An Empty Bottle
The pilot picked their landing place without difficulty. It was a typical choice, a spot on the broad shelving plain at the edge of the ocean. The type of base from which all tests on a planet could be run quickly, and a report written up, and the files of another world closed and tagged with a number and entered in one of the great storage encyclopedias.
Even to Hugh there was an air of unreality about the landing, as if this planet wasn't really Earth at all, despite its orbit around the sun, despite its familiar moon. It looked too much like too many others.
The actual landing was over quickly. The ship quivered, jarred slightly, and then was still, resting on the gravelled plain that had obviously once been part of the ocean bed. The ocean itself lay only a few hundred yards away.
Hugh McCann looked out through the viewscreen, turned to direct vision now. He stared at the waves swelling against the shore and his sense of unreality deepened. Even though t