Friday, December 21, 2018

Fiction Friday: The Things We Leave Behind

Titans Rising Installment 2

The story so far: Earth is dying slowly. The Seed Project, a small collective of dreamers, is building generation ships to survive.

The Things We Leave Behind

The Seed Project was the last great hope for humanity.

At least, that was the way the people who’d given up their old lives to travel across the world thought of it. They had looked around them, seeing a world that was falling apart, and staked all their hopes on the chance of finding a new home for humanity in the stars. It wasn’t a goal they ever expected to see. It wasn’t a goal they expected their grandchildren to see. But it was the dream that kept the people working to build the five ships going, both those on planet building the components and the crews in orbit who were tasked with assembling the vessels.

But to the rest of the world, the members of the Seed Project were a cult. People who’d given up everything in their lives to join some strange utopian community in the tropics? It was easy to see why a person’s family might worry about your judgment. It was one of the reasons why Minerva, one of the fabricator engineers, hadn’t blocked all of the contacts from her old life.

She had only blocked most of them, including most of her family. Her mother was the sole exception, “Liz, please come home. I know things are tough, but we can find you a job. The Pacific Company’s distribution facility is always hiring people. Your brother is working there.”

Minerva closed her eyes and pinched the bridge of her nose. “Mom, I can’t. What you’re talking about isn’t living. It barely qualifies as surviving. I get to live down here, not just subsist on cheap processed food.” They had been running tests of the hydroponics systems, and there was currently enough food to eat yourself sick every night. She turned the camera on her hand-brain on, setting it on the desk in her room. “Look at me, mom. Do I look like I’m starving?” She met her mother’s gaze and felt some of the frustration fade.

“I haven’t seen your face in so long, Elizabeth.” Minerva closed her eyes, her vision blurry. “You look healthy.”

Minerva wished she could say the same. She knew how to recognize malnutrition, it was one of the big worries about climbing onto a spaceship for a few hundred years, dying slowly because you weren’t eating right. “Mom… There’s space here. We need teachers.”

Her mother pushed away the request, pretending the offer had never been made. But both could feel it waiting under the surface as her mother talked about life back in Michigan, the little struggles, the cough that her father had developed that hadn’t gone away in three months. The river catching fire.

For her part, Minerva talked about her work, the complications of designing new ceramics and testing. Two sides of a routine. For the moment. Minerva’s work was almost complete planetside, she was likely going to start taking rotations in orbit to help build the five ships. It was exciting, seeing the project moving into the next stage.

If only it made conversations like this one easier, instead of harder.

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