It was always hot beneath Sumer’s two suns.
At night, when the blue and crimson stars slid beneath the horizon, the heat had a way of lingering. The high green grass beyond my house soaked up the day’s warmth, and the rains that had fallen each day became a nightly fume, blanketing the fields in steam, roiling in grey clouds off the little green-watered river.
Even so, I liked to walk at night.
It was calm, and I could be alone.
Most evenings, after the rains ended and the clouds cleared off, I liked to dim the lights in my little glass house and stroll out into the fields. Most people who’d lived in the village nearby had moved on to more fertile grounds, something I’d been helping them do for almost twenty years. By then, I was one of only a few dozen people left, and my plot of land was a good two kilometers from the others.
It could’ve been a peaceful life.
I might have lived out my days alone and content.
I could’ve grown fruit in the summer and Earth-like crops during winter. It’s not as if anything on Sumer would’ve stopped me. The hot, wet planet didn’t have any animal life other than the species’ the Exodus people had introduced. It was all plants, all forests and farms and dark green rivers.
The world was a garden. And I was its farmer.
And so, on a night some twenty years after I’d first landed on Sumer, I prepared for my walk the same as every evening. I strapped on my thick boots and threw a towel over my shoulder. I had to wear the boots whenever I walked in the high grass between my house and the green river. Some of the blades were sharp enough to take a toe off, and my legs were already marked with hundreds of small scars. The towel was for my sweat, which would start streaming down my forehead the moment I left the cool confines of my simple glass dwelling.
I wasn’t as young as I’d once been.
I was as fit as ever, but twenty years of building pipelines and digging irrigation trenches beneath the grueling sun had taken their toll.
Or maybe it’d been something else that had aged me.
The stars were many that night. I waded through the shallow fog, alone and silent. Like so many eves, I felt as if I were the only living soul on the planet.
Or in the universe, I thought.
But as it turned out, I wasn’t as alone as I expected. At the green river’s edge, I stood in the starlight and gazed across the water.
And my heart skipped a beat when I heard her voice behind me.
* * *
– Remember is the introduction to Shadow of Forever, now available on Amazon.
Shadow of Forever is the sequel to this, which I think you’ll like.