They said not to look out the window, but after traveling through darkness for so long, Charlie could not resist. The sun was rising and a gentle light suffused the clouds which swirled away to the horizon.
“Sit down,” the steward said, marching through the cabin, “Everybody – seatbelts on!”
He was tense. They all were. Except Charlie. She took a seat near the exit door, where she could see the sky outside.
“Beginning descent,” came the pilot’s voice.
Some of the others shut their eyes. Some held hands. Captain Tim sat opposite Charlie, ramrod straight. He nodded at her, then stared straight ahead.
The descent was sharp. Wind beat against the walls of the craft. The seats began to shake and the aircraft began to shudder violently. The pressure in Charlie’s ears was intense. A child whimpered while a lady opposite had begun to cry.
Charlie kept her eye on the clouds. Then suddenly, the wisps of vapour disappeared and she saw a shimmering silver sea.
Dark treetops came into view. Only Captain Tim saw Charlie smile.
They landed. It was three hours before the passengers got the all clear to disembark. There were tests to be done of course, not that they could do much if there was a problem now.
Finally the doors opened and Charlie and the others stepped into a wide green meadow.
Before them lay mountains, forests and streams. The clouds skidded across the pale blue sky.
The journey had been so long. Free of the aircraft at last, people were walking, running or just plain staring. Most of all they were shaking with emotion.
“The scientists were right,” Charlie said as Captain Tim put his arm around her, “It is the new earth.”
“Year Zero. Let’s make a better go of it this time.”