You see those white cosmos flowers stuck in a little blue bottle? That’s the last of the cosmos in the garden. My wife planted them back in late autumn. She didn’t exactly plant them; she scattered the seed heads in a bare patch in the vegetable garden. They grew apace. Cosmos usually do. And when they began to flower they were all white. No pinks or any other shade. Just lovely white.
Wilmott had collected the seed heads when we went for a walk in the botanical gardens. That would almost be a year ago now. Usually the staff at the botanical gardens don’t leave plants in for long enough to develop into the seed stage. Perhaps they left these plants because they wanted to save the seeds. Anyway, Wilmott took just half a dozen heads. The gardeners wouldn’t know they were missing because there were hundreds of seed heads in the garden plot. That’s why we didn’t realize that the flowers would be all white. We never saw the cosmos in flower earlier on.
It’s quite illegal to take seeds or cuttings (or plants for that matter) from the botanical gardens. Imagine if everyone came along with their secateurs. The place would be denuded. I don’t know what would happen if we had been caught. Wilmott simply snapped the heads off with her fingers and quietly dropped them into the pocket of her cardigan. “We’ll find out what colour these are in the late spring,” she said.
When we got home (we usually went for a longish walk each day) Wilmott scattered the seeds in the garden, as I said earlier. She did that even before we went inside. And when we went inside she died. Suddenly. It was heart.
So you see those white cosmos flowers stuck in a little blue bottle? That’s the last of the cosmos in the garden. I could save the seed heads and begin the cycle again. Earlier I had decided I would do that, but now I think, goodness me, I can’t not move on forever.
It’s fascinating to think, said Theodore to his theologically-minded friend, Nelson, that when I’m grinding these coffee beans for breakfast there’s probably twenty million other intelligent beings on other inhabited planets doing the identical thing. Such is the expanse of the universe! Such is its enormity!
Don’t be silly, said Nelson. You’re so closed-minded. Why do you always limit the infinite? In all the trillions of inhabited planets in this universe alone, there’s not a single planet that’s the same. And there’s not a single intelligent being doing the same thing as you. God is not that boring.
(This is the second of the Science Fiction stories to commemorate Science Fiction Day. Science Fiction Day is celebrated each year on Isaac Asimov’s birthday: January 2nd. Ok ok – haven’t you heard of a Time Warp?)
Many years elapsed after the Earthlings’ first failed attempt to populate the cosmos. But now technology had advanced. What used, on average, to take six generations to get from Earth to a habitable planet, now took only minus-a-few-days. The secret lay in the discovery of minus-time; not moving forward in time, but moving in another time dimension.
Anyway, that is irrelevant. Twenty Earthlings had been specially chosen to begin spreading human genes across the universe. In fact, a particularly friendly planet of aliens had especially invited the Earthlings to “Come! Populate our greatly under populated planet! We need more scientists!”
These aliens were of a highly advanced and intelligent character; brilliant scientists themselves, and at peace with all!
The twenty Earthlings chosen were selected carefully by the leaders of Earth. They were to be scientists of course, utterly objective in their search for truth; open-minded; unsuperstitious and not at all religiously irrational. In other words, they would fit in beautifully with the superior qualities of their alien hosts.
The Earthlings landed. The head alien came forward to greet them. “Welcome!” he said. “Welcome! Are you saved? Believe in the Lord Jesus and be saved.”