Coughing up what feels like a lung, Karl Sneddon heaves for all he is worth. Gasping for air, he momentarily wonders if this is truly how things were going to end for him.
Seemingly despite all the odds, Karl finally catches his breath and he rolls onto his back.
Above him, the night sky is awash with color. The stars’ white pinpricks on the navy background are only accentuated by the splashes of gold and red from the space-bound clouds of dust left by some abandoned mining operation years ago. Squinting, Karl can just make out the shadowed form of the ship that he had jettisoned from. He isn’t sure how long he had been here, all he knew was that he was here now.
Rolling onto his side, Karl realizes that the ground beneath him is seemingly sticky. Confused, he stares intently at the ground and he is greeted with the present sight of what seems to be grass.
As he stares, the grass sways gently and Karl smiles at the memories of the gentle breezes back home.
It had been nearly ten years since he left the gently rolling hills of Hebron, his homeworld. To this day he isn’t sure quite why he left, but he did. Being the stubborn man he was, Karl refused to return home either. To go back now was to give up on the nomad lifestyle that he had taken to.
Well, the lifestyle that he had taken to until his ship decided to get popped full of holes in a micro-asteroid field that wasn’t marked on his maps.
Shaking his head, Karl clears away the thoughts of what ruined his way of life and he returns his thoughts to Hebron. That wonderful planet of modern-day Eden. Everything grew there. Everyone was happy. Everybody had somebody.
Wincing, Karl remembers how that ‘everybody’ extended to everyone but him. His somebody, Abarrane, wasn’t ever interested in him. She had let him think that she was, sure, but that was the end of it. After three months of dating and feeling like his life was perfect, she ended it. Or at least that’s what Karl deducted when he found out that Abarrane was seeing another man and ignoring him. She didn’t even have the courtesy to tell Karl what was going on. So, Karl packed his bags and left the city. Two could play at that game.
After that, Karl bounced between towns and jobs in search of his calling. Yet, despite his pursuit, his quarry never materialized. He’d start to think that he was putting down roots when he’d find out that those roots were only superficial and bore him no fruit.
As he reminisces, he realizes that there isn’t an actual breeze right now, which piques his interest. Looking closer at the grass, he realizes that it is very much unlike any grass that he had seen before.
The grass looks alive.
Not alive alive, per se, but very much living. It moves on its own accord, which serves to confound Karl. Looking closer still, Karl realizes that the ‘grass’ had a hollow tube that glistened on the inside and had small grasslike blades stretching out from the blase of the tube. Only the tube green straw moved, Karl saw, and he then realized that these tubes were what was making the ground seem so sticky. Poking at one, he watches in wonder as the tube repositions itself and begins sucking randomly at his fingers and arm. The sensation tickles and Karl can’t help but let out a bit of a giggle at the discovery.
“Kissing grass!” Karl exclaims, naming the plant after what it looked like and what it did. In many ways, Karl realized, the plant reminded him of a venus fly trap, just without the mouth-like attachment.
Satisfied that he knew what was below him, Karl finally looks further on ahead and he sees a peaceful little creek and a small waterfall. Smiling, he can’t help but think, “For a place to be stranded, this isn’t all that bad!”
Finally sitting up, Karl looks around and he sees his one-man escape pod that popped open when it hit the ground, depositing him in a twisted heap. Shaking his head, he slowly rises to his feet, cautious to not overdo it, and he approaches the nearest piece of the capsule that had split into three pieces, as it had been designed to do. Reaching into a small recess, he pulls a lever and is reward with the first small pack of survival gear that came standard to the pod.
He wasn’t sure just how long he would be stuck here, but he knew he’d make the most of it.
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