Author : Jacob Mollohan
The Rocky Mountains arc across the skyline, visible for a few moments, before a vast dust cloud whips up blurring them into obscurity. Arid wind rustles through the foothills carrying the storm my way. Sweat runs down the back of my neck as the tepid air blows through my field, it won’t be long before the sky goes dark.
I reach out my hand and grab a piece of dead wheat. The withered head crumbles, falling back into the dirt of the earth. It’s a shame. A real damned shame.
“Come on Zeke.” Rachel calls from beyond the rows of wasted stalks. She is finishing up packing the truck, we can only bring the essentials. “We have to get going.” I turn away from the sea of brown and head back to her.
My wife leans against the door of the Basilisk passenger truck. It is a squat, blocky craft and the rust red paint is peeling, an ugly but practical vehicle. Rachel shades her eyes peering into the storm absently biting her lower lip, she always does that when she’s nervous.
“We’re giving up more than we know.”
“We have no other choice.” She looks from the sky back to me. Her voice is soft, lilting, just the hint of a southern accent that she never could break. “But, it’s for the best. Our children will have a better chance under another sunset. On another planet.”
I wince at this. We didn’t have children. I know she is being hopeful, but it leaves the emptiness of a dream deferred for pragmatism. It hurt her more than it could ever have hurt me. She always wished to be a mother.
“I guess I should be grateful that there was room for us at all.” I say, playing my part. It is different this time though, the wall of dust doesn’t subside. It keeps hurdling forward, swallowing the parched landscape.
“That’s a better way to look at it.” She smiles at me, lines creasing around her eyes and mouth; lines from her quick grin and ready laughter. “Besides, the Generation Ships really are amazing.” She attended New Harvard to study engineering, and followed the development of the program from its inception. She convinced me we needed to go.
We are some of the last to leave. I wanted to wait till the end like those people who choose to stay in the path of a hurricane because they don’t want to abandon their home. The human desire to take a stand against the overwhelming power of Mother Nature is a strange thing.
My heart starts to race as the gale comes closer. There is no fighting this.
“Time’s up.” I give her a quick kiss on the cheek before I open her door and she slides in quickly. Gritty sand stings my exposed arms and neck. The sound of our aged shutters banging in their frames hounds me as I watch the silhouette of my old family farm devoured by the storm. Gone forever.
I hop into the driver side and thrum the power up. The sound of the repulsor-lift drowns out the wind as we gain height. Muted light streams into the cabin. The sun dips below the horizon, subdued colors of wine and umber in the raging dust storm.
The last sunset we will ever see on Earth.