The Jarkaan Moon Colony was the last one left. The remnants of the human race lived here in their dying days, the last child having been born years ago. They had little to live for, and they knew the end was near. So they expanded no more, they learned no more, they grew no more. The human race was nearly extinct.
Darling, the last child to be born, was now nine years old. She was creative and playful; she had more life in her than in all the adults combined. She played out on the rocky plains as if there was more out there than just dirt and space. And she acted as if there was something more. As if there was some kind of life to be had. How could she have so much more energy than everyone else, when everyone was being fed the same amount of electro-nourishing? Where did this youthful bloom of life come from?
At night, when everyone slept in their sacs, she would happily mumble to herself. The others conserved their energy. Yet she still had more than all of them.
In the morning, when everyone left the Board to walk the barren wasteland, Darling would build castles in the dirt. The others saw dirt, she saw castles. But there was nothing different about her eyes.
In the afternoon, when the sun shone over the surface, she would watch the dust lizards soak in the sun's energy. The others did not care. They had their own solar panels to worry about. But Darling was not worried. She was caring.
In the evening, when the Plexar Rouge Galaxy swung into view, Darling would get lost in wonder. The others saw what they saw every evening. They cared not for the vibrant colors. Darling gazed for hours and colored the stars in her notebook.
Was the human race really over? Darling didn't seem to think so. Even as the bleak surface lay before her as it always would, even as the bugs crawled in their filth upon the lumps of dirt, even as every other human in the universe slowly dropped off into an eternal sleep, Darling remained young and alive.
And then, as if her energy was more of a connection with the universe than an outward expression, she was rewarded for her spirit and beauty.
A dream came to her.
Blue and green, the water glimmered beneath the red blazing sky. Waves rocked back and forth, sloshing against the rocks of a new shore. And then a green magic sprouted forth. A seedling, a growth, a plant. Out of the rocks came a stem, reaching for the beauty of the glowing sky, spreading its wings--leaves fresh and green under the sun, wrinkled at first, but proud and solid soon to come.
A grass begins to grow, a breeze begins to stir, a stone begins to move. A worm wriggles free, undergoes a transformation. Colors change, fur grows, spine prickles, the worm begins to walk.
Darling awoke. Her eyes were dancing and her entire face smiling. What wonders had come to her in the night!
Jumping from her electro-nourishing sac, she ran to tell the others.
"I dreamt of a beautiful world!" she cried. "The moisture we see on the plains after a seasonal capillary--it was like that, but far mightier. The entire surface was sloshing with liquid! And the air, it was alive, it moved like the freshest breath you could imagine! And then, something came out of the rocks..."
"All that comes from rocks are minerals and bugs," stated one man.
"Oh, but it was something indescribably beautiful!" she cried. "It was green and living, but not like an animal for it was peaceful and slow and silent. It grew before my very eyes and sprouted its fruit to the very open world. And yet when you look up, you cannot see the stars, for there is a haze of red like a ceiling of safety."
"An atmosphere," commented another man. "We know what atmospheres are."
"Yes, but this one was the most beautiful atmo-sphare you could ever imagine."
"What do you mean by beautiful?" asked a younger of the men. "You keep saying it was beautiful..."
"Yes dear, why don't you actually describe it," prompted an older woman. "Use your whole vocabulary so we know what you mean."
Darling smiled. "Oh, you wouldn't understand."
"But we know far more than you do, little one. I am sure if we think hard enough, we will be able to understand anything your mind can think up."
"Oh but no," Darling exclaimed. "You could only understand if you too had had the dream. And I didn't think it up. It just came to me."
"Things cannot come to you," said the eldest. "What is in your head is all that can be in your head unless you learn from other humans."
"Oh but this came to me in a dream. And do let me tell you of the greatest part!"
"Tell us," demanded the others.
"Well, there was a worm just like the mineral-eaters of the surface, but he lived in a rich brown dirt, and so he grew legs and fur and transformed into something new!"
The eldest snorted. "There," he said. "Now I know she is lying. I am going for a walk. I suggest no one else listen to the girl. Lies are unhealthy for us all."
The others dispersed immediately and left the girl alone with her very real dream. She sighed, and watched in her mind's eye as the mineral-eaters transformed into marvelous creatures. The others would have something to live for if they too could have such dreams.
Darling smiled. Maybe she could help them to understand. Yes. Next time she had the dream, she would remember every precious detail.