Author : Desmond Hussey, featured writer
When the Quantum Drive was invented in 2023 the world was transformed; not all at once, mind you, but by degrees.
Initially, it was just the career explorers who ventured into the vast and unknown regions of space in their state-of-the-art Quantum shuttles on missions to map the new cosmic frontier. The intrepid cosmonauts were soon followed by wealthy thrill seekers in supped-up models of the Quantum rocket car. These bored rocket jocks quickly tired of the routine and rapidly growing congestion of the local super-highways within our Solar System and took to venturing further and further into space looking for high-octane adventure and exotic conquests. Most never returned.
Due to the effects of time dilation, it was a while before any reports came back to Earth regarding what was being discovered in the depths of the cosmos by these first pioneers. But, sure enough, within a few years news of diverse, hospitable planets and moons started trickling in, sparking an exodus that resembled a swarm of rats abandoning a sinking ship.
Earth’s population thinned out pretty fast after that. Once it was established that the galaxy was teeming with easily accessible profit opportunities, nearly every industry practically stumbled over each other in a frenzy to take advantage of them. Real Estate and mining moguls, colonial expansionists in their trans-galactic Winnebago’s, corporations, and war mongers all dropped Earth like the hollowed, profitless husk it had become. Even environmentalists and religious factions left to defend or convert new worlds. As far as all these groups were concerned, Earth was a used up commodity. But out there, beyond our solar system, the dream of an ever expanding economy still lived and everybody wanted their piece of the pie.
Well, not everybody.
Before long, only the infirm, the very old, the very young, the poor, the weak and the astrophobes were left behind, as well as those of us who simply didn’t give a damn about exporting humanity’s particular brand of schizophrenic perversion throughout the galaxy. Earth was our home and we were perfectly content to be left alone.
When Earth’s economy inevitably collapsed, nobody really cared much. We simply ceased all non-essential mining operations. We stopped producing needless and inferior commodities. We no longer endorsed land ownership; borders disappeared overnight. Politics became localized and diverse. Those of us who once went despairingly unheeded finally found a voice in our respective communities. Most of us became farmers, the rest, craftspeople and artisans. No one was a wage slave. A functioning technocracy, a byproduct of the scientific renaissance that sparked the Quantum Drive, provided ample, renewable power for our limited industries and humble requirements. War became a thing of the past. The desire to dominate and control left with all the hot-headed yahoos in their quest for greater glories. Those of us left behind found out pretty quickly how to get along with each other.
We, the inheritors of Earth realized that we had been granted a rare opportunity. With the ambitious, power-hungry, alpha personalities gone, the modest, obscure and lowly remnants of humanity were able to rebuild a relative utopia from the rusted, plastic clogged junkyard of our home world.
Thanks to the time dilation of quantum space travel it was a long, long time before anyone decided to check up on us. But yesterday we received a message from deep space. A ship was on its way. The Prodigal Child was returning. We could only hope that our brothers and sisters from the stars had learned the wisdom of humility we had so carefully cultivated here at home.
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