Author : Duncan Shields

Shane jerked awake at his desk with a look of horror on his face.

It was late at the laboratory. He’d been going over calibrations on the atmosphere processing equipment prototypes that he’d designed. There was full funding for NASA and a new push from the president to colonize the moon and Mars. She had realized that oil was running low on planet Earth and that ‘going somewhere else’ was going to present itself as an option sooner or later. She wanted to be prepared.

It was top secret. It was called ‘Plan B’.

Shane was no expert on atmosphere mechanics but even he knew that no snow in his home town for five years meant that ‘Plan B’ was going to be ‘Plan A’ pretty soon.

He had a large team of engineers and mechanics to look after and experimental technology to design and test. He’d been catching naps now and again but hadn’t had a full nights sleep for nearly a year.

It came to him during a nap at his desk.

He had thought of the idea of checking out Venus and seeing if it had oil. Earth could transport oil to and from Venus and buy itself possibly centuries of wiggle room. He drifted off thinking of this.

It hit him in the face like brick. Venus was clouded. Mars was dry. Earth was just right.

Earth was the third in a series. Humans had started on Mercury. They had used up the resources on that planet as the sun grew. The few survivors left had limped to Venus and made it habitable. Millions of years had passed until the resources had been used up. Greenhouse gases clouded the atmosphere. Shortsighted leaders had made a last minute Plan B to colonize and terraform the next planet over. They had killed the indigenous lizards with their climate changers and the few Venusians that survived the trip before their entire planet was baked had landed on a planet of monkeys.

They were forgotten to legend. Their supplies ran out and they became savages. Some leftover math flourished here and there but they were stupid and lazy. It took millions of years for humans to naturally populate this planet to the point of strangulation.

We were eating the solar system from the inside out. Adaptable and voracious like a virus. It was like the orbits were the rings of a tree and we were a disease working our way out from the center of the trunk.

I was perpetuating the cycle by setting my sights on Mars. We’d been too quick this time, though. The sun hadn’t grown enough.

There was nothing in Venus we could use. I knew that without even needing to do a survey of the planet. It was a shell. And Mars would not be ready for another million years.

We were doomed.

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