The Earth had become a cinder floating in space. The surface had become irradiated and uninhabitable. Early in the twenty-second century countries waged war upon each other forcing the people remained underground. And there they stayed for countless generations, never talking of war, and fearing the surface. The people of Terra, no longer calling themselves human beings, hated everything associated with war, the twenty-second century, and the surface. This is the story of a person, a Terran, and his quest for knowledge.
Noah had always harbored a secret interest in the past. He wanted to know as much as possible of the Before Time. However, most of his efforts were hampered by the council of elders. Some of his questions bordered on treason. He had been summoned before the council many times, and had cheated death many times for he was a person who liked to take risks. Some of the risks Noah took were almost suicidal, but one of those risks was to bring him face to face with the past. Noah called his quest for knowledge his “mission”, and one day discovered an ancient elevator shaft. Up he climbed through the debris in the shaft. While he was climbing he could feel warm air on his face. After a time that felt like a small eternity he reached the top of the shaft. At the top Noah was met by a gorilla-type person who was just as curious about the shaft. In time the gorilla-type person led Noah to other gorilla-type people. Their bodies were covered with hair, while Noah didn’t have any at all. He was certain these people had to be related to the people of the twenty-second century. The hairy gorilla people thought Noah was some sort of god. After all he rose from the ground. And he certainly looked different. Noah wore a simple silver gown, and had only one eye. Since Noah was regarded as a god of some sort he was allowed to go wherever he wanted. But he had to be careful of radiation poisoning, something his people had no cure for. While he walking enjoying his new found status as a god he saw a structure he believed to be an ancient astronomical observatory.
Noah could spend no more time on the surface. He had to return to his own world. But he chose to stay a few extra minutes when he found a tattered, brittle document stating that the closet star was called “SOL”. This bit of information was most exciting to him, and in his excitement he almost dropped the document. Armed with evidence Earth people still existed, were intelligent, and knew the name of the closest star Noah went home. When he returned and told his story he was arrested by the Council Guard and put on trial for treason against the civilization of Terra.
Everything he said was either suppressed or denied. When he was placed in a cell of suspension he planned to escape. He would make his way to the surface. He knew the Council Guards would not follow him for a Terran was not expected to live very long on the irradiated surface. When Noah was being brought before the council of elders he escaped and executed his plan. He was thought to have died on the surface -but he didn’t.
As the years passed tales of Noah were told to small children. But even in tales of fantasy there is a certain amount of truth. In a primitive video recording Noah vowed to return someday to show that his arrest and trial were improper and a sham, and that his treatment was almost human.
Twenty-five time spans after Noah had been banished in absentia from Terra, and condemned to death on the surface he re-appeared in Terra. He brought with him a gorilla-type person, and a great deal of information mostly in the form of printed matter. The Elders who demanded a death sentence a quarter of a century earlier claimed very loudly they had been cheated, and that a decree of the Elders had not been carried out. Noah claimed that it was exactly this type of reasoning that brought upon the destruction of humankind.
The Elder who hated Noah most, Elder Cain, sought to have Noah terminated. It was the intervention of the chief Elder, Elder Promain, that halted the execution of Noah. Elder Promain spoke to Noah in a most commanding tone.
“Noah, I am the chief Elder. My name is Promain. I wish to know a number of things. Why have you returned, who or what is that hairy thing, what is its name if it does have one, and why aren’t you dead?”.
Noah looked at Elder Promain and spoke.
“Elder Promain. thank you for not allowing me to be terminated. If I had been terminated as Elder Cain demanded I would not be able to respond to your questions. In response to your first question I am what humankind called an archaeologist, a person interested in ancient civilizations. In my case I’m interested in the Before Time, the era before we Terrans existed. I have brought with me information that could prove invaluable to all Terrans. With respect to my hairy friend it is a human being of approximately thirty of our years old”. There was suddenly a great deal of chatter from Terrans watching the proceedings from the public gallery. Elder Cain decided to stop Noah from saying more.
“Do you actually expect us to believe you ?” roared Elder Cain.
“Yes. Why should I mislead you ?” responded Noah.
Elder Cain could not contain his temper any longer and exploded.
“You are a liar ! We all know the humans wiped themselves out ! You are nothing but a disgrace to the Terran race”.
Noah pointed his finger at Elder Cain and talked in a most commanding manner.
“You are wrong ! If you, Elder Cain, had hair you would look very much like this gorilla-type person. It is also apparent to me that this gorilla-type person has more intelligence than you”.
Noah turned his attention toward the questions asked by the chief Elder.
“As I was saying Elder Promain, I do not know if this gorilla-type person has a name, and as to why I am alive I escaped via a device known as an elevator shaft I found. I climbed to the surface, and lived in a Terran like dwelling for twenty-five time spans. While on the surface I discovered a metal that retards the irradiation process, that one Terran time span is equal to one human year, and that the name Terra comes from an ancient human language. A the language was called “LATIN””.
Elder Promain was both angered and intrigued with Noah.
“Noah, I feel I must remind you that Elder Cain is a respected member of this council, and as such is due an apology. I know nothing of your obvious dislike for Elder Cain, but as this is a council meeting I insist you do apologize. It would be wise of you to remember it was this very council that decided that your life be terminated. After you have apologized I will question you further”.
Noah turned and faced Elder Cain. His hands trembled as he spoke.
Elder Promain resumed asking questions.
“Regarding the metal you discovered on the surface, do you have any idea what it is called”.
“It is called ”LEAD” Elder Promain. I discovered a great deal of it in the humans dead city. While in the city I found that humans learned from things called books. Some humans had large collections of these books, and it was in one of these human written and human made books that I learned of people called “GREEKS” and the language called “LATIN””.
Elder Cain had crossed his arms, and frowned. Finally he challenged Noah.
“Is the “human” as you called it capable of learning” yelled Elder Cain. It would be a question he would regret asking.
“I believe it is, and quite capable of taking your place should you not feel well” said Noah. The public gallery snickered as did a majority of the Elders. Noah had succeeded in making a fool out of Elder Cain in front of Elder Promain, something many had attempted to do. Elder Promain could not contain the smile on his face. When Elder Cain saw it he turned and left.
Noah put his hands behind his back and spoke to all.
“Elders, it is my conclusion that we Terrans were once human. If we do not correct our faults today we will be no more intelligent than my hairy gorilla-type person friend. History can repeat itself, but it is also capable of instigating change. Your decisions today will decide if Terra is doomed to repeat the mistakes of a past civilization. What you do today will be a calculated risk, but at least it will be an attempt. Learn from what has happened in the past. To learn more simply go to the surface for a short time and retrieve as many books of science and history as you can. Make Terra habitable again. Make the surface into a place we can be proud of, a place every Terran can go whenever they please. I shall return to the surface, and in a short time probably expire. After all, it’s where we truly belong”.
Noah did return, and did expire shortly afterwards. The body of Noah was discovered by Elder Cain his quest for the books Noah mentioned. In time the entire population of Terra came to the surface. Less than one time span went past before Terrans started building a life on the surface. The hairy gorilla-type people even helped. Gigantic domes were constructed to shield the general populace from the radiation. The cinder was no longer a cinder: it was simply undergoing renovations.