Australian archaeologist, James Eltringham, has solved the mystery of the fate of the famed Sonderborg expedition. Twelve men and seventeen camels, led by adventurer Carl von Sonderborg, set off from Queensland April 1832 in search of the Indian Ocean on the western shores of Australia. They crossed the great Dividing Range and headed down the course of the Barcoo River guided by Jim Boolabong. On the eastern shore of Lake Eyre, an inland salt water sea fed by several rivers, Eltringham has discovered the remains of three puny shacks, a look-out tower and an intricate signalling device apparently made from the remains of a dozen camels. The archaeologist surmises that the camels were the last meals of the misguided party. Eltringham believes the salt water of Lake Eyre mislead Sonderborg to believe he had crossed the Australian subcontinent and was facing the Indian Ocean. Sonderborg and his party perished vainly signaling for passing ships which could never come.
Joe Boitano and his sweetheart, Emily, sat just below the man-made cliff edge above the river mouth of the carefully constructed concrete channel bed. The brilliant sunset reflected in the waters of the river, the bay, and the ocean beyond.
"What do you think, Em?" Joe asked. "A little more crimson in the clouds?"
"Hm, yes, "she agreed, "and some more ultramarine in the cloud shadows too." She always had an eye for these fine details which is why Joe felt she would be an asset to his responsibilities. In this year of 4949 PC meaning Perfect Control, of course, there was no longer a need to work, as such, but the era of perfect idleness had been a failure and so responsibilities had been allocated by the World Central Controlling Body, the WCCB.
"Gotta go," said Joe waving as he walked over to his office carefully concealed in the green plastic of the river bank. Once inside he adjusted the controls of the breeze noise, easing them down to zero. He adjusted the water salinity levels, set the controls for the next day's sunset adding a little crimson and enhancing the cloud shadows with ultramarine. He settled down for the long range script for the next year 4950 PC. He was to increase the number of evenings with breezes of 2-6 kilometers per decimal hour so the chief 's son could fly his kite more often. The trick was to avoid disturbing the delicate ecological balance of his computer-controlled world.
The old man turned away from the setting sun and gazed for a long time back up the river. He thought of his childhood in the mountains fishing for trout in the pure mountain stream. In his youth his life had been as wild as the torrent of water splashing against the granite of the Sierra Mountains. He had married and gathered a family just as the stream had joined others and slowed as it entered the valley. In the same way that the waters of the river were no longer crystal clear and pure, so he had accumulated certain excesses as a young man full of himself. Seasonally, the river flooded its banks and occasionally he overstepped his bounds. In the Delta some of his sons and daughters split off and found their own way to the sea. Now, in the estuary, the old man knew the end was near. The water was no longer fresh. A tear ran down his cheek and splashed into the mingling fresh and salt waters. At the exact moment that the sun sank into the ocean, there was a flash of green light along horizon. The old man saw his whole life again in that moment. He stepped off the shore and walked into the sea smiling.