We are landing in three hours. We are out of orbit. The strange waiting is over. Now everybody’s just nervous. I can’t tell if I’m scared or just excited. We’ve been on the ship for nearly twelve days. Nine days in orbit. That is nine hundred years on earth. We are spending the last hundred years on the take-off and the landing. And this makes me start giggling hysterically. It is so absurd.
“Easy, Violet. Deep breaths, right?” The voice is soothing. I do as I’m told only because the voice is Alex’s. I hate when my parents tell me to take deep breaths. It makes me feel weak in some weird way.
I turn around. Alex’s most of all tall. I mean, really, really tall. She is definitely the tallest person I’ve ever seen. I asked her once if she minded being that tall. She thought about this for a while and then answered that she didn’t. I think she meant it. She usually does. If she doesn’t want people to know the truth, she simply doesn’t answer. That’s at least what I think. It is possible, though, that she is just manipulating. I do not like the thought, so I try not to think of it too much.
“Alex?” I say.
I don’t answer. I just wanted to hear her voice. It is so calm. While everyone and everything is busy, Alex’s just calm. I know she stopped doing some of the important things she was doing to go check on me. Soon she will have to return to the work. I don’t know exactly what is, but I’m not allowed to be there. I haven’t got any real work to do. Mostly unimportant things as to fetch things for people and clean, and I know it’s only because I want to do something. They don’t need me to do those things.
I’m the only child aboard. And I’m only here because my parents are. While we were in orbit, there wasn’t that much to do, not even for the adults. We mostly just sat. That was when I felt most like I was a part of the team, because people were just waiting, feeling and acting strange. Like me.
“I have to go, Violet, but you can come if you want to.”
I look up at her, and I guess I look funny in some way, for Alex laughs inaudible.
I follow her, glad to have something to do.
I don’t really know what she is doing, and I won’t ask, for I know she is concentrating. What she’s concentrating on is a little screen with a lot of numbers on it. I’m standing on a stool next to her and looking at the screen. Not that I’m that short, but as I said, Alex’s tall. I’m trying to find a pattern in the numbers.
I look at my watch. Alex and I have been looking at the numbers for nearly half an hour. My legs are beginning to hurt a bit, so I sit down. We are landing in two hours and sixteen minutes.
The room is kind of cosy. It’s tiny and there are a lot of wires on the floor. Then there’s this buzzing sound that I like. It was a little annoying in the beginning, but after listening to it some time, it becomes soothing.
“Violet, there you are, come.” It’s my mother. She looks frantic. I’m already beginning to be it myself. I just want to stay with Alex. But I get to my feet and follow my mother.
“Violet,” she says. She does that quite a lot when she’s nervous, which she clearly is now. “Violet, we are about … about to …” she stops midsentence.
I take a deep breath and don’t even try to do it inaudible; my mother doesn’t hear anything right know.
“Violet. Did I say something? Yeah, I did. Violet, we, um, Violet we’re about to,” she is thinking a lot right know. Probably about what she’s telling me about. I start worrying. A lot of things can go wrong.
“Violet, uh, what I’m trying to say is, Violet, that were about to transform – Violet?”
“Yeah, I’m listening.”
“Uh, good, we’re about to transform the ship to landing mode, which means that we ourselves will have to transform.” She’s pausing. “To landing mode, Violet, I mean.”
I nod. I’m still following her. Nothing is wrong, I think. I hope.
I know what’s going to happen now. Preparations. We have to wear special equipment. We don’t know what the earth will look like. We’re going to land in two hours. To the people who live – do they still live? I wonder – there’s going to go years before we land. I don’t know how much time, really. We aren’t moving at top speed now. We obviously can’t land at the speed of light. We’d simply crash.
There’s loads of equipment. Suits to protect us against possible radioactivity. Bags filled with oxygen. Weird glasses I don’t know what’s for. Maybe Possible Instant Blindness, which isn’t funny at all, I realize. I’m really exited. I will never be able to get back to my old earth. The scientists haven’t figured out how to do that yet. I will never get back. Not ever. I feel a little dizzy.
Maybe. Maybe the scientists in this world (I have to tell my self, that it actually is the same, just a thousand years older version) know how to travel back in time. I hadn’t thought of that. I don’t feel that dizzy anymore.
I’m fully equipped. I’ve glued my watch to the sleeve of my lead suit – which is, by the way, extremely heavy. I hope we don’t have to wear them all the time – so I can check the time when I want to. I’m sitting in another tiny room. There are a lot of wires, but I miss the buzzing sound from the other room. I wonder when Alex will come. I hope she does it soon. There’s half an hour left till we are landing.
And finally she comes.
“Violet,” she says, smiling. Now she’s got all her equipment on, she almost looks like a monster. A crazily long ebony braid is hanging over her shoulder.
“Alex,” I mean to say, but no sound is coming. It is embarrassing. I think I’m about to cry. I don’t know why. I’m just glad I’ve got my big glasses so Alex won’t see it.
“I don’t know what to do with this, Violet.” He looks at her braid. “I’m afraid it will get stuck in some way.” Then she turns around leaves.
She returns with a scissor.
“A shame, it is,” she sighs as she starts cutting. “I did like that braid.”
And as the last strand of hair is cut, I start sobbing uncontrollable. I don’t know why, but somehow it’s just unbearable.
Alex just sits down next to me and embraces me.
I don’t know how long we sit like that. But suddenly I hear my father's voice through a loudspeaker: “We are landing in ten minutes. Please go to Room 6, everybody. Yeah, you heard it all right! We are going to New Earth!”
Slowly, I pull away from Alex. She takes my hand, and together we go to Room 6.