The Crowns of Pluto (5.)
I moved closer to one of the windows and pressed a hand against it. When I looked out onto the surface of Pluto, it was somehow no longer Pluto.
I went to the hall of archives in the low whiteness of Cinderella City. It was all covered in a faint white dust. It was the place we collected ourselves in case we forgot. The hall was one giant book of all the history of man back on Earth — how we came to be, what we did, where we finally ended up. And now it all sat here in a hollow, silent shell to be revealed only to me now. Perhaps others will come from the sky or the tunnels or the clouds, but for now, I am its caretaker and sole reveler.
There was some serious moonlight on the edge of my heart as I went to the far end of the archives where there was a long bank of thick windows and directly beneath them tables with neatly placed chairs. It’s where the lonely ones would go with their books and their scripts and their digital pulses and they could look at the stars or the snowball as they read, studied, contemplated, disappeared into the wilderness of their own wavelength minds of tormented loneliness or rather bliss for some I suppose.
I took a deep breath. I couldn’t fathom what was wrong with me. But alas, of course, it must be… The loneliness. I moved closer to one of the windows and pressed a hand against it. When I looked out onto the surface of Pluto, it was somehow no longer Pluto. All I saw now was a gently flowing meadow of the most perfect greens and yellows that there could ever be. My entire existence was suddenly peace as I stared out at the vastness of the field below the wide gasp of all that is space.
Then there came the vision of the chair in the very center of the meadow. It looked like a very comfortable chair. It looked like a chair that one might find in the mahogany study of a professor. The fabric was royal blue in color, a dark blue, a perfect shade of enlightened death blue that shone deeply in contrast to the colors of the meadow. I suddenly became aware that the chair wanted me to sit in it. The oxygen levels must be low, I thought to myself. How can this be? And then the door that appeared, a simple door of a house on a farm with four pieces of rectangular glass in its guts, begged me to open it and step out. But wouldn’t I die? Why? Why would you want me to do this? I won’t be able to breathe. The Paper People were speaking to my mind of glue. I put my hand on the door and pushed. The air was suddenly warm and filled with the golden blessings of sun.
I waded slowly through the meadow. There was a slight breeze. The chair nearly glowed as I moved closer to it. There were sparse trees of knotted gray trunks and limbs, a few green leaves fluttering. I sat in the chair, and it fit me perfectly. I felt like a king. I was King Captain Willow at last.
I closed my eyes to simply dream and when I opened them there was a boy dressed in all white and he was just standing there and staring at me. “What are you doing in my chair?” he asked in a soft, innocent voice.
He moved closer. He looked princely almost with the way he carried himself.
“Yes. I’m the only one who is supposed to sit there. I won’t ask you twice to get out of it.”
“Certainly,” I told him and I got up out of the chair. “I didn’t realize it belonged to anyone in particular.”
He moved past me and climbed into the chair. He cocked his head and looked at me. His blonde waves of hair rolled and crashed in the wind. “What are you doing here?” he asked me.
“I came through a door,” I said, and I turned and pointed. “From over there.”
The princely boy craned his neck to look. “There’s no door there. I don’t believe you.”
“Well, there was door there and I went through it.”
He looked me over in awe and wonder. “You have strange clothes,” he said.
“I’m an astronaut. From Earth.”
“It’s a planet… Not much different than this one. You don’t know of Earth?”
The boy looked confused. “I never heard of Earth.”
“Do you live here alone? Are there others here with you?”
The boy looked down at his lap and then back up at me. “No. I’m the only one.”
“Then how did you get here? Surely you came with someone.”
“I’ve always been here. This is my home, my life. But if you came here from a place called Earth… Do you have a purpose?”
“Well, I swam across the solar system in a ship,” I told him. “I came here to study and learn and build and be part of a new society for my people.”
“Then there are others like you?” the boy asked, slightly alarmed.
“Not anymore,” I answered. “I’m the only one left. There were some problems and miscalculations. My only purpose now is to carry on my mission as best I can and hope someone else, someday, comes to join me… Before it’s too late. My name is Captain Willow. Do you have a name?”
“There’s no need for a name when you’re the only one,” he answered. “I just am.”
“Then I’ll call you Am… Because I must call you something.”
The boy looked small in the chair and he began swinging his legs and looking around. I began to wonder if he was tiring of my company. But where was I to go when I really didn’t know where I was?” I suppose I could just walk away and hope for the best, I thought.
He surprised me with what he said next. “I want you to take me to this place you came from, the place on the other side of the door. I want to see it for myself.”
“I don’t know if that would be the best thing to do. It could be dangerous. It’s very different than this place, whatever and wherever it is.”
He hopped out of the chair and stood as tall as he could for a boy. “I’m not afraid. I’m never afraid.”
I found him to be relatively harmless, and I thought that he even might come in useful in some small way. Perhaps he could lead me back to the door and to the station… And beyond those thoughts I did not know what else. “All right, Am. You can come with me. For now. But when I feel the need for you to come back, you must listen to me and do what I say. Do you understand?”
“I’m more than you think I am,” Am said. “But I suppose I will have to prove that to you… Now, show me the way to the place you came to be here.”
TO BE CONTINUED