I looked out at space through the window spanning the length of the corridor. I’ve always wanted to be here, ever since I was a kid – in space, solving its mysteries…
The humdrum of cold electronics of this shell of a space station will be my day to day soundtrack. It was one my favourite sounds…constant…
All those years of training, studying, failures, and victories has led me here. Finally…I sigh as I stare at my new home – outer space – an alien feeling at home at last…
We embarked on this journey to find a new home for fellow Earth dwellers. Overpopulation, pollution, war, denial to be extinct – a race against the clock – led governments to spend millions to fund this mission. The mission to spread to other parts of the universe…like a disease…
The once glorious mission has now turned into a suicide mission. Earth is under threat of a massive asteroid impact. We will face the same explosive fate as our dinosaur ancestors.
Religious fanatics call it the apocalypse, the rapture…scientists just call it the cycle of life. For something to begin there must be an end…
And our mission as we have no choice in it is to save the Earth. The only solution – sacrifice the state of the art space station millions were left starving for to save a dying Earth. To save a dying race…
Most of the astronauts and scientists have left the space station; just a few of us stayed back much to the disappointment of our loved ones. Their desperate pleas were not enough to bring us back, if we don’t sacrifice ourselves they wouldn’t be alive. The things we do for love…
I looked at a photo of my husband and son, my brain holding onto every memory. The harder I try to hold on to an image the more it slips away, fraying at the edges then disappearing into nothing. My mother has refused to contact me at all; we never really got along anyway…
A week before departure…
My mother waters her plants, she’s a simple woman. She hates movies with complicated plots and despises my complicated life decisions – especially my job.
“I don’t understand why you are doing this”, she shook her head slowly in disappointment, like she had caught me drawing on the walls again like when I was five.
I sighed, looked down at my feet, burying the tip of my shoes into the wet, muddy soil – a child again.
“It’s what I’ve always wanted…”, my husband made me see my mother before I left, my mother and I both refusing to see each other out of petty pride.
“I always wanted a normal child with normal aspirations, not one who floated in the clouds”, she chuckled sadly, disappointment ripe in her voice, “you are leaving your child behind for many years just so you could achieve your selfish goals, he’ll be a teen by the time you come back”, my mother always had perfect timing when expressing her regrets and disappointments.
“Well…you should’ve got rid of me while you had the chance”, I was hurt, I was angry, I was sad. I’m leaving in a week and this is how she chooses to say goodbye to me…by reminding me of my obvious mistakes.
I had crossed a line, but it was out of remorse for never being able to be the perfect daughter, I was the mistake. I was so sick of seeking her validation, her assurance, her approval, her praise. The water hose was on the ground, her hand grasping empty air, her mouth gaping as I walked away.
I regret it today…I should’ve said I love her and care for her despite our disagreements and complicated relationship. Even though you expect your parent to be a well rounded human it’s not always the case, they are just as messed up as you and should be forgiven. It’s too late now and I’ll never see her again.
3 days till D-Day
I was taking one last look at my plants. The children I had managed to successfully nurture and grow after much trial and error in a lab. They are able to thrive in a harsh environment, genetically engineered to handle any dire situation, if only it was that simple with humans. ALFIE was helping me today to pack some seeds and files.
“Do you feel sad?”, a voice so close to human, they couldn’t remove that cold metallic tinge in the voice or maybe it was just in my head knowing he was AI.
“Yes…but also happy at the same time, it’s a bittersweet feeling”, I smiled into his camera.
His metal limbs, pistons and wires carefully placed the seed packets into the box.
“How can you be both?”, measured words,
“Hmmm…I don’t know it’s the way it is…human emotions are more complex…our algorithms are complex”, I tried to explain,
“But you always seem sad Doctor”,
I looked at ALFIE, the advent of modern technology gave him empathy but no way of creating his own emotions.
“Well…I’m programmed different, everyone’s different…I guess some people are just born sad…created sad”.
It’s finally go time. Us, the final ten prepare for the end, our funerals will be broadcasted live to Earth. We have managed to position the station according to the predicted co-ordinates of the approaching asteroid.
I had written some letters and packed my diaries along with my research findings into a pod, it was already on its way home, to Earth, to my family.
We decided to fly some of the crafts into the oncoming asteroid before the station could take the final hit. We would try vaporizing the large rock further reducing the level of damage. Three levels of defence to reduce the amount of damage to Earth which would be considerably mild.
I wasn’t doing this for glory or honour, more for duty to myself. I’ve always wondered what my purpose in life is, why am I here? What do I do? I guess this is it.
“You look happy”, my ALFIE said, he was accompanying me on the kamikaze mission.
“Yes, I guess I am”, I felt a tingling sensation, excitement?
Five of us left the dock and are now ahead of the station, prepared to face the first blow. The system detected the asteroid to be close, my heart beat began to increase, its rhythm humming loudly in my ears. I felt content, pure contentment…it was freeing.
“What does it feel like? Happiness?”, ALFIE asked
I adjusted the thrusters; put all engines to full blast, tears welling up in my eyes.
5 seconds till collision.
And then light.
Photo by David Scherman