Author : Duncan Shields, Staff Writer
We are on a planet whose proper name is unpronounceable by us according to the aliens who left us here. We call the planet Here, Prison, Earth2, Re-earth, Zooplanet and many others names. We haven’t been here long enough for one single name to stick.
It looks kind of like what I remember Africa looking like when I saw it on television back on Earth. Lots of arid land with occasional fields of tall grass and little tiny lakes scattered around, lots of sun.
We’ve got three suns and sixteen moons. The suns are weaker so we don’t cook. They add up to a constant summer. The moons make for a much brighter night. Both days and nights are twice as long here but we’ve adjusted.
We sleep half the day and then half the night. The protective atmosphere here is not flawed. We tan here with no burning and no skin cancer.
Over a year ago, the aliens came down to Earth and left a puzzle for us floating in the middle of the Pacific; a giant geodesic dome bobbing in international waters. They made a lot of noise leaving it there. Our weapons had no effect. We watched the ship leave and turned our attention to the artifact.
One by one, the countries sailed out, surrounded it and stared. For once, the UN came in handy and volunteered to be first to go into it.
Inside the dome were a series of simple puzzles that became progressively harder. The puzzles were relayed back. The world got busy.
The first six were completed in days. Prime number sequences, geometric and logic proofs, a couple of theoretical physics equations. Then they got hard.
We made it up to question twenty. Hawking died trying to figure it out.
After no more puzzles had been solved for sixteen months and a few of them had been answered incorrectly, the aliens came back.
Twenty-three million of us were collected at random. We simply woke up in the cargo hold of the arkship floating around our former home, a mathematically fair cross-section of ages, races, nationalities and gender. Family ties were not taken into consideration.
As the Earth grew smaller, we saw it flash a number of colours.
We were told later that the Earth had been sterilized and cleaned for its new tenants. That meant that every human not on board the ship was dead.
I missed my parents. We all still had nightmares. Some of the women have given birth, though, and a new generation has been born here.
There was initial fury, insanity and sadness after we left the arkship. Factions developed, readying themselves to attack the aliens if they returned and trying to rally others. The aliens have not come back and those factions are being listened to less and less.
There are still some that see us as victims rounded up and put on some sort of a reservation. Their numbers are dwindling. The grief-stricken are starting to rejoin conversations and laugh sometimes.
The silent surroundings and lack of predators are calming. You can’t die from exposure to the elements here. It’s always good weather. The plants and food and game animals are plentiful and none of it seems to be poisonous.
There’s no money here. The unemployment rate is 100%. The air is clean and so far, the weather’s been a flat and uneventful paradise compared to the growing superstorms on Earth.
The fact is that most of us have taken to thinking that technically, we’ve been rescued.
The 365 Tomorrows Free Podcast: Voices of Tomorrow
This is your future: Submit your stories to 365 Tomorrows