Episode 5: Money

Marcel and Levi arrived at Brooklyn Central Station ten minutes before the next pod to DC. It was the weekend and Marcel decided to take Levi on a trip. Back in the 21st century, a trip from New York to DC would take approximately two to three hours by plane, without counting the endless hours of hassle at the airports. Now, with the Hyperloop system, the same trip took only forty-five minutes. The Brooklyn Central Station was impressive. It was bigger than any airport in the old world. But, in many ways, it was nothing like an airport. There were no custom or boarding controls. There was no need to book in advance or buy a ticket, to carry a passport or any other personal identification for that matter, even if you were going overseas. It worked pretty much like the also extinct train and metro systems, just much faster, efficient, and environmentally friendly.

After arriving at the Greenbelt station in DC, they got on one of the local pods that took hundreds of people every day, mostly families and school children, to visit NASA. While they were approaching the complex, Levi seemed a little disappointed and, at the same time, marveled at the scenery. He found it odd to see so many people milling around. A vast crowd, coming and going, made Levi feel like they were going to an amusement park on a national holiday. NASA was unrecognizable to him. The main big white box building with blue stripes, with the NASA logo at its top-right corner; the life-sized space telescope and rocket models; the red and yellow tulips decorating the front garden by the welcome sign; all that was gone. In their place, a massive crystal domed building, monumentally ascending from the ground surrounded by an open field with trees and beautiful gardens. The infrastructure and design of the cupola reminded him of old NASA projects of domed cities to provide suitable habitats for humans living in other weather conditioned environments on Mars. But the image in front of him challenged Levi’s imagination and exceeded his wildest dreams. They got out of the pod, and Levi felt another shock when he caught sight of the welcome sign, which now read: “Welcome to the Space Flight Museum.”

“Where are we?” asked Levi. “This is not NASA, is it?”

“Well, it used to be our place of work,” Marcel grinned at Levi. “But you are right. This place is not the Goddard Space Flight Center anymore. Not as you remember, anyway. Most NASA buildings were turned into musea. This building is one of them.”

“Are you saying that NASA does not exist anymore?” asked Levi apprehensively, realizing that nothing was quite like it used to be.

“NASA exists inside this museum. But NASA, the government agency, in charge of science and technology, that has to do with airplanes and space, no. That NASA is long gone.”

“What do you mean?” asked Levi with frustration in his voice.

“You are going to understand what I mean in a minute. The answers are inside that building. Let’s go. I’m anxious to show you everything. I thought you would like to know how things developed since your last project.”

Levi’s last project at NASA was the James Webb Space Telescope, which was going to be the world’s most powerful infrared space telescope ever built. Among other expectations, it was hoped that the telescope would help scientists to understand the formation of stars and planets, and in having direct imaging of exoplanets. Levi’s telescope optics research would make it possible to see planets that would otherwise be obscured by the glare and diffraction from the orbited star. Levi died before the launch of the Webb. He was curious to know all about its accomplishments. 

“I can’t wait,” said Levi excited, as an explorer sent to investigate and learn more about a new world.

~

It was already dark when Levi and Marcel headed to the exit. The museum was about to close when they finally decided to leave. Walking out of the building, Levi became unusually quiet and introspective. He had a lot to digest. He had just learned that the launch of the James Webb telescope was a great success. In a few years of orbiting the Sun, the Webb had contributed to several revolutionary discoveries, including confirming the existence of planets located outside our solar system. Levi was introduced to the projects that followed Webb’s findings. The next step was to send a probe, powered by space radiation, with the mission to study these so-called exoplanets. The probe was, in reality, a small spaceship able to deploy shuttles, crewed by robots, to land in these planets and explore its surface. The museum’s observatory functioned as a real-time telescope where Levi could visualize the exact location of the probe. Levi’s mind was racing. One could almost hear his brain working until he gave words to his thoughts, finally breaking the silence.

“O.K., I understand that you guys are not exactly in a hurry to find a new planet to call home, right? Since this one is looking pretty good, after the whole transformation, getting rid of pollution, nuclear threats, sustainably using natural resources, and everything else. I heard you when you said that these current space projects are driven by pure curiosity, without a specific agenda. And based on the present data, it seems that we will never need to colonize other worlds for any practical reasons. At least not until the Sun starts dying anyways. Here is what I don’t understand. Why is there no government interest in investing in space programs anymore? I mean, all space initiatives are being completely carried out by space enthusiasts, individuals’ private efforts, volunteers in their free time? Seriously?”

“Well, as you said, we live in a completely different world now. With the New Earth, our priorities changed. For a long time, all resources and efforts were directed to the reconstruction of the planet. After cleaning all the trash from the old Earth, nuclear weapons, chemical waste, etc., we focused on rebuilding. Then, space programs had to take the back seat.”

“I see,” said Levi, but still not sounding satisfied with the answer. 

“Besides, what made governments invest in space programs in the first place?” Marcel continued.

“Military and technological advantage… yes, but not all of it was purely economic and political interest, and you know it.”

“Yes. I know. For the purpose of learning, discovering, we continue to study and explore, and our government does support and encourage this pursuit of knowledge. But this support does not come in the form of financial investment if that’s what you mean. The concept of money itself exists only in history books now and …”

“Wait, wait, what? No money? How?” interrupted Levi dumbfounded, just when he thought nothing else could surprise him at that point.

“You might have noticed that we haven’t used money once. Not for transportation, food, or for the museum, right?”

“Yes, but I just thought you had a different way of paying for those things. Maybe with a chip in your arm or something. I don’t know.”

“No. No chip and no money.”

“So, how do you pay for stuff and buy things then?”

“This is the beauty of it. You don’t.”

“How did you guys manage that? Are we back to use some kind of barter system?”

“Not exactly. It works like this. Everything is done through collaboration. Every single adult person on this planet works different assignments as a volunteer and all his needs – food, transportation, housing, and everything else is provided for without charge.”

“Come again?” asked Levi. He opened his eyes wide and frowned, not entirely understanding what he was hearing.

“Imagine that we need a new building. We have machines, facilities, and people with skills to design and make every single building block for this project. People are assigned to the project by a government representative team, who organizes and leads it. They get together, get the project done, and go home. After the project is finished, they take a vacation or wait for the next assignment.

Meanwhile, if they need food, they go to food stores, and they simply take what they need. If they need clothes, they go to a clothing store, and again they are free to have whatever they like. Of course, there is only so much you can take every time. But it is ensured that everyone’s family has their needs covered,” explained Marcel.

“And what if I need a house, furniture, electronic devices, or — I don’t know– a truck?”

“For a house, in most cases, it will be provided by the government. You can choose an available existing building, or you can choose an available piece of land to have your house built there. We don’t use cars or trucks anymore, as you might have noticed, but if when you say ‘truck,’ you mean heavy-work machinery, you can just borrow whatever you need from the government building department. As for furniture, electronic devices, and the like, it works the same way as for clothing and food.”

“You’ve gotta be kidding me,” said Levi, not buying one word from Marcel.

“Of course, there are a few rules and principles that make this system work for everyone, but don’t worry. You are going to learn all about them in your classes with Jacob.”

“Jacob was right. I am going to love this place,” said Levi.

~

The Sun was shining, the wind breathed calmly, and the heat was an irresistible summer-invitation to enjoy what would be an unforgettable day in Levi’s life. He enjoyed sitting on his balcony and spend breakfast, looking at the Brooklyn Bridge. After a few days of staying as a guest at Marcel’s, he moved to his own place, provided by the government’s housing program for resurrected ones. He got a charming apartment facing the old bridge—a place where he loved to be. In the past months, he had lived through new experiences worthy of a lifetime. As a good scientist, Levi savored every single moment of his time-travel-real-life story. It was not exactly the time travel out of his beloved science-fiction books, but undoubtedly, much better. A couple of weeks after he started the School for Resurrected Ones, he was also assigned to his first job in the New Earth. He had been working part-time at the Central Transport Station. Every Monday and Tuesday after school, he would be responsible for cleaning the pods. On Thursdays, he would join the maintenance team, getting training on the pods’ technology. After his graduation, Marcel and Jacob continued Levi’s training. Levi had been enjoying his lessons, and now, almost two years after his resurrection, he had become an entirely different person. Physically he was now the host of what he considered to be a supernatural strength. Living close to the beach, Levi loved to go for a swim in the ocean. He could hold his breath for minutes on end. Exploring under water and playing with marine life was like discovering a new world altogether. Mentally he felt like having a supercomputer between his ears. He could read books as fast as his eyes could move. Sometimes he would get in a pod and travel to the African continent, to the Amazon forest or the North Pole. He was happy to be able to explore and experience all the things he had been learning in books. He also had his projects. He was pushing the limits of his recently acquired super-genius level of mental abilities. He was working on a possible way of transportation using quantum entanglement and a plan to explore the universe without leaving Earth, using an interfacing mechanism that would allow humans to control a robotic version of themselves, sent into deep space. At the same time, he was trying to figure out how to build a house for eternity, completely autonomous, with its own system and cycles. A home that would be alive just like the Earth is alive. Emotionally he had evolved. Being before self-centered, self-absorbed, and having narcissistic tendencies, he now was honestly and earnestly interested in other people, fully involved with his community, and actively working for the peace, union, and wellbeing of the ones around him. But it was on the spiritual level that he made the most drastic change. There was no spiritual level for him before. Now, his spiritual development seemed to be the one most important aspect of his new life.

~

“In our last session, we talked about how to use our ‘power of discernment’ based on principles to think as the Creator thinks. By looking at things from the Creator’s perspective, our society today tries its utmost to do things, make choices and decisions in a way that resembles his way of thinking. So far, what impressed you the most about how we do things today differently from what you were used to?” Marcel asked.

“I’m still amazed by the fact that everything works without money or economic incentive to keep the wheels turning. Getting rid of the financial system, to me, is the most important accomplishment of this new government, which makes the society we have today possible,” said Levi with enthusiasm.

“A crucial factor, indeed.” Marcel agreed, pleased with Levi’s comment. “Today, we are going to deepen our understanding of some of the principles and laws that govern our lives in the New Earth, O.K.?”

“All right,” said Levi.

“Sorry, Marcel,” Jacob interrupted. “Could we leave this material for next week? I would like to consider something else today. It has to do with some good news I have just received for Levi.”

“Good news for me? What good news?” Levi asked.

“Do you remember our lessons about the resurrection, how it works and who is resurrected?” asked Jacob.

“Sure. Of course, I remember. I’ll be forever grateful for this provision. What about it?”

“Well, here comes the news. I just got confirmation.”

“What confirmation? You are killing me here.”

Then finally, Jacob announced emotionally. “Anne is going to be resurrected!”

“Anne?! My Anne?” shouted Levi in disbelief.

“Yes, Levi. Anne will be back soon,” said Jacob, unable to hold his tears of joy any longer.

Levi was stunned for a moment just before collapsing in tears. He cried as he had never cried before. Jacob stood up, took Levi by the hands, and raised him up, giving him a big hug. “I’m so happy for you, my friend,” said Marcel.

“Are you sure?” said Levi, still in shock.

“Yes, son. Yes!” Jacob assured him.

“And, there is more.”

“More?” 

“You were assigned to be her assistant. Just like Marcel was your assistant, you see. It means that you will have to be there when she wakes up. You will be the first person she will see coming back.”

“Oh, I don’t know what to say,” said Levi wiping his tears away.

“She may wake up in the next couple of days. That is why I would like to prepare you to serve as her assistant. It involves a few things you have to know. Can we go through them today?”

“Oh, my God. I can’t believe it. Thank you so much. Thank you,” said Levi hugging Jacob again.

“Don’t thank me,” said Jacob. “I’m not the one deciding who is going to be brought back to life.”

“Yes, of course,” Levi then looked up and prayed for the first time.



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1 comment

  1. In these times of limited access to friends and family memories and our sharing stories is one thing keeping us motivated. The news of all that is changed from the other life is given to Levi by close friends and family, thus helping Levi’s open acceptance to it all. I am enjoying the travel through mind pictures. This writing allows the reader to aid his or her own pictures and feelings.

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