Across the universe
In a world where Avian Humanoids were captured, picked and prodded at like science experiments, it seemed like the best bet would be to sail to the other side of the universe. There, at least, winged humans would have a chance at survival.
The world, or what was left of it, consisted of mudded clay and rock. Bordering what was left of rundown and abandoned cities were tents and small cabins constructed of whatever rusty or splintered salvage people could find. The large beacons of steam symbolized a source of food that drew in the business of hungry commuters. With food on earth being so little, there was no way for anyone to steal as punishment for theft, or any crime for that matter, was exile with nothing but the clothes on your back and the shoes on your feet to bring with you.
Most of what could be seen beyond the walls of cities included nothing more than mud, rocks, quicksand, more rocks, the occasional remains of a tree and more mud. Probably the most exciting thing anyone has come across in recent memory was the looted carcass of some poor scavenger.
This was what the world had come to. Where a futuristic gleam was created once by the hand of mankind has devoured itself to leave an intense nothingness. The land was barren, stripped from any sign of growth or life. Cities, big and powerful, now lay in ruin, the economy of it forgotten. Where cars lined the streets and pavements felt the patter of feet all day long has made way to a muddy substance that will never be washed from its surface.
Where one could have once looked at the sky above and watch birds soar high now made way for a bleak, grey sky with the sun laying barren in a corner as if cringing at the sight of what it is forced to hover over each day. From what was left of the animal kingdom were either hunted to make a morsel to eat for those still surviving or was trapped in their own dismay of life.
As far as the globe culture went, the people followed an unspoken “Leave me alone or die” policy. In other words, keep your distance, and all will be well.
And should what was left of mankind come across a feathered half-human with wings, it would create the perfect opportunity to conduct experiments to try and find a way out of a land that was already forgotten. Thus, the only way was to disappear from the surface of the earth.
That was the game plan Aldabra had. Get a crew of four people together. Have them learn the ropes of her ship. Take them with her to the other side of the universe. Start a new life and a new civilisation. Easy enough, right?
But when Violet and Regal, a married couple who constantly fought, as well as Gester and Aqua, who were also married, stepped onto the ship, Aldabra was not so sure if she had made the right decision.
“On my ship,” Aldabra said before they set sail through the vastness of space, “there is one rule and one rule only. We stick together as a team; no matter what.”
Violet, Regal, Gester and Aqua shook their heads in agreement as they spread their feathered wings to start prepping for their voyage.
“Could you please just do as I tell you?” Regal muttered in frustration only a few hours into the voyage.
“I am doing exactly what you asked,” Violet said as she looked down at the ropes neatly stacked at her feet.
“I asked you to tie them together and then stack them, not stack all the pieces on top of each other!” Regal spat in frustration.
Violet did not say a word and started placing the ropes on the deck once more to start tying them together.
“It won’t help if you do it now. Look at the horizon! There is a storm coming and we won’t ever get this done in time.” Regal lost his cool. “You know what? I am done! When the storm comes, I won’t be here to help you get the ropes tied around the sails.”
Aqua watched Regal stomp towards the lower deck and approached Violet, “What’s his problem?”
“He’s having a tough time sticking together as a team, I suppose,” Gester said as he stepped towards Aqua and Violet to help them with the tying of the ropes.
It did not take long for lighting, rain and severe winds to rock the ship from side to side.
“We need to get the sails tied up very well if we don’t want to lose them!” Aldabra yelled over the roaring of the wind.
Together, the crew and captain strained themselves against the beating rain towards the sails where the ropes, now tied together, waited.
“Gester, you grab that rope! Aqua, grab the one on the other side. I’ll pull on this one while Violet and Regal swing the sails around towards me!” The captain yelled.
“Regal is below deck! He is angry at me for not tying the ropes together in time!” Violet yelled back.
“Well, the ropes were tied in time! We need Regal’s help if we are going to get this sail down and safe!”
But it was too late. As the words escaped Captain Aldabra’s mouth, a gut-wrenching twist was heard and the entire ship swung sideways, right onto the bank of a floating sky island.
“We’ve hit something!” Gester shouted.
“There is no way we are going to get off this piece of island while the rain is coming down like pelting bullets!” Aqua replied.
“What happened?” Regal came stumbling towards the rest of the crew from below deck.
There was no need for anyone to answer Regal as he already knew. Without all hands on deck, the ship had steered too far to the left and had slammed right into the side of an island. As Regal looked over the starboard side of the ship, he could see a large jagged rock sticking right into the side the majestic wooden panes of the ship’s body.
As severe as thunderstorms in space could get, it only took a few minutes for the rain to stop and the thunder to subside into mere rumblings in the distance. This gave the crew and captain a chance to evaluate the full extent of the damage caused.
“Regal, I…” Violet tried saying as she clearly noticed him blaming himself for what had happened.
Shrugging, Regal made towards the gangway of the ship that led right onto the floating sky island. The captain and crew followed as there was no time left to waste. The sooner they could assess the damage, fix it and continue their voyage, the sooner they would be able to get to the other side of the universe.
The island, damp and covered in soft, green moss, was a welcoming sight after the storm the crew had just endured.
“It’s breath-taking,” Aqua said as she mused at the various insects and eight-eyed rabbits hopping along the mossy plain.
While the other crew members were taking a moment to muse at the stunning island, Regal sat down on a moss-covered rock. He felt miserable for arguing with his wife. If it was not for him getting angry at her, he would have been there alongside his fellow crew members; helping them during the storm. And should he have been there, their ship would not have slammed into the island.
He pondered over the fact that he should apologise for his actions but found it hard to do so as he still felt a tinge of anger towards his wife. At times, she did not follow his directions and that frustrated Regal to the point where he either took over whatever his wife was doing at that point or he rendered himself to arguing with her.
“Regal, you know this is not your fault, right?” Aqua walked to where Regal was sitting.
Gester, Violet and Aldabra also walked towards Regal.
“Regal, these things happen. We get angry. We fight. We are stubborn. It’s in our blood because we are half-human. The thing that makes us different is the ability to forgive. We all forgive you for getting mad and not helping where you were needed. But in order for our forgiveness to truly matter, you need to forgive yourself as well,” Aldabra said.
Regal looked at his wife, who had a gentle and forgiving smile on her face, as well as Gester and Aqua, who both nodded their heads in agreement.
Aldabra continued, “The act of forgiveness; that moment of letting go and feeling the first new ray of light open you and flow into your heart; that is the moment when healing begins. Old, hardened stories have worn grooves in your mind and heart. Hardness becomes a habit, long after the event has passed. You hope that hanging onto the old story will one day make it right. But the gift comes when you decide that the change is within you. The moment you let that happen, the whole story falls away. The wind blows. And everything is new again. Every cavern of your heart stretches to invite the light in. Shafts of light warm your face and open your eyes, illuminating you to what is the incredible reality and wonder of each life around you. You start to be amazed that we have all gotten this far, that we manage to live and love at all, given the complex circumstances of our daily lives. A tremendous and unforced compassion and connection arises spontaneously within us and flows to others. Forgiveness is a letting go. It’s not accepting a wrong or going against your basic values. Forgiveness is for healing yourself. The places within you that have been tight and hard can soften. Your body can open. You have new space within you, new chambers in your heart, places you may have never known before. Of course, the hardest part is that we so often show up thinking that we are done with forgiveness. But, forgiveness needs to be given each day, over and over again, for the hundred small ways in which we don’t see one another. It’s that forgiving, for the little things, even when you think it doesn’t matter, that will set you free and show you how you are connected to everything. And then, one day, you may at last come to forgive yourself, and allow others to forgive you, too. This is the hardest act of all. An act of bravery. And the first true act of great love.”
“Do you really mean it?” Gester asked.
Aldabra smiled and said, “I would not be saying it if I didn’t mean it, now would I? That is the beauty of forgiveness. It gives us the opportunity to be honest and transparent with each other. There is no point in holding a grudge as it does not solve the problem. Our problem, at this very moment, is getting that rock dislodged from the ship,” Aldabra said as she pointed towards the ship.
Violet extended her hand towards Regal with a smile on her face, “Come on, we have work to do.”
Regal took her hand lifted himself towards her and gave her a soft kiss on her forehead, “What did I ever do to deserve you?”
“We’re a team. That’s all there is to it,” came the simple answer.
Within a couple of hours, the crew managed to dislodge the rock from the ship, board the gaping hole at the side of the ship up with wood and steer the ship clear of the floating sky island.
“Without forgiveness, we would still have been shipwrecked on that island…” Regal whispered as he watched the island disappear in the distance.
Produced by: Eugenio Zorrilla.
I had a statement that was meaningful to me and I wanted it developed into a short story. We discussed the scope and length. I felt understood and encouraged by the response and we went ahead with the project. The outcome was a success. I am pleased with my story and I feel the author understood what I wanted, and delivered on time. I will reach out again.