The child dragged his mom to the shop to look at the latest line of earths; all of them concentric spheres, from geo to bio (presented in all manner of colors and textures) to atmo (also colors and textures) to the shimmering transparent shells of psycho that protect the worlds from curious tentacles. Some even had hydrospheres, like the green and blue terra that the child found immediately, begging his mom could we please buy it, please. Mom inquired about the earth and the shopkeeper looked pleased at the child’s selection which had the effect of making mom pleased as well.
“Ah,” said the man with the expertise of a barker, “that is our latest terrestrial body. She had to be spun in tandem with a local star and left to cool a billion years. If you’ll notice, the designers left their signature — a small moon — you can see it there locked in rotation.”
“Are those organisms?” asked mom, peering past the satellite to the green surface of the planet. She wasn’t sure if her son was old enough for organisms.
“Oozes and fauna, mostly,” said the man. “But in a few billion years, about the time your son will be old enough to interact with civilizations, they will have evolved into semi-intelligent, semi-conscious bipeds.”
Mom looked unsure. “Will they be happy in there — once they realize they’re a toy?”
“Well, hm,” said the shopkeeper, looking at the globe with concentration. A strange but harmless question. “They’ll have all manner of places to explore, and there’ll be microscopic and quantum planes, and those oceans of dihydrogen monoxide. And there’s the space between the shell and the sphere, in which we’ve installed a constellation. And if you pick up the DLC they can explore that, too. So there will be all sorts of mental activities to occupy their lifespans.”
The shopkeeper glanced through the instruction manual, went on to describe the narcissism of primitive life, but Mom was no longer paying attention — she was watching her son and the dignity and caution he used to handle the sphere.
“Basically,” the man said, wrapping up his pitch, “they’ll never feel diminished, no matter how small or insignificant they realize they are.”
Mom paid with a currency of music and emotions, and then they were headed home through nova-gate 6 and down a nebular disk. Back in his room, the child put the earth on his bed and wondered at it. For a while, he kept it there, watching reptiles grow feathers and die, then hairy rodents begin to walk and clutch rocks. By the time Homo sapiens showed up, the child had a new planet he’d bought with his allowance: a copper-colored gas giant coated in sentient clouds. He left all the tiny people inside his old earth to fight and love and scream and die and wonder if there was something more out there and if God even cared at all about tectonic quakes or bone cancer — on a shelf in the closet.
Desmond White is a writer of speculative fiction in Houston, Texas. At the moment, Desmond is midway through a Masters in European Vacations, or Liberal Arts, at Houston Baptist University and is teaching English language arts at Kempner High School in FBISD. You can contact Desmond, or check out his Twitter, Instagram, and/or Facebook Page.