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Out of Nowhere by Patrick LeClerc.
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Personal Log, Lieutenant Hatem Abbas

Global Space Agency Orbital Station Everest

August 29, 2073

23 days post-impact

 

When I began my duty cycle on the Agency’s latest and greatest orbital station, the last thing I thought I’d see was an enormous asteroid smash into Earth.  Then again, I suppose no one really expects something like that to happen in their lifetime.  Humanity has always lived under that sort of threat, though.  After Apophis passed through the keyhole in 2029 everyone was sure that we were toast in 2036.  Obviously, we managed to avoid that, but it certainly made our collective hair stand on end.  After that happened, the Agency did its best to come up with plans to make sure another asteroid would never threaten Earth.  I saw the schemes when I was in training.  Some were brilliant, some were flawed, and some were downright ludicrous.

I suppose it doesn’t really matter now, since none of them worked when it counted.

In the weeks after the monster hit Earth, I kept busy.  I ran my experiments on the effect of microgravity on bacteria, rode the exercycle for hours on end, read every book in the station’s quantum-entangled data archive.  Anything to keep myself going, to keep myself from dwelling on the fact that the Earth was slowly choking to death right outside my window. 

It’s been about three weeks since Earth was hit, and I find more and more that I can’t push what’s happened out of my mind.  I see it every time I gaze out a viewport towards my home.  The dust is beginning to cover the planet now.  I can’t help but be reminded of a funeral shroud being gently laid over the closed eyes of the dead. 

The thing that strikes me most is that the lights are going out.  I can barely see the nighttime brilliance of my beloved Cairo through the haze; the world will soon be nothing but a smoky sphere, choked with ash.  The lights are going out for the people on the surface, too.  They won’t be able to see the stars for much longer.

It’s very cold comfort that I can still see the twinkling firmament beyond the station’s viewports.

A few ships made it off the surface before and just after impact; they docked with us or headed to the lunar colonies.  Since about a week after the asteroid hit, no ships have left the surface.  All communications with Earth have ceased.  We fear the worst, and find that we can hope for little better.  I can’t get the images out of my head; the choking masses, slowly succumbing to the suffocating ash.

Everyone I’ve talked to on the station and the moon seems to be coming to the same conclusion: we’re probably all that’s left.  Word has it we’re looking at eight hundred, a thousand people at best.  Combined with an orbital research station and a barely self-sufficient string of tiny colonies on Luna, things aren’t looking so good.

I figured we survivors had one choice: to hunker down on Luna and try to survive, to rebuild.  Most everyone thought the same thing, but the commander had another idea.  His thought was, if we all stay on Luna and things go to hell, that’s it for humanity; the lights go out forever.  Maybe, he said, we should send the station into interstellar space with as many people in cryo as are willing to go, to try and find another planet that humanity might one day call a new home.

That didn’t go over well, to put it lightly.  Still, it didn’t take long for everyone to agree that the commander had a point.  Our odds are impossibly long to begin with; it was agreed that we should do everything we can to improve them.  In the end, two hundred fifty-six of the remaining humans decided to go into cryo, to strike out into the unknown.

I’m one of them.  I’d much rather take my chances on a wild gamble, shooting myself out of the system in a tin can.  Staying on Luna may be safer, but I can’t live in the shadow of this dying Earth.

Humanity’s lights have almost gone out.  They may very well be extinguished before long, but we still hope that they will shine again one day

THE END



2013-09-20 09:06:24
Great visuals. Like the conflict in the group of survivors. If this happened right now, there would be (maybe) four humans left.

2013-09-16 18:14:15
Cool, well written story. I have all sorts of vivid pictures floating through my imagination now. Thanks!


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