Wing Commander Donaldson said we were blessed. Sitting on the magenta fields of Alpha Centauri 3, we had front-row seats to the celestial explosion of what once was our home."Blessed, Sir?"He smiled, squeezed my shoulder. "We survived," he said as if survival meant victory. "Earth's gone but we're here, safe on 3."I couldn't say a word, not even nod my head, because I had spent years here on this spice planet, dreaming like long-ago Odysseus of returning home. Now my sweet Penny, my three boys, all gone in a flash, and the guilt I felt watching it vanish in a spray of rock and fire was more than I could take."We're a colony here," said the wing commander. "Enough of us to start a new Earth in this Eden, except no chance of us being expelled, is there? We came here to reap the rich spices for export. Now we can keep it here for ourselves, introduce Earth produce from the sample seeds we brought here years ago in the event we could not go back."Earth out there was a diminishing ball spitting itself to extinction. It looked that small in the far-away distance when Traveler 9, our multi-tourist ship plowed through the heavens on its way to 3. I remember thinking, soon that blue dot will disappear, fade into the skies and not return to our sight until we headed back to Earth. Now that blue dot, streaked with rays of crimson red dashed that dream forever.The wing commander stuffed the magenta spice into his pipe, lit it with his double-flame Ronson, and puffed away like a man without a care, "Yes, Flyer Jarvis, we'll be okay. The Earth is gone, but the colony of us sturdy planeteers will make a new home here."I brushed the salty tears from my eyes.
One has to wonder how far away we are from needing to be on a distant planet or star watching Earth die...from old age or human "intelligence". Nicely done.
Thanks, Rob. Unfortunately, today's science fiction is tomorrow's nonfiction.
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