I look from above at the blue marble, spinning under me. As we orbit, I can just see the action of the Earth’s passing under, and though we pass more slowly than former years, the illusion that I am the centre of the universe and the Earth’s fast spin is stronger than I can deny.
There is much to be denied.
I will end here, in this strange habitat. There is no escape now. There was no escape for humanity, and there never was, the dictator came and fooled everyone. Some men just want to see the world burn, and he did.
I know how much life I have left, what systems are going to fail first. My companions are all gone, the lunacy that targeted us taking them in an instant. It was a kind of luck that kept me alive, but the sentence is served, and I can only look from my gaol upon the blue waters.
There is little else to see.
It was never the push of a button, but a chain of command that saw the diminution of the Earth. A willingness to follow where the mad lead, even unto death. A retaliation, and we have known since the early times where it would lead, but a threat is valueless unless it is carried out.
What they couldn’t predict, what no one thought it useful to know was that Earth itself would retaliate against the offence, that its grief would be expressed so immediately, so sternly.
Oh no, they couldn’t have seen.
They couldn’t have seen that the land would rise up and betray the few left, because fracking never gave us a clue did it?
They couldn’t have seen that the very air would scour the surface, because repeated hurricanes didn’t leave a calling card, did they?
How were they to know that Yellowstone would blow?
Oh, well, politicians are not scientists, are they?
Well, you’re dust now.
I have communications, and I have adjusted the frequencies, but no one answers. I don’t expect it, but sometimes, life finds a way.
But there is nothing and I expect nothing.
So I will sit here and watch the marble until all fades. At least it’s clean now.
In a space-station in an eccentric orbit around a blue planet lies the remains of the only inhabitant they found.
They remove the corpse carefully, examining every aspect, and preserve the remains. Lacking any context for the rituals of the alien, they wrap the body and launch it to a soft landing to the planet below, open which there are no signs of intelligent life, nor any signs that there ever have been. Only the myriad satellites in orbit give away that these must have been, once, a sophisticated, scientific, inquisitive people.
The Pods manipulate their scanners to a finer and finer resolution, until they are looking at the planet in spectra that any former inhabitant could only dream of, and they see, finally, the imprint of the aliens upon their realm. In the deep waters of their craft, one who is coordinator releases the pheromones of their communication. These, in cruder terms, might say that they are a little late, and that this species could have been saved.
There is a consideration, and the drifting communication of others in the currents and eddies of the craft. These night say, the tribe is at the mercy of the void and the cosmos, and nothing is to be regretted, for there is no blame for the tribe.
The pods gather, and in the swirling waters commune for a moment before resuming their purposes.
Below, on the blue marble, where there is no one to know its name, a single flower blooms from the shroud of the corpse. It carries pollen into the calming wind, and, at the smallest level, the seed of the last inhabitant.
A million years pass, and all the satellites drift away or burn up, becoming as they had never been.
Another millennia of millennia, and the first of them stand again, bone in hand, primitive, but with some spark, something knowing within.
In a hundred thousand years they will be again thinking, loving, arguing and fighting.
In a hundred thousand years, they will have the choice again.
The Pods know.
Always too late.
Published November 2017