“It’s another scorcher out there today, sir,” Givens said as he wiped his brow on his sleeve.
Dr. Arlington nodded his head and took a sip of ice water. He sat the glass back down on his desk and looked up at his assistant. “Any news from the dig site?”
“They’ve found another cave.”
“I want it explored as well. That makes… ten now?”
“Yes, sir. Ten.”
“Very well. Make sure everyone has oxygen and plenty of water, Givens. We don’t need anymore deaths from the heat.”
When Givens left his office, Dr. Arlington gazed out of his dome’s window at the rugged terrain. It had been thirty years since the last section of the ice caps had melted at the South Pole. There was only one small section left at the North Pole, but it too was melting at a rapid speed. Earth resembled Mars in many sections of the world now. Bleak. Infertile. Parched.
He still couldn’t understand why world governments had ignored all of the warnings. They’d refused to make timbering and stripping illegal and the Rain Forests were gone. They were determined to use weather modification to keep certain areas fertile and turn others into deserts, destroying the ozone layer that surrounded the planet. And for what? A few islands of playgrounds for the wealthy. Dr. Arlington shook his head in disgust. And when the ice caps melted and countries flooded everywhere, they still did nothing. Billions had perished within the expanse of a few years. Dr. Arlington’s team of scientists were among the few still trying to figure out how to save what was left of Earth.
He stood up and walked over to his map board. As soon as the South Pole had freed itself from the ice, corporations had flocked there to strip it of natural resources – oil, minerals, precious gems. Plants couldn’t grow from all of the digging, drilling and mining. And once the corporations had laid the whole region bare of resources, only then did they allow scientists in to assess the damage. And now they were doing the same to the North Pole. Dr. Arlington stared at the nine dots on the map and added a tenth one for the newest cave. He only hoped that they would find clean water in one of them. For now, they were shipping ice from Neptune to sustain thirst on Earth. He feared what those corporations were doing there. They’d already destroyed Uranus.
“Sir, you need to come out to D6!” Givens shouted from the doorway of the dome.
Dr. Arlington turned his head and stared at Givens. “What’s going on?”
“They found something, sir.”
Givens shook his head. “Something more valuable, I think, sir.”
Dr. Arlington arrived at the cave marked D6. As he went down the make-shift elevator, he trembled with trepidation at what had been discovered there. Could anything be more valuable than water? As he arrived deep into the belly of the cave, he stood there, silent and amazed. His eyes widened at the device before him – a massive cellular structure hummed in the center of the cave. A blue iridescent light glowed from it.
“What is it?” he asked one of his scientists.
“We aren’t sure, sir. But it has been buried down here for possibly millions of years. We found this with it, sir,” the scientist said as he handed a small stone tablet to Dr. Arlington.
The language on the tablet was cuneiform. He looked at Dr. Chase, a renown epigrapher. “Do you understand what’s written here?”
“I do, Doctor. It’s a history of human origins.”
“Yes, sir. According to the text, we are not originally from Earth, but from the star system Orion.”
Dr. Arlington scratched his head. “And that thing?” he asked pointing to the device.
“As best I can tell, it is called a jumpstart. They brought it from Orion.”
“Our makers, apparently.”
“Did you switch that thing on or was it like this when you found it?”
Dr. Chase lowered his eyes. “I switched it on, Doctor.”
“For God sake, Dr. Chase! You have no idea what that thing could do! What possessed you? How long has it been running?”
“The text says if we’ve found this device, we must activate it at once. I did so. Three hours now, sir.”
“Dr. Arlington! You need to get to the surface!” Givens shouted from the elevator shaft.
“I don’t know, sir. A report just came in that said people on the surface are yelling, screaming, crying…” Givens words trailed off and he shrugged his shoulders.
Dr. Arlington hurried to the elevator. Fear rose up in him as the metal box moved up and up through the rock cavern. When it arrived at the surface of the cave, he climbed out and held his breath. He wasn’t sure he wanted to see what all of commotion was about. He exhaled and nodded to Givens. The pair walked out of the darkened cave and into the sunlight.
Outside of the cave, a new world appeared. Lush valleys, fertile ground, water falls. And trees. Everywhere. Dr. Arlington fell to his knees and wept.
©2016 Lori Carlson. All rights reserved.
The Prompt via Mandy Wallace: Scientists discover the key to human origins trapped in the polar ice caps after they melt. The message it delivers is a second chance for mankind’s irresponsible treatment of their home.
Each day for the A to Z Challenge I will be writing a 500-1000 word Science Fiction story. I hope you will enjoy them.