I didn’t belong on planet earth, so I decided to make a life on Planet X. It was just a colony then and I figured I could escape the things that made me feel like an alien on my own planet. My profession was taken for granted; a career in maintenance is not anybody’s dream, but it had one benefit—people never wanted to see me and they left me alone.
So, I boarded the transport, filled with men who hung out in bars, who measured the meaning of their existence, like flies searching for the next piece of fruit. I didn’t hold it against them; I saw the world differently. I couldn’t talk to them with my own thoughts. Like most people, I had to adopt their speech, their way of being, and a sickness always set in when I listened too long.
Like most life-changing accidents, this one happened subtly.
“Maintenance requested in transport 14,” a voice on the loudspeaker said. It spoke like someone doing time in a prison of their own creation. Interplanetary space travel requires time. Even hyper-sleep won’t break the monotony. You don’t want to speak to the people you live with, and you hope they don’t speak to you. In a vacuum, nobody has anything to say.
We docked with transport 14 and I went to see about the problem. It was a teachers’ transport. Everybody inside was female and very smart. They never stopped talking.
“It’s the air conditioning. Can you fix it?” She asked. She was wearing sweats and she had a tense expression on her face. “I bet you can’t fix it,” she said. She wanted to be right, even though she wanted the air conditioning turned on. So, I tinkered with the dials. It was an electrician’s job, but I was used to solving other people’s problems.
After an hour, I realized I couldn’t fix it. “This is beyond me,” I said.
“You see, I told you, he screwed up.”
“Wait a second, I couldn’t fix it. I didn’t break it.”
She smirked, like she knew better than me. Then the transport shook like it was coming out of orbit. The group of teachers went into hysterics. They were crying. I felt bad for them, even though I knew it didn’t matter. We were all going to die. We were entering the atmosphere of Planet X like a meteor on fire. It was like being on a roller coaster to hell and then the fire extinguished and the smoke billowed out from the transport. Parachutes exploded into the air and we gently glided towards the surface.
When we landed, everyone looked at me. I was their leader, even though they would never admit it.
“Get the survival kits and the camping gear,” I said. “We’ve got at least 100 miles to cover before we reach the colony.”
“Why should we listen to you?” They asked.
“You can follow me or stay behind,” I said.
I walked in the direction of the colony, wondering if aliens on Planet X felt like I did. I wanted to escape my education. I wanted to escape those who knew better than me. I was content in my ignorance. If I made it to civilization, the wilderness would be my home forever.