*This is inspired by James Mascia’s Other Worlds: Writing Prompts for the Science Fiction and Fantasy Writer.
“It is so beautiful here, isn’t it?” Aimee swung her feet casually over the ledge back and forth enjoying the whooshing sound.
He held back, reluctant to look down. “Come on, there is nothing to be afraid of. Where you come from, is it so different?”
“Well, Aimee, I came from a dirt town, on the ground. We would be lucky if we had a tree tall enough to climb. This place is beautiful, and I am not used to it. That is a long way down. Wouldn’t your mother be scared to know you were sitting on the edge like that? I mean, shouldn’t we be heading back?”
“My mother isn’t worried. She knows I won’t fall.” Aimee smiled an innocent friendly smile. She had short blonde hair, freckles and green eyes that were large and luminous. Butterflies and birds flitted about and the majestic birch trees added to the picture of intense beauty.
They were on a very large platform way above the earth where the air was still pristine, where plants and animals could breathe and flourish. Not like the deserted barren place he had been living.
He won a lotto pass to live here. Every now and then the elite threw a bone to the lower classes allowing a fraction of them to ascend to the cloud cities. He was one of the lucky few. It was breathtaking but frightening.
And then there was the task left to him by his brothers. He looked away from Aimee. Her family was his foster family. He was staying with them, eating with them. Sharing little moments like this. Yet it was all a sham.
When it came time to have a position here, he would at best be the janitor while she would be a councilwoman or Professor or some other such profession where her hands wouldn’t need to get dirty. He was here for the grunt work, the work they didn’t want to do.
He was also older than Aimee. Older in years, older in experiences, older in all ways. He felt like he had lived a couple lifetimes all ready. Sometimes it was too much. What was expected of him by his family. What he wanted to do, versus what he had to do.
There were others here who were also planning, and they had contacted him not long after he arrived. He watched Aimee kick her legs a few more times, the birds chirping above them. It seemed like the garden of Eden, paradise on Earth. Only this garden could come crashing down all too easily. Maybe more Tower of Babel, Or Sodom? Not all here were as innocent as Aimee.
In fact, it was the fact that there were Aimee’s running around, laughing skipping, and jumping that gave him pause. His mission would be so much easier, so much more fulfilling if somehow God could come down and save all the Aimee’s. All the innocent children could somehow be spared.
But that was a fool’s dream. God doesn’t work that way anymore. Besides, these children would grow up to be monsters. Perhaps it is a kindness, he rationalized. Yes, better for them to leave the world pure of mind and heart. They will go straight to heaven like the angels they are.
They will not ever know suffering, starving, pain. They will not know what it is like to watch your baby brother be burned alive by bombs, or have a mom who is crippled by a landmine that wasn’t defused from some past conflict.
Or a sister who was raped repeatedly and eventually ended her own life in shame. A father who no longer spoke, having witnessed most of this. And, then like magic, his family perhaps because of all their sufferings gets the elusive and rare lotto pass. But why did he not feel lucky?
Sometimes he felt that some strings had been pulled; he was not put here by accident. He was here to serve a purpose. God himself may have willed it. But, there was definitely some mortal man’s hand on it. He could not believe his family would ever be so lucky. Luck had left them a long time ago.
“Aimee, lunch time!” He heard a voice call out. Aimee reluctantly got up, brushing the grass off her leggings. “Aimee!” The call came again with a tinge of annoyance added. “I’m Coming! Sheesh!” She yelled back, shaking her head and rolling her eyes.
“You don’t know how lucky you are, Aimee. To have a mom that cares about you.”
“I am sure your Mom cares about you too. All mom’s care.”
“Oh, of course, my Mom loves me dearly. But, she needs to be taken care of, she cannot take care of me anymore.”
“Is she sick?”
“In a manner of speaking. She stepped on something that blew up her leg. So, now she is bedridden, and we take care of her.”
“I’m so sorry that happened to you. That must be awful. I will send some good thoughts her way, that maybe she can be healed and good as new.”
“That would be very kind of you.” Aimee gave him a strange look and ran in the direction of her mom’s voice. He watched her recede. He knew no one would be calling or waiting for him so he took his time taking the view in. He took a step toward the edge and looked down. He could see clouds, and sky and a receding base of metals and vines going into nothing, for eternity.
His heart started to beat fast, and he backed away. It was too much. Man should not reach out to heaven like this. There was something artificial and wrong about this. That his people should be starving and these people should have paradise. What did they do to deserve this?
They had a birth lottery, where they were born into paradise. Maybe it was time to even things out. But Aimee’s smile. She didn’t deserve this. Why was he chosen for this mission? He just wanted to be a kid himself and not have a care in the world, run after Aimee and have cheese sandwiches and juice and then be sent out to play once again.
That life appealed to him. It would be so simple. Just agree to everything, and then not do it. Just act like the kid he was supposed to be. Just play. Live and play. Forget the past, forget that others are still out there suffering. Just enjoy his lucky situation.
Would the others let him walk away? Probably not. They might tell on him. He was just a kid. Who would believe his word over an adult’s? He felt stuck. He had to follow his mission, but he didn’t want to. What was the right thing?
Aimee ran up to him out of breath, her blonde hair all over the place. “Aren’t you hungry? We got peaches and cream, and orange juice, and some grapes. Why didn’t you come? The food is for you too.”
“I’m sorry, Aimee. I’ll be a long in a few minutes, okay? I just have a lot to think about, and if you could tell your Mom to just save the food for later? You’re a good person, Aimee. A good friend, I hope you know that, and never forget that. You have helped me more than you will ever know. ” She looked at him confused, and ran back, shouting, “Okay.” on her way back to deliver the message.
He walked over to his backpack that had some crayons and a coloring book and some trail mix in it. He ripped out the last page out of the coloring book and took the black crayon and started to as carefully and simply as he could write out his brief story, and who were the conspirators in the plot to blow up the suspension system. He made sure and wrote names down so they would know.
It wasn’t our job to end life, that was God’s. And, he felt that Aimee had shown him the way to what he must do. He added at the bottom, ‘Please do not blame yourself, Aimee. You are the best, and you showed me the path. I will miss you. God Bless.’ He put it on top the coloring book where it would be seen and carefully zipped up the backpack.
He placed the backpack carefully where he knew she would see it when she came back. He walked up to the edge, and looked straight ahead, and calmly, walked off the edge of the world into the clouds. People would believe him now he knew. He would be with the angels because his conscious was clear.