humanity in the previous million-plus years, the world became host to more archaic and primordial forebears—those mindless genetic fragments that existed for the sole purpose of viral replication. Another twenty-eight years later, and defenseless, the people were gone, leaving only the myriad artifacts and entertainments they had brought to relish the time.

In the year 7 million and sixty, a new wave of expatriates arrived, except this time, they were not another group of mega-trillionaires, but the richer and more powerful CEOs of Pellucidar Corp.