The ship had unloaded supplies and taken aboard all the items that were made on Appleopolis. Most of the items being loaded were perishable food, manufactured locally by machines on the planet.
Rags saw tons of boxes being stowed into cargo hold 7. They completely filled the area from floor to ceiling. Boxes of pies, syrup, and other things made with apples, maple, and cinnamon.
Appleopolis was a planet inhabited mostly by trees, but there was a small workforce that maintained the machines. They produced the best organic pastries, maple, and cinnamon products in the universe and their goods were highly sought after.
After all the incoming packages were stored, Rags bid everyone good bye and went to get the small bundle of his belongings before he left the ship. He was sad to say goodbye to his friends, but he had a new job and he needed to get landside to begin.
He went into the sleeping area and he saw his friends standing near his bed, where he had his bag sitting.
“Don’t look so sad, my friend,” Lee remarked, “We have all had dreams of our being together in other places and times. This is just a little diversion. You were meant to be here for a reason. There is something that you are here to learn. Remember, the Digital Planet? I will be working there with my wife and children, and that is farther in the future for me that for you. I will be an old dog by then.”
They all laughed a nervous laugh. “And don’t forget the ‘Big Celebration’ for Millie, where they dedicated this ship to her. That is donkey’s years in the future, or was it the past? I can never seem to get this ‘Between’ stuff right,” Miss D said. She gave a brave smile, even though her heart was breaking.
“I remember the celebration Miss D, and it was fantastic! It was 5 years in the past. A full two years before I became a member of the crew. [laughing] I wasn’t even born then. The reason for the dedication is still in the future. I don’t think that we ever traveled there, because it is MY future. Somehow, I am involved with the event that makes Millie famous,” Rags said almost in a whisper. “I do have to say, that I am beginning to get a feel for Appleopolis. We have just landed and all ready, I can sense the strangeness of the place. I can hear the rocks, and trees talking to me. I feel their excitement and love and it is a good, warm sensation in my heart. They are welcoming me.”
“At the ‘Appleopolis Education Center,’ we all felt the strong sense of communication with all the life here,” he continued. “I have been listening to grandfather apple tree. He has told me of the history of the planet and how all the life forms communicate in perfect harmony.”
“Pictures kept forming in my mind as we walked around the apple orchard,” Lee said. “I could hear voices in my head and I thought it was just my imagination.”
“Oh Wow!” said Miss D, “That is what I was hearing. I thought it was strange. It didn’t feel bad. Actually, it felt nice. It was a little confusing and disorientating, as I didn’t know what it was. I think if we had a guide and we were told to relax and enjoy the feelings, we would have been better prepared to fully enjoy the experience. I guess that is why they hired you Rags. I know that you would make a perfect guide, as you easily learned the knowledge of Time, traveling the “Between,’ and now you will add to your abilities, by learning to converse with other life forms through your heightened perception. By developing your sensitivity and awareness of their thoughts, you are well on your way to learning their language.”
“That is what is so amazing,” Rags jumped in. “They do have a language, the ancient language of the trees. Each life form has their language, but you don’t need to learn it. Connecting, mind to mind, you do not need words or language to understand. You transfer more than words can express, it is more than our five senses can communicate. It is feelings, and thoughts, that connect you as one.”
“I know that there is much to learn here and I am anxious to absorb all there is to discover, He went on. “There is a rich history to be studied, but most of all, there is depth to this type of ‘oneness’ that will take a while to fully comprehend.”
“If anyone could do it and pass along this knowledge to others,” Lee stated, “it would be you, my dear friend Rags. Let us not hold you up. We know for a fact that our paths will cross again, somewhere, some WHEN.”
They all laughed and agreed that they would be together someday in their future. Hugging each other farewell, Rags grabbed his bag and headed for the gangplank that led to the planet’s surface, while Lee and Miss D walked to the forward lounge to see their friend off.
For the last time, he heard the voice of Pete, the Senior Master Chief of the ship:
“ATTENTION! ATTENTION! ATTENTION! LADIES AND GENTLEMEN OF, ‘THE PRINCESS MILLIE,’ PLEASE MAKE READY FOR TAKEOFF.”
He watched as the gangplank was retracted and the big door was shut. The engines fired as he stood at the edge of the clearing. He waved to his friends that stood in the forward lounge watching him grow smaller as the ship departed the planet.