The Empty Empire

by Mary E. Lowd

Originally published in Daily Science Fiction, December 2016

“I was good at building worlds now — I could churn them out, one every several years. So, I kept building…”

It took a hundred years to design and build the first planet.  Multi-dimensional bulldozers and hyper-spatial cranes arranged the mountains, the icy spires, the cozy sea-green valleys in-between.  Everything was perfect; ready for a feathered avian species to take roost in the frozen castle-like heights or maybe a variety of vine-swinging primates to set up their homes in the valleys.  But no one came.

So I built another world — a moon to circle the planet.  To follow the theme, the moon’s face was formed from glassy mirror-like ice, great stretches and planes of ice.  Hoofed equines could pound their way around the moon, reveling in those wide, broad planes.  But the equines didn’t come.

The planet and the moon shone at each other, reflecting each other’s empty beauty, waiting.

No one wants ice worlds anymore, I thought.  My next planet was red and dusty, and it only took a few years to build, smashing asteroids together, gluing them in place.  But no reptiles came to bask in the red world’s sun-burnt warmth.

I was good at building worlds now —  I could churn them out, one every several years.  So, I kept building:  a green planet, wishing for a civilization of tiny rodents; another covered in oceans, hoping to become inhabited by sentient fish; an entire world carved out of a giant purple gem — I don’t even know who would live there.  But it’s beautiful.

Each of them waited.

Each of them is waiting.

I keep building worlds, hoping that some day the creatures will come, but there are too many other worlds out there for them.  Too many places to live.  Yet, I keep building.  Some day they will come.

Until then, my empty empire is perfect and serene.

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