Project: Earth

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First published in Imagination Dec 1953

Eleven-year-old Tommy is fascinated by Mr. Billings who is renting an apartment at his friend’s house. Mr. Billings turns out to be a cosmic bureaucrat of sorts who is cataloging everything about the current batch of humans, known as Project B, on Earth. Project A (implied to be the angels) was considered a failure as those beings were given too much self-dependence which eventually turned into pride. This latest round of humans were given a herd mentality, but they have also become more individualistic over time, likely because of influence from any surviving members of Project A.

Once Mr. Billings has completed his documentation Project B will be eliminated and it will be on to Project C, still in its very early stages as tiny two-inch creatures kept in a pen in his rooftop garden. These “humans” have antennae and no innate drives with the hope they will be more rational than previous iterations. 

Tommy wants the creatures for himself, so he steals them. Mr. Billings wins them back in a game of marbles, but it’s too late as they’ve already learned about independence from Tommy. When Mr. Billings tries to return them to their pen they attack him and escape. He decides to report to his superiors the conclusion they might as well just let Project B run its course, since any consecutive attempts to create the perfect humans will end up in rebellion and failure anyway. 

Cast of characters

  • Tommy Jackson
  • Dave and Joan Grant – Tommy’s friends whose parents own the house where Mr. Billings rents a room
  • Edward Billings – currently documenting the Project B round of humans on Earth