Nature Future Conditional

The story behind the story: What must remain

In this week’s Futures, Thomas Broderick takes us to visit a special museum in What must remain. Based in California, Thomas is a freelance writer who has previously introduced us to the Chrysalis — you can find out more about his work at his website or by following him on Twitter. Here, he reveals what inspired his latest tale — so you should read the story first and then enjoy the trip!

The Aircraft of Modern Antiquity

Here, I saved you a seat. Even on these old electric trains, it’s better to sit than stand.  I’m surprised. These things are usually packed on Saturday mornings – people off to see their grandparents or buy vegetables out in the country. Oh, and don’t be surprised if a guy should start screaming while waving around knives. He’s just an enthusiastic salesman.

Where are we going? Well, it’s where What must remain was born. Like in the story, it’s a place of lost glory and half-truths bordering on lies. We have about an hour until we get there. Enjoy the view. I’m going to take a nap.


Thanks for waking me up. It’s a mile on foot from here. I know, this town needs a lot of love. Most of these apartment blocks were built in the ’50s, and in some cases, entire sections have been reclaimed by nature or squatters. It’s not all bad, though. There are some new homes and a modern grocery store in the town centre. And look at the people. They’re dressed well and look happy enough.

It’s just up ahead on this nature trail. Ah, there’s the entrance. I’ll step inside and get us tickets. One sec.


We give our tickets to the woman at the gate. Just like in my story, she’s a caretaker, one of five, I think. Yes, they do live here – the same little cabins. When I visited, I saw them washing down the exhibits with sponges and hammering out dents.

Surreal, isn’t it? Some of the most advanced aircraft ever built, many of them weapons of war once so secret that if we were standing here the year I was born, we’d be shot on sight. Now anyone can waltz right in and take pictures.

And here it is – the first supersonic passenger liner in the world. Like the Miraz, this plane never carried a single passenger, just mail and cargo at Mach 1.5. The moment it was parked here in 1980, they scrapped the interior. Here’s the picture on this display – just hanging wires and struts. It was only in the last decade or so that the caretakers started raising money to restore it. New paint, original seats, that sort of thing.

Why? Four times a year they let schoolchildren inside to pretend they’re flying. A woman dressed up as a stewardess gives them a snack. Here’s their picture next to the donation box. They look thrilled, don’t they?

Seeing those kids’ happy faces, I thought ‘Well, it’s only a harmless fib. The children make a nice memory and get to tell people that they sat in a plane that carried people higher, faster, and farther than anything that had come before … or since.’

Unlike my story, there’s no dark secret here. It’s just a melancholy relic, something befitting of a Latin proverb or Shelley’s Ozymandias.

But I wondered if there was more to it. Would someone who worked at a place like this do so to honour a loved one? And would that person, because of his love, blind himself and the museum’s guests to uncomfortable but vital truths? Maybe that happens here. You know, it wouldn’t surprise me.

Anyway, that’s enough philosophizing for one day. Let’s head back to the capital and get some lamb dumplings and a beer.









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