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Short Story: New Horizons

 Five days since touchdown and watching the Earth rise in the distance framed by Phobos and Deimos still amazes her.

 At the beginning of the journey there was quick hugs and tears as her parents pushed her into the last transport off the planet.

 The asteroid was coming and there was not going to be time to save everyone. Somehow she was one of the lucky few.

 Strapping into her six point harness, the restraints rendering her immobile, so her thoughts wandered. Staying on earth meant certain death, the escape plan only meant potential death through the establishment of the first habitable Mars colony. As the rockets roared to life, she prayed to uncaring ears of the universe until they escaped the atmosphere.

 In orbit they turned off the fasten seatbelt signs and allowed floating about the cabin.

 Outside the window she could see satellites spinning as well as other escape shuttles spinning and drifting in orbit above the earth.

 “What’s happening to the other shuttles?” she asked an older man with tears in his eyes watching out the observation window next to her.

 “They’re dead in orbit,” he said wiping away his tears.

 “Is it going to happen to us?”

 “No I don’t believe so. They warned us about it when we signed up. It’s the Kessler syndrome. We sent too many satellites into space making leaving earths atmosphere a statistical improbability.” His voice stopped by a sob before he wandered away leaving her standing at the window alone.

 She starred into the light blue haze surrounding her old home and counted at least a hundred ships before they became tiny and disappeared into the vastness of space as their ship continued the journey to Mars.

 Six month later they touched down on the iron rich surface of Mars. There was a flurry of activity setting up shelter and communication towers. With her knowledge of computer programming she was assigned to getting the comm systems set up and trying to make contact with other colonies.

 Five days they’ve been on the surface. For five days the only transmissions she’s received have been pleas for help, three hundred and ninety four ships a drift in orbit. Some still had live voices on them, trying to repair their ships themselves, others just distress beacons of ships likely destroyed during the initial push for space.

 She cried each night for them.

 Like the mix of atoms that were struck by lightening in the primordial soup, they were now the statistical improbability of life. Sixty souls, the first pioneers beyond the earth were all that was left of it.

 She would keep scanning the heavens for proof that they were not the only ones, but she knew eventually she’d have to aim the radar beyond earth and into other parts of space to look for life elsewhere if they weren’t going to be alone forever.

Copyright © 2021 TJS Sherman All rights reserved.


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