“You ever wonder what would happen if we didn’t stop growing? Like after we turned nineteen. What would happen if our bodies continued to grow?” Pandora tapped her lower lip with her finger.
Saros sighed deeply, “Can we please talk about something else? I don’t know what would happen if we continued aging, and it’s a stupid idea. It’s impossible.”
“Yeah… But what if we could? Imagine how tall we’d get,” Pandora pointed to the clouds she and Saros were watching, “We’d probably be able to touch those.”
Visibly annoyed, Saros rose from his lying position, “Pandora, there are rules that govern this reality.” He plucked some of the red grass from near his feet and moved closer to Pandora. “If I hold this tuft of grass above the ground and let go,” Saros dropped the grass onto Pandora’s face, “The Law of Fjell dictates that it will fall down!”
Laughing, Pandora jumped to attack her boyfriend. “You just don’t get it! There has to be some way to bypass the age of nineteen. Don’t you ever just get bored? There’s no change!”
“No, kiddo. I’ve been kicking it for three-centuries now, and I’m happy with what I have.” The two sat silent for a bit. Saros leaned into Pandora’s ear, “Hey, you want to watch The Waveshaper 2 tonight?”
Pandora cracked a gleeful smile, “Only my favorite movie ever? I thought you’d never ask…”
Saros smiled lovingly, “Very well, Pandora. Hey,” he stood up above Pandora, “I’ve gotta go to Ceres' shop and help him organize some things. I’ll meet you tonight?”
Standing up and brushing the red grass off of her, Pandora replied, “Sounds like a plan. I’ll see you then!”
Saros snatched his hoverbike rod out of his pocket. He tapped one of the sides twice, and the rod transformed into an eye-catching bike. There were blue decals that lined the sharp edges of the vehicle. Holographic mirrors protruded from the sides when Saros sat on the bike. A blue panel appeared in front of him asking for a location. Saros drove the newest model of the hoverbikes; it was called the FTL-28 (which stood for Faster Than Light). It didn’t actually go faster than light, but Saros enjoyed the speed.
Finalizing his destination, Saros disappeared in a puff of smoke, and Pandora was left alone on the small patch of grass they were resting on. Beyond the horizon, two stars burned brighter than ever. A barren land, full of sneaky pits and tiring dunes made up of orange sand, went on for as far as the eye-could-see. Floating shops and triangular homes dotted the orange desert. The stores were abandoned, however, for the higher-ups were finally able to afford InstaShopper for the planet. All people had to do was use their UniPhones, and buying groceries was as easy as saying, “I want a sandwich.”
Pandora fell back down onto the patch of grass. Bored, she began surfing the web on her UniPhone. Occasionally, she’d see something that would make her laugh, or she’d see something that’d make her sad. Either way, it was the same thing she did yesterday and the day before that and the years before that.
GATE23 was a beautiful planet when it was seen from outer space, and Pandora loved it. The defined mountains gave character to the home she had spent her entire life in. The occasional lake looked like sapphires from someone on a spaceship surveying the planet. Still, something felt amiss for her. For so long she wondered what the rest of the galaxy looked like, but she was never affluent enough to explore. Instead, she was stuck on the planet she was born on. At least she had Saros. He was a nice escape from the boredom.
Pandora had visited every inch of GATE23. From its small creeks to its relatively large mountains, she spent time everywhere. She vividly remembered the first time she visited every location. The first time she stood atop Mount Past, she couldn’t get over the magnificent view. During star-downs, Pandora would ride up to the top of the mountain and watch as the distant lights in the homes of millions of people would flicker on. Watching the city was her favorite pastime. Sometimes, she’d bring her Virtua-Bynoks and use them to look through people’s windows. She’d watch families get together to eat dinner or couples cuddle with each other while watching a movie. Witnessing all that made Pandora feel lonely, but it also gave her a fleeting sense of warmth. It was a warmth that told her that she wanted more, and the fact that she even wanted anything gave her hope. She could never feel that sort of warmth with anything or anyone else.
That is until she met Saros, and Pandora hadn’t been up the mountain since.
Bored, Pandora gazed at the blank sky once again. The same turquoise clouds she saw a decade ago drifted carelessly across the blue sky. A slight breeze caressed her as she thought about her age. It never seemed to make sense why other people weren’t curious as to what lies beyond the age of nineteen. Perhaps there was some untapped potential that was being blocked from her, but she could never know. Pandora rolled over to look at her surroundings.
Off in the distance was Mount Past, and she felt it call to her. Star-down is soon… Pandora thought to herself. Without thinking, she clawed at her hoverbike rod in her coat pocket. She tapped the side of the rod twice, and a grey bike appeared in front of her. Compared to Saros’ bike, Pandora’s Meliora, as she had named it, was a much older version of the FTL-28. Still, Pandora loved the bike for what it was. Plus, the bike matched Pandora’s outfit. Her aged white pale jacket made her look as if she were a part of the bike.
Pandora hopped onto her bike and finalized her destination to the top of Mount Past. The bike moved at speeds that Pandora could not comprehend. In a split second, she was atop of the mountain looking at life run rampant down below. Her bike disappeared into a rod, and she returned it to her pocket. The air was cooler at this altitude, but the cold never scared Pandora away. Walking around the flat top of the mountain, the warm, lonely feeling reintroduced itself to pandora.
Out of the corner of her eye, Pandora spotted someone else sitting at the top of the mountain. Only this person was unlike anyone Pandora had ever seen before. Their hair was grey, and they looked almost shriveled. “Hey,” Pandora called out to the person, letting her mouth think for her.
Startled, the person stood up and turned around.
Pandora shrieked. The person looked alien to her. There were trenches in the person’s skin, similar to the pits that ran across the desert. The person’s skin was darkened, and patches of it were shriveled just like the fruits that came from the trees in Saros’ garden. There was a slowness to the way the person moved; it was almost like they struggled to stand up.
“Don’t be startled, child,” the person said calmly.
“What- Who are you?” Pandora’s heart beat rapidly. This had to be a dream.
The person smiled and looked around slowly. The setting stars in the distance signaled some lightbugs to wake from their slumber. Glowing a bright teal, the bugs floated lazily through the air using their abdomen to light the way. “I? I am Apollo. I used to live here… Long ago.”
Apollo pointed to the city that Pandora always liked to look at, “You know I was one of the founding fathers of that city? Billions of eons ago. I helped colonize this old, old planet.”
“I don’t understand,” Pandora said.
“What is your name, child?”
“My- My name? It’s Pandora.”
“Pandora... What a beautiful name,” Apollo’s eyes fell to the ground. “Well, Pandora, I have come here to die.”