Last Ship to Mars/2117/Long Walk Home (an exercise in Déjà vu)
‘I need to get away’ was all he could think as he made his way through the meandering queue. Judging from the sprawling mass of human desperation before him, it seemed the sentiment was shared by thousands, maybe millions. The huge bulk of the starship, that last starship away from Earth, consumed the skyline that was once London, and that now served as the launch pad for humanity’s last chance.
“Your last chance” she said, eyes dangerously close to flooding. “You can go, but I’m not coming with you.” He took a step towards the door and then stepped back.
He stepped back as a grav-bike raced past, no doubt some adrenaline addict enjoying the last few days before Earth went dark. With the Martian colony having officially closed the borders, supplies were running dangerously low. Earth had less than a week left before the lights went out forever. The lights-
“The light’s going out, love. What are you gonna do then, eh? Sit around here and knit your way to the apocalypse? Hope that madman from down the street can feed the both of you? There’s no other way. This is the last chance.”
“Last chance!” a vendor called from somewhere along the road. “Real Earth baked taties. Get ‘em while they’re ‘ot”. The queue shuffled forwards another yard or so, as the vendor made his way back along. Clearly staying. No one wanting out of this madness would walk away from the starship. There was every chance-
“There’s every chance you won’t get a seat. Every ‘sane’ human, a term you so lovingly exclude me from, will be heading to that ship, and we’re half a country away. You’ll never make it there on time. Just stay here and wait. Come on, it’s better than walking all that way and not getting a spot.”
“I have to try, my love. I have to.”
“Try ‘em, sir? Real Earth baked ‘taties. Only cost’ya a penny.”
“I’ve not got a penny spare.” He replied grimly.
“Well that ring yeh’ve got there, that’s gotta be worth a few.” The vendor was desperate now, jabbing at the metal band on his left hand. He reached for the ring and-
“Fine, then. Just take this.” she handed him the ring. “Take this and remember me. Remember me.” he took the ring, the metal warm from the heat of her hand. He pocketed it, hefted his backpack again, and headed for the door, not waiting long enough to see her cry. Better that way.
- paused for a moment. The metal, cold in the night air, seemed suddenly heavy.
“No.” he said, “Just no.”
“Something special, is it?” the vendor asked, grinning like a madman at the apocalypse. “Surely can’t be worth more than one last taste o’ Earth? Not now. C’mon sir, last chance!”
“Yes. Yes it is.” His eyes found something in the distance, something he couldn’t see, and the ring went back in his pocket. “My last chance.” He stood a little straighter, waved the vendor away with an air of finality, and turned. “My last chance.”
“Come home.” was the last thing he heard.
And he began to walk, one step at a time; the long, slow walk home.
-The setting here is a little different to anything I've written about before, and it's possibly something I want to do more with in future. It's not so much post-apocalyptic as pre-apocalyptic.
To elaborate a little more, the rough idea is that it's just about a century in the future, and Earth has colonised most of the Solar system in a period of very rapid expansion. However, as more and more planets are colonised, the human race flocks to these new paradises and abandon Earth, which slowly falls into ruin. Resources run out and the colonisers become dependant on the colonies, importing what they need from the other planets. When the other planets eventually refuse and close their borders, Mars offers one last ship away before Earth is plunged back into the Stone age. That's about it for now, but like I say, I may play with this idea a bit more later, possibly from someone who did take the last ship. I think that'll be when I get to the exercise about 'home'.
As for the story itself, I hope I have managed to gel together the past and present aspects of the plot and that it flows nicely. I think the ending is far more positive than that of the last one, but the common theme running through both is the idea that death, one way or another, is not the be-all-and-end-all of life.
The next exercise may take a little longer, as it's rather an interesting (if difficult) area. The idea is to write a 5-600 word piece in a first person narrative, but only using 'I' twice. It should be fun to attempt, at any rate.
Thanks for reading.