Five minutes. After 190 long years, just five minutes to go. I think I’m going to scream, I’m so excited.
There’s Thomas up ahead. In charge as always. Thank Madiba for him. We’ve needed someone strong like Thomas, and his father, and his grandmother, and his great-grandfather. To see us through this.
Purity’s at 98% out there, apparently — flat over the last ten years. Will never get any better, the scientists and statisticians tell us. So there’s going to be a risk, but if the Council says it’s okay…
Jenny and Fred, though — they’ve moved to the Inner Sanctum, along with thousands of others. I won’t call them cowards; they have the right to choose. But I can’t understand how anyone would not want to be here for this. It’s an historic moment.
Oh, I’m afraid, sure. But I imagine the discoverers were just as afraid, all those centuries ago, sailing east and west into the unknown. And the Mars colonizers. The terror of that first expedition!
Three minutes. It seems like an eternity. I wonder what we’ll find. The cameras gave up decades ago, of course — just the external sensors working now. A wasteland? Maybe. We were so cruel to dear old Earth when she needed us to be kind. It would be ironic if she’s returned the favour.
Everyone’s getting restless. There’s Sally from Zone K, petrified. I bet she wishes she’d joined Jenny and Fred. Come here. Let me … but you’re trembling so much! Don’t worry. It’ll be okay.
A lot of prayers being mumbled now: “Dear Madiba, protect us from all danger, bring us safely to our destination.”
What is our destination, though? When we get outside … what will it mean — to be outside? But Thomas will have a plan, I’m sure. If we follow him, we’ll be in safe hands.
One minute. Some are counting down, as if it were New Year’s Eve or something. Not New Year, no … New World! About to step out into a New World. Please Madiba, let’s not f— … muck it up this time.
Thomas, calling for hush. And there it is. Pin-drop silence, everyone holding their breath. But I’ll count down in my head. Five. Thomas at the control panel. Four. A lever pulled. Three. The groan of the door. Two. A chink of … light! One. Brilliant, blinding light …
Zero. I can see nothing, but that will pass they told us. Gasps all around. Air, sweet, cool air, perfumed, rushing in, past our faces, fuelling our exhilaration. Filling every stale corner of this damned space we’ve called “home.”
Shuffling now, towards the light, trusting the movement of the mass. Quicker. Some stumbling. The air even purer as we … cross the threshold into …
Colour! Dear Madiba! Unfocussed still, but rich greens, warm purples, joyous yellows … the source of the perfume, no doubt. The wondrous colours of the Earth!
And as my eyes become accustomed, shapes, materializing. Trees! There, atop the nearest one, a bird. Black. What an exquisite song!
“Welcome back!” it seems to be singing.
At least I’d like to think so.