Was It Worth It?
Posted 27 January 2013 - 02:15 AM Edited by Ziggy455, 27 January 2013 - 03:51 PM.
Earth was dying. The surface that once exhibited dark oceans, and fruitful green and brown was slowly mixing to form one colour. The exuberant atmosphere that lit up the edges of the sphere had turned from a humming white to a screaming red as the huge planet began its final stages of death. Oceans had dried. Plant life had been all but crushed under with industrial plantations that almost 90% of the planet and in its place, synthetic plants, capable of creating much more atmospheric components than real ones covered areas but these lacked colour, texture, and smell and came in the form of small, mound-like machines. The wars continued below. To the dictators of each Union comprising Earth’s continents, it was clear that men of iron will and steel hearts were not going to leave the planet they were fighting for, for any reason. Like older generations, men had died for less, and to die for an entire continent in their grasp, it was fine reason to expire indeed.
Planet Earth had endured too long. Following the first war of resources over two hundred years ago, the expiration date had been set to the year 2153. Within the years to follow, the creation of bigger bombs, harder weapons, and deadlier biological systems, made it clear clear the atmosphere of Earth was going to suffer greatly through constant bombing and radiation.
Millions of miles above the slowly dying planet, a pair of blue eyes scanned across the red stricken orb with curiosity. His face was impassive. No more than fifteen years of age, Marek, stared down. His white jumpsuit sagging around his skinny body; his scruffy, shoulder length hair gleamed brightly, something which made him stand out in one of the crowded, metallic, cafeterias of ORION VIII. The colony ship, Marek had noted, had thirteen hundred cafeteria, several high rise apartment blocks, forty cinemas, twenty seven virtual reality blocks, forty nine restaurants, and even a completely versatile business block. A city within a ship, he thought to himself. All of those features were just a scratch of the ORION colonies. There were still arenas, small cities, and beautiful, pure white scenery all around. There were thirty six ORION colonies positioned in Earth’s view.
But with all that beauty surrounding him, with the thousands of waterfalls and heaven-like quarters the ship boasted, his eyes were transfixed on Earth. Small pinpricks of light would explode on the surface and then disappear suddenly.
“Explosions,” said a woman next to him. Marek’s eyes turned to face the woman. Her bright red hair was tied up with Chinese chop-sticks. Black, thick glasses sat on her stone yet gentle face. She was wearing a green jumpsuit marked with a patch of her working division #1244432, Biochemistry and Agriculture. A plant nut.
“Huh?” He looked back towards Earth.
“Those pinpricks, they’re explosions from the remains.”
“Oh,” Marek’s idea that they were parts of Earth trying to kick-start life was shattered pretty easily. Of course he was young, and like his parents said in their drone, analytical-like ways, young kids had big imaginations.
“It’s sad,” said the red-headed girl with a hint of Russian in her voice. “Look at it, look at the colour. It doesn’t even feel like a place people lived.”
“I never really got to see Earth as it was before the wars.”
“Not many did,” she sighed.
“Yes, I saw how it once was.”
Marek saw the sadness in her eyes. She stopped it within a moment, but that was all he needed. He didn’t want to have eyes like that. He preferred to have seen the Earth in one light, which meant that he didn’t have to regret things for what they were, things wouldn’t be as bad.
“Do you want to see-“
“No,” he said bluntly.
“Okay.” Silence followed, the sound of clatter from the cafeteria filled the air as Marek watched the atmosphere through the thickness of the viewing platform. More people began to move to the other windows in the large area. Beyond the glowing red of the Earth, ten other large ORION colonies were noticeable. Some moved up and down, the Sun beyond them illuminated everything. It felt strange to talk to other people. Since Marek had come aboard VIII he hadn’t spoken to a single soul and that was a while ago.
“Do you think it’s worth it?” asked the red-headed girl.
The planet’s red ring lit up and then slowly darkened. Once, twice, and continuing as Marek spoke.
“I don’t know what you mean.” The red-haired girl stared out too.
“Do you think it’s worth us moving? Look down below at what you see. Do you think it’s worth us moving to another planet just to do the same to it?”
“You think we’re going to make more war?”
“It’s in our nature to fight, to consume, and destroy. Just because most of the violent types are going to die along with that planet down there, that doesn’t mean there won’t be people fighting when we get to our next place.”
“I don’t know. Some people aren’t looking for wars.”
“What do you think they’re looking for?”
“I don’t know, I’m just a kid. Maybe they’re looking for peace or happiness, survival, who knows?”
“If you say so...” she rubbed her neck and continued to watching the glaring red.
“When the Holoscreens started blaring about The Whisper, my family was called through the Second Union and we were brought onto this ship. We had to all go through this screening process and stuff,”
“I know, we all did.” she turned to stare at him.
“And well, my family, my ma and pa, they’re both scientists, they’re working in Bio-Research and Chemical Divisions. Number four, three, four, five, seven, ten. They’re not evil people and they’re not making things to hurt people like others they worked for did.
They’re trying to cure illnesses on here.”
“I see, I apologize for tarring everybody with the same brush.”
“It’s okay,” It wasn’t okay, but it didn’t matter. “I’ve been here for three months, and I haven’t heard of any violence breaking out. No colonies are at war with each other, I don’t think.” He rubbed his eyes. “Anyway, how long have you been here?”
“I don’t know,” said the girl as she looked back outside, “I can’t remember how long I’ve been here.”
“You don’t have family?”
“I do,” her eyes moved around, and for a moment she did not speak. “They’re on other ships I guess. We were separated. And it’s impossible to travel to each colony at the moment.”
“It’s okay. I don’t do well around people anyway.”
“I’m considered narcissistic.”
“What’s that mean?” asked Marek, confused.
“It means,” she took a pause and looked at her watch. She lowered her arm and sighed. “Look at that place down there, look at it. Before we came along as a species, Earth was a bountiful, beautiful, living, breathing entity. It didn’t have forty nine restaurants, or manual-crafted waterfalls, or metallic cafeterias with viewing platforms.”
“This is as bad as showing me,” said Marek, unnoticed.
“Before guns, and bio-warfare, and The Greed War, Earth was a paradise. Now it’s a barren wasteland of misery and deprivation.”
“Like I said, not everybody is to blame for that.”
“And like I said, kid, is it worth us going somewhere new eventually to kill a giant worth it?”
“Would you prefer us to all die?”
“No, not really...”
“My mom told me once that we’ve got a built in instinct to survive and overcome. Those who have it strong normally live. I read in a holograph once about people who cut off body parts if they were trapped and stuff. It’s normal.” He stared at the girl now.
“There’s a difference between survival and greed. We are surviving,” she looked down at the Earth, “those down there are still stuck in the Greed war.”
“Karma comes around, y’know. They’ll die, we’ll survive.”
“But we humans are like a cancer. If you cut off the tumour that is greed down there, and we escape, we’re just cancerous cells that are going to spread somewhere else, and develop back into something deadly. We’ll do what we’ve done here, somewhere else. We’ll move on, spread, consume, kill, and repeat. Does that sound fun?” The girl simply spoke. No anger retained in her voice. She sounded as calm as could be, and that frightened Marek.
“I’m just a kid, I don’t know.”
A churning echoed out throughout the stopping thousands of people who picked up their ears. The planet glared bright red and span faster than ever before. The golden land that covered the once flowing oceans began to turn dark and black. The churnings sounds metallic, like the colony of ORION VIII was twisting and contorting like the Earth below. Marek looked around, startled.
“It’s not coming from the ship.”
“What is it then?”
“It sounds like it’s coming from the Earth itself. I believe it’s crying out.”
“That’s not possible, even I know that.”
“Shows how much you know.” said the girl coldly.
Marek turned to face her. “You want to keep talking to me like I don’t know anything, then come on. Let’s sort this out properly, come on, if you think you’re so smart!” The girl’s eyes widened, and then something like satisfaction spread across her face. Marek knew it was too late; his face flushed red and looked for an escape. His body turned back to the thick glass of the viewing platform.
“I’m sorry,” he said quietly.
She eyed him with suspicious for a moment and then stared back out at crescendo of withering life. Her hands moved like routine to rubbing the smudged surface of her black-rimmed glasses that were suddenly in her red-nailed hands. She’d done it a thousand times.
“I know I was wrong just now. Maybe that’s what makes us different from the people down there. I know being violent is wrong. My parents taught me better than that.”
“Maybe there is hope for the remnants then.”
“Maybe there is, maybe there isn’t. It doesn’t matter, survival does.”
“Humans are designed to make mistakes, but I’m not sure if all of us can learn from them, do you?” asked the girl.
“We won’t make such a mistake next time, we’ll do better. But I’m a kid, I don’t know everything. You’re older, you should know!”
Silence, and then the sound of the churning, metallic stretched echoed out loudly. The cafeteria trays began to vibrate.
“But you may be right, what if all we do is consume?”
“It’s human nature. We can only hope, I guess,” she sadly replied.
The Earth below erupted into a colourful exhibition of dying embers. The red glare faded to nothing and all colours began to suddenly drain from the planet. The rotation slowly came to a stop, causing thousands to flock to viewing platforms. In the darkness of space, the Earth joined. Death consumed the entire planet in a final gulp, and then the final cry of Earth echoed out into space for the last time. The feeling of vibrations echoed throughout the colony and the beautiful barrage of ships slowly began their journey into the abyss.
Posted 27 January 2013 - 11:20 AM
|The girl slowly watched him and then returned back to her previous position. She took off her glasses and began to clean her glasses.|
This could easily be shortened to,
|The girl watched him, lost interest and pulled out a cloth to clean her glasses.|
Not that verbosity is inherently bad or anything, I just found certain words and expressions in your story to be unneeded. I can't go as deep as I'd like to in criticism right now but nonetheless I was happy to read this short story [aside from that font]. Keep on writing, Zig.
Posted 27 January 2013 - 03:31 PM Edited by Ziggy455, 27 January 2013 - 03:35 PM.
Also, I changed that line to something better, I hope.
Cheers, for the read though mate, I'm greatful - I also removed the font, haha.
Posted 28 January 2013 - 01:24 PM
[quote]A churning echoed out throughout the ????? stopping thousands of people who picked up their ears. The planet glared bright red and span faster than ever before. The golden land that covered the once flowing oceans began to turn dark and black. The churnings sounds metallic, like the colony of ORION VIII was twisting and contorting like the Earth below. Marek looked around, startled. [/color]
I'm assuming it's supposed to be "A churning echoed out throughout the ship, stoping thousands of people who picked up their ears."
Firstly, I think you can get rid of the "out" - "churning echoed throughout the ship..."
Also, what tyler said, can this be shortened down too?
Apart from that though, i found it very intriguing. I found myself asking questions that while not answered, were hinted at - what happened for example.
Interestingly, I've been debating a "post apocalyptic" story, wondering how mine could differ from a certain franchise, and I did get a vibe from this different to others. I found the dialogue convincing, with a hint of character. Not a bad piece, I like the dark overtones, and the finality you put into it, but also find myself wondering, what happens next. Not bad man.
Posted 03 February 2013 - 06:56 PM
I know the whole thing turns on what they're talking about, but it's just so boring.
The big positive I see is that it feels like there's this rich backstory to be explored. You definitely nail that sense of atmosphere and scale - we're certainly in a world (and story) that is bigger than these two characters. But you barely scratch the surface of it. There's just no story here - the characters aren't trying to achieve anything, there's no conflict, no resolution. Or on an even simpler level: no beginning, no middle, no end.
For me, I think you started on a bit of a dull note: it's not until you introduce the characters and head into some dialogue that it begins to pick up. I think part of that is to do with the vagueness of the description - sure, you're describing this future-Earth, but there's no sense of place, no grounding. I don't know where we're looking at the Earth from. The fix here is fairly obvious: start with Marek. Start with the ship. Then tell us what he's looking down at. It's a simple change, but it would make so much difference.
I've mentioned how I think you do well to capture a rich sense of scale, but I got a bit lost with the description of the Orion VIII itself. It has "thirteen hundred cafeteria", but only "several high rise apartment blocks"? And then there's "thousands of waterfalls"? I get what you're going for here - this monolithic structure floating in space, housing a huge community - but there's no real consistency to it, no real picture of what it actually is. It's a fine idea, but not well executed - instead of painting the picture for us, you give us a tiny piece of the puzzle and then basically expect us to finish it off for you.
Now, as for the heart of the story - the conversation - it all feels a little on the nose. The whole point about the humanity's innate violence - of how we're destined to destroy every planet - is hammered home a little too obviously for me. And you keep coming back to this "I'm only a kid, what do I know line", but again, it doesn't feel consistent - because they appear to be speaking with such intense clarity about the entire situation. It doesn't really add up.
Aside from a few troubled spots, the writing itself is nice and smooth. Not a whole lot to worry about for me. But what you should think about is - what story are you telling? Are you doing it justice?
There's definitely something in here worth writing about; you just need to dig a little deeper to unearth it.
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