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The Mid-Winter’s Night Murders

A

Stu Chamney Mystery

Chapter One

There is a reason, mysteries always seem to happen on cold, stormy winter nights in these northern climes. That’s because for ¾ of the year the north is cloaked in winter conditions. So.        It was a cold, dark, stormy winter’s night in the town of Elliott Lake when a fiendishly, foul mystery raged in on bitter wind and dropped unceremoniously in the unexpecting lap of Stu Chamney, Ret. Retired from what? Only his Bartender, Ripples knows. But driven by necessity and finding himself a designated person of interest Stu was compelled to conduct his own investigation to clear his name.

This Is What Happened

Stu Chamney just wanted to go for a refreshing stroll under a beautiful evening sky with a full moon encircled by the most wonderful moon ring he had ever seen. He dressed warmly and headed for the Kiwanis Sports Park where he would get the best view of the night sky. But just as he passed the gates that infamous spoiler Murphy with his befuddling law crashed the gates raising the wind and bringing on the clouds so fast there was no way of escaping getting caught in the storm. Nonetheless Stu turned for home in hopes of getting inside before the worst hit. But just as he was making the street a feint desperate voice came on a rush of icy wind. “Help me. I am hurt. I have been…”

Stu turned back into the park and trudged through the snow, already ankle deep, toward the voice.

After twenty minutes of searching he finally came upon a body near the tennis courts already almost covered up with snow.

“Quickly he knelt down and found that the body was laying face down. Anxiously he rolled it over to discover there was a knife protruding from the man’s chest. The eyes were wide open with a look of cold, dead horror in them.

Stu pulled back suddenly and fell to one side, over the body, dislodging the knife. But that was not the worst thing. That very afternoon he had had a raging argument with Albyn Fetterworth, the dead man. The altercation had produced some harsh threats on both sides, which Stu had no intention of acting on. But there he was, sprawled next to the dead body of the man he had threatened to bend into a pretzel not six hours earlier. Then the problem was compounded since he had moved the body and dislodged the murder weapon, accidently of course, but only he knew that.

At least a dozen people had heard their argument in the parking lot of Pearson Plaza. Stu thought after it was a bit comical, two grown men squaring off like a couple of kids. Now it wasn’t comical anymore.

Finally, Stu did the only thing he could. He dialed 911. Then he moved away from the body and put his back to the storm to wait.

It was only fifteen minutes before the police arrived, but Stu was, or felt like he was, half frozen.

Chapter Two

Stu was starting to jump up and down and waving his arms trying to warm himself when the first police cruiser arrived. A single constable got out of the car and approached him. Stu nodded toward the body and immediately the officer contacted his office. Then he took Stu’s statement which garnered him some suspicious looks from the officer.

Stu had told him only about finding the body and later wondered if he should have been a little more forth coming, especially when the afternoon altercation came from another witnesses’ statement. That statement came very early the next morning when an Inspector Wilakson came rapping on Stu’s door wanting the answers to more questions than Stu had answers for. It was then, after describing the parking lot altercation, that Inspector Wilakson indicated that Stu was on his radar and a strong person of interest. Stu took it more like, “Chamney. You are my prime suspect.” “But Inspector. Arguments get out of hand sometimes, but I would never follow through. It’s just not me.”

“Like you said. Arguments get out of hand. In my experience people do strange things when they are angry, very mad things. Maybe you met again in the park and finished the argument.” The Inspector extrapolated.

“You are wrong Inspector.”

“We’ll see.” Wilakson replied gruffly then left.

Immediately Stu called his lawyer, who was not particularly up on criminal law but referred him to an associate in the same company. Stu made the second call, then after a brief conversation muttered. “It seems I’ll be doing my own investigating if I want find the real killer, which will be the only way to get me off Inspector Wilakson’s most wanted list. “But where do I start? This is for real, not a nicely plotted novel where the good guy wins because the writer wrote it that way. Who would have wanted Albyn Fetterworth dead?”

Stu pondered his own question for several minutes and his memory went back only a couple of weeks when Fetterworth had another altercation at the pub they both frequented. It became so heated that Ripples, the bartender, a big bar tender, had to come out on the floor and get between the two men who were one shout away from a major brawl. Steve Bensheer had threatened to kill Fetterworth if he went anywhere near Mrs. Bensheer…again.

There had been rumours about a triste but only rumours and Angie, Mrs. Bensheer denied it.

“Well, its weak but it’s a place to start. I’ll have a word with Ripples, “Then I will talk to Steve, but jeez, I can’t believe Steve would be capable of murder, pre-meditated murder, which it seems obvious it was. People don’t usually carry butcher knives around with them.

Stu regarded his watch. It was only ten am, too early to go talk with Ripples, so he decided to switch the order of interviews and bicycled to Steve Bensheer’s house.

When he arrived, he found Steve in the back yard just coming out a gate in the privacy fence with a shovel in his hands that had dirt on the blade.

“Hum. I have never known him to be much of a gardener.” Stu contemplated. “And its winter.”

Chapter Three

“Whada ya want?” Bensheer slurred. Stu decided to tread carefully since it was obvious the man already had a snoot full and probably going to be adversarial if he was confronted, but he couldn’t think of a light way of approaching the subject. He braced himself for the fall out then said. “I guess you know about Fetterworth getting killed.”

To Stu’s surprise Bensheer replied. “Yah and I figure he deserved it too.”

Stu went in a different direction then. “It seems like a weird time of year to be digging in the garden. The ground is frozen, not to mention the two feet of snow.”

“You’d better get outa here before a give you a smack creep.” Bensheer slopped out his words and precariously wielded his shovel, toppling over into a snowbank, cursing as he fell.

“Here. Let me help you up and into the house.” Stu offered, but Bensheer yelled something mostly incoherent with only, “Smash your face,” understandable. At that Stu decided a hasty retreat was the better part of survival…or is that valor.

As he rode away, and the icy air chipped at his fingers and face Stu could not help wondering what Steve Bensheer had been digging up and where. He concluded after a minute that he would return later that night and have a good look around. Chances were Bensheer would be at the bar and hopefully Angie would be out as well. In the meantime, a word with Ripples was possible now, and in order.

Ripples was just opening the pub up. He looked a little bedraggled which was unusual. He always looked bright and chipper even after working thirteen or fourteen hour days. Now he had the look that one has after being awake too long. But he didn’t look hung over. As far as Stu knew, Ripples didn’t drink on duty and there seemed he had little time to do so when he wasn’t.

“Jeez Ripples. You look burnt.” He said.

Ripples replied, “Tax time. I was up all night trying to figure out where ten grand went. I hate to think it but someone has been doing some skimming.” Later I’d remember what he said and that he was bluffing.

I said, “Maybe someone robbed you out right and you are just noticing it now.”

Stu suggested. “Nope. I do my books every night and have noticed shortages over the last year. Not cash. Not beer.” Ripples argued. Then he queried, “What are you doing here so early?”

“Albyn Fetterworth has been murdered and I found him. I am sure you heard about our argument yesterday.” Stu answered.

Ripples nodded. “The police suspect me so I need you to tell the police about the argument he had with Steve Bensheer. I am sure the police will come asking questions.”

“They have already been here and I did tell them about it.”

“Oh. How did Inspector Wilakson react?” Stu pressed anxiously.

“He said, “Well that makes two suspects, but only one was found at the scene, minutes after the victim died.” He was talking to himself, not me.”

“Ok Ripples. Thanks.” Stu said with a nod and walked away.

Chapter Four

“What next?” Stu pondered as he rode home in the bitter cold. Then as he found himself back at the park he had an idea. "Maybe if he talked to Angie Bensheer she could fill him in a little, especially about the digging in the back yard." But even as he considered this a chill deeper than the cold day could cause shot up and down his spine like an electrical charge.

As fast as he could pedal Stu returned to the Bensheer house. The door was open. Stu didn’t think once let alone twice. He just ran inside and found Steve Bensheer in the living room with a butcher knife sticking out of his chest. He was still standing in the door way when the police arrived. Angie Bensheer was nowhere to be seen.

Inspector Wilakson stared accusingly at Stu. He said coldly, “You had better stick around. I am having a hard time believing you stumbled on two bodies in less than twenty four hours.”

Stu replied, “Inspector. I suggest you go out and see what Steve was digging up in the back yard or burying. He must have been desperate to be trying to dig into frozen ground.”

“Ah, Inspector. You better come down into the basement.” Came from the cellar door.

There was a hole, three feet deep, a couple wide and about five long. There was no body but there were clothes covered in blood. A woman’s skirt and blouse.

Maybe Stu shouldn’t have been there. Maybe he should have just gone home, but at that point he figured it wouldn’t have made much difference. Inspector Wilakson had him firmly in his mind as the prime suspect.

Wilakson looked at him with eagle eyes and said, “I don’t suppose you can fill me in on this.”

Stu answered, “I can’t but you might want to find out where Angie Bensheer is. It seems she is missing.”

“And you are saying you have no idea what’s gone on here.” The inspector replied.

Stu explained how he came to talk to Angie and found Steve, dead on the couch, killed with a butcher knife that looked a lot like the one used to kill Fetterworth.

“We’ll know more when we get confirmation on the finger prints Chamney.”

“They won’t be mine.” Stu shot back. “And I didn’t kill Steve either. I haven’t killed anyone…I haven’t murdered anyone, but some one has, at least twice. You should be looking for that person, not focusing on me. They might kill again.”

Angie came in. She took one look at her dead husband and started to laugh…hysterically, not humourously. Then she screamed. Then she stepped back, recovered from the shock, looked at Stu and said, “Your wife wants you to go home. You promised to take her to Sudbury today.”

“You were with my wife?” Stu enquired. “Just at the grocery store. I did the weekly shopping and was coming in to get Steve to help me bring in the bags.” Angie said then glanced at the body and said, “I guess that’s not going to happen. I’ll have to lug them in myself.”

Chapter Five

Stu went home. It was too late to take off for Sudbury and get home before dark. He wasn’t happy about night driving in the dark during the winter, especially if a storm hit. Besides Inspector Wilakson had told him to stay in town.

“I can’t believe they would suspect you.” His wife said amusedly.

Stu tried to laugh but it wouldn’t come.

She moved close and gave him a long warm hug. “It’ll all work out. You’ll get to the bottom of this mess.”

“Yah. In the mean time I am the town’s most wanted, at least in Inspect Wilakson’s mind.”

***

The local news sharing group put out a special edition of their print version and by old fashion methods took it to the streets. Five kids were running around having a blast shouting, “Extra, Extra. Read all about it…adding a brief description of what happened. Stu bought one thinking maybe there was something in the article that he might not have picked up directly. Sometime you can be too close to something to get the whole picture. There wasn’t. Not really, but the author of the article did ask, “And what’s with the hole and bloody clothes in the cellar at the Bensheer. House?” Stu wondered how the author knew about that.

Reesa Mont was at her desk in the little store-front space  occupied by the EL Shouter. She was busily typing away at her lap top and barely noticed Stu enter. When she did notice her eyes exploded with excitement. Out her mouth shot, “Stu Chamney. Mr. Chamney. I was just going to find you. What’s it like to be the prime suspect in a murder case, a double murder, no less?”

“Like everyone is staring at me wondering if it really was me who murdered Albyn and Steve, which it wasn’t by the way and I hope you don’t make the insinuation. It could go bad for you if you did.” Stu shot back then wished he hadn’t said that last part.

“Ooooh. Stu Chamney threatens the reporter. That be good reading.” “I meant I will sue you.” Stu shot back. Just then some one looked out from behind a divider. “I’ll witness the threat.” It was Angie Bensheer. Stu’s stomach flip flopped. He could not believe things could get any worse but they had.

Quickly he turned the tables. “When I tell the Inspector that you two are up to something and that one of you knows what’s with the hole in the cellar and the bloody clothes he is going to be all over you. He told me this morning he was testing another snow drift because my prints aren’t on the knife handle, but there are prints. Maybe yours Angie. Maybe you wanted both of them dead.”

Reesa’s eyes brightened again. She turned and looked at Angie and said suspiciously. “Stu has a good point. This just keeps getting better. EL has a real Hollywood murder mystery going on and I’ll be making a fortune with the extras.

Stu glanced at Reesa. Something dark flashed through his mind but faded just as quick since he couldn’t believe what he thought.

Chapter Six

“You’re not out of the woods yet Chamney.” Inspector Wilakson warned. “But I am not as deep in the forest as I was.” Stu replied with a hint of exhaustion.

“You’re at the edge facing out.” The inspector replied. “But you were at both scenes soon after the murders and that is a problem.”

“Dumb bad luck Inspector. Do you know where the knives came from or what that hole in the Bensheer cellar was dug for, or who the bloody clothes belonged to?”

“The knives came from China. They’re cheap blades. The blood on the clothes from the cellar belonged to Steve Bensheer. The clothing was too big to fit Angie Bensheer. The owner has to be at least five foot ten.”

“But Angie might have been trying to get rid of the clothes and maybe the body. But that begs the question, Why did I find Steve drunk and carrying the shovel that was probably used to dig the hole?”

Inspector Wilakson nodded his head in agreement but offered no response. Then Stu told the inspector about his visit to the EL Shouter office and as an afterthought, “Ripples at the pub believes someone was skimming money…or maybe stealing booze to the tune of then grand. It probably has nothing to do with the murders but you just can’t know until its looked into. It just seems funny to me that all this is coming up at the same time.”

“I’ll go have a chat with Ripples.” The inspector replied then he asked, “Do you know if either Angie Bensheer or Reesa Mont has worked at the pub. Probably not but…”

Stu looked moodily at the inspector and answered, “I have never seen either working there.”

“I’ll look into it but its probably nothing. He probably has a thirsty employee…maybe the bartender.”

“Ripples is the only bartender there. He’s there open to close.” Stu corrected.

***

Stu sat at his kitchen table teasing a cup of coffee. His eyes were closed and he was going through everything that had happened since he found Albyn Fetterworth’s body in the park. He remembered the body was covered in a thin layer of snow and that when he touched it the skin was still a little warm. That was when he checked for a pulse on the neck. “Someone else had to have been there, not far off, maybe watching me. I heard someone cry out, “Help me. I am hurt. I have been…” And then it hit him. It was not a man’s voice he had heard. And then something else rushed into his mind and he started from his chair and dressed for the cold. He had to get to the Inspector. He had to tell the inspector what he remembered. He had to prevent another murder because there was certainly going to be one. As conspiratorial as it seemed, “leave no witnesses,” flashed through his mind.

Stu ran out the door and was standing next to his car fumbling with the key, trying to get the electronic lock to work. It was frozen. “How can it freeze?” He thought just as something crashed against his head.

Chapter Seven

Inspector Wilakson examined the blood in the snow beside Stu Chamney’s car. Then he followed the trails where his boots had cut grooves in the snow to the street curb. The tire marks in the snow undoubtedly belonged to a pickup…or large SUV, but not a car. There were also boot prints in the snow, not large but not exactly small either. “A smaller male or a larger woman.” Wilakson said thoughtfully. “An hour ago.” He said to the uniformed police officer who had responded to the 911 call. It was an anonymous caller, not Mrs. Chamney. She was away in Sudbury for the night. But the caller must have witnessed the abduction of Stu Chamney.

“Constable. Get some help and canvas this entire area. I want the person who called this in. I want to know the make of the vehicle used to carry Chamney off. We have to find him before he becomes victim number three.” Inspector Wilakson instructed anxiously.

“If its not already too late?” the Constable replied then hurried away.

It took nearly an hour to track down the caller, an hour and maybe a little forceful convincing. They knew only that it was a woman. “I don’t want to get involved. I know how this stuff workers. You won’t be able to find the kidnappers and then they will come and kill me because I am a witness.” Elma Furthing complained. “You aren’t suppose to do this. I called anonymously.”

“A man’s life is at stake Mrs. Furthing and you might be able to help save that life. I don’t care about anonymous and we will find the culprit. Now tell me what you saw.” The inspector ordered sharply.

“Well. I suppose its out now. I saw a red pickup truck parked in front of the Chamney’s and two people get out and approach Stu. He didn’t notice them and the next thing you know one of them whacks Stu over the head with something. I couldn’t see what it was. It looked big and heavy and laid Mr. Chamney out cold. Then they dragged him to the truck, pushed him into the back seat and drove off. There was a third person doing the driving. I started calling 911 a second after they clobbered Stu.”

“Did you recognize the truck or any of the perpetrators?”

“No but the two who attacked Stu were women. I am sure of that. They just moved that way and neither of them were very strong, but one of them was quite a bit bigger than the other.”

“Ok Mrs. Furthing. Thanks for calling in and for telling us what you know.” Inspector Wilakson turned and walked away. The door slammed shut behind him. “I’ll be on the carpet for this.” He mused then went to his car. Something clicked. Something Chamney had told him surfaced.

***

Stu woke up. It was dark but not pitch dark. A little daylight managed to reach into the cellar through a window well. Not much. Just enough so he could make out shadows, a furnace, a hot water tank, an electrical box. He could smell earth, fresh and damp. He could hear foot steps above him and muffled voices. He could feel dirt under him but he couldn’t move. He was tied up tight, wrist and ankles, “Hog tied.” He almost laughed. But worst of all, he knew exactly where he was and what was probably about to happen to him. He wondered why it hadn’t already happened and how long it would be before he was murdered. He thought about his wife….

 

Chapter Eight

Inspector Wilakson drove around town, down town, up town, up and down every street, looked down every side street and alley way and along every residential street. He was mystified at how many red pickup trucks there were and wondered if he could get so lucky to find one with blood on the back seat. Not likely. He was about to try something else when he suddenly pulled over and stopped across the street from The EL Shouter news office. Once again something Stu Chamney had said to him recoiled in his memory.

He jumped from the car and crossed the street then tried to open the office door. It was locked and after peering inside he realized no one was there, even though the lights were on. Then another thought rushed in and he ran back to the car and called in to the office. “I want back up.” He demanded and gave the address. Then he started the car and pulled into the street.

It was ridiculous. It was unfathomable but it was a fact. But who in their right mind would do this. Obviously the perp was not in a strong mental state. “Would someone actually commit two murders and maybe add on a third as a cover up. And here I thought I had seen it all.” he pondered.

***

The house went suddenly quiet except for the two women and a man talking. Stu understood the two women’s part in the murders but not the man. “What would Ripples have to do with the murders. It doesn’t make sense.” Stu wondered. Then he heard, “You two are insane. You had it all wrapped up. No one would have ever figured it out. It would have come up just another cold case. You’d be rid of a husband you didn’t want and the man you were having an affair with and didn't want anymore. No one would have suspected what was going on. And you would have had your big story, the one that would launch your little rag into the big time and big bucks. Now you’ve screwed it all up by kidnapping Chamney.”

“He was figuring it out. We have to get rid of him and you are going to do it or you’ll be going to jail for embezzling money from my Pub.”

Stu worked furiously at the rope he was hogtied up with. He had found the blade of the shovel that had been left in the hole. It was slow work but after ten minutes one of the pieces of rope snapped. But there were zip ties too and he felt that time was running out.

It all made sense in a macabre sort of way. But it was more insanity than anything. If he survived Stu thought he might study the whole mess and try to understand.

For a moment it was silent. Then Ripples said, “No way. I am not killing anyone. I’d get life if I got caught. I’d rather do time for embezzlement if I have to do any at all.” Something scraped the floor. There were heavy foot falls. “You’re not going anywhere.” That was Reesa Mont.

Then there was a flurry of feet scrubbing the floor and then a grunt followed by a loud thump like something heavy hitting the floor.

“Jeez Reesa. Now we have another body to get rid of. When is it going to end?” That was Angie Bensheer.

Reesa snarled, "When I get rid of you too."

A loud crash exploded and someone yelled, “Drop the knife.” There was another scuffle. A woman screamed. The words she screamed were foul. Then Silence until the cellar door opened.

“Stu Chamney. Are you down there?” That was Inspector Wilakson.

Stu answered as loud as he could, “Yes. I am here Inspector.” But it came out muffled.

A minute later the inspector was pulling the gag away and untying Stu. He said, “Well Mr. Chamney. You’re off the hook.” There was humor in his voice.

“Can you believe this all started because someone wanted a stupid headline for her newsletter?” Stu blurted out.

“It’s more than that but it’s gotta be the strangest triangle I have ever come across. They’ll all go to jail for a very long time.”

"All. Is Ripples still alive?"

Tte Inspector said, "Barely.

Stu and his wife sat at the breakfast table teasing their toast and coffee.

“So Stu. Is everything Ok now.” Stu’s wife inquired playfully.

“Well let me tell you kid. It was a Mid-Winter’s Stormy Night… They laughed…the laugh of grand relief.

The Sands Of Doom

By

Donald Harry Roberts

I suppose sometime in the future other like myself may return to earth and maybe they will find something, but as I look upon it now, from the peak of a dune looking out over this sea of sand, it is my doubt that earth will ever recover.

I am the first ever to return from Colony Proxima B.

The first pioneers to settle on the new world took fifty years to traverse the void and another fifteen to construct the domed colony warmly named, Pioneer Town. Mostly they were scientist looking for a new home for humanity, In those days the earth was failing into climatic chaos which was destine to become an apocalyptic event. The ice was gone. The seas were dead and the population of insects decimated.

My name is Eustace Parrymoore. I was born into the second generation of Pioneer Town in the agro-dome, but my studies were concentrated on terraforming, which led me to a life of examining the vitals of creating an open scape word. I was thirty one years of age when I decided that, to learn about terraforming I would benefit mostly from conducting my research on earth.

The colony had lost contact with earth two years after the first settlers arrived at Pb.

I presented my plan to the board of environmental engineering and they decided after much debate, by a majority vote that the board would finance the building of a single occupant vessel to traverse the void back to earth. It was fortunate that technology had advanced in such a way that the voyage would take only twenty years.

It was a life time commitment for me assuming my health held and I could survive the round trip venture as well as a dedicated research regime of five years on earth.

My ship, Earth Bound, launched from Pb orbit on my 32nd birthday. I would be upwards of 77 when I returned. There is little but routine to tell about the twenty year voyage. I remained awake the entire time with the advantage of real time audio visual contact with Pioneer Town at first, but lost contact after a few weeks.

I reached earth in the earth year 2184. From orbit what I saw was a land scape devoid of any living thing, much like we saw Mars in those early day of exploration.

The colony of Mars was desecrated by three consecutive plagues and was never recolonized. It was that catastrophe that prompted Pioneer Town.

Unlike Mars, there was still clear evidence of humanity’s civilization, its sprawling cities, nuclear power-plants, forests of windmills and pales of black solar panels. Earth had become a junk yard of humanity and in some places I could see fields of skeletal remains. I guessed that some final catastrophic event laid upon living things a coupe de grace leaving nothing alive in its wake.

There was no atmosphere and I could detect only a ghost of a magnetic force surrounding the planet.

After a week studying humanity’s dead world I descended upon its surface in a lander and embarked on an exploration in environmental ATV track unit. I had settle near what appeared to be some kind of observation facility. I found a sign, broken from its posts that read, “Environmental Restoration Facility.

There was a bay door large enough to drive the ATV through.

Inside I found machines of a sort I could not name, but what I did recognized were skeletons crumpled where their owners had collapsed.

I found a hand written note book. Its last entry read; It is only a matter of hours before the ozone layer completely dissolves. The entry was dated 2077.

I returned to the ATV and searched the area coming at last to a desert area and the summit of a dune. In that moment I decided I would learn nothing about terraforming on that dead world, only about how to create a dead world. Still, I searched, out of some blank sense of duty, to find any sign of life. The results…nothing.

The tragedy reached deeper into my spirit than I could have ever imagined. I grew up reading about an earth that was alive and vibrant and told of great men and women working to preserve humanity’s home world. My spirit was devastated to learn they had failed and all that remained of our species lived in an artificial world that was never meant to be a permanent habitat, only a stopover while we turned Proxima B into a new earth.

My five year research plan was reduced to one year. Most of that year was spent in gathering data about the final destruction and how it was not entirely humanity’s fault that earth died. I learned nature had a big part in it, trying to cleanse itself of the infestation. Nothing revealed what that infestation was, but it seemed humans were part of it. One note I found made the insane suggestion that nature, by nature is suicidal, utterly self-destructive.

At last I set my prow homeward with little to show for my efforts, preparing my spirit for the, 'We told you soers', and focusing all my attention on developing an eco-system on Pb.

During my voyage home I had no contact with Pioneer Town. I was often riddled with anxiety, certain that something travestic had occurred on humanity’s last bastion of existence. Even as I made orbit of Proxima B I could make no contact and upon getting a visual of Pioneer Town I found it dark and abandoned.

I finally went down and found everything technological had be stripped from the colony including the agro-dome. I went to what was left of the office of the board of environmental engineering. It too had been stripped down to its skeleton, all except for one small device.

I retrieved the device and returned to my ship. It was a video communication directed at me. “Having lost contact with you and given that Pioneer Town was beginning to break down we built a new vessel. We have discovered an earth like planet in the Alpha Canis star system. We believe no terraforming will be necessary there. We leave this message incase you do come back and are able to follow.

They had launch for their new hope weeks after I had reached earth and now had a 41 year head start.

I stood there hopeless, embraced in a ghostly version of my own environmental apocalypse. 

I wasn't confident that my little ship would sustain me more than a couple of years more. I stood looking toward where I guessed earth was realizing I was standing on what was potentially my own Sands of Doom.

"But better to try than to quit."

I returned to the Earth Bound, Renamed it Alpha Canisor Bust. Spent a week refitting using 3d printed generated parts that extended the vessels life by three years.