Everything Is Gone
“My head hurts. I guess I didn’t sleep well,” Arn said as we walked up the slope that led to the fields.
“Me neither. Actually I don’t even remember waking up. Did we have something bad to eat last night?”
“I can’t remember what we ate.”
We reached the top of the slope and looked out over the fields. Something was very wrong.
“What happened to the plants Arn? They’re gone. Did the goons cut them down during the night?”
“Maybe. But I didn’t hear the harvesting machinery,” Arn said, looking first at our end of the field, then slowly turning to his left, as we scanned the fields as far as we could see.
“Tammy, I don’t see any plants anywhere. The goons only harvest one section at a time. All of the plants are gone. Let’s see if there are plants at the other end of the fields, a couple of miles from here.”
We turned and walked along the edges of the fields. The fields had turned to a barren, windswept desert. The hot early-morning wind kicked up swirling sand and dust.
“What happened Arn?”
“I have no idea. Let’s head toward the goons’ buildings and see what’s there.”
We walked south, toward the administration buildings.
“Where are the workers, Arn? Where are the shacks where the workers pick up their gloves? I don’t see anything. It’s all disappeared.”
“Something’s very wrong, Tammy. A dust storm must have wiped the place clean during the night while we were sleeping. Did we sleep in Gramps’ workshop or in my underground hideaway?”
“I don’t remember where we slept, but don’t we usually sleep under our tree?”
“Yeah, usually,” Arn said, turning back toward our tree. “But I don’t see our tree, or Prune Face’s shack.
We continued walking along the edges of what had been the fields until we reached the area where the goons’ buildings should be.
“Haven’t we gone far enough that we should be able to see the goons’ buildings off to the right?” I asked. “Wasn’t that low spot in the mountain range pretty much directly behind them?”
“Uh, yeah, but nothing’s there,” Arn said as he turned and walked toward the area where the buildings should have been.”
I followed. I saw nothing but dry, swirling dust and sand. The mountains lay ahead of us, and an endless desert lay behind us where the city and later the ruins had once stood, but all traces of humanity had been erased.
“Did we go through another door to get here, Tammy?”
“I don’t remember any door. I think we just woke up walking.”
“This time we must really be stuck in a dream. So how do we get out?”
“I don’t know, Arn, but I’m getting thirsty.”
“If we’re stuck in a dream, we should be able to dream up some water to drink, but I’m not having any luck. How about you?”
“No luck here either.”
We stood staring at the hot, barren landscape. Little had changed from the landscape of the Hoth we knew, except all signs that anyone had ever been here had disappeared.
We Need Water
“Whether we’re in a dream or somehow really here, we need to find water, Tammy. Our only hope is the desalination plant. Maybe we can find water there.”
“Shouldn’t we try to find Gramps’ workshop? “ I asked.
“How could we possibly find it even if it’s still there?” Arn asked. “Everything has been covered by at least several feet of blowing sand and dust. It would take us weeks to locate even the general area where Gramps’ workshop was. We have only hours until we pass out from the heat and lack of water.”
We headed west toward the mountain range beyond which we hoped the desalination plant still stood.
Even though the distance to the top of the mountains ahead of us was no more than three or four miles, the blistering hot wind slowed our progress. We were overheated and parched by the time we began climbing the mountain.
We struggled to the top of the low mountain range and looked down on the secluded area where we had last seen the desalination plant.
“Nothing’s there Tammy. Absolutely nothing.”
“Including the ocean, Arn. It looks like a dried up mud flat. McKaren was right. The human race is doomed. The planet is doomed. And now it looks like we’re doomed too.”
Waiting For Death
“What do we do now, Tammy?”
“Sit down and wait to die together or wake up if this is a dream.”
We sat down atop an outcropping of rock. I reached out and held Arn’s hot, dry hands. We looked at the dried-up landscape behind us, then at the dried up ocean in front of us and wept.
“This is our planet, Arn. Our home. We can’t live here. No human, or any other plant or animal can live here. We destroyed the place, and now it looks like everyone and everything except us is gone, and soon we’ll be dead too.”
We held each other and sat, waiting for death. The increasing heat of the day smothered us. We grew faint, then slowly lost consciousness.
Are We Dead?
I was aware of light in front of me.
This must be what happens after I die.
I opened my eyes and saw Arn next to me. Arn was also opening his eyes, adjusting to the bright light. McKaren sat on a rock near us.
“McKaren,” we shouted.
“Did we die?” Arn asked.
“You saved us?” I asked. “Please explain McKaren. Was the part where everything was gone a dream, and now we’re awake, or is this part the dream? Or maybe we’re dead.”
“Neither of you are dead and this is not a dream.”
“But the part where everything was gone was a dream. Right?” Arn asked.
“Ah the boundaries between dreams and reality are blurry, are they not?” McKaren asked.
“McKaren, just help us out here,” I implored. “Where were we, and where are we now?”
“You’re in Hoth, and you were in Hoth one hundred nineteen years in the future of Hoth, when most traces of humanity have disappeared.”
“I don’t remember going in any door that mysteriously appeared this time,” Arn said.
The Door Found You
“Not all doors are so obvious, Arn,” McKaren replied. “You just stepped out of that door, and weren’t even aware you did, just as you were not aware when you entered.”
“We weren’t looking for any doors, McKaren. Arn and I were just trying to get some sleep.”
“You may not have been looking for the door, but the door found the two of you.”
“Why? So we could see what lies ahead for Hoth?” I asked.
“Yes. So you could see what lies ahead for Hoth.”
“For what purpose, McKaren? It is meaningless unless there is something we can do about it. Is there something we can do about it?”
“There may be, but as I said before, the answer does not lie in Hoth.”
“Where does the answer lie?”
“In you, Tammy. In you.”
“If it lies in me, it must lie in me in the past.”
“In the past and in the future,”
“That makes no sense, McKaren. We just saw the future and we’re dead in the future. Maybe if you send me back to the past I can do something to stop people from poisoning the planet, although I have no idea what would convince them. But if you send me to the future, there’s nothing there.”
Where Does the Answer Lie?
“Time does not function as you suppose, Tammy.”
“You told me I’d be on Hoth for two years and then return to my own time, right?”
“So I’m supposed to go back to my own time and somehow stop people from poisoning the planet?”
“I don’t see that happening,” McKaren stated flatly.
“How then does the answer lie in the past? And in the future too?”
“Your journey will provide the answers, Tammy.”
“And Hoth is party of my journey?”
“Yes, Hoth is part of your journey, but only part of your journey.”
“What about Arn?”
“What about Arn, Tammy?”
“Does he get to come along with me, or is he going to perish in this hell hole?”
“What is that to you? I will take care of Arn.”
“What is it to me? I love him and he loves me. You know I swore I’d never love anyone or allow anyone to love me. Damn you, McKaren! You and whoever you’re in league with tricked me into allowing that, and now you’re telling me it’s just for a little while, and what concern is it of mine anyway.”
“I did not say that Tammy. I said I will take care of Arn, and that time is not as you suppose. But you already know that. Look deep inside yourself. You know these things. You’re thinking of endings. I am thinking of beginnings.”
“You’re making no sense, McKaren. What are you anyway? You are a woman one minute and a flying car the next. You seem to be able to arrange for Arn and I to go to the past and future. You seem to know everything, but can’t give us a straight answer.”
“I am telling you what you can understand, and I’m pushing your limits on that. Be patient, Tammy, and eventually you will understand much, much more.”
Can you just tell me if Arn and I get to stay together?”
“You will find the answer to that question, Tammy. The answer must be discovered, not given.”
“I’m not so sure I’m into this saving the planet or the human race or whatever it is, McKaren.”
“I never said you would save the human race or the planet. I only said the answer lies in the past and in the future, as you understand those terms.”
“You’re planning to help distribute all those supplies to the people of Hoth, aren’t you McKaren?” asked Arn.
“Why?” Arn asked.
“To help make their remaining time here as comfortable as possible, even though they will not be comfortable.”
“You are an enigma, McKaren.”
“Why thank you, Arn.”
“An enigma wrapped in mysteries,” I added.
“Except for the fact that is somewhat redundant, you are correct, Tammy. I am a mystery wrapped in a mystery.”
But you know me.
I said nothing. I knew I knew her, but did not know how or the circumstances of our acquaintance.
“Shall we return to Gramps’ workshop?” McKaren asked.
Before we could respond, McKaren turned into a brilliant flash of light, light of every color, and when the light faded, McKaren the Landrover stood before us. McKaren was no longer black, but the color of deep blue gemstone-quality garnets.
A door appeared in her side, and we stepped in. Once inside, we were safe, safe from the horrid weather of Hoth and safe from the horrid future we had seen.
McKaren took off, banked to the left and soon we were tracing an arc in the sky above the goons’ administration buildings. We descended and lowered into the opening in the top of Gramps’ workshop.
“You said our education would continue today. Are you going to teach us, or have us read books?” Arn asked.
“Indeed your education is continuing,” McKaren replied. “In the days and years to come I will be providing information to you. You will also be reading. But the most important part of your education and the portion that will be occupying most of your time will be learning by observing and doing.
“You will be presented a variety of opportunities to learn through your experiences. That may not make sense to you now, but eventually it will.”
McKaren landed in her usual spot in Gramps’ workshop. Her door slid open and Arn and I stepped out. I turned to see whether McKaren was still blue, or if she was black once again, but McKaren had disappeared.
T-a-m-m-y Spells Trouble
“How are we supposed to do anything by ourselves?” Arn asked.
“Let’s go into the supplies cave and see what we can find, Arn. I have an idea.”
“You have an idea? It probably means trouble,” Arn said smiling.
“McKaren said we need to learn by doing, so let’s do something. Let’s see what else we can find in the side rooms. I think the machine that digs new rooms looks interesting. Let’s see if we can find it.”
“Tammy. You are going to get us into trouble.
“Are you in or not?”