A colony ship bound for Eden must avoid the volcanic lightning of the Northern Hemisphere.
|"It's beautiful, isn't it. So green and blue, it looks like home." Pastor Phil looked down on the face of his beloved Evelyn as he said these words while she continued to gaze at New Eden their destination planet and new home. The observation deck of the colony ship had the perfect view of this and they had managed to find a time when they were alone here to see it together.
"Do we know where we are going to land yet?" said Evelyn looking anxiously at the planet.
"You still worried about the volcanoes and their lightning bolts, we discussed that. We are going to land in the Southern hemisphere 5000 miles away from those things, there is no risk here." Phil smoothed the blonde-streaked hair of his fiancée and drawing her close to him kissed her on the cheek. He heard a movement at the back of the observation deck and turned to notice a man staring at Evelyn. He recognized him and with a sigh turned back to Evelyn whispering in her ear.
"Adam is here, ogling you again. Have you spoken to him yet?"
Evelyn looked around and went red, seemingly nervous,
"No not yet, I have no idea what to tell the guy. I want to marry you but he has got it in his head that God has told him to marry me. He never speaks with me but he has been writing me letters explaining to me how he feels and why he is hanging around like this. In his last letter, he told me he is just as uncomfortable about the situation as I am but it seems he remains convinced."
Phil looked at his wife to be and smiled,
"Interesting that he writes letters, no digital footprint I guess. All the emails in Engineering are journaled to the Chief Engineer."
"Can the Chief Engineer do that, even private correspondence!?"
"Yes apparently, the Security Chief has the same rights. But regarding the prophecy issue. Do you know how many boys come up to me and tell me that God told them this or that? What I always ask myself is why they never seem to be able to get a girlfriend by natural means. You know by just walking up to them and saying 'hi'. Prophecies like that seem just like wish fulfillment and nothing to do with God. This guy is just another high IQ engineer with stunted emotional growth. He would not know what to do with a real woman if she bit him on the arse. Do you want me to talk to the guy?"
"No, no I am a big girl, I have to do it, I just do not know how yet."
"Well make it quick, we are getting married the day after we land on Eden which is tomorrow. Should we snog now just to make things a little clearer for him?"
He drew Evelyn close and would have kissed except she turned away.
"You can be really mean you know, this conversation is going to break his heart and maybe his faith also. Let me handle this in my own way. We do not want these kinds of emotional wounds in the new colony, dividing us and causing dissension."
Phil looked at Evelyn impressed and he nodded his agreement.
"And that is why they made you the chief psychologist, you really do think these things through and of course you are right. Regarding the faith thing, most prophecies between Christians are conditional ones, God does not force us to do things we do not want to do. Even Rebecca was given a choice to marry Isaac when the servant came to collect her."
Evelyn paused thinking about what Phil said.
"You know I think there may be a deeper issue here."
"Well you know how authority works with engineering, it is the same as with the military. Our Chief Engineer here has a god complex - it is all 'Command and Obey'. There is never an option to say no. He is brutal at enforcing discipline."
"Oh, I see what you are saying. So Adam's worldly experience of authority is the one through which he filters his relationship with God. God does not suggest, He commands and there is no free will option. The button on the console is either on or off. It is all very binary and dehumanizing. I guess we actually need that kind of disciplined and precise approach when it comes to ships systems and security though. Maybe this cannot really change until we get to the planet."
"Food for thought, but I will talk to Adam after he finishes work today."
Evelyn finally cornered Adam just outside the main workshop on the colony ship. It seemed he had been expecting her to do so and he indicated a room where they could talk in private. She followed without objection.Then as he closed the door behind them she said,
"Adam this conversation is well overdue."
Adam looked at Evelyn, a pained expression on his face, and nodded.
"The letters, the hoping for me to change my mind, it has to stop. I have made my choice and I want to marry Phil. God gives us women a choice you know, he does not force us to do anything."
"I have not been trying to force myself on you, I know how it must seem to you, I just know God told me to marry you. It is hard for me to see you with him, but I am trying to respect that. Yes, you have a choice but until you are married I don't."
"So all this will stop when I get married?"
"Yes, that is right, because your choice to confirm your relationship with God sets me free of all obligation to pursue you."
Evelyn smiled relieved. "Well, that will happen after we land, and after it does I hope that you will find someone else. There are a lot of beautiful women on this ship."
"It will take a bit of time but I hope you are right too." said Adam, he held out his hand, "No hard feelings hey."
Evelyn took his hand and was surprised by the strength in the grip. She was looking down at the hand when Adam placed the chloroform hankie over her mouth.
That night Adam went to his post in engineering and entered some algorithms into the computer. Then he went back to the place where he had placed Evelyn. It was a closet between the two largest bulkheads in the ship. He had filled it with cushions and pillows, all tightly packed. he joined the unconscious Evelyn and prepared for the descent.
The observation deck was crowded with most of the people on the ship who were not required to fly the ship down. This was the moment they had all waited for all those years in deep space. The Captain's voice sounded over the intercom."We are beginning our approach now, please fasten your seat belts."
The observation deck was filled with chairs much like in a theatre all looking down onto the window over the planet. As they fastened up a heat shield covered the glass and was replaced by a giant TV screen on which images of the outside and of their descent were now broadcast.
Pastor Phil looked around for Evelyn but she was nowhere to be found. He wondered why she was not there.
As they watched the ship hit the atmosphere. There was some concern in the Captain's voice as he spoke.
"Wait this is the wrong angle we are too early."
Phil noticed they were over the Northern hemisphere and found himself thinking about the Lightning Volcanoes. He had heard though not fully understood one of the scientists explain the phenomena to him. Something about the friction inside the caldera generating an electrostatic charge, When the first probes had approached the planet they had hit the atmosphere over the Northern hemisphere. The friction had then generated an electrostatic charge on the probes. Unfortunately, the atmosphere and the volcano generated opposite charges and so when the probe flew over the volcano it was hit by an immense lightning bolt that completely vaporized it. If the much larger colony ship flew over the volcanoes it was in danger of being seriously damaged by a lightning strike.
The TV screen was full of images of the fast-approaching planet. The volcanoes came into view flashing bolts into the sky. Phil found them strangely beautiful despite the danger they posed. He was worried about Evelyn, where was she?
The lightning bolt hit the ship puncturing its hull. It generated an EM pulse that knocked out all the electronics. The ship's engines stuttered and then failed. The ship was now plummeting towards the ground. The TV screen went blank at the moment of the strike and the observation deck was plunged into darkness. People started screaming.
The Captain did all he could to slow their descent attempting a glide and then deploying parachutes to reduce their crash velocity but without rockets, it was a doomed attempt. The ship crashed into the land below and broke up.
Evelyn woke to find herself in darkness with a man cuddling her. They were surrounded by cushions.
"Phil, where are we?" she said. But this man did not smell or feel like Phil.
The man moved and kicked open the door. It opened into a wrecked hallway full of broken metal and gashes into the sunlight. They were on the planet. It was beautiful, with green and growing trees and blue skies, bird songs filled the air. It was the paradise they had all dreamed of. The man walked out into the open space and Evelyn followed. As she did so she noticed the wreckage strewn all around them. How had they survived this crash she wondered?
The man turned and she recognized him as Adam.
"We are the new Adam and Eve in Eden." He said smiling.
Evelyn suddenly realized what had happened and that all her friends and even Phil was dead. Somehow instinctively she understood that Adam had killed all of them, all 4000 people on the ship, just to be with her. She was too shocked to speak for a moment and then came the anger from the deepest part of her.
"No Phil was Adam you are the snake!"
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