“There you are. Hey, Vinney, it worked.”
“Why did you waste the energy bringing her here?”
“I wanted her to see what she’s done.”
Dorothy focused on the grey metal walls around her. “Where am I? How did I get here?”
A man in a white coverall smiled. “I’m John. I brought you here.”
“Brought me where?” She tried to stand up but the low ceiling prevented her. She sat back down.
“This is the last ship out. Take a look.” He pointed to a round window.
“Yep, it’s Earth. Of course, no one lives there anymore because of you. I brought you here so you could see your handiwork.”
“Because of me? What did I do?” Her heart raced.
“The hypertechnique drive you invented. I know it all sounded like a great idea to travel the planet without using fossil fuels, but in the end it destroyed us.”
She clutched her chest. “It’s a green energy, no pollution. It’s a better way for the people to travel.”
John laughed. “That’s what they said, but in fact, it does pollute, you just can’t see or smell it. When the hydrogen is converted to energy it puts out a small number of oxides. Those oxides kill bees. Your transports didn’t catch on at first, but right before your death, they began to be popular. The more popular they became, the fewer bees there were. Our scientists didn’t catch the correlation at first. Mainly because the hypertechnique drives were said to be non-polluting so they didn’t look there. When someone finally figured it out, we were so dependent on the drives that they wouldn’t stop using them.”
“I’m dead?” Dorothy shrieked.
John stomped his foot. “Of course, you are. You didn’t have spaceships and time machines during your life, did you? You killed the planet! Now pay attention.” He folded his arms. “The point is, I brought you here to see the last human beings leaving the planet Earth. The scientists warned the people what would happen when they finally figured it out. It may have been too late at that point, but it didn’t matter. The people wouldn’t listen. They said it was a conspiracy by the oil producers to get us using gas again. Some said that we didn’t need all that honey anyway. Some even said, what’s a few less bees? It’s your invention so it’s your fault. Take a long look at an abandoned planet.”
Dorothy burst into tears. “I didn’t know, I honestly didn’t know.”
“Now you do.” John stormed off to the front of the ship.
She sat and stared at an ever-shrinking earth while the ship went deeper and deeper into space. She wiped away a tear now and again.
Vinney came to the back of the ship. “I’m going to have to ask you to move. I’ve got to get to the levers.”
She slid over to the other side. “What’s going to happen to us? Where are we going?”
“You aren’t going anywhere. It takes a lot of energy to keep you here. Pretty soon John will come to his senses and send you back. John and I and the rest of the two hundred and thirty-two we have down in the cargo bay are going to the planet Nestrum. Luckily, a space-traveling race saw our predicament and are transporting us to their planet. We can only live on one continent and they won’t allow us to divide it into countries. So, we’re one big happy family, so to speak.” He threw the levers. A small amount of steam came out. Then he restored them.
He laughed. “The aliens have dabbled in time travel, but it is far from perfected. John is one of them. I don’t know at what point in your life he’ll send you back. You could be dead when you arrive back in time or he could be giving you a second chance. I don’t know. In this day and age, yes, you are dead. You died thirty some odd years ago.” He walked away without another word.
“Bye,” she said after him. He didn’t respond.
John walked back to where she sat. “I’ve got to send you back now. As much as I’d like to keep you here so you can see the final fate of mankind, I can’t.”
He pushed some buttons on a rusty control panel. A red light lit up and he hit another button.
She gasped as she woke while sitting up in bed. Scanning the room, she thought. It’s my bedroom. I’m home. Oh, what a crazy dream.
It was still early, but she went into the kitchen and made herself a cup of tea, and stared blindly out the window. Suddenly a bee caught her attention. It buzzed around the glass as if it were trying to find a way in. Giving up, it flew away.
What if it wasn’t a dream?
Arriving at the office, she donned her white lab coat and then went to her morning meeting. Her colleagues had all gathered around so she began. “Hudson, how is the propulsion system coming along? Have you fixed all the bugs in it?” Bugs! She heard him talking but wasn’t focused on what he said. Shaking her head, she said, “Thank you.”
“I wasn’t finished yet.”
“Oh, I’m sorry. Continue.”
He went on, but she heard a buzzing around her head. She looked around, but there wasn’t anything there.
“I’m done,” Hudson replied. A few snickers could be heard around the room.
Dorothy put down her agenda. “Have we looked into what we're doing? How would this affect the bees? Maybe we should study that before the hypertechnique drives hit the market.
The snickering turned to laughter. It soon died down when Dorothy didn’t smile.
“It’s a non-polluting, totally green energy. It won’t kill the bees,” Hudson replied.
“Our donors aren’t going to want to spend money to have people out there chasing bees,” her assistant said.
“If it does, oh, well. We can do with a few less bees anyway. What’s the big deal?”
“So, what if we have a little less honey? I don’t like the stuff anyway.”
“You are kidding, right, Dorothy?”
“I bet that’s a rumor the oil companies have come up with.”
It’s happening again. She clutched her chest and walked out of the room.