Author: Connor Long-Johnson
It drifted there alone, on the precipice of the infinite abyss of space. The shiny, metallic surface beginning to melt as it moved ever closer to the nearest star. The blinding light of the sun reflected off of its red and white casing.
“Honestly, some people,” she said, slurping on a cup of EcoCoffee and staring out at the solitary soda can, “they think the hyperlanes are their own personal dumping ground.”
“You know how people are,” he replied, preparing the ship for their jump to the Lagoon Nebula, “anyways, just be thankful you already have family out here.”
“I guess so, I suppose we owe Aunt Natalie a lot.”
He entered the coordinates into the log, pumped the engine’s fusion primer, and informed the nearby control outpost of their imminent departure.
“I just don’t get how we can be so ignorant!” She grasped her coffee tighter in her hands, “We’ve lost half of the Earth to the oceans, most of its species to deforestation or hunting and we have been forced out here to find a home somewhere else. It just beggar’s belief! London, New York, and Amsterdam all gone. We’ve lost so much in the past hundred years and what do we do? Bring all of our most detestable habits out here with us, like some rancid smell, following us across the stars.”
He answered her with silence as he made the final checks for the jump, focusing on the command computer. Despite being almost 40 years old, the Hyperjump technology wasn’t without its hitches. One tiny, seemingly insignificant error, one wrong number punched into the ship’s navigator and you were tomorrow’s grisly headline on the daily feed. He knew that all to well, he had written many of them himself in his time working for the Journalist’s Alliance.
But deep down, he knew what she was saying was right. Just one month ago, his colleague and a team of scientists working for the Earth Science Quarterly had found evidence of Microplastics on Io, one of Jupiter’s several moons, and the researchers pointed out that all indications were that their presence was human in origin, with Mankind moving more and more across the stars, they had noted how Jupiter’s population had expanded by some eighty-million in the last two years alone and was now the third most populated planet in the galaxy.
“I don’t think it’s as bad as you’re saying though.”
She exhaled heavily, “You’re hopelessly naïve, you know that? Ever since we crawled out of the oceans we’ve caused havoc; it didn’t end on Earth and it sure as shit won’t end out here.”
The ship jolted violently, and the girl shrieked. “What the Hell?
Her coffee had fallen from her hands with the violent motion of the ship and had now spilt out over her trousers.
“Shit. I am sorry, it was the primer.” He said gesturing apologetically at the console.
“Well, you should really get that checked out!”
She picked up the cup, wet and dripping. “What the fuck am I supposed to do with this?”
“You could always throw it out, in their infinite wisdom, the makers haven’t installed any disposal units in these things yet.” He sighed and gestured again at the front panel, resigned.
“No way, there’s enough junk in the galaxy, it doesn’t need any more from me.”
“Fine, you can hold onto it then until we reach the Lagoon. The journey should take about ten hours.”
Then, the most minor of inconveniences occurred.
As her hands stayed wrapped around the empty cup she felt the stickiness grow under her fingers as the moisture dried and what little liquid remained began morphing into a bothersome irritant.
She bowed her head and kicked the seat in frustration. Rolling down the window, she threw out the empty gesture that was the EcoCoffee, the momentum carried it across the vast abyss until it stopped next to the can.
The can, once alone and now part of a pair and the first in a human waste tsunami about to wash over the galaxy.