This Side of Paradise

beautiful woods

It was a planet like no other, beautiful beyond compare, with constant blue skies, cool springs, blooming flowers, and the laughter of many adults. They all lived in bliss and harmony and welcomed other races from other worlds without cause for fear of the unknown because they had never known suffering or war.

But something was amiss in this paradise, with the visitation of other worlds, they discovered the joy of children, something that they had never had the need for. In their perfect world, death was unheard of, and illnesses a thing of imagination. And so, in time, what they sought became a reality, and a woman gave birth to a son. The first child in many years. He was named, Akin, a name that they had heard from another world. It rolled off the tongue, and unbeknownst to them, it meant “hero.” A label that they wouldn’t understand, even if it was described to them.

He was a fair-minded boy, with dark brown hair that shined in the sunlight, and deep blue eyes that made one think of the sea. His laughter and play turned the heads of all those passing by, it was a sound never before heard, and cherished above all else. His mother often hid him among the trees near their home, or in the fragrant gardens because of the attention his presence would draw.

Despite the immense joy Akin brought, he also brought challenges to this once parentless world. He often was disobedient and would venture out away from his home without permission. When finally found, he would ask questions that his mother couldn’t answer, for she had never once thought to ask such questions. He asked why things were what they were and repeated his question in various ways. Walking in the garden he asked why the flower bloomed, why the sky was blue, and how the ground was wet. His mother grew confused and somewhat worried about his continuous curiosity.

As he grew his questions grew harder, deeper, and broader. He asked why he existed, He asked about how their world came to be, and he began to feel alone and misunderstood in this paradise land. One question troubled him most, as near his home he often watched the alien spaceships dock. The most interesting of races would appear and explore their gardens and forests and wellsprings. As this happened Akin observed as the alien’s spaceships were moved, dismantled, or sold. The alien visitors would return to the dock and from there Akin wouldn’t see them take off again to the stars. 

What happened to them? Akin would wonder, feeling the pangs of apprehension rise yet not knowing what this feeling was. He finally asked his mother one day as they played out in the meadow, jumping about he asked what happened to the visitors and their ships, he explained how they came and never took off again. His mother merely laughed and replied, “son, you know I live to be your mother, those questions of yours are behind me, I am content and complete, why would I wonder about such things?” Akin was dismayed but he decided in his heart that this question would be answered, even if it meant he would have to seek it out himself.

Silhouette of Mother and Young Child Holding Hands at Sunset

And so nightfall came, and he did as he had done before. He crept from his bed, and climbed from his window, plopping softly on the grass just below. Living up to his name, Akin bravely jogged amidst the trees and stirring of critters both large and small. He smiled as he ran through a field of fireflies, like those of earth but far greater, with flashing lights of blues, greens, and reds. Their wings tickled his ears and he swatted them away gently and ran on.

The lights of the spacedock came into view, he saw a fence and used a nearby tree to cross over it. He felt for the first time a twinge of fear, as he ducked behind ships and around various containers. One ship caught his eye, it was beautiful, like that of chiseled marble. It reflected the overhead lights and cast them in all directions. Akin longed to touch it and so he army crawled towards it. People walked around patrolling nearby, but they had no reason to be watchful, no one had ever crossed their fence before. Akin’s eyes grew big as he placed his hand on the cool material, and they grew bigger still when a panel opened with a soft hiss allowing him entrance into the ship. He glanced left and right and dove in, the panel closing behind him.

He was greeted with the beeping and swirlings of lights, dials, buttons, and screens. This entertained him awhile until he felt his belly jolt. The ship was being lowered into the ground. He pushed his face into the viewport, trying to see what was happening. It was dark for a moment and then a subtle light brought everything to view.

It was a world within a world, at least that is how it appeared to Akin. He felt his heart race as the feeling of apprehension returned full force. He watched as all the alien visitors he had ever seen passed by with heads sunk and faces dirty. They wore nothing but rags and they all seemed to either be heading somewhere they didn’t want to go or doing something they didn’t want to do. He saw machines made of various alien materials with pipes and wires stretching overhead like spiderwebs. Aliens were working the machines. Akin could barely read, but he made out the words “weather control” and “fresh springs” on a couple of machines nearby.

A great pounding began on the outside of his ship, he covered his ears in terror and watched hopelessly as small pinpricks of light appeared all over the ship walls, the light grew and the sound of pounding increased as the beautiful ship was dismantled before his very eyes. The aliens froze one by one as they took sight of his cowering form.

This was very wrong, Akin knew in his heart. And something must be done. He took off running and was relieved to not hear the footfalls of pursuit behind him. He grabbed one of the dismantle hammers on the ground and took towards the “Weather Control” machine. He wacked it hard on its buttons and dials and heard shouts in his wake as he dashed to another labeled, “vegetation”, he made it to two other machines till rough hands pried him away in shock. They didn’t say a word but looked with open mouths as the machines coughed and sputtered before them.

Above the ground, things took a different, more severe turn. Plants began to shrivel, the sky grew dark and gaseous, water springs began to bubble and churn. The land of paradise was in turmoil. The land of laughter filled with screams.

The aliens below heard the rumbling and screams above and decided it was their time to fight back. They raised their hammers and tools and brought them down on the guardsmen. Akin watched it all unfold, he brought it all about…and yet the apprehension was fading…a new feeling was taking hold. A crippling sadness.

Paradise never existed. And though machines could be fixed and new aliens captured, the lie of paradise would forever be exposed. This side of paradise can’t exist without this side of hell to make it so.

 

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