Type: Far Future , Sociological, Science Fiction
Author: Harris Tobias
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Book 2 of the Newark trilogy. After much struggle, a lost race of robots is uncovered and life in the colony changes forever.
Excerpt from Chapter 1 of The Stang
Besides the edibles, the other great thing Ruth and I brought back with us from our great adventure was the knowledge of the first Newarkans, the mysterious alien race that wiped itself out a few centuries before we humans arrived. One of the first things the new administration did after taking office was to organize an expedition to record and understand these ancient people. The expedition was led by Professor Gerald Phol, the only settler with any real archeological training. For a moment I had the hope I would get to go with them, but in the end, they didn’t need me. William Kling led them back to his camp. Professor Phol took four others with him, Jeffery Hazlett, a photographer and his assistant Rich Malone. The third member was Deb Farnham, a language expert who, with Kling’s help. was learning how to decipher the strange writing the aliens left behind. The last member of the team was Chuck Barnes who is an all around bright guy. He was put in charge of communications, security, and trying to assess the level of alien technology. At least they didn’t send Trent Dunn like the Captain suggested.
The expedition was gone for several months. They took hundreds of photographs, made a load of translations. Chuck Barnes thought that the aliens had achieved a level of technological achievement well in advance of ours. For the last year or so they’ve been working on assembling their findings into a book so the whole community can share in their discoveries and learn more about the only other intelligent creatures yet discovered. The discovery of intelligent life will be big news on Earth when it arrives in ten years. In the meantime, we’re on our own.
Professor Phol and the rest of the scientists were itching to go back. Our little community newsletter recently quoted him as saying, “There’s so much more to learn about the first Newarkans. There’s enough to keep generations of scientists busy. This is the biggest news in the universe and will definitely put Newark on everyone’s list of must see places.” Suddenly our sleepy agrarian planet was excited about something other than crops. There was talk of tourism, hotels, even souvenirs by our more entrepenureal types.
All the excitement stirred up a tempest of emotions in me. I felt so far removed from all the talk of expeditions and discovery. I wasn’t going anywhere. I was a married man with responsibilities. My head understood all that but my heart longed for adventure.
Ruth could sense that something was bothering me. We lived on a few acres given to us by the community when we got married. With the help of friends and neighbors we built a typical Newarkan farmhouse—a round thatched roof affair with a large central room and a couple of small bedrooms around the perimeter. Ruth was four months into her pregnancy and just beginning to show a bulge. To me she looked beautiful. The new life a growing wonder. I tried to get interested in the things Ruth was interested in—baby names and toddler play groups but there was no fooling Ruth, she could read me like a book. She finally confronted me one evening at dinner.
“Okay, Tim. Out with it. You’ve been moping around for weeks. Just spill it out. You’re tired of me, right? You think I’m fat and ugly. Go ahead and say it.”
She was so far off the mark I didn’t know where to begin to straighten her out. “No honey, that’s not it at all. I love you. I love the way you look. I love our lives, it’s only...”
That was all the opening she needed, “Only what? Only you got married too young? Well welcome to the club. How do you think I feel? I’m only seventeen and I have two kids already. Do you know how old my mother was when she had me? Do you? 36. She was thirty six. She had almost twenty more years to do things, to find out who she was. When I’m 36, both of our kids will be older than we are now.” I had no idea that Ruth felt that way.
I felt selfish and small, I said, “I think about our trip in the mountains all the time. I wish we could just run away again, don’t you?”
“You know that’s impossible,” Ruth said.
I went on,”I don’t want to think that that one adventure was all we’ll ever have. That all the excitement is behind us, that we have to be adults now for the rest of our lives.”
To my surprise, Ruth actually seemed relieved that that was all that was bothering me. “I thought you were going to tell me you loved someone else.” She put her arms around me and put my hand on the bulge of her belly. “As long as we love each other, we’ll be alright.” Then she kissed me. “I’m feeling fulfilled and happy with our lives. I had enough of that kind of adventure. I’m content to stay home and raise our family. I can understand what’s bothering you, Tim, and I’ll do what ever I can to make you happy. Now how about we eat supper?”
There was nothing Ruth could do for me. I would have to swallow my longing and grow up.
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