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I Am Become Life

Abby Vogler imagines new worlds and reimagines the old from her home in Saint Louis, Missouri, where she lives with her husband and their pet rabbit, Colin. This is her first publication. You can find her on the web at abbyvogler.com and on Twitter @abby_vogler.

I sit on the observation deck and watch. There isn't much to see. Intermixed with the ambient night-glow of the artificial city, there is a faint flash of greenish light that, had I not known it was coming, I might have missed. Behind me, the rest of the crew is buzzing, checking instruments and scanning for life. As the readings come back, the steady hum of their voices is broken by whoops and cheers. Everything has gone as planned.
I take a sip of my drink. Scotch. Neat. Aged twelve years. It's the last of a bottle I brought from Earth. Probably the last glass of Scotch I'll ever drink.
"It worked," the captain says, placing a hand on the back of my chair and smiling down at me like a proud father.
"You say that like you didn't expect it to."
He laughs. He has one of those big, hearty laughs that bureaucratic men always seem to have.
I look back out across the city that, until moments ago, had never known life.
"I had my worries, Amy," he says. "Would have been a shame to fly all the way out here, and not be able to breathe the air on our new home."
I nod.
"You were awfully sure of your fancy light, though."
I nod again.
"You're not celebrating?"
Still looking out over the city lights, I hold up my drink.
"You science types," he begins. Without looking up, I know he's shaking his head. "You invent a device that can do years' worth of terraforming literally overnight, and you celebrate by drinking alone."
"It's really good Scotch."
"I'm sure it is." The sound of his footsteps follows him out.
The End
This story was first published on Wednesday, March 13th, 2019

Author Comments

This story began with the title, which is a play on the line Robert Oppenheimer famously quoted from the Bhagavad-Gita after he witnessed the first detonation of a nuclear weapon, which he helped to create. From that starting point, I began a story about an invention that creates life rather than destroys it and about a scientist who, like Oppenheimer, has difficulty celebrating her triumph.

- Abby Vogler
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