Writers Without Borders

Entry by: Seaside Scribbler

4th March 2016
Beginnings and My Ending [working title] by Anju J Myell. 04/03/2198

The Chain of Words was what got us through the early days. We may have been separated by geography, but in time we could be in the same place. We'd all log on, every Wednesday (in those days we stuck to Earth-days) and write, screen share, discuss, play games and create a dialogue we could all be part of. I'm so proud to have been part of something that big, that important. At the time, it served only to keep us sane and connected; as a part of history it is now crucial and every child has to read it in Scholartime.

It is our beginnings.

The planet was discovered by chance. We'd never seen it because it was one of the shadow planets, those that needed the Hyperscopes to see them. On ordinary telescopes they simply didn't show up - or, to be more exact, they showed up as spaces in space; a black gap devoid of stars. When it was discovered it looked like utopia: clean, with water, seasonal, fertile. The only issue was the air, but that was merely seen as a hurdle.

By 2067 when we'd got things back in balance on Earth, after the oil and water crises, we were looking to expand. Since the union of nations and our pooling of resources, our technological bounds forward has been giant's footsteps; we leapt towards the future faster than we'd ever done before.

But forgive, me, you will know all of this already. I don't need to rewrite or rethink history, I'm writing this as my farewell. [It's for my family or for anyone who wants to read it, really. (NB - I must think of a better title though). It will need editing, but either I will do this, or, if I've already passed, it'll be left to you, Reader. Give it a title with buzz, will you? And edit out all these notes and mixed up parenthesis pls]

It was 2080 when we left Earth. Sixty of us left, one from each of the new sub-zones created after the union. We'd named the planet Taupio, by now, as it had begun to feel more and more like our utopia, and our salvation if the sun did eventually burn out, as had been predicted. We were all pioneers, chosen from varying backgrounds and with varying careers. I was a singer in a band; there were teachers, planters, actors, time dancers, doctors, lawyers, writers, shop keepers, binmen, recyclers, transporters, cell workers, nuclear physicists... We were a mixed bunch. What we all had in common was our ability to live completely alone, for up to four years, with no other human contact. That skill was one we all excelled in and the sixty of us were chosen from an original pool of 874 hopefuls, all of whom wanted to be part of our new beginning. The sixty of us were trained for two years in the operation of the Air Purifiers (APs)

And this beginning depended entirely on the sixty volunteers. The air of Taupio, you see, was not oxygen-rich enough for life, so our job was to alter the atmosphere. You'll know, of course, that we were successful. We did our job.

I was wanting to write, though, about the Chain of Words. It began as bantering across the miles. We could not leave our Pods for long, only to do essential maintenance on the APs, for up to an hour each time. We were spaced evenly all over Taupio, a thousand miles apart. There was no possiblity of travel, our job was to make sure the machines worked, and nothing else. One day Rovers would come, and enable us to visit each other, but those days were years away from our humble beginnings.

We had the Web, though. It was like Earth's internet and interweb and webweave all rolled into one. It could project holographic images of each of us to each of us, so you could be 'visited' by each of the other pioneers 'in spirit'. We found this difficult, though, as it reminded each of us about touch and contact, so after a while an unspoken embargo on this took place. It simply was too much, stirring up emotion in each of of that we didn't need. But we wrote. Our Web Writes are now the 'stuff of legend', to use an old Earthism. [edit out?] They remain unedited so there are jokes and swearing and banter, but the poetry and sheer life the words contain still moves me, fifty years on. I remember each conversation, as if it were yesterday.

I used to log on in the morning, and write some Early Words. These were usually about dreams we'd had, and one of us would start, and the thread would be picked up and continued by others who happened to be on line. I used to imagine my words stretching out of my sector [will need to describe what 'sectors' were as different now in 2198] and travelling the thousand miles over the browngreen land, to be received in someone else's Pod. We became closer than we ever could have been, had we had physical contact; a screen allows you such honesty. You could choose to speak your words, to dictate or just to ramble, to write with fingers (which was what I always preferred, despite my background of singing) and the words could be picked up by someone you chose, or by the crowd of us as a whole. I used to like to think of us all being in one room, conversing magically, mind to mind. That's how it felt, as if we were all together. I'd write a thought, someone else would pick up the thread, add to it and pass it on, come back to it later or leave it be. With such a variance in our backgrounds the words and work we produced was beautiful and almost mystical, in the connections we allowed.

The collected works of our Web Words was pulled together by the Historians who came and settled. One of the things the Historians wanted was a record of the very earliest days on Taupio, so that future generations could never dispute the early days, not assign meanings that weren't there, or religions based on fiction, or anything except what actually happened. After what happened on Earth with religion and the disputed beginnings and 'God', I thought this was genius, which is one reason I wrote so much.

When the collection was 'published' on digipage, it ran to billions of words. After all, our work was easy and we had plenty of time to write. We had to exercise, sleep, grow food and maintain the machines, but this left hours each day for cultural activity, which could come in any form. We had reading lists and access to every book ever written through the Web, and of course, we could write to each other.

You will know what the collection was named. 'Words Without Borders' became the go-to book for answers on everything, we philosophised, made decisions, played, created... Everything we could possibly do with words was done. The result is a rambling eclectic collection of ideas, written by everyday people, the everyday people who gave air to a new world.

I am proud of all of it. Proud of my contribution to Taupio's atmospherical change, proud of my words, proud of everything I've done, since I was chosen.

But I tire easily, now. I'm 97 next month and although I should have another thirty years, there is some evidence that our early days on our new planet damaged us in some way. [I'm part of this research too; every week I get experimented on to see how my body is different from those who came later. That early air, it seemed, was a little toxic. We couldn't help breathing it in sometimes; there'd be a leak, or a little extra in the air lock, or simply a moment of carelessness with the breathing apparatus. It's too late now to change this, but I hope there is some progress made in our treatment. Not sure if I should include this? Too depressing?]

I tire easily. Today I also wanted to write about Georges, plus include some of our poetry. He was my soulmate, my life partner, my missing half; all of the things that the old romantics craved on Earth. In Taupio there was little hope of finding this person as there were so few of us, which, as I said, is why we were chosen. We were all complete 'packages' by ourselves and lacked the need for another's love. We were complete. So when Georges and I connected on the Web, it was wondrous and frightening. [plus we had to keep it secret or we'd have been decom'ed - and we knew what that meant.... - should I write this???] When the APs had finally done their job and Rovers arrived and we could visit one another, and when the first settlements were being constructed, when we could, in short, be free once more, Georges and I met.

The rest is our own history, and it is where I shall start in part two of my personal history.

Til then, farewell, AJM

Editor's note.
Sadly, part two was never written. Anju succumbed to the effects of what was named EAP (Early Air Poisoning) just three days after writing this. It will be added to the collection of Writers Without Borders, as a reminder of the sacrifices made by those who came here first. Without them, Taupio would not be habitable.

I wish I had known her.

I've left Anju's parenthesis in, despite her request, as they are in her own voice, and I like them - Ed.