Diata was in bed, weeping quietly, when she heard Peto leave the house early next
morning. Shortly after, she heard Eelan call to her.
“Mum? Your breakfast is on the table. I'm going to help Peto with the vegetables.
See you at lunch time.”
Diata sat up. “No! No, wait Eelan,” she called back. “Wait there.”
She rose and dressed quickly. Eelan was waiting in the kitchen.
“I want to talk to you, Eelan, I've got
to talk to you.” Diata took Eelan's hand and led her to the table and sat down, urging Eelan to do the same.
“Eelan. A few weeks ago I was watching a group of Kandeer by the edge of
the forest. One of them appeared to be quite old and feeble. I think it was blind or partly blind, as it seemed to be having
trouble finding food for itself. When it did find some, the other Kandeer snatched it away from it and ate it themselves.
They are animals and have no concern for the old of their kind. It doesn't worry them if the old or sick starve or can't care
for themselves. Watching them made me think of getting old.”
“Oh Mum! You aren't old,” Eelan exclaimed. Diata smiled at her.
“No, I'm not. I'm thirty-five. I gave birth to Peto when I was nineteen.
You came along when I was twenty. Your father and I planned it that way because we wanted to be young with you. But I will
get old one day, and I'll die one day.”
“Mum, we'll take care of you when you are old, you know we will!”
Eelan smiled broadly.
“I know you will, darling but, who
will take care of you when you get old?”
Eelan was young. The thought of herself getting old had never entered her head.
She looked at her mother and shrugged.
“We will help each other. We'll manage, like the old Kandeer,” she
said, dismissing the problem lightly, “That's along time ahead yet, anyway. We'll worry about that when the time comes,
Mum. Don't worry.”
“No. Now is the time to start thinking about it. Before we get
too much older. I've been thinking about it a lot. That's what's been on my mind lately.” Diata looked hard at Eelan.
Taking her hand again, she opened her mouth to again but hesitated, as though thinking carefully how to phrase her words.
“Eelan. Eelan, we are alone on Diata. Robo One has confirmed that there
are no humanoid beings on Diata apart from us. The only way that we are going to survive is for us to bear children and our
children must bear children. They will care for you and Peto. And their children will care for them, and so on. Peto is the
only male on Diata that can give us children. Only he can make us pregnant.” Diata looked out of the window at the sky.
It was so blue and Earth-like.
“We may as well be the only humans in the whole universe. It has to be up
to us to begin to populate Diata,” she concluded.
Eelan looked at her mother. She saw that she was serious and genuinely concerned.
“But Mum, Comp told us at our schooling that children born from such close
relationships could be born with mental and physical defects,” she said.
“Yes that's true. I was taught that they could be born with some aberrations,
but we must take that chance to survive. We can teach them, love them just the same as if they were normal, even if they are
different in some way. Did Comp also tell you that the human race began with just one man and one woman? We came from that
first male and female. There are billions of humans now, but we can't wait for them to find us. It might take centuries.”
“Is that why you and Peto did the sex act last night?” Eelan asked.
Diata's eyes dropped to her hands. She had not expected Eelan to ask her that.
“Did Peto tell you that we had?” she asked quietly.
“No. I watched you both. I heard you moaning and thought you were hurt.
I went into your room to see if you were all right. What's the matter, Mum?” Diata had closed her eyes and was shaking
“I was not in full control of myself last night. The wine. I had too much.
“Why are you sorry, Mum? Is it such a bad thing? Why does it make you so
sad? Peto won't talk about it either. Does the sex act do that to people?” Eelan couldn't understand Peto's attitude
or her mother's distress. When she watched Peto and her mother together she had begun to be aroused herself and it was far
from being an unpleasant sensation. Her knowledge of sex and the sex act was limited to what she had learned during her schooling
by Comp. She knew the process of procreation and the need for a male and female to have intercourse in order to produce children,
but that was all.
Forgetting her own feelings of shame, Diata saw Eelan's obvious confusion and
put her arms comforting her.
“No darling, it's not such a bad thing and it doesn't make one sad. It's
a beautiful thing. It's what we are taught that affects us. If we were brought up to believe that eating good food was wrong
then we would feel guilty when we ate it. Because of what I was brought up to believe, I felt guilty about last night, although
I can only vaguely remember it. I don't know about Peto, though. He may have learned that it was not the acceptable thing
and is reacting accordingly.”
“What if Peto doesn't want to give us children? He hardly spoke to me this
“Then it will be up to us to persuade him. We have to, Eelan. We have to
make him see how important it is. I don't think he will object though.” Diata was appealing to Eelan.
“OK Mum, I'll support you. But you will have to do the talking. You know
what you want. He won't listen to me if he doesn't want to. If he doesn't like what I say to him, he just shuts off. He always
does.” Eelan thought about the times when Peto had got her really mad just by refusing to listen or talk to her. It
hadn't happened for a few years now, but she knew he still as stubborn as ever.
“We will talk tonight. Don't mention it to him until then. If he's as upset
as you think he is, it may be as well to leave it for another time. Anyway, lets go and help him in the garden, or he will
think something has happened to you. I'll get washed. You go ahead.” Diata ended the conversation and went out of the
Peto had completed the thinning of the bread-peas and was just starting to dig
up some carrotats for storing when Eelan arrived to help. He looked up and smiled at her but said nothing. Eelan started on
a line of carrotats alongside him, keeping pace with him as they worked. As usual, her impatience got the better of her and
she broke the silence.
“Peto, are you mad at me?” she asked.
“No Eelan, I'm not mad at you. Why should I be?”
“You've hardly spoken to me today,” she retorted, “that's why.”
“No, I'm not mad. I'm worried about how Mum will feel about me today. I don't know if she is going to be angry with me for not stopping her last night.
Maybe I should have done, but she thought that I was Dad and I thought I'd let her think that, hoping she would feel he was
alive again for a while. She was drunk. I didn't think it would hurt to let her do what she did,” explained Peto, “You
know how much she misses him.”
Eelan stood up and grinned at him.
“It's not funny, Eelan. You know what happened.” Eelan stopped grinning
and looked at him. She could see that he was upset.
“Mum's not angry, Peto. She said that she wants to talk to us tonight, but
she's definitely not angry. She looked as though she had been crying though, said Eelan, “I think she wants to tell
us what's been worrying her.” She wanted to enlighten her brother but thought it best to keep quiet as her mother had
requested. Their conversation was ended by the arrival of robo One bearing a small basket.
“Diata has asked me to bring you your lunch. She has gone to the spacecraft
to help robo Two select some materials to complete the piping of the water supply to the house. The well has been completed
and the pump is in position now.” Robo One explained everything, giving unnecessary details as the robots and Comp were
prone to do.
They thanked him and sat down to eat the sandwiches that were for their lunch.
The sandwiches were filled with slices of one of the fruits that grew in the forest. It was a dry fruit that Diata said took
the place of lettuce. It was necessary to boil the fruit and allow it to go cold before slicing it. It was a favoured of Eelan's
and she tucked in with gusto. Also included in the basket was a container of an amber liquid that they called 'tea'. The 'tea'
was made by steeping the leaves of one of the shrubs in hot water and allowing it to soak for a week. The tea was discovered
after Diata had found the wine and they had experimented with all kinds of leaves and fruits. Comp analysed all the experiments
and announced that some of them were poisonous, while others were suitable for consumption although many that were suitable
tasted vile to them and were quickly rejected. Only two actually produced alcohol, the original berries and another fruit
that produced a wine with fifteen per cent alcohol. This wine they usually drank with their main meal of the day. The 'tea'
was a sweet but refreshing liquid that was equally delightful when drank hot or cold.
Peto gave robo One instructions to gather the carrotats and take them to the store,
then he and Eelan moved on to another patch of vegetables and worked until the sun began to set.
Meanwhile Diata was at the spacecraft. It had been tidied up since the crash twelve
years previously. The Zennalloy hull and interior were unblemished by the passage of time, in spite of the huge dent in the
side caused when the craft crashed. Zennalloy, being a metal mined on one of the moons of one of the inhabited planets that
was colonised by the World Council of Space Colonisation, was extremely light and strong and was impervious to rust. It had
never been tested to its limits for durability. It seemed to be almost indestructible when smelted and formed into sheets
to be used for making machinery and other equipment, including space vessels.
Diata conferred with Comp, asking him what could be cannibalised from the ship
without interfering with Comp's operation. He was invaluable to them, advising them from his vast memory that he was continually
adding to. A nuclear plant that would last many thousands of years powered him. All the powered equipment ran on nuclear batteries
that had an indefinite life. Similar batteries powered the robots. They would run down eventually but that would be a long
time in the future.
Having ascertained what materials robo Two could have, Diata decided to tell Comp
of her plans for the future, explaining that she felt there was a need to populate the planet in order to survive. Comp announced
his disapproval of such an attempt.
“It is well known that there are dangers in such close relations, Diata.
The children born could be adversely affected. There are many cases on Earth that has proved distressing to both the parents
and the children themselves. I have been fed with the histories of such cases which I can show you, if you require.”
“No Comp. I know that there are such dangers. I want to know if there are
always adverse effects. Also how bad are these defects?”
“Not all cases of incest resulted in defected children. It is a danger that
is always present. I do not have complete details of course, as such information was not considered particularly important
to be fed into my memory banks.”
“Comp, how can we survive when we get old?” Diata asked.
“I'm well aware that humans suffer an ageing process that eventually requires
them to be cared for, but I have discovered an interesting thing from the medical checks that you, Peto and Eelan have had
since you have been here. You appear to be ageing rather slowly. It could possibly be the effects of your environment. There
is absolutely no pollution here on Diata. It could be the sun's rays. The sun here is quite young compared to Sol, Earth's
sun. I do not know to what extent this will prolong your lives, if at all, but it might help to allay your fears somewhat.”
“Peto and Eelan are not ageing slowly. They have grown up normally,”
“Yes, the have grown up normally physically, but the decay rate of their
cells has slowed and your own cells do not appear to be ageing as fast as other humans. The ageing of your cells began to
slow down shortly after you landed here. You have only aged approximately seven years since you have been here. That is a
gain of five years in your favour.”
“That is good news Comp. You have no idea how much that kind of news pleases
a woman.” Diata smiled as she thought how envious most women would be if this had happened to her on Earth.
“It would be interesting to see how far the retardation of your ageing will
extend to. I would like to see if it will continue or whether it will stop at some stage,” replied Comp, “If it
does not stop, then logically you will become more youthful as the ageing process reverses.”
Diata suddenly did not like what Comp was saying.
“Surely that's impossible. I have no wish to become a baby again!”
“I cannot believe that would happen. Take the case of Peto and Eelan. They
have grown physically while at the same time their cells are not decaying as fast as normal, and the rate is continuing to
slow, but there must be a limit. We can only wait and see what happens."
“You see, the cells regenerate themselves, the body discards worn cells
and replaces them with new ones. This process is quite vigorous in young children, they are able to grow to maturity, heal
quickly when they are injured. If that process continued, the human body would never grow old. Unfortunately something stops
the process. No one has discovered what or why. There comes a time in the life of all humans when the process of regeneration
of cells reaches a balance and they do not age for a short time. This period of time does not last very long. It is thought
to take place when the human becomes about the age of thirty. When that period has passed, the body begins to age and this
ageing accelerates as time passes. I noticed about six years ago that your ageing had ceased to accelerate and had in fact
“I do not think that it can continue to slow down to the point of reversal
and that you will return to infants, though neither do I believe that you will reach that balance that I mentioned and remain
in that balanced state. But there is a possibility that you will live well past the average life span of humans.”
“Comp you are way ahead of me. All I want to know is, how can we humans
continue to survive here on Diata?”
“If you are prepared to take the risks, then your plan is the only way as
far as I can tell with the data that I have at the present.”
Diata left the ship and walked slowly back to the house. She wondered how Nyel
would have reacted had he known of what she planned to do.
She prepared dinner and then went to see how robo Two was getting on with the
water system. He seemed quite happy with the pipes that he had been able to get from the ship and was busily fixing them up
to the purifier. She thought that if he could whistle he would be. She was still watching him when Peto and Eelan arrived
back from the vegetable garden.
There was very little conversation during the meal. Peto was doing his best to
avoid looking at his mother. Diata was also uncomfortable knowing how he must feel and tried to put him at ease by talking
about the new water system and anything else that came to her mind. Eelan did most of the answering, while at the same time
her eyes glancing first at Peto then her mother and back again.
Eventually the meal was finished and Diata, with the help of Eelan, cleared the
table and washed up the dishes. Peto waited tensely for his mother to come back.
Both Diata and Eelan returned with soft drinks made from mashing a fruit that
resembled a melon and straining the juice. The juice was a thick syrup that was sickly to take on its own but delicious when
“Let's go into the lounge, shall we?” Diata asked, brightly. “I
want to talk to you both.”
They settled down and sipped their drinks, with Diata wondering how to broach
the subject that was on her mind and Peto wishing that it was all over. He was convinced that he was going to be severely
spoken to, In spite of Eelan's assurances to the contrary. Finally he spoke up.
“Mum, I'm sorry about last night, really,” he blurted out. He felt
like a small child instead of the sixteen years old that he was. Diata looked up in surprise. She had not expected him to
speak first but was glad that he had.
“Oh Peto. Don't be sorry. I'm not sorry it happened. It's brought to a head
what has been worrying me for some time now,” said Diata. She went on to tell him about her observation of the aged
Kandeer and the conclusions that she had drawn. She told him what she thought would be the only hope of their survival. Peto's
immediate response was the same as Eelan's.
“But Comp said...” he began but Diata interrupted him.
“I know what Comp taught you. I was taught the same things myself. But we
have to be realistic. We have to take those chances, Peto. I was talking to Comp today and he said there were cases where
the children born were normal. He also said that it was the only way we could be assured of survival, provided that we were
prepared to take the risks.”
Peto was silent for a while. He was shocked at what had been suggested by his
mother. It was not that he objected to the suggestion in itself. He had to admit that he had enjoyed the experience he had
the previous night, as Eelan had observed. It was the fact that it was his mother who had suggested it. He looked at Eelan
to see how she was taking it. She had not spoken throughout the conversation. She returned his gaze, her face for once, expressionless.
It was then that he realised that she had already known what their mother wanted to talk about.
“Suppose it doesn't work? Suppose the defects are too great? The Pharaohs
of ancient history went mad and died off, I believe, because they were incestuous.”
“Peto, we can stop at any time. If it is that bad, then we will stop,”
said Diata, “But we must try, at least.” Peto thought for a while.
He knew that he was often over cautious. It came from having to take on so many responsibilities at an early age. Finally
“All right Mum. If you think it will be all right,” he said. “When
are we supposed to start?” Diata breathed a sigh of relief that the hard part was over. She had not known what to expect
from Peto. He had been so strange during dinner. She had never seen him like that before and she thought she had lost his
“Hold on. There's plenty of time now that we are agreed. We all need to
get used to the idea. We also have to plan carefully. She went to pour another soft drink, “It wouldn't do for both
Eelan and me to get pregnant at the same time. It would be hard on you to look after both of us in the later stages.”
“Eelan!” Peto exclaimed, wide eyed, “You mean Eelan is going
to be part of this. She's going to be involved, too?” He looked at Eelan. She was grinning at him. She had no qualms
about the idea. She had thought a lot since that morning's talk with her mother and realised that the only chance that she
would ever have of bearing children was through her brother. She tended to be more broad-minded than he was. As Diata returned
with the drink, Eelan wiped the grin off her face with some difficulty.
“Yes, of course she is. Eelan is to be involved in this as much as you and
I. She will probably play the greatest part, eventually. It has to be the three of us or none of us. She is a mature woman
and has the right to be made whole and bear children if she wants to. I haven't the faintest idea how we are going to go about
this, but it must be under different circumstances than last night. We will all decide some other time when we have got more
used to the idea. This has been very hard for me, you've no idea how hard.”
Diata thought how, only a few years ago, she would have been shocked and disgusted
at the thought of encouraging her own children to practise incest or plan to do it herself. She still felt a little sick about
it but she knew that it had to be. The previous evening's incident helped as it had been the first step through a difficult
phase. She felt that things could only get easier as time went on.
Two weeks later, Peto and robo One were erecting a fence around the vegetable
garden. Over the years, since the garden had been established, the Kandeer eating the growing foodstuffs had troubled them.
Lately the Kandeer seemed to know that the pickings were easy and had begun to make the garden their regular meeting place
for meals. The garden had suffered much damage as a result, to the annoyance of Peto and Eelan who had worked so hard to keep
it well stocked. Peto had decided that he had to do something about it and the fence was the answer. Robo Two was helping
by boring holes in the palings with a laser cutter and fashioning pegs from hard wood to use in place of nails.
As he worked he caught sight of his mother walking towards the spacecraft. He
noticed that she was carrying a bunch of blooms that had been cut from the neat garden that now surrounded the house. He realised
that this day must be the anniversary of his father's death. His mother never missed putting flowers by his grave in remembrance
of her husband on this particular day.
He stood and watched her, trying to bring to mind memories of his father. He could
vaguely remember his father playing with him in some garden that must have been their home on Earth. Brief memories of other
incidents came to him but were too fleeting for his mind to get a grip on them. One of them was seeing his father lying in
the spacecraft and his mother ushering him out. That, he knew, was the day his father had died.
Peto returned his attention to the work in hand when Two brought a further supply
of palings and pegs. The robots worked unceasingly and he could have left them to do all the work alone but for the fact that
he liked working and felt great satisfaction at seeing his handiwork completed.
It was when they had completed one length of the fence that he remembered his
mother. She had not returned yet. He looked over towards the site of his father’s grave and could just make her out,
sitting on the ground by the pile of rocks that was the monument over his father's grave.
Becoming concerned about her he told the robots to continue without him and made
his way towards his mother. It was almost half a mile away from the house and took him nearly fifteen minutes to reach there,
during which time his mother had not moved. He watched her for a while. She was not aware of his presence. His eyes took in
her slim form, the graceful way that she sat, supporting herself with one hand on the ground, her other resting on one of her ankles. She wore a thin, white sleeveless blouse and a short, red pleated skirt.
As he watched, a gust of wind lifted the hem of the skirt, exposing momentarily, her thigh and buttock. She wore no underwear.
Her stock of such items having been used up long ago.
“Are you all right, Mum?” he asked. Diata stood up as he spoke and
he saw that she had been crying. He put his arm around her shoulder.
“Oh, Peto. Yes, I'm all right, thank you.” Then she began to cry again.
He squeezed her shoulder and she turned towards him, welcoming the comfort that he was offering.
“I miss him so much, Peto,” she said, “so much.” Her tears
welled up from her eyes and rolled down her cheeks. Peto held her in his arms, trying to still the shaking of her body as
she sobbed. He felt her tears on his shoulder and became conscious of the closeness of her body. He felt the warmth of her
soft breasts pressing against his naked chest with only the thin material of her blouse separating them. Instinctively he
began to become erect, hardening as the movement caused by her sobbing, aroused him. If she felt his hardness pressing against
her, she gave no indication that she had. His hands moved over her back, caressing her, which only aroused him further. He
leaned his head back to look at her and she turned her face to him, her eyes and lashes moist with her tears. Bending his
head, he kissed her. Her lips parted and he felt her tongue brush his lips as she returned his kiss. His hand moved beneath
her blouse, cupping her breast, feeling the softness.
Peto gently pushed her towards the ground and she yielded, letting him support
her as she sank to the soft spongy grass. Kissing her gently, his hands explored her body, feeling every curve, reaching down
to her thighs and under her skirt. He caressed the smooth flesh of her thighs and stomach, and her pubic hair, arousing desire
in her that cried out for fulfilment. He moved on to her, his hard organ brushing her thigh as he did so. Her thighs parted
as she raised her knees higher in order to receive him. He entered her, moving slowly at first then increasing his rhythm
as he became more confident. Diata's arms were around him, clasping him to her, stroking his strong youthful back. Her internal
muscles gripping him as he thrust deeper into her. Her lips, full and warm, kissing his neck and shoulder, nibbling his ear.
His lips sought hers and found them a moment before her breath exploded through them as she climaxed. Before her orgasm had
subsided, Peto reached his climax and she felt his hot fluid spurt into her, then his thrusting slowed and finally stopped.
They lay exhausted, allowing their bodies and minds to enjoy the pleasures they
had just experienced. It was Diata who spoke first, several minutes later.
“That was wonderful, Peto. Truly wonderful,” she whispered. Peto looked
at her, smiled and rolled off her to lie by her side, looking up at the sky.
“You were wonderful,” he said.
“Come on. Let's wash in the lake,” said Diata, getting up and running
to the beach and plunging into the surf without stopping. Peto followed her, hesitating at the edge of the water. Diata stood
up, her wet blouse now almost transparent, clinging to her breasts, her red skirt floating about her small waist. She splashed
water at him then he too, plunged into the lake.
After bathing, they walked back to the house together.