The Crowns of Pluto (4.)

Crowns of Pluto.

The great garden hummed from the heart of the machines that gave it life. It was the crowning achievement of our outpost Station Kronos Kuiper, three varied places of warmth and green and the colors of all the gardens back on Earth combined — the Crowns of Pluto.

It was a very large place of glass and domes and shining gray walls slick with beads of circulated water in which the vines swam upward upon. A pathway of turquoise and gold brick wound up and down and all around and you could follow it deep into the garden or stay close to a place to heal one’s space soul. The bridges were bowed and held one above the various small streams of perfect blue because of the enzymes — unsoiled ocean water blue.

The trees were immense and varied, the works of genius minds and artists, somehow altered by chemical gravity to bloom quickly like a porcelain doll with animal organs. They had thick trunks and veins that pumped the energy and gave us breath. Artificial birds hop from limb to limb, mechanical insects buzz, computerized children play in the open spaces of yellow green and where the tumbling towers jut up toward outer space on wings of imagination. Their candied eyes rotate with innocent hope.

And now it is all mine to enjoy, to wallow in, to escape to. The man-made nature speaks to me as it bubbles in liquid light of blue and mellow orange sun. I can look up to the thick, protective glass domes and see night and all its stars at the same time I can walk beneath the chemical rainbows and hydroponic sun beams.

I wonder at times if it is the garden of good and evil versus the heartless psychology of man as I sit on a bench alone and look out at it all, breathe it in. They scented the air with lilac and linen and ocean water and man’s own pollution, too. Pollution on Pluto cannot breathe.

The Paper People hang like bats up high. I can sense one eye opening at first in wonder of what my visit today or any other day means. Then like dominoes falling upon each other, all their other eyes open and their judgement cascades like an Earthly waterfall.

“How did you get in here!?” I yelled up to the colony. “The doors are not meant for you. Only me.”

There was a shrill, haunting call like nothing I have ever heard. It was that of a pained, frightened beast searching for mercy at the same time it was pouncing to kill. It was nothing like the usual song they sang. Then the young woman from the Italian villa was sitting right beside me. She had her head turned and was looking straight into my eyes with those emerald pupils, but they did not move, they did not exhibit life or heart, only disappointment in the tragedy I had bequeathed her.

It was a jolt to my system, and I leapt up off the bench. Her empty eyes followed me. I wanted to run, but like in a dream I couldn’t, my feet were locked in place. But where was I to run? The complex, the station itself where I now existed in this outer world place, it was large, winding, a mystical mystery created by many before me. Perhaps I was ill prepared to live here after all.

But here I was alone, so I thought. The reproduction did not work. We don’t know why. They never figured it out, but some blamed the atmosphere or lack of it, even though we had created our own. Some blamed the biology of our physical systems and the transformation that occurred. I never fully understood it. Physical love existed, not for me, but for others, but the seeds of a new life never took hold as they should have. The ones once with me never figured it out. I think it was something that they never thought would happen. We were unprepared for our own extinction. But is that any different from how we lived on any world or place and time? I don’t know.

But life has come here after all. Life in the forms of phantoms and ghosts or perhaps just the material products of my own mind, my own dreams and imagination. Like I have said before, maybe I am going mad and none of this is real. Maybe I am still asleep and travelling. Maybe I have yet to wake up.

But there the girl from the Italian villa of my memories was, seemingly in soul and flesh, breathing but blind, her arms outstretched and reaching for me. Did she want to embrace and soothe my guilt, or was she ready to strangle me?

I was finally able to pull my feet from the muck of a dream and I got away from her. I ran through the gardens, the leafy heartbeats all around me, the fake blue sky and its phosphorous clouds of virgin cream mixed up in it like beautiful batter. I made my way for the large arched opening in the far high wall. I looked up at the slithering vines of botanical life, thin columns of Jack’s beanstalks on their way to the heavens and a golden goose and a wicked giant.

I went through the archway and into the artificial city. Cinderella City they called it. A representation of one at least. It was built for psychological purposes. Each sector was assigned a color and everything in it fell under that color — blue, red, gold, green. The space offered us a piece of home, sanity, clarity, hope to tether ourselves to in case the fear got to be too much. And now the fear in me was too much. I could feel my nerves trembling beneath my skin. I looked back through to the other side of the archway. There was this Wizard of Oz glow about it. It was beautiful but empty. Neither the girl nor the Paper People had followed. I suppose they didn’t need to. All they had to do was wait for me, for I would always be here in one form or another.

Author’s note: This is the fourth piece of this play-around project. Visit to read the previous chapters. I hope to craft more of this story over time as an experiment in writing some science fiction, or something like that. Thanks for reading and supporting independent content creators who just want to do what they love to do.

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