Author: Deborah Shrimplin

“Dr. Bessot, welcome to Planet Chaldea. I hope your journey from Earth was a pleasant one. Please, do have a seat,” President Seints said as he gestured toward the chair next to him. He searched Dr. Bessot’s face for physical signs of the brilliant mind behind his blue eyes.

“It was pleasant, thank you. Your reports are quite fascinating. I am anxious to verify what I perceive as the reason for the strange behavior of the citizens of New Prague.”

“The administration is seeing an increasing number of people expressing this strange behavior. We hope you can diagnose and prevent it from spreading.”

“I will do my best,” the doctor said as he brushed his salt-and-pepper hair off his forehead. “If it is what I think, I shouldn’t need much time. Your staff reported the problem was first noted in the New Prague settlement. I’d like to start there.”

Two hours later, Dr. Bessot and the President arrived at the New Prague town square. It was an exact replica of the Old Town Square in the ancient city of Prague in the Czech Republic. People were strolling through the shops and cafes. A small group stood watching the famous clock as its figures came to life, the bells, chimes, and the elaborate mechanism turned the dials and clock face.

“The original settlers wanted to create a feel reminiscent of Europe. I think they succeeded. President Seints, this will do nicely. Please, let me out here. I can proceed on my own.”

The doctor began his interviews in the candy shop. After complimenting the clerk and ordering some sweets, he asked the clerk what life was like in the settlement.

The old woman replied, “It makes me happy to live here. Every day I swim in the ocean, play in the waves and collect shells.”

The doctor nodded. There were no oceans on this planet. He thanked the woman and left the shop.

Next, he entered the bookstore. After reading a few titles, he asked the salesman what life was like in the settlement.

The middle-aged man replied, “It makes me happy to live here. I look through my telescope at the stars. My father studies the stars with me.”

The doctor nodded and left the shop. The planet’s atmosphere was too thick to view the stars.

Dr. Bessot entered the shoe shop, looked at the gravity boots, and asked the clerk what life was like in the settlement.

The gray-haired clerk said, “It makes me happy. Every day I climb the hill with my best friend. We fly our kites, laugh, and dream.”

The doctor nodded and left the shop. There was no wind on the planet.

The doctor joined the crowd standing in front of the Old Town Clock. Then, he returned to the car and smiled at the President.

“Your reports are true. I can confirm what I suspected.”

“What do you suspect? How do you explain all the strange comments?”

“They are not strange. Time has placed in each person’s mind a moment in their life when they were the happiest. Every day they are reliving that special moment. I wouldn’t want to take that away from them.”

As they drove past the Old World Clock in New Prague on the Planet Chaldea, the brilliant doctor remembered the moment he found the cure for cancer. He smiled.