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The day they waited for came. The three explorers sat at a table around which were the project director, project managers and assistants. The project director stood. “You three are ready to venture into space to explore a planet that our scientists say is like ours. They say the air is breathable and that the topography is comparable to ours. Your journey is crucial, for someday we are going to need a new home. If all goes well, your success will be our salvation. You have everyone’s thanks.”

 Amid a loud fanfare, the explorers entered the space ship and strapped themselves into their seats.

“Think happy thoughts my friends,” the captain said. “Think about our journey.” They closed their eyes and thought about their families, the new world, and food, as they waited patiently for lift off. Their thoughts were interrupted by a voice that announced the countdown to lift off.  They braced themselves as the six engines ignited and the ship lifted slowly into space, and, after several moments, shot like a bullet into space. When the ship was streaking through space, the captain released the straps that held him in his chair and stood. “Okay, it’s time for our six-month sleep. At this speed, we will awaken before we reach planet X,” the captain said and they got in their sleeping modules and a gas was released that put them to sleep. Six months later, the modules opened and the explorers got out. “Is everyone alright?” the captain asked. 

“Fine, but hungry,” the co-pilot responded.

“Same here,” the navigator added.

“Okay,” the captain said. “Let’s go stuff ourselves, which they did and then returned to their posts.

“Right on time. There’s planet X. Let’s make preparations for landing. According to the meters, the air is like the air on our planet, so we should be okay. Be sure you carry weapons. We don’t know if there is dangerous life on this planet,” he said and pulled a lever that lowered a twenty-step staircase to the ground, and they left the ship.

“Not bad,” the navigator said. “It looks like our planet.”

“Captain, you probably should send a message back telling them that we arrived at Planet X.”

“Right,” he said and contacted Control. “Control, Explorer 1 has landed on Planet X. We are going to explore to see if there is food and water. Explorer 1 out. Keep your weapons ready just in case,” he said and they headed toward a forest.

“Captain, I wonder if wildlife lives in this forest. If there is, they might be a source of food.”

“I agree, so let’s watch for anything that moves,” the captain said, and they continued their march through the forest. When they reached the other side, they stopped. “Look. Ahead. There is a mountain similar to the ones on our planet. Let’s investigate,” he said and they headed toward the mountain. Two hours later, they reached the mountain. “Look up there, a hole in the mountain. Let’s climb up and see what’s in the hole,” he said and they climbed up and entered a cave. As they entered, they startled a family of Neanderthals. The Neanderthals had seen mice and rats in their cave before, but they were looking at rodents that were five times the size of a man. The explorers jumped on the Neanderthals and bit of pieces of the people. The victims screamed and cried until their arms and legs were eaten and then the rest of the bodies were chewed up and swallowed. After eating them, the explorers looked in the cave for more food, but they had eaten the only Neanderthals that were in the cave.

“That was a delicious meal,” the navigator said. I hope there are more of these on the planet,” he said and they went outside and looked around.

Before we explore farther, I should contact control,” he said and made the call. “We have found a source of food on Planet X. I am confident that we will find water as well as more food. I will report to let you know what we find,” he said and ended his communication. “Let’s continue on to see what more this planet offers. Maybe we’ll find more food. I wouldn’t mind eating again. Anyway, this planet could be our new world,” he said and they walked away.

The End

Bio:While teaching communication skills and English at a community college, Mr. Greenblatt wrote short stories and plays, one of which won a reading at Smith College. Since retiring in 2000, he has written short stories and novellas.





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