Entries in Scifi (1)


Refugees from the Days of the Dying Sun

Another writing prompt from my Tuesday group.  I was supposed to write something in the past tense, that left a lot of room to manuver.  I figured I'd write a narration about guy from the future, living in our past where our past is his fuzzily remembered future.  It is really just a look into what I see now as a larger story or series of stories about these people that have been along-side us all along.  3 pages was not nearly enough to tackle how they may have fixed 'the problem' either, that'll have to come at some other time.

Refugees from the Days of the Dying Sun

Back in my younger days life on Earth was pretty good, incredible advances in social, environmental and technological solutions made living in the prior few centuries look downright medieval by comparison.  But all good things must come to an end and in late July of 2175, a week after my 44th birthday, it all came crashing down.

It was then that we noticed that something had begun happening to the sun, something very bad.  Our local star was not quite halfway through its natural life cycle and should have burned on for another 2 billion years before its natural, and expected, expansion would make it too hot for life on our planet. It should have taken some 4 billion years beyond that for the sun to expand and actually engulf the Earth, but something was happening that accelerated that process, something artificial and unbound by the natural laws that govern a star's lifecycle. And it was all happening with a dizzying speed. So it was, in the sweltering days of late July that year, that we realized that the Earth, and most of our solar system, would be reduced to cinder in less than a decade and that mankind was on a collision course with certain extinction.

Back then our technology was impressive, really impressive, but could we have evacuated everyone to another inhabitable planet in 10 years?  No way.  Our ships were too slow, too small and the nearest candidate planet was too far away. So what do you do, where do 6 billion people run when there’s no safe place to run to?  Well, we realized that ‘where do we run?’ was not the right question to be asking, and that 'to when do we run?', now that one had some merit.

My team and I at the Ministry of Applied Theoretics had worked out the fundamentals of time travel about 15 years prior to the sun entering its death throes though, to be honest, we hadn't considered it for widespread use.  It destroyed electronics, but organics seemed to travel unharmed.  When it came down to it, we still didn't know much about how it worked or how to control it, only that tests showed that we could send people forward or backward in the time stream, however, going forward no longer seemed a desirable option.  The problem was that we didn't have any control over how far a traveller would go, 10 minutes, 10 years, 10,000 years or longer, it was a crap shoot.  And if the place you were standing on is lava at the time you travel to, well, oh well.  But desperate times called for desperate measures so we started the ball rolling for mankind to abandon the present and flee to the past.

Qualification for travel was simple, anyone aged 16 and older, willing to undergo some, I think we called it, slight protein editing, could travel backward. The ‘protein editing’ was a brilliantly advanced neurological modification aimed at identifying and suppressing some specific thought patterns connected to specific contemporary knowledge that might completely alter history, such as your giving gunpowder to the Roman Empire or revealing the nature of bacteria to a plague-ridden Europe.  Mankind had gotten exceptionally good with biochemical manipulation and so it was not a big deal to obfuscate some memories, all aimed at not sending us back to terrorize the past.  The modifications to our bodies apparently prevented our bones from fossilizing and blocked your ability to coherently communicate that you had come from the future as well.  I stumbled on that little mental block years later and made a fool of myself in the process.

Ideally, we’d hoped to get a few people back into a reasonable timeframe before the sun got broken, to find out what had been the cause and try to prevent it from starting.  Otherwise we were doomed to face extinction again.  In the end there were 4.2 billion of us that volunteered and qualified, ready to be blasted like buckshot at the past, in the desperate hope that a handful of us would land when we were needed. For anyone that did wind up in our recent past and had a real shot of discovering, and fixing, whatever had happened to the sun, they would have the full library of future human knowledge just unlock itself in their heads where it lay in wait.  All hope really rested with them.  The remainder of us, statistically most of the 4.2 billion that chose to go back, were free to live out our lives as best we could, whenever we wound up.  About 90% of us would not last a week, and another 9% not much longer than that.  The odds of survival were staggeringly slim; they were pretty up-front with the fact that this was not likely to end well for most of us.  If you conservatively looked at, say, the last 1 million years that you might find yourself sent to, anything but the last .05% of that timeframe did not bode well for longevity, and the further back, the worse your chances were. If you wound up pre-dating civilization you were pretty much screwed. Dinosaurs, ancient plagues we had no immunities for, the list of likely deaths was as terrifying as it was long. But you did have a chance if you went back, albeit a slim one, and you might just save the world.  So back we went.

I wound up being one of the very, very lucky players of time roulette, finding myself in 1908, just outside of what was Cleveland back then. I experienced the 20's, depression, war, and chose to be a farmer where I was able to eke out a few innovations from my neutered memories and see the land flourish.  I had a simple, fulfilling second chance at life that convinced me that mankind really was worth saving, hoping each of my days that cold-hearted bitch, Our Lady of Statistical Probability would give mankind a fair shot and that a few good minds made it to the sweet spot of the 22nd century to save us all.  The years passed and I found that scraps of my memories began returning courtesy of a terminal brain tumor.  I found that I could talk about things that were suppressed but, well, nobody really listens to the ravings of a crazy old dying man. There was no point in my having held out hope for a miracle cure either, the Chinese wouldn’t discover a general cure for cancer for another 95 years or so. 

So, we were here among you in some capacity all along; from well before the days that mankind walked upright, refugees from the days of the dying sun.  All of us that have walked the Earth to date were the statistical collateral, that spray of buckshot that missed the intended target.  We have always sought the same life of simple, timeless joys under the magnificent sun that you have ever chased.  May we all bask in it until the end of our days.