Of Space and Bachelor’s Degrees Chapter 60

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LX

After a few weeks on Utopia, Richard noticed something strange. Rather, he noticed something that shouldn’t have been strange, but still was in his case. Over the course of those weeks, not once had he been in danger, either from an accident or crime. It wasn’t that he was staying holed up inside. In fact, he visited many places with his friends, some of which he had never been to before. Though he’d lived on Utopia growing up, his tastes in where he wanted to go had changed. He hadn’t thought about or taken the time to go visit certain places until now.

Richard thought about the various reasons why he hadn’t been in danger. It could just be a lucky period of time, but usually the more places he went the more likely something was to happen. His curse could be fading, but that seemed even more improbable. After all, if it was the kind of thing to only last a year, his grandmother would have told him to weather out the year and everything would be fine. That led Richard to thinking maybe there really was something different about Utopia. It certainly had a very low crime rate, but that wasn’t sufficient. Accidents could happen anywhere. In the end, Richard decided it was probably just a continued period of good luck, as far as good luck could apply with a curse.

—–

Although Utopia was known for being crime-free, everyone knew that couldn’t be entirely true. Crimes of passion and anger would occur anywhere there were people with feelings, though even these crimes were less frequent and less impactful than many other places. Crimes of desperation, from those who felt poor or helpless, were even more rare. There were opportunities for jobs and food, even in the poorest places. Education was available so that people could become skilled workers to get into better jobs than otherwise. Even so there were some that were discontent with life or how things were going, and thought there was a better way for them to get what they thought they deserved.

The most common crimes were by those who saw the wealth and prosperity of Utopia and came to take advantage of it. Some of them thought the police forces would be lazy and unprepared, and were quickly caught. Others managed to operate for a longer time, but were all eventually caught. Even corporate crimes were dealt with in a fairly expeditious fashion, especially compared to the speed bureaucracy normally flowed.

Even so, because the crime rates were so low, some people thought some of it must have been covered up to make Utopia seem better. After all, there was an entire planet’s worth of people. Surely the numbers were tweaked to make things look better. Maybe the numbers were just falsified to be lower. In the case of successfully solved cases, some thought that the near one hundred percent solve rate was made up. On the other hand, it could have been artificially inflated by just marking a case as solved, like a murder where the killer couldn’t be found marked as a suicide, thus making it a successful case. Perhaps the wrong person was convicted for a robbery just so that the police could say they did their job.

Those who invested in such conspiracy theories didn’t bother to look around themselves to see what was actually happening. They merely found every case they could and deemed it suspicious. They even exercised their rights to speak about their conspiracy theories in public. The truth was different from what they thought… but that didn’t mean that nothing was hidden. The numbers were all correct. The crimes marked as solved were indeed properly taken to completion, and there were no scapegoats. Even so, there were occasionally incorrect accusations, but that was taken care of in court. However, something hid among the numbers that others wouldn’t expect. One person was one person, so in one particular week where three crime lords were suddenly taken down, the numbers merely went up by three people, well within the normal variance. The crime lords weren’t high profile, or they would have long since been arrested and prosecuted. Instead, they were usually circumspect in their actions. However, in that specific week all of those three arrested made significant slip-ups, and those watching took immediate action.

—–

Richard sighed. Utopia was very nice. Even most of the people who lived on Utopia were decent. He still wasn’t sure if the lack of danger had been coincidence, but either way he felt safe. The air was fresh and there were many interesting places to visit. Richard would be fine spending the rest of his life there, and he could. Even so, he sighed.

Richard didn’t want to just be fine with his life. He wanted it to be better than fine, and actually do something to improve the world. He didn’t need to improve the whole galaxy, cluster, or even system. A planet was still pretty ambitious, and while Richard wasn’t going to say he wouldn’t work toward that or more, he would be content with less. That was, as long as he actually tried to accomplish something. Perhaps it was a bit too early to be concerned about just drifting along with life, but Richard didn’t want to become complacent with completing a degree and then just getting any job that paid decent money and wasn’t unpleasant. He knew he could do better, but he also knew if he just sat around thinking about what he could accomplish, he wouldn’t actually succeed at anything. Perhaps he would figure out what to do when it came time, but he didn’t want to hope to make the right choice when he might end up making the wrong choice, or no real choice.

In the short term, that involved returning to university, because he needed to improve himself to the point where he actually could do something meaningful. University wasn’t the only way, but it was a good one. Did he actually need training to make a difference in the world? Not necessarily… but Richard knew that even without formal training, people needed experiences and learning to accomplish anything. Sometimes that could be gained along the way to whatever their goal was… but it wouldn’t be bad to have formal training either. In Richard’s case, he felt that his current path of a biology major was the right direction. There were many different directions he could go from there. Richard supposed it was time to stop thinking philosophically and just get on the ship back to Maropa, and not just because his father was nagging him. As he looked back on Utopia, he realized how small and insignificant it really was. Not because Maropa was bigger… but rather there was a more immediate reminder, as he looked at the gas giant around which the two moons orbited. He wondered if any life could or did survive there. Scans pointed to ‘no’, but perhaps there was something unique that nobody knew to look for. Richard knew there could be many strange lifeforms, with himself being one of them.

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