Fiction Sad Science Fiction

The antigrav taxi gradually descended and soon landed at the hotel’s arrival zone on its roof. The Golden Shrine Hotel was a tall, sixty-story tower. It initially was a residential building, but because of the large number of pilgrims visiting the planet and the holy shrine of Veron, the mausoleum of the Sora Veron, founder of the Veronist faith, a billionaire bought the tower and converted it to an upmarket hotel.

There were a few parked antigrav cars and taxis in the hotel’s arrival zone. The taxi smoothly landed in front of the hotel’s entrance. Paul Green calmly stepped out of the cab. He was a tall and scrawny person with a bald head. Though he was fit and agile, he could easily be over two hundred years old. Obviously, he was a Veronist. Faithful Veronists, wouldn’t alter their bodies. They believed in the natural life cycle and were against the common rejuvenation treatments most individuals took to keep their youth.

As soon as paul stepped out of the cab, a female porter approached him and politely asked, ‘how can I help you, Sir?’

He immediately noticed her orange color irises, a standard factory setting for androids. Though androids were around for a few hundred years, some still despised them. Therefore, to make them distinguishable from humans, factories made them with orange color irises.

‘I am checking in.’ Paul replied.

‘Sure, I will manage it, Sir. Can I help you with your luggage?’

‘Thank you.’ Paul gave her the small carry bag he had with himself.

‘Is this all your luggage, Sir?’

‘Yes, it is. I am traveling light.’ Paul responded.

‘This way, Sir.’ She directed him toward the hotel’s entrance. ‘May I have your name?’

‘Sure, Paul Green.’

She remotely connected to the hotel’s server and did the check-in, then she said, ‘Sir, I did the check-in. Your suite apartment, as you had requested, is on top-level facing the west. It’s number 6002. Level 60, Suite 02.’

‘Thank you.’

They walked into an elevator cab, and soon they stepped out at the hotel’s top level. Then she let him inside a neat and modern-looking suite. ‘This suite has a pleasant view.’ She explained and walked toward its large balcony. By her approach, the balcony’s large glass door slid open. She swiftly walked onto the balcony and invited Paul to follow her. ‘From here, you have a view of the Veron shrine.’ She casually pointed toward the shrine’s direction. ‘The Veron Shrine is about ten kilometers in the hotel’s northwest. Unfortunately, as today is hazy, it’s hard to see the shrine. Despite the haze, the tips of the shrine’s four large domes are still visible. As they are covered with a thin layer of gold, they glow like being on fire at the sunrises and sunsets.’

Paul looked in the direction she pointed at and soon could see the domes that were almost obscured in the thick haze. ‘Does pollution cause this haze?’ He asked.

‘No, Sir. Vega Grandis is a tropical planet. It is caused by humidity.’

‘I see.’

‘And as the room facing west, you can see both first and second sunrises.’ After a pause, she added, ‘Vega Grandis is orbiting a binary star system, so we have two suns here. In contrast to Earth, Vega Grandis turns along its axis clockwise. Therefore, our two suns rise from the West and set at East.’

‘Thank you.’ Paul smiled.

‘Can I bring you something, a refreshment?’

‘No, I am fine. Thank you.’

‘I should mention that the restaurant is on Level thirty-one, and dinner will serve from 6:30 PM to 12:00 AM, but room service is available all day around.’

‘Thank you.’

‘Your welcome, Sir.’ She said and walked toward the door. But before leaving the room, she turned toward paul as if she forgot something important and asked, ‘Sir, are you here for the holy act of redemption?’

‘Yes, I am.’ Paul responded proudly.

‘I wish the Lord be with you on the path of redemption.’ She wished.

With a modest bow, Paul thanked her. ‘Thank you very much.’ As her behavior was so human like, more like a teenage girl, Paul mused, ‘how the fine line between machines and humans has been disappearing. If she didn’t have orange color irises, I would consider her human, an attractive young woman.’

‘Lord didn’t create humans to live forever. We were born, we live, and we will die. This is the fact we should never forget.’- a quote from Prophet Sora Veron.

Veronists believed in the natural course of life. Therefore, they were prohibited from taking any rejuvenation treatments. They should live a natural life. And Paul did follow Sora Veron’s teachings and gracefully embrace aging.

For those who lived long, the Sanctus redemptio ritual was to end their lives by committing the holy act of redemption on the day of their three hundredth birthday. Their critics called it Veronist’s holy suicide. Tomorrow was paul’s three hundredth birthday. Therefore he had planned this travel for a long time, to be on holy land, the Vega Grandis planet, to do his act of redemption near the Veronist’s most sacred shrine, the resting place of Sora Veron.

Paul had just arrived out of the hyperspace less than four hours before. Though he had many hyperspace travels during his long life, now his aging body couldn’t cope with the stresses of hyperspace travel. The pre-travel injections were not very effective on him anymore. He felt tired and nauseous. After all human body didn’t evolve for traveling faster than the light’s speed. He took a shower and retired into the bed. When he woke up, it was around midnight. He was fresh and hungry. He checked the hotel’s room service menu through his neural link and ordered some local food, asked for something new to try. This was his first time on that magnificent planet and his last day of being alive, so he was keen to see the planet’s first and second sunrises.

By a quick global net check, paul confirmed the time of two sunrises. The first sunrise of the smaller star of the binary system was at 4:10 AM, and the second sunrise was six hours later at 10:10 AM.

At 4 AM, by getting closer to the first sunrise, the rise of the smaller sun in the binary star system, the sky got brighter, and soon the thick dark clouds on the west horizon became brighter. In seconds, the clouds’ color changed from dark gray to dark red, then orange, and finally, they glowed as if they were made of gold. The sky’s color changed from dark black to gray and then bluish-green. Soon after the sunrise, the golden domes of the Veron shrine began reflecting the warm rays of the rising sun, creating a breathtaking view in the distance. The majestic view made Paul’s heart race and took him to a hypnotic state.

As Paul was fully committed to his Sanctus redemptio act, he had prepared everything for his departure to the afterlife. As he didn’t have anything left to do, he sat on a chair on the balcony, oblivious to the warm and humid air, watching the scenery view. At that moment, Paul was proud of what he had done in his three hundred years of life and didn’t have any regret. He was born into a good and god-fearing family. He had educated well and had a good job. Paul lost his wife a long ago, and he never remarried. Now he was going to join her in the promised land of heaven. He was proud of his four children. And as a faithful Veronist, now he was fully committed to his act of redemption, soon after seeing the second sunrise’.

As Paul learned from the global net, at 10:10 AM, the second sun rose. As the sky was already bright by the smaller sun, the second sunrise wasn’t as colorful as the first one. Even so, it was something Paul had never seen in his life, a planet orbiting a binary star system, a world with two suns. The sky got brighter with the later sunrise and its color change to bright bluish-green. It was hard to look upward as the sunlight was harsh to the eyes. Just moments after the sunrise, the mercury rose sharply. It was too hot and steamy to stay on the balcony, like being in a sauna bath.

Paul spent a few more minutes watching the scenic view of the planet from his high-rise balcony. Then he turned toward the holy shrine and said a short prayer. It was the time. He walked into the room, took a quick shower, then wore his ceremonial white robe, worn by pilgrims. Then took a small container from his suitcase. It contained two pills, one blue and the other red. The instruction was to take the blue pill first and took the red one thirty minutes later. Without hesitation, as he was fully committed to the cause, he willingly swallowed the blue pill with a glass of juice made by some exotic fruits found only on Vega Grandis. He sat on the room’s comfy armchair and faced toward the window staring at the green forest on the horizon. The blue pill made him light-headed and relax. He didn’t know what drug was in the blue pill, but whatever substance was in it made him significantly relax and lost track of time.

As he had set it beforehand, his neural link told him the time of having the red pill had arrived. He put the red pill in his mouth with confidence and gulped it down with the rest of the tasty juice. In a minute or two, Paul felt drowsy. His eyelids got heavy and heavier as if they were made of lead. He initially resisted and tried to keep his eyes open, but it became challenging as more drug, whatever it was, absorbed into his bloodstream. Ultimately he lost the battle, and his eyes closed. Paul soon fell asleep and began dreaming. A vague dream that made little sense. In ten minutes, Paul stopped breathing, and soon after, his heart stopped pumping. As his brain was gradually deprived of oxygen, Paul sensed being in a dark tunnel, with a light source at its other end. He began walking toward the light. With each step he took, Paul felt lighter until he flew toward the light than walking. Soon he found himself surrounded by the white light. It was a calming and peaceful experience. Then Paul sensed his body was disintegrating, and finally, he became part of the light. Paul wasn’t there anymore.

The next day two androids unceremoniously collected Paul’s lifeless body from his hotel suite and transferred him to the Veron shrine. After a junior priest hastily said a short prayer, as many more corpses were waiting for his service, Paul’s body dumped into the crematorium furnace. Later that day, Paul Green’s remaining ashes were scattered across the river passing through the shrine. That day the book of paul Green’s life closed forever as if he had never existed.

June 25, 2021 14:44

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Link Arneson
20:33 Jul 05, 2021

This is amazing! It's rare to see religion in sci-fi done so well. The worldbuilding felt real in the small details you sprinkled in. Beautiful ending too.


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Ravi Srivastava
02:10 Jun 30, 2021

A good story, Sasan. It is not easy to write a story in this genre, and you have managed it well. The story is a combination of science fiction and spirituality which makes it unique. Well done!


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