by Cherie Ann Turpin
(30 Stories in 30 Days)
He was put on a suicide watch along with others whose applications for the Shelter Arks were rejected by their government due to age, health, or “other” concerns. It seemed that politics were once again a determining factor who would be saved, and who would be left to die. Considering how these politicians and corporate scientists had underestimated the long-term implications of being left stranded in a poorly supplied space station now termed Shelter-Arks over a planet rendered uninhabitable due to an extinction level event that Asteroid 2013 TV135 would produce, those who were left behind were better off taking their chances.
Many others took to a milky green drink in what came to be a ritual of silent suffering slightly abated through the comfort of nestling in the wings of the green fairy – modernized absinthe designed to turn its drinker comatose. Why face the end of the world sober and sad? The hospitals and streets were filled with young and old who took to the green fairy with desires to be “lifted” from their consciousness, semi-permanently. Others took a more radical approach to leaving the planet.
A group of people led by a discredited philosopher-scientist came to the edge of their city over the sea and watched him as he threw a mini-beacon the ridge of a cliff. After an hour a large oval ship seemed to rise up as it appeared out of the fog that formed over the dark ocean. 112,045 people around the world climbed aboard ships the size of a large metropolitan city at the word of their mad leader who claimed they were being saved from the coming firestorm and extinction brought on by 2013 TV135.
This was not one of the Shelter-Arks built by Earth governments to save those few who were deemed worthy of rebuilding human civilization. Rather, this was an opportune moment for one civilization to use a few desperate beings from another civilization as duped colonizers for some of their most hostile, unyielding planetary outlands on the edge of their claimed territory in this part of the shared galaxy. Perhaps the word colonizers was inaccurate. The word “indentured” was more in line with what was in store for the refugees of Earth.