The Genesis Solution
by Lee Gimenez
The Pod hits Earth's atmosphere at 15,000 mph, streaks down the night sky and crashes into the Florida scrubland with a roar. Its egg like shape smashes through a cluster of palm trees, rolls over the sandy soil and comes to a stop with a thud. It's after midnight and since this a desolate part of a state park, there's no one about except the small lizards and snakes.
The Pod is matte black, twenty feet long with no markings of any kind. A portal pops open on its side, blue light streaming out. A man steps out of it. He's tall, slender, with dark brown hair and blue eyes. He's dressed in a gray jumpsuit, wears black glasses and has a backpack slung over one shoulder. The man pulls out a palm sized device from his pocket, a Tag, and keys in a sequence of numbers. The Pod begins rotating at high speed and then starts to burrow into the sand; within a minute, it's completely buried.
The man looks around the clearing, consults his hand held device and starts walking west.
It's 4 AM and Anna Williams is still awake. A loud noise awakened her earlier and she hadn't been able to get back to sleep. She sips some wine and looks out at the Gulf of Mexico. From her second story balcony she can see the dark Gulf and the causeway bridge leading to the state park.
Anna finishes her wine and decides to give up on sleep for tonight. She gets dressed, runs a comb through her long auburn hair and walks downstairs to her photo studio and shop. She'd been working on a collection of photos for the upcoming art festival and was close to finishing it; all she needed was to retouch a few more pictures on her computer and she'd be done.
While poring over her computer screen, a loud knock on her door startles her.
Daylight is just breaking and she looks out her window to see a man dressed in gray standing at her door.
"What do you want?" she says, afraid to open her door to a stranger so early in the morning. There'd been a burglary in the neighborhood and she wasn't taking any chances.
He points to the "Help Wanted" sign on her window and says something unintelligible.
Anna looks at the stranger again; his rugged good looks outweigh her fear; also she needs someone to run her souvenir shop while she's out taking photos.
She opens the door. "Yes, can I help you?"
"Archiveso tu..." he says.
"I'm sorry, I can't understand you..."
The stranger adjusts the frame of his glasses and smiles. "Your sign says you need help. I'm looking for a job."
"Yes, that's right. I need someone to handle the store when I'm out. What's your name?"
He gives her a warm smile again. "You can call me Simon."
"Ok, Simon, come in. My name's Anna. I just need to check your references and we'll see."
"Yes, like where you worked before..."
"Actually, I've been mostly a day laborer, so I don't really have much of a work history."
Anna crosses her arms, suddenly a little afraid. "I can't hire you without someone vouching for you..."
He gives her that smile again. "My name is Simon Larson, and I can help you." He looks around the shop. "For instance, I speak many languages, which would help you with the European tourists you get here."
"Also, you can check me out on the internet. I don't have any criminal history."
Anna goes to her computer and looks him up on the database she uses for background checks. Like he said, he didn't have any arrests in the system. And he seems so clean cut. Since the job's been vacant for a month and tourist season just started, she decides to hire him.
"The pay's not much," she says, "but I have an empty apartment in the back I rent out if you're interested."
"Yes, I would."
"When can you start?"
"Okay, Simon, you're hired." She sticks out her hand and they shake. His hand is so warm and his eyes are so blue. She smiles at him. "Let me show you around."
Late that evening, Simon is in the small apartment in the back, furiously keying in numbers into the Tag. The calculations flash by quickly on his glasses; he adjusts the frame and the numbers slow down. He works on his calculations for another hour, then stops and frowns. He has a lot of work to do.
Two weeks later, Anna was glad she had hired Simon. It was now mid October and the tourist season was in full swing; there was no way she could have handled the shop all by herself.
"You're doing a great job, Simon," she says at the end of the day.
"Thanks. I like working here."
"Really, you're great with the customers and since you speak so many languages, people from all over like you."
"I appreciate that. Anna, I've been thinking. If you added sodas and snacks to your shop, in addition to the souvenirs, I bet you'd get even more tourists stopping by..."
"You know, that's a good idea. I'll get the supplies and a sign made up."
Simon gives her one of his warm smiles. "You've been so helpful to me; giving me this job and renting out your apartment. You don't realize how important this is to me."
Anna smiles back. God, after my divorce last year, I hated all men; but Simon seems so different, so sincere. "Just keep up the good work."
By mid November, tourists from Canada, Germany, England and France were flocking in, stopping at the store on their way to the Gulf beaches a few miles down the road.
Anna rings up another sale and watches Simon as he talks with some Germans. He was a good salesman, enticing people to buy t-shirts, maps, snacks and sodas. He's almost too good to be true; I hope he doesn't find another job.
"Anna, I was thinking," he says later. "If you started selling bait, you'd get all the fishermen to stop by on the way to the shore. Think how many more people would come by then..."
"Damn, why didn't I think of that...you're right, I will add that. You know, since you started working here, my business is really booming."
Simon smiles, his blue eyes sparkle.
Anna's heart skips a beat. I'm really starting to like this guy; he's getting to me. "Simon, I'm making some lasagna for dinner tonight. Would you like to come over...?"
"Sure. I'll bring some wine."
After dinner, Anna turns on the news, wanting to find the weather forecast for tomorrow.
The local TV anchor, a twenty something blond with perfect hair, was just finishing a story on the state budget. "And in international news," she says brightly, "we're getting reports of a mysterious infection that's appearing in London, Paris and Berlin. So far, medical authorities don't know the cause, but it seems to be spreading to...."
Simon turns off the TV and comes over and sits by Anna. "Let's not watch news; it's always so depressing. I'd rather talk about something else. Don't you agree?"
He sits close to her and she takes another sip from her wine glass. "That's fine."
"Would you like more wine?" he asks, while pouring her a full glass
Anna giggles. "Ok, but this is the last one."
Late that night in his apartment, Simon hunches over the Tag, keying in numbers. The calculations scroll across his glasses; he adjusts the frames and the numbers slow down so he can read them. He writes a message on the Tag, sends it and receives a reply. They are now on track to complete the mission in another month or so.
Anna picks up the December 15th Tampa Times newspaper and stares at the front page headline: "Infection Spreads" it says in bold letters. She reads on: More and more people were coming down with the mysterious infection in Florida and in the U.S.; several thousand had already died in Europe. Luckily, the Tampa area had been spared; very few people were sick locally. Authorities at the Centers for Disease Control had not found a source of the infection, nor a cure. It was believed to be spreading through human contact. Panic was spreading in the hardest hit areas.
Just then, Simon walks into the shop.
She gives him a kiss and shows him the paper.
"Have you seen this?" she asks
"I saw it earlier."
"Simon, I'm really worried. We could get sick too; maybe we should go get tested."
Simon smiles. "You worry too much. I'm sure this will blow over...you'll see."
Anna frowns. "You keep saying that. I'm not so sure anymore. And have you noticed, the tourists crowds are way down. People have stopped traveling as much..."
Simon goes over to Anna and holds her close. "Don't worry, I won't let anything happen to you. I promise."
The TV reporter on ZNN news has a somber look on his face. "It's not a very festive New Year's Day today across the world. The deadly infection has now spread to all of Europe, the United States, Asia and South America. Casualties are in the 100's of thousands, with millions more believed to be in the early stages of infection. In all the known cases, everyone that contracted the disease has died within weeks. Medical authorities have yet to find a cure for it. Governments are starting to ban travel to and from other countries, in a desperate attempt to stop the spread. Riots have broken out in..."
Anna starts to cry and turns off the TV. "What are we going to do?"
"Don't worry, Anna," Simon whispers.
"Stop saying that, damn you. Millions of people are dying. Can't you see that?"
"I won't let anything happen to you."
"Stop saying that. You're starting to frighten me."
"I love you Anna. I'll keep you safe."
"I love you too. But can't you see...we're all going to die. It's just a matter of time."
Simon purses his lips. "Anna, have you ever wondered where I came from?"
"What? What does that have anything to do with..."
"I should have told you sooner. But I have a mission to complete, even if I was falling in love with you..."
"What are you talking about? What mission?"
"I was sent here to complete a mission; many of us were. Now it's almost complete."
Anna stands abruptly, her eyes ablaze with anger. "Simon, what the hell are you talking about? What kind of crazy talk is that..."
"We're from a dying planet, in the star system you call Alpha Centauri. Our mission is to colonize Earth, make it safe for our people to live here...we called it the Genesis mission because it's a start of our new life on this planet."
"You're insane, Simon. You're not making any sense!"
"Unfortunately, our races can't co-exist. Our bodies give off an infection that kills humans. Unless you're given an antidote, you'll all die. The kind of antidote I added to the water supply in Tampa. That's why you're safe and the people of this city are safe."
"Oh, my God!" Anna screams. "You're not lying. You people are monsters! You're killing all of us!"
"I'm sorry; it can't be helped. Humans give off an infection also, so if we don't take an antidote, we would die also. I'm willing to do that for you , but not many of our people want to do that. They don't want to take the chance that it'll work. Don't you see, we have no choice? Our planet is dying."
"I hate you, you bastard!"
"Please Anna, don't say that. You and I can take the antidote for the rest of our lives, we'll be alive...we'll be together..."
Anna puts her head down and begins to cry. "What am I going to do...what am I going to do?" she mutters.
© 2008 Lee Gimenez
Bio: Lee Gimenez's stories have appeared or are scheduled to appear in Afterburn SF (2008); Bewildering Stories (2008); Skive Quarterly (2007); Skiveflash (2007); The Green Wave (2007). His story Level 49 appeared in the June, 2008 edition of Aphelion. For more of Lee's work, visit Lee Gimenez.
E-mail: Lee Gimenez
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