What Gods Are These?
by Jeffery Carver
_First published in GALILEO Magazine, 1978_
The gods have not yet come, but they will.
I believe I am not alone here, though I don't know who is with me. Hanging cockeyed to my uncertain
frame of reference, I stare at my Earth with sorrow and hate, wanting to curse it, to destroy it before the
gods have it all. My visor fogs momentarily, as though to remind me of my helplessness. I am
weightless: orbiting, falling . . . falling. Motionless . . . only the Earth moves. My ruined planet is a cool
cheek bulging over my right shoulder, a delicate cloud and water ball, the stage of a hopeless drama
against the house-darkness of space. On its dim nightside crescent, I see one or two cities burning, tiny
embers. Slowly the planet drifts further around to the right, where it will pass behind me for a little
while, behind the station. As I float with my boots hooked on a twisted bit of station girder and stare for
hour after endless hour, I have the feeling that Earth is nothing more than an enormous sop, sweeping
debris out of space, and grit . . . and mindless, gabbling spacemen.
No. It is the Saviors who will do that. They will not miss a one down there. And on their way back up
they will find you here, whispers my soul. Find you waiting, helpless.
The thought sets me on edge. Hiding here behind the wrecked ferry shack on an arm of ruined
Spacehome, my radio silent, whisper of spacesuit air for company, I pretend that I am safe, yes, from the
preying Savior ships. They will find the others and take them, but I will be safe. And yet . . . to be left
here uncaptured to die in peace, what a terrible, lonely end. I float, boots anchored, and watch that great
ball against the black sink, now moving slowly out of my angle of view. The sun flares across the girder
arm, white against the infinite black, and suddenly the endless, falling orbit of the station steals the
breath out of my soul. Has the Earth turned an anesthetic green, or is that merely a distortion of my