Travelers to a Distant Shore
Copyright © 1997 Jon Trent Adams

I traced the line of the hummocked horizon, eerily illuminated by recycled sunshine, a blue-white reflection from our partner in this planetary waltz, herself radiant in Night's sky. Alien dune structures, craggy ridges and a sea of quartz grains bounded by the calm, dark mare lay before me. A limitless pearl-black dome beckoned, full with a myriad of effervescent, iridescent sparkles, each a Sun for perhaps some other revolving duet.

I had arrived here just today. It had been a long but quiet cruise, rocketing away from the caring arms of my home world, leaving its safe confines to travel to this distant shore for the first time.

Across the silent void my two companions and I voyaged, encased in a steel and aluminum and rubber and glass cocoon that roared and glowed and hummed. There was precious little space: we carried fuel and sustenance, the basics for survival, nothing more. There would be no other humans where we were destined.

We selected this solitary place by committee, poring over maps first roughed centuries ago by distant observers, spying the land through crude lenses from far off its shore. We chose this tranquil berth from which to make our first footstep.

I monitored the radio the entire time - quiet whispers, routine talk, a little light comedy, some suspense, no disasters, no traffic jams. Nothing to spoil this first-in-a-lifetime journey, out and away from the encompassing hand that had nurtured me. I slept some.

That brilliant orb, with the face that few had ever truly seen, arched high above now. There were others of my kind there, neophyte travellers like me. I wondered how they were faring, what views they saw. How did they see my new world, down (or is it up?) here?

A few hours have passed. The radio has been murmuring in the background, the occasional static crash from some tempest far away on the surface of the Sun, the Earth's Sun, but my Sun also, perceived though unseen. Bits of news about the momentous events from afar, the humans above who even at this moment are making history, methodically, judiciously.

Finally, the moment for which we had been waiting millennia was about to become the past: the radio crackled with news, excitement, suspense. Men, far above in that night sky, announced to the universe, to the whole world through a hundred million radios spread across the planet, through my transistor radio here at this lonely seaside encampment on the central California coast, my first trip away from home, that they too, had finally arrived. That they too, had made Our first trip away from home.

The words echo even now: "That's one small step for a man; one giant leap for Mankind."

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