Author : Clint Wilson

I was in the best place a boy could be when the end of the world came, except for being dead maybe. We knew about it almost three years before it arrived. And while most of the world went insane, my family built the vault. In my case it definitely helped to be born into the upper crust.

And speaking of the upper crust, that’s where we sunk our vault deep. My dad was the project’s top investor, so many people we knew came inside with us.

Of course he was gone now, well protected from the certain ravages of dwelling topside, only to be killed in the impact nevertheless. In fact almost all of them were dead now, save for the handful of us who had had the fortune to be in the sensory deprivation chamber when Hand of God had struck. Our oxygen masks had kept us from drowning while the chamber’s half million tons of water had thrown us around in our hammocks like rag dolls.

No one really knew what the effects of a comet the size of Texas smacking into the planet at almost a million and a half kilometers an hour would be. But my family had nearly every possible contingency covered. Fear of the atmosphere being completely stripped away had caused them to install the giant oxygen tanks and supply enough pressure suits to outfit ten times the people we had left.

Still Dr. Fraser, my dad’s top advisor, couldn’t explain, beyond the certainty of an extreme and cataclysmic change to the earth, the reason for our weightlessness.

We were getting used to it now though. We were mostly children save for a few teachers and the doctor. And with the aid of ropes and makeshift climbing gear we made our way around the facility with ease.

But today was the day we had decided to go topside. Most of the adults had disagreed initially, but they lost in the majority vote, plus we had the doctor on our side. He had explained quite clearly, “We are well equipped with pressure suits, aerosol cans for propulsion, plus our ropes and grappling hooks, and both airlocks show to be in perfect working order. I will only take these selected few who have shown great agility in maneuvering in the weightlessness. We will be back before you know it.”

Together the six of us crowded into the airlock. There was no window in the three-foot thick outer hatch. We all made one last check of our suits and then Dr. Fraser emptied the chamber.

As soon as the outside was exposed one thing became apparent. There was light. We dug in with crampon boots and axes and made our way out.

And there we clung to our tiny perch, looking down at the half exposed steel and concrete survival vault, jutting from the side of a six kilometer-high wall. And then I felt the freezing cold pierce my suit as the sun dipped below the horizon alarmingly fast, revealing a sparkling field of stars against an ink-black curtain. But within minutes it would be back again, to taunt us with a minuscule hint of warmth for its short visit.

Dr. Fraser maneuvered his body around to face us. Through his helmet visor we saw a look of most dismal despair. He addressed us all, “I have no idea how we now continue to survive on this tiny rock hurtling through space, but I know we will not live long. Who’s with me for jumping off right now?”

Discuss the Future: The 365 Tomorrows Forums
The 365 Tomorrows Free Podcast: Voices of Tomorrow
This is your future: Submit your stories to 365 Tomorrows