A young teenaged girl de-boards a UTAH TRANSIT AUTHORITY (UTA) motor coach and is shuffled about into a crowd of men, women and children of all ages standing in lines. She backs away, holding tight to her weekender carry-all. The girl is nervous and alone. Her family – father, mother and maternal grandmother, aunt, cousin, and brothers – are all dead. She then hears pleas of help in the near distance …
A black man wearing jeans, a dark blue short-sleeve shirt, black sport shoes carrying a blue/gray TrailmakerTM backpack was holding cash in his hand trying to get someone’s attention.
“Please! I have money; I can pay you -please!” he pleaded. “My boys are 13 and 10, please, if you have space for one or two on your passes, please take my sons with you!” “… Anybody, …
This went on for a minute or two. The girl became angry to hear a father beg on behalf of his family and people ignoring his cries for help. She walked over to him through the crush of moving bodies, close enough for the man to turn and face her.
“Take this. I don’t need your money” The girl gives the father a Lunar Launch pass. A white card with a thick blue stripe down the middle. The pass would allow up to three people to travel. It had belonged to her maternal grandmother, aunt and 11-year-old cousin. Now, it belongs to the man for his two older boys. He stood in bewilderment as a tear comes down his cheek.
The man’s wife, holding their two-year-old daughter, followed by their seven-year-old twin sons, walked over to her husband.
“Honey, who was that girl?”
“I don’t know. I … didn’t get a chance to say, ‘Thank you’.”
“Dad? Does this mean we can be together on the Launch?”
The man turns to his eldest son, trying to hold back his tears, speaks with a slightly strained voice.
“Yes, … we’ll be together ….” The man and his family gather close together. Thankful. The girl walks onward back into the crowd; then places her canvas rucksack on the ground. She straightens up to see a young woman with a lavender baby sling standing very near to her.
“Take her – Please!”
A young woman places the baby sling around the girl’s neck and shoulder. The young woman is trying to stay close to the girl as a line of people move towards the Launch Center entrance. The girl looks down at the sleeping newborn.
“What’s her name?”
“I tried thinking of the perfect name for her, flowers, gems, - nothing sounded just right. Whatever name you give will be fine. She’s your daughter, now.”
“My what …?”
The girl looks down again at the baby then at the mother who is smiling sweetly at her.
“Rachel. I’m Rachel Alice Daugherty
” Pádraigín Seonag NicIain MacEanraig”
“Thank you, Pádraigín Seonag”
The young woman, Rachel, slips away through the maddening crowd then disappears from Pádraigín’s sight. Pádraigín picks up her knapsack and the lavender duffle diaper bag Rachel had set down. The nameless tiny baby girl is sleeping peacefully without a care in the world.
“I hope she likes me …”
A security guard had taken notice of Pádraigín and makes his way towards.
“Follow me, sweetie”
The security guard leads Pádraigín into the Launch Center, a three-story white building, formerly THE CHURCH of JESUS CHRIST of LATTER-DAY SAINTS CONFERENCE CENTER. Once inside, the security guard walks over to an empty table and motioning for Pádraigín.
“Sit right here and someone will be over to do an intake on you in a second.” An attractive auburn-haired school-marm looking woman walks towards the table a few minutes later. Her smile looks familiar to Pádraigín.
“May I view your child’s documents, please?” … Oh, … these are not filled in completely. I can help with that, if you like.”
Pádraigín sees that the space next to NAME OF MOTHER is blank, as well as with the NAME OF CHILD. In the space, next to NAME OF FATHER there is code KNOWN – A, meaning that the father is known but is absent or has abandoned both the mother and child. Pádraigín whispers under breath “…bloody bastard …”
“Alright, … let’s start with your name, dear girl.”
“Pádraigín Seonag NicIain MacEanraig”
“Irish or Scots Gaelic”
“A very beautiful name, … Patricia ... Shawn?”
“Joan. Patricia Joan in English.”
“I’m a bit of an aficionado of all things Gaelic. I’m not too certain about the surname …”
“NicIain means ’daughter of Iain, or John, in English and MacEanraig means ‘son of Hendry’ or Henderson.”
“Oh, … that’s familiar … MacEanraig - I’ve heard that name somewhere before … I’m Gloria Havers, by the way. It’s good to meet you, Pádraigín Seonag.”
“Good to meet you, too, Mrs. Havers.”
“And what will be the name of this little angel?”
“Uhm, … Ráichéal Ailís. Rachel Alice”
“What made you think of that name?”
“No reason, really. Just a beautiful name for a beautiful baby girl.”
Pádraigín then hears the tiny whimper of the newborn, waking from her sleep.
” I think she might be wet.”
“There’s a lavatory to the left behind you. It will probably be best to feed her as well.”
Pádraigín accidently knocks over the diaper duffle while searching for a diaper and wipes. Gloria tells her not to worry about the bag, then picks up the spilled contents while she heads towards the lavatory. Gloria sees an envelope with AUNT LORI on the cover and places it in her smock. An hour later, Gloria quickly sweeps away tears from her eyes. She turns to see a relieved Pádraigín coming back to the table.
“That lav’s rather nice with the comfy chairs, bottle warmers, an’ all. There’s even a sink big enough to wash out the cloth nappies and a couple of those washer-dryer combos. Makes me wonder what the Gents looks like …”
“You’re all set here. This copy of Little Rae’s documents is for you …”
“Well, … she is your little ray of sunshine.”
“I was thinking, … Gingersnap, because of her hair.”
“My daughter and her cousin use to love my homemade Gingersnap cookies when they were little girls.”
“Is your daughter here?”
“She’s already on the lunar colony Titan with her husband.”
“M’dad was on Titan. He was designing and building up council flats.”
“Yes. Yes. Syr Iain MacEanraig of Tonwy … I am sorry about his passing. It was a sad shock for us when we got the news. I should’ve recognized it sooner, … Arglwyddes Tonwy”
“It’s, … it’s just Seonag.
“For now, it’s just Seonag. However, once you arrive on Titan, even beforehand, on the Space Station, you will cease being ‘just Seonag’. You will be seen and known as The Lady Patricia of Tonwy”
“The Lady Patricia of Tonwy was ma mam until the divorce, then she was Patricia, Lady Tonwy before her sham of a re-marriage, an’ then it was Mrs. Patricia Bonner- Rhoden, First Lady-Elect of St. Bartholomew A.M.E Church-despite-the-fact-that-she’s-an-Adventist.”
“You are one of a few surviving aristocratic families. It will be a big deal once known.”
“Many will question why you were not evacuated with other well-off families three years ago.”
“Dad thought it best for me to stay with Mam while he was off planet. I was 12 then. Mam was no longer Lady Tonwy an’ not many people knew I was the daughter of a baronet. That’s how they wanted it to be so I could have a normal life in America.”
“That was very conscientious of them both. I am so very sorry that you don’t have them now, but all is not completely lost. You have a legacy, a baronetcy … and a daughter.”
“Ya, I have a daughter …”
ANNOUNCER ON THE P.A.: NOW BOARDING MOTOR COACH ONE THROUGH FIVE. ALL FIRSTBORN FAMILIES WILL BOARD MOTOR COACH ONE, THREE and FIVE ONLY. PLEASE HAVE YOUR LAUNCH PASSES ON THE READY. AGAIN …
“You better hurry on to the checkpoint. Here’s your pass, it fell out of the diaper bag.”
Pádraigín took the pass and immediately realized that
it was not hers. Her pass had thick green stripe down the middle plus a silver star. The star is designated DIPLOMAT and the green stripe meant up to two people can travel on that pass. This pass had a thick yellow/gold stripe down the middle – designated as a FIRSTBORN pass. These passes were given to those who will be having a child on the new colonies. Expecting mothers received this pass. Mothers with newborns or babies that will celebrate their first birthdays on the new colonies also received these passes; mothers with both infants and toddlers under five years of age were given the designation as well. Pádraigín made her way to the checkpoint, her knapsack and diaper duffle were marked with matching yellow/gold tags and placed on the luggage cart for motor coach (MC) #3. Pádraigín still had her Launch pass as well as her mother’s pass – with a thick red stripe down the middle, good for up to five people to travel. The pass was meant for her mother and maternal brothers aged 10 and 9. Then, she noticed a white pass with a silver star and a black stripe down the middle. That was a DIPLOMAT pass. It was her paternal grandfather’s pass. It was left to her after he had died from heart failure the previous year. She was so bereft by her granddad’s death that she had completely forgotten that she even had it. The DIPLOMAT pass can allow up to 10 people to travel and the pass was ONLY for diplomats and the like. Most aristocratic families were small, therefore, the immediate family of say three or four could travel with a handful of staff. Pádraigín had three extra Launch passes that could help a total of 19 or even 20 more people to escape the end of Earth.
There’s a swell of people on the other side of the outer metal gates; Pádraigín catches the eye of a woman with three children. She walks towards the gate where they are standing and slips her hand between the bars. The woman takes Pádraigín’s hand and slowly pulls her hand back. Inside, is the Launch pass with the thick red stripe down the middle. The woman clasps the pass in her hand close to her bosom and mouthed the words “Thank you”. Pádraigín nods and walks away. The woman tells her children to move back from the gate, motioning them towards the entrance where there were lines of people waiting to get into the Launch Center’s courtyard. The woman whispers into eldest son’s ear and her hurries off. After fifteen minutes, the 12–year–old boy, Esteban, returns to his mother followed closely by another woman and her daughter.
“Dharma? What is it?”
“Look … a girl with a baby gave this to me.”
“Is this enough for us?”
“No, only one us could go with the children. A violet pass would have been better, but …”
“I was talking with this guy who has a son and a blue pass … and a FIRSTBORN pass. His wife died in the earthquake in Tennessee; she was pregnant. C’mon …”
Meredith leads Dharma and the four children - Susan 11, Esteban 12, Alonso 9, and Dominic 4 – to where she had left the man she was talking with. He was standing in a line at the entrance gate.
“Nathan, this is my friend Dharma and her sons Esteban, Alonso and Dominic. They have a red pass.”
“Hello, Dharma, boys. My son, Tristan.”
“If we combine the passes you two have, it will be enough for all of us.”
“Can we do that?” asked Dharma
“It’s already being done,” Nathan replied. “There are some big families and not many violet passes. Your red pass holds five, my blue pass holds three and the FIRSTBORN pass is for one – a pregnant woman or a woman with a baby under a year and/or a child under five.”
Dharma nodded in agreement “We can go our separate ways once we get to the colonies.”
The group moved forward until they were next in line. They gave the guard the passes. Polygamy is legal on the colonies [only up to three spouses, male or female]. Meredith and Dharma pretended to be Nathan’s wives, with Meredith being pregnant. The guard let them through and they were guided inside to the Launch Center and were registered as a large family of eight. Their bags were marked with violet tags with yellow/gold stripe down the middle designating them a FIRSTBORN family. A lie, but a lie that will save eight more people.
Pádraigín sits in the back of MC #3 looking out the window. She sees desperate people trying to get on the other side of the metal gate. The last pass Joan had, was her grandfather’s. The DIPLOMAT Launch pass. She gave hers, the green DIPLOMAT pass, to a woman with a small child. Pádraigín had seen fear in woman’s eyes. And when she gave the woman the green pass, the woman placed her rucksack around one shoulder and a hemp canvas satchel on the other shoulder then lifted her child, a boy with a cast on his arm, and quietly, but quickly walked away from the man who was yelling obscenities at another. Pádraigín’s eyes followed the woman as she walked towards a security guard showing him the green pass and the guard let her through. The guard showed her where to go in the courtyard. The woman hugged her son, smiling. She looked as if for the first time she could breathe a sigh of relief. That same woman and her son were on the same transport sitting in the front. “We’re safe now, sweetheart, we’re safe” she said. Tearfully, Pádraigín pulled down the window cover. All she wants to do is get off this damned planet. She feels baby Ráichéal Ailís stir in the sling, grateful that the child is asleep.
” May I sit here, Pádraigín Seonag?
(looking up to see the familiar face through her tears) “Ms. Havers, … ya, sure” (sniffling).
“It’s going to get better (giving Pádraigín a tissue). And, … call me Aunt Lori.”
Gloria pulls an envelope from her smock, then gives it to Padraigin. “Read this, it will explain. From today on, I am your Aunt Lori and you are my niece; my daughter, Sebastia, your cousin. We are a family.”
A confused Pádraigín takes the envelope addressed to AUNT LORI and begins to read it. The motor coaches get on the emptied highway towards the Launch Site at Houston with a police escorts and helicopters overhead. The next five motor coaches begin loading passengers at the Launch Center.
END of Prologue