display | more...

This can't be all there is, it just can't be.

When a child is five, he thinks, "I will never grow old."

When I was in my twenties, I started looking at people differently. In the pictures of the very young I could sense the wrinkles and gnarled hands they would someday develop. In the aged, I could discern the newness of a toddler. It seems preposterous that time should pass, so smoothly and imperceptibly flows one moment into another. We look forward to things, we dread things. Our lives are paced by markers, we are beings in the hibernation of waiting throughout most of the time we are conscious.

The world is burning now. Our Sun moved from infancy to maturity, as we knew it would. I am of the generation that could not ignore the increasing temperatures, the eerie red shade of the sky. Things began to flicker, to grow hazy. It was not simply the age of my eyes, but the melting of the air (or so it appeared). It never rained anymore, and most of the oceans withered to endless plains of salt and bone. And now, as I sit in a faraway sky, the world is burning.

I am now two hundred years old, though that is by the reckoning of a dead or dying star. I am watching the burning alone. This craft will protect me from radiation, and provides me with food and light and air. It was once an observatory, built long ago when the sun shone yellow and the earth was a goddess robed in aquamarine. It became a science station, and was moved further out into space. My colleagues and I could do nothing but watch, and try to convince the people of Earth that they should leave before they were consumed. We were successful with some.

I cannot comprehend the oblivion of death. Some walk into it willingly, such as those who stayed on Earth. Many of them believed in something better than oblivion; an "afterlife", where they would become see-through, bulletproof, and capable of nothing but joy. Nothing could ever assure me of such rewards, nor do they sound more desirable than the truth of seeing through very human, very imperfect eyes, the wondrous spectacle of existence. I crave the only reality I have ever known. The human lifespan has more than quadrupled since the 21st century (when things began to go awry).

You, child of the long-past and long-dead, wonder at the books and sarcophagi gracing the halls of museums. The sun is simply a sparkle that makes you sneeze and warms your skin. You grow up, have children of your own, and watch as your demeanor becomes that of Grandma, and the ridges in your nails deepen. Your children wonder if you were ever small like them.

Sometime down the line, your children's children's children realize that there can be no more humans, ever. Something about the atmosphere has changed, strange particles have wrought their way into the code of life, making twists where there should be none. I was born a Miracle, a freak of chance. My parents were three hundred when I was born, and I grew up without playmates or lovers.

My shipmates are far, far older than I am. I do not know how long it will be before I am alone here, but that day will come. I will search for a new world, somewhere I can settle and perhaps learn a new life and language. Perhaps I will even know love.

But in the meantime, it's a big universe out there.

Log in or register to write something here or to contact authors.