Earth is no longer habitable. In search for a new home, the ark Dante sets out into space, and one generation later they land on what seem to be their new home.
It was a diluted disgrace of integrity as leaders of the old world performed their statement of the survival of Man. As all children knowing they did wrong, we hid the evidence of destruction and told lies until they became the truth. It wasn’t our fault. “This world is no longer habitable”, they said. “Preparations have been made and as an entity of one we shall form the arc we call Dante.”
Could not help but to giggle as the divine comedy had turned into a despicable scene of uniformity. Were we all damned to wander the circles of hell. Was leaving the planet truly the solution? We were not given a choice. Leave or die. So, we left and only a corpselike scene of cadaverous ruins remained as Dante rose to the sky with a trail of soft haze as we left our home, never to return. Mother would have approved.
Leo would always catch me frowning at the sight of the elderly as they walked with determination along the hallway outside my cubicle. Unsure if I was envious of their impending end, or slightly annoyed of their reluctance to commit to it. But I kept busy, we all did with our daily chores. Handouts to pass time. While the elderly was forming a line next to the exits the rest of us was preparing the only way we knew how. As I was typing the next week assignments without any confirmation on what they actually were, Leo peeked inside my cubicle. “You almost done, Kay?”.
“I guess so,” I said. “You done with the menus?”
“I wrote down ‘Hickory Glazed Green Stuff’ for Tuesday and ‘Unknown Mashed Whatever’ for Wednesday, they never stick to my list anyways, so….” Leo made his usual face of discontent. “You ready to head for the exit, I see people are forming.”
“Should we pack?”
“I wouldn’t bother. We’ll be home by sundown.”
“Sundown…… I like that. No artificial blinders, the real stuff.”
“Do I sense a slight breeze of excitement.”
The ship began to tremble as it entered the atmosphere and I grabbed Leo’s hand tight as we made our way towards the exit hall. Leo’s palm was strong as he led me through the crowd. The tremble became slightly less invasive and before long Dante hit solid ground and a disrupted pace of time was felt as we came to a standstill. “Do not deviate,” Dante said with his usual impression of the former Captain of this ship. “Oxygen levels are sufficient, no radiation confirmed, gravity at 85%.” We all enjoyed the fresh air, the lightness of our steps, and the taste of green grass. The horde ventured far into the field of the new planet as Dante would watch from a distance. As we rejoiced in the unfamiliar outside the walls of security, we soon found empty buildings, playgrounds, and vehicles. No contact with the former inhabitants were made, and none was ever spotted. It was as if they had left the moment we arrived.
Leo and I, ventured deeper and as the lightness of our steps felt easier for each one we made we soon left the sight of the rest. Leo picked a tiny yellow flower from the ground and pinned it behind my ear.
“You think they left because of us?” I asked him and reached for a similar flower to give him but the wind caught it and with much ease it flew away. That is when I noticed how patches of sand almost seemed to hover above the ground; creating a second layer of surface. Bewildered I kneeled and picked up a small pebble.
Leo kneeled down next to me. “What is it?”
“I don’t know?” I whispered as I let the pebble rest in the palm of my hand.
Leo’s eyes grew bigger as we both observed how the pebble floated above my skin. “That’s weird,” he said and poked it. The pebble shot through the air and disappeared in the distance. I felt my heart stop as time seemed to speed up and the firm soil under my feet became less and less noticeable. Leo grabbed my hand and I could see the fright in his face as he told me something I could not hear. My heart was pounding too fast. “Kay, we have to go!” he yelled and pulled me into the closest gathering of trees.
Not too far away I could see a small group of people hover above the surface of the planet, gradually rising from the ground, hands clasped together to form a net but it was too late. There was nothing in the wide opening for them to grab onto, and so they fell towards the skies.
“Don’t let go,” Leo said as he pressed me against the closest tree.
“This is why they left,” I said with a tremble. “They knew.” I held on as hard as I could but I knew it couldn’t possibly last. There was no way we would be able to return to Dante, out in the open there was nothing to shield us against the infinite range of gravity, or lack thereof.
Out from the horizon Dante fell towards the blue sky and not far away the inhabitants clustered together as they fell with him. The screams would have been unbearable if they had not been subdued by the growing distance. Everything that was not attached to the planet took flight as gravity became a non-existent force.
I looked back at Leo as we let go. I held tight onto his torso as we began to rise above the tree tops, rise towards the clouds, and as I began to grasp for air I witnessed how the bluish lakes became the sky, rejected as we should be.
Written by Alex Backstrom
Cover design: Alex Backstrom
Year of Creation: 2015