— Sally Linsay
This Earth and the Earths around it had forests from pole to pole. They were warm and wet, and didn't have large seasonal changes.
This world had a rich seam of iron ore at around the geographical location of New Springfield. This seam was unique to this world, and so was one of the factors that caused the settlers to take up residence here.
Flora and fauna
The forests around New Springfield were made up of mostly evergreen trees, some of which are varients of those on the Datum Earth, such as Laurel, Walnut, Dogwood and dwarf sequoia. They also had climbers such as honeysuckle, strangler figs and some grape vines.
The foundation of New Springfield
In 2035, the Poulsons and other pioneers trekked all the way to this Earth's footprint of Maine and founded New Springfield. They spent their first year clearing the forest where they would settle and building their home.
By July 2036, Jeb and Cassie Poulson had cleared enough ground to start planting crops and their cattle already had their young. It was at that time that Jeb decided that they needed a cellar and that Cassie became the first human to come face to face with a silver beetle.
As the years passed and the first settlers started to have kids, more and more of the youngsters adopted the combers way of life and didn't see the point to ruin their back with farmings when they were all those Earths with fruits waiting to be picked.
A new wave of New Springfielders
By 2052, all of the original founders of New Springfield have left Earth West 1,217,756, leaving the place to a new wave of pioneers less keen to farm as well, among them the Irwins, the Bambers, Todds and the Claytons.
In April 2052, Nikos Irwin, while going to the old house built by the Poulsons that served now as a swap house, became the second human to encounter the silver beetles and the first to step to the Planetarium. He kept it a secret from the grown-ups and spent all his time there, swapping minerals for silver artefacts with his friends.
When Lobsang and Sister Agnes wanted to start a new life, as George and Agnes Abrahams, with their adoptive son Ben, they asked Sally Linsay for a suitable world where they could live a simple pioneer life. So in 2054, Sally led the three of them, plus Shi-mi, to Earth West 1,217,756 where they settled themselves and led a simple pioneer life.
When the Abrahamses arrived, the houses built by the Poulsons and the Barrows were long abandoned and the forest was claiming the hilltop once again.
Right when they set foot on this Earth, Agnes felt that something was wrong. The fact that she thought that she's caught a glimpse of a flash coming from the moon on the first day did nothing to reassure her.
An uneasy feeling
After a few days, Agnes felt that something was wrong with this world, it started as something close to jet lag for her but she put it aside for the time being and wished she would have a way to know the right time since one of this community's principles was no clocks. During an Easter egg hunt with the Irwins, Shi-mi confirmed that the days were getting shorter and that she had trouble sleeping.
That feeling didn't go away with time, even two years after their arrival Agnes still had trouble sleeping but once again she brushed it aside. Three years after their arrival, in 2057, she decided to do something about it since she was now sure that something was wrong with this world. Since she arrived on this planet, she felt like she never was able to sleep properly, as if dawn arrived too early everytime.
She considered asking Lobsang to be able to access her internal timers but put it off, fearing it would mean the end of the dream. Lobsang, on the contrary, didn't want to comment on this and kept on tending his crops and garden. Even the occasional flashes they would see on the face on the moon would not stir any reaction from him.
So on a bright spring day of 2057, Agnes was sitting in the yard measuring her pulse while looking at a makeshift hourglass she's built with the help of a funnel and a bucket. Shi-mi, the family cat, came to her and asked her what she was doing. The pair got into a conversation on the best way to tell the time and on how it seemed to act strangely on this planet. Eventually, Shi-mi suggested Agnes to build a pendulum but they got interrupted by Ben.
Ben was coming to show his basket full of grapes to his mother but Agnes's attention seemed more attracted to the silver bracelet her son was wearing on his right arm. When she asked to see it, Ben first hid is arm behind his back but gave up in front of her authority.
Agnes took the trinket and examined it. She then asked him if he got it at the cellar behind the old Poulson place and wanted to know who gave it to him.
Ben lied, saying that it was swap stuff but his mother didn't buy it and pressed him to tell the truth. He answered that it was beetle man who gave it to him and that Nikos said there were not doing anything wrong. Surprised, she asked what beetle man looked like but Ben couldn't give her a proper description, only saying that he looked funny.
Agnes didn't try to get more out of him and told him to go wash his face. The next day, Agnes left Ben with Lydia Irwin and her mother Marina while she went to inspect the old Poulson place with Nikos and George.
The silver beetles
Nikos led them to the unfinished cellar and they all climbed down the hole. Down in what Nikos as named the Gallery, after something he has seen in a picture book as a kid, Agnes asked about the silver beetles. The young New Springfielder simply told the Abrahamses to turn around. To Agnes's surprise, a silver beetle was standing there passively. She backed away but Georgeheld her, telling her to stay calm.
As the elderly couple was inspecting the beetle, Nikos was opening his pack and took out chunks of rock from it. After a while, George asked Nikos if he ever communicated with the beetles but he replied that he never heard them make a sound, except when they were flying but you could see more of that only on the Planetarium. George started to wonder about the Planetarium but dismissed it for later and asked the young man to show him what the rocks were for.
Nikos explained that he swapped the rocks for silver artefacts and proceded to do so in front of the Abrahamses. The trading done, George asked if there were more of those creatures. Nikos replied that there used to be more of them before but not nowadays. To this, the elderly pioneer asked Nikos to show them where this planetarium was and the young man explained that they had to step there.
To this, Agnes recoiled since she remembered clearly that you couldn't step out of a cellar unless the ground on the other side was empty as well. Nikos told them that it was a kind of funny step and that he could show them.
While the Abrahamses were hesitating, the beetle scuttled away in the shadows of the Gallery and disappeared. As George held Nikos's hand after Agnes held the other one, the young boy stepped and the trio found themselves on the Planetarium.
Nikos grinning, turned to them and ask them what they thought about it. Agnes, looking at her hands under this orange sky, started to shiver and was reassured by her husband.
After a some guesswork about where they actually were, Agnes asked Nikos to bring them home. When the Abrahamses came back, Shi-mi was waiting for them by their cabin and told them than the days were now reduced to twenty-three hours.
Agnes, not believing that the presence of the silver beetles and the shortening of the day were a coincidence, asked Lobsang's opinion.
Lobsang replied that he didn't understand what was happening yet but needed a twain to see the world and also the help of his friend Joshua Valienté.
Joshua, riding aboard the Shillelagh, arrived a few months after Agnes and Lobsang's discovery. Between the time when the Abrahamses were taken to the Planetarium and the moment that Joshua arrived, storms, droughts, howling winds and even magnetic storms became more and more frequent on this Earth that used to have no seasons.
To the habitants of this world, the twain was a novelty. In the following day, Joshua made sure to have time for Ben, the town's kids who have never seen their home from the sky, to whom he gave ride aboard the twain, and Shi-mi, his old travelling companion.
A week after his arrival, Joshua and Lobsang were ready to embark aboard the Shillellagh for an inspection of the world. Agnes found the two of them around a table filled with silver artefacts and bits of beetles they could find in the Gallery. Despite being of extraterrestrial origin, it seemed that the beetles were making copies of themselves using the local materials available to them. After informing Agnes about their discovery, the pair spent the evening packing and left at dawn of the next day.
As the twain was heading south, Joshua and Lobsang discussed about what Lobsang was hoping to find. Lobsang replied that this Earth's spin was ten percent faster and that neighboring worlds were unaffected. Whatever was causing those disturbances had to be on a massive scale and would be recognized as soon as they would see it.
To this, Joshua replied that the first thing he noticed on his very first night here was flashes on the dark face of the moon and asked his companion if he knew anything about it. The android simply replied that he came here for Agnes and Ben and didn't take any interest of what was happening above his head. Lobsang proposed to watch old movies to pass the time but Joshua preferred to have brunch instead since they didn't have any movies with Julie Andrews.
By late afternoon, they approached the Atlantic coast around the footprint of Portland, Maine and noticed that the trees were laid out flat and that the land presented the traces of extended damages. After discussing the storms and freak waves caused by the planet's spin, Joshua set the course to the south as Lobsang explained that they will probably find more traces of the beetles actions around the equator and went to bed.
He woke up the next morning and noticed that the ship was flying in circle. He took his time to shave, dress up and drink a cup of this world's closest thing of orange juice before joining Lobsang at the forward windows. The android informed him that they were on this Earth's footprint of Long Island, New York State, and told him to look at the window. Below the ship, a silver viaduct was running from east to west as far as the eye could see.
Spectroscopy informed them that the outer layer of the construction was made of steel. Probably from local materials as well. On the roadway, a small party of beetles checking it at frequent intervals. Seeing the size of it, Lobsang assumed that the viaduct spanned all this Earth at the same latitude. Having stumbled upon it so close to home, he guessed that there should be more constructions like this and pressed Joshua to continue toward this planet's equator.
Heading south again, they found no signs of the silver beetles for hours until they came upon another viaducts, eighteen hours later in the middle of the night, at the same latitude of this world's South Carolina. Joshua asked Lobsang what he thought those viaducts were for but got quickly dismissed, Lobsang arguing that it was not constructive to make guesses at that point and decided that it was better to keep on heading for the equator.
On their way, they found three other viaducts before reaching the equator, one at the same latitude as Miami, another around the latitude of Datum Mexico and one more around this world's Venezuela's position. Still heading south, the duo finally reached the viaduct at the equator at midnight on the fifth day of their journey. Lobsang suggested that they waited the night out so the two explorers only got to check the viaduct at six in the morning of the next day. Joshua, anxious about what to do next, asked if he had to go down with a parrot on his shoulder just like old times. Lobsang replied that he wanted to avoid provoking the beetles and suggested to wait. Joshua asked once again what they were waiting for but his companion said that they would recognize it when they'll see it and suggested Joshua to prepare breakfast. Valienté knew there was no use to argue and started to make burgers.
As Joshua was preparing the food, a huge flash of light filled the cabin. The hero of the Long Earth dropped was he was doing and ran to the window to see a burning fireball fly across the sky. Lobsang, not surprised at all, guessed that it was a mass of moon rock wrapped in an electrically conductive shell and that there were several like these per day and for years. The two friends finally found out how the beetles were accelerating this Earth's orbital spin : they have turned this planet into a huge eletrical motor.
Lobsang, feeling like they have learned everything they could, to Joshua that it was time to head home. Joshua set the ship's course to New Springfield and the Shillellagh slowly headed towards the north in the equatorian sky.
George steps up
After a while, the day was now reduced to twenty hours, Lobsang/George called the militaries in order to have a better study of the silver beetles and what they were up to. The US Navy sent the USS Brian Cowley to deal with the situation. Aboard the twain, a team a scientists led by Dr Ken Bowring, from the US Geological Survey.
A community meeting was held next to the Irwins' principal residence and the militaries told the pioneers that they would have to abandon their homes. After a heated debated where the militaries admitted that they didn't know what the silver beetles were doing, George stepped forward, said that the beetles were building a Dyson motor and asked to speak the the scientific team. He was brought to Ken Bowring and ended up bringing the militaries to the Planetarium.
The militaries set up a small base camp at the Planetarium. There, they discovered that the silver beetles didn't come from the Planetarium either and that they were xenomorphing it as they were an expansionist species. Lobsang, Margarita Jha and Ken Bowring also discovered that the beetles's end game was to dismantle the planet.
In January 2059, the day was now reduced to twelve hours, Nathan Boss, captain of the Cowley, decided to take a selected group of passengers on a global expedition to show the extent of the damages caused by the silver beetles and what they had learned so far. Among the passengers were Joshua, Sally Linsay, Lobsang and Agnes, who proved to be androids, a long-lost copy of Lobsang back from the remote Long Earths, Oliver and Marina as representatives of the locals and two Next, Stella Welch and Marvin Lovelace, summoned by Lobsang.
During this trip, the Irwins started to see the damages brought to their world for the first time and finally understood that the beetles couldn't be stopped even with nukes.
Stella Welch, one of the Next, stepped up and announced that this world was doomed but they had to prevent the beetles to spread to the other Earths by sealing this world off from the inside. For this, they would have to ask for the help of a young boy named Stan Berg, supposedly the strongest Next there was, but it meant that Stan would be sacrificing his life.
The operation of sealing the world off was named the Cauterizing by the militaries. The day was now reduced to eight hours and all New Springfielders were long gone. Lot of people came to say goodbye to Stan Berg, Sally Linsay and George Abrahams who would stay behind and perform the Cauterizing.
In the end, the USS Brian Cowley stepped away with its passengers and left Team Stan stranded alone on this empty planet. The trio headed for the hills were ruins of Lobsang's house was all that was left, the rest destroyed and carried away by the strong winds now plaguing this world.
There, guided by Sally and Lobsang, all standing in a circle holdings hands, Stan managed to separate this Earth from the Long Earth. After it was done, Stan let go of Sally and Lobsang's hands and fell to the ground where he began to twitch and convulse. Sally ran to fetch a medkit as Lobsang was tending to the young Next.
Stan recovered quickly from his fit. The three of them spent a four-hour night in a lean-to, left behind by the Cowley. When morning came, Lobsang showed them global images of this world, taken from satellites left behind by the Navy, on a tablet. The images showed that this Earth's crust was opened in various places across the globe and that red lines of lava had appeared. Team Stan was discussing the beetles's motive and what could have been if they didn't sealed this world when Lobsang told them that he could upload his consciousness to one of the satellites but didn't want to leave his two companions behind. Stan and Sally told him to do it and observe what was happening to this world until the end.
The next day, Sally was woken by the sound of her coughing. She opened her eyes and saw a furball eat an insect. Lobsang, standing not far from her, told her that it was the last dawn the furballs would ever see. Sally, still lying in her blanket, was lifted up as the ground below her rose and landed hardly on her back as the same ground crashed moments later. Understanding that the end was near, stood up and asked Stan where he wanted to be for the big finish. The young man, wanting to have the best view, suggested to go back on top of Manning Hill.
From the hill, the view was obscured by smoke and clouds were drifting by at alarmous speed overhead. Fire was spreading everywhere, tree trunks were set aflame and big birds were trying to flee the burnace. The ground was shaking under them so they decided to sit so they could not be overthrown. There sitting in a circle holding each other's hands, they saw the forest sink around them and the landscape breaking up. Before it was too late, Sally urged Lobsang to upload himself to a satellite. He said his farewells seconds before his ambulant unit stayed still, as lifeless as this world will soon be. Suddenly, the ground fell apart under the two survivors and they fell to their death, consumed by fire.
From the satellite, Lobsang could see everything. He witnessed this Earth's final transformation and its dismantlement. Now a swarm of silver beetles, equipped with nets, were already flying toward the planet to catch the chunks of materials flying through space. This planet gone, Lobsang fired the satellite's rocket and looked for a place to start anew.
- ↑ 1.0 1.1 1.2 1.3 The Long Utopia - Chapter 1
- ↑ 2.0 2.1 2.2 2.3 2.4 2.5 2.6 The Long Utopia - Chapter 3
- ↑ 3.0 3.1 The Long Utopia - Chapter 4
- ↑ 4.0 4.1 4.2 The Long Utopia - Chapter 11
- ↑ 5.0 5.1 The Long Utopia - Chapter 22
- ↑ The Long Utopia - Chapter 9
- ↑ The Long Utopia - Chapter 10
- ↑ The Long Utopia - Chapter 11
- ↑ The Long Utopia - Chapter 19
- ↑ The Long Utopia - Chapter 21
- ↑ The Long Utopia - Chapter 26
- ↑ The Long Utopia - Chapter 27
- ↑ The Long Utopia - Chapter 28
- ↑ The Long Utopia - Chapter 30
- ↑ The Long Utopia - Chapter 38
- ↑ The Long Utopia - Chapter 39
- ↑ The Long Utopia - Chapter 40
- ↑ The Long Utopia - Chapter 45
- ↑ The Long Utopia - Chapter 47
- ↑ The Long Utopia - Chapter 51
- ↑ The Long Utopia - Chapter 52
- ↑ The Long Utopia - Chapter 53
- ↑ The Long Utopia - Chapter 54
- ↑ The Long Utopia - Chapter 56