One Careful Owner a story by: GF Willmetts.
Don’t look at me like that. So I have an odd collecting hobby. Doesn’t everyone? I look after it well. I even keep it in its original packaging. All right, it’s a little worn around the edges but that’s caused by the environment it’s in. It’s self-contained. I don’t have to put in any extra food or drinking water. It has its own natural recycling ability. The inhabs even create their own homes. They even make it in various sized localities and govern themselves. Their technology is primitive but it’s easier to keep an eye on that way. Is it my fault that they don’t look after it too well? It might not be mint but it hasn’t lost much of its value. Well, not yet anyway. I keep to the hands off policy. I’m nothing like the chap I bought it from. I mean, he talked to the inhabitants through burning bushes. I ask you, who’s going to believe in such a thing?
Am I selling up? Hell no, I just want an evaluation and maybe show it to someone else. It’s not everyone who has an inhabited planet in their collection. Insurance sucks but a collection is only worth something when it has some worth when I can show it to others. Not financial but in the desire from others to have one of their own. It reminds me of how much I should value my good fortune. Do you have a little green eye looking for yourself?
Would I swap for something better? Surely there is nothing better than below. Oh, you mean a better more up-to-date version? Not yet. Well, that might happen one day. These places don’t last forever but, despite their faults, I have grown attached to this one.
On reflection, you don’t sound much like a fellow collector on the make. I mean, you aren’t actually offering me anything. You’re just nosy. You sound official. You’re government, aren’t you? What do you want to know?
Why am I not keeping the population under control? It’s been growing geometrically since their industrial revolution but there’s mathematical formulas showing that it will drop off on its own accord. It’ll decrease in the industrialised areas and increase in the poorer areas until stasis is achieved. But I don’t think that’s really your issue is it?
Oh, I see. It’s them playing with nuclear energy. It’s self-contained. They scared themselves silly the first two times they used it as a bomb in war and then postured amongst themselves but won’t dare to use it that way again. I didn’t have to take that toy away from them. They’ll even stop any minor country from doing anything as bad. I haven’t needed to interfere.
What did you want me to do? Remove all the heavy elements? I do know a little chemistry, those same elements break down into something a little more manageable. They are doing rather well with the sciences and would spot anything missing if I took it out now. I bought ‘as is’ if you must know. I didn’t see a need to change anything.
They’ve barely entered the Space Age. Their inflation is so high it’s unlikely that they’ll get any manned spacecraft beyond the fourth planet. A couple satellites they sent out of their star system have deviated from their direction but that was only because I didn’t realise my own starship’s gravity field would affect them. They’re still going in the right direction. As I said, I watch but don’t interfere. There’s not enough out there for them to find anything interesting. They’ll look, eyes agog but that’s all they’ll ever do.
How long am I going to stay interested in what they do? I haven’t got bored yet. Of course I’m mining and copying their media. Who wouldn’t? Amusement is universal after all. Now that is something I can trade in and they’ll never know anything about it.
Would I stop them going extinct? That would be interfering and I just told you, I don’t interfere. This planet’s had worse. According to the previous owner, this planet’s previous inhabs got wiped out by a meteorite dusting but they never evolved or got intelligence as fast as this species. There’s nothing that big left in rotation for that to happen again. They can live or die on their own two feet. If they go extinct, then the replacement might even be better.
What do you think I am to interfere with them anyway? Some sort of god? Get out of here or I’ll be a real devil.
© GF Willmetts 2014
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ask before borrowing.