Author: Dan Nicholas

Dr. Tracy Walker cradles his coffee, gazing out of the room’s portal from his orbiting outpost. But the beauty of the celestial cycle cannot hide the sins of man as the sun moves across the lunar landscape, exposing the grotesque scars of this human misadventure.

He turns away from the portal in sadness as he tramples discarded drawings of nuclear fission reactors and hydrogen cooling towers strewn across the floor. The frayed and drooping maps of lunar mining colonies hung on the walls as a reminder of what could have been and the future now in peril. The lunar surface had been man’s first interplanetary achievement and a lucrative one with precious ores and minerals for the taking.

How did this happen? Ponders the doctor as he brushes his hand through his thinning gray hair. Was it greed? Was it arrogance? Or were we just careless?

The nuclear and hydrogen technologies, meant to power and sustain the lucrative mining industry, malfunctioned, causing a thermal detonation across the planet’s mining fissures. The explosion shook the planet to the core, vomiting electromagnetic shock waves into space, neutralizing or destroying anything in its path.

Attempting to grab some sleep that never comes, the doctor feels an unfamiliar rumble and a jarring quake around him as the lights flicker and the hum of an operational platform was now silent. He realizes this is the beginning. The beginning he knew was coming and yet was powerless to stop.

The invisible wave had come and gone, leaving the orbiting station, which represented the new skyline of earth’s interplanetary prowess, lifeless. Metal shells that will succumb to gravity or be released into the oblivion of space. Dr. Walker runs to the portal as he watches in horror as the earth slowly plunges into darkness. Who will save us now? He thought to himself ironically.

As hours disappear into days, the doctor sat peering out the portal, as if the lack of hope had frozen him in time.

But wait! What’s that? A bleary-eyed, unshaven Dr. Walker exclaims.

Lights coming toward the platforms.

It’s an armada! It is an armada of ships from Earth.

Is it possible? We are….saved! Ha, ha, I knew it!

As the huge fleet advances, a small group of ships split off toward the individual floating platforms. With a small ship now within view, the doctor retrieves a telescope to get a closer look at his rescuers. To his amazement, it is a robot piloting the ship. Not that it was unusual, but these were special. We designed them as a failsafe, to save humanity from itself. The doctor thought to himself; we did something right after all.

The elated doctor now watched as the small ship came to a standstill. To his surprise, another bright light emitted from the small craft raced toward his platform. His mind began to race.

Why is this happening? We built them to protect humanity!

The last recording of the doctor was him laughing hysterically.