The Ikea in Ashton can be seen from space

2310 AD. 

By the time their messages reached Earth, virtually everyone they knew would be dead. The first Infinity mission had been travelling for ten years of their own time, explorers mapping the universe for other life forms or habitable planets. The universe had turned out to be a decaying museum of past civilisations, life having once been present, but not any longer. With all of humanity now conscious that their days were numbered, it offered small consolation to know that they weren’t the first species to be condemned to extinction in the vastness of the universe.

This time they had more hope. The planet, named only by its co-ordinate, was in a solar system that could provide the essentials of life, and a distance from that star that would be optimal for existence. Besides they had been tracking signals emitted from the planet for over a hundred years of Earth time. Earth technology was still not sophisticated enough to decipher whether or not these signals had meaning but as they got closer, the signals became stronger.

The landing crew came out of hypersleep and prepared for set-down. They had checked the atmosphere, and their equipment should be able to operate in it. The crew landed, and made there way to the location of the signal.

‘It looks like a launch pad of some sort,’ said the captain. There was no vehicle to be seen, but some power cell was generating a constant beam which was the signal that they’d picked up. They moved to the buildings adjacent to the site, and carefully opened the doors. ‘We’ve found some kind of dwelling, somebody lives here.’

As they went through the rooms it was clear that this was in the past-tense. Whoever had lived here had long moved on. There were plenty of signs of habitation, but when they’d left they’d obviously taken most of their things with them. In the final room, against the wall, there was something they’d left behind.

‘I’m not sure what these are,’ said the captain, ‘they look like free-standing objects for holding or displaying stuff.’
His technical specialist went up close. ‘They’re made from some kind of wood composite.’

‘What are they for?’ asked the captain.

‘Impossible to say. I’ve seen similar things in museums back on Earth, people used them for holding pre-electronic reading devices – but they could be used for anything,’ replied the specialist. ‘Let’s see if they move.’ He pulled at one. At first it seemed stuck but then it came easily away from the wall.

Peering under one of the horizontal stems of the object, he could feel a label of some kind. ‘Let’s turn it over, there might be a clue.’ It took two of them to pull the object away from the wall and onto its side. They turned it over and shone a torch on the label. To their surprise, it was in English. There, faded but readable, were the words:

‘BILLY Bookcase by IKEA. Made in Sweden.’

Adrian Slatcher was born in Walsall in 1967 and studied an MA in novel writing at the University of Manchester. He advises the arts on digital technologies, and writes fiction, poetry and essays. He has recently had work published online at Horizon Review, Flax Books and Everyday Genius.

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2 Responses to “The Ikea in Ashton can be seen from space”

  1. April 12, 2010 at 9:44 pm, Joel said:

    I thought Ray was well-realised and thought the 2310 ‘epilogue’ felt plausible, but I was disappointed Ray did not reappear.

  2. April 26, 2010 at 2:51 pm, Adrian Slatcher said:

    Thanks for reading, and for the comment. Good point – I wonder what happened to him after his visitation?


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