A cosmic switch went from “on” to “off” and the darkness followed.
Of course it didn’t feel that way to the people living at the time. To them, the race to the end was an imperceptible crawl. The Final Event, the “switch”, had been decades in the making and many years in the execution. Even after the “switch”, the light still hung on for decades and the people were deluded into thinking all was fine as they slowly died out.
But to the planet Earth itself, the span of a few human lifetimes was as nothing, less than a cosmic blink of the eye.
The remaining crew of the spaceship Endeavor, having aged less than five years in the over three centuries of travel at close to the speed of light, looked over the barren landscape of what was once home.
“We now face a choice,” Captain Gupta said. “Do we try to join one of the small bands of remaining humans that are scattered around the globe?” Her face darkened at the thought of the few thousand half-savages hanging on tight, delaying for another generation or two their inevitable extinction. “Perhaps we can pick a place, a garden spot if possible, and set up our own colony?” They all knew that the empty landscape in front of them was the garden spot on the planet. “Or, …? I will take any and all suggestions.”
The crew stared at her with blank expressions, as if not understanding the choice.
She shifted her weight uneasily. Perhaps they were right. Perhaps as captain it was her choice to make.
“Captain, if I may…”
Lt. Baker stood up. Captain Gupta smiled. William was a genius and would be able to express their choices far better than she could. He’d find a way out of their present darkness.
After months of acceleration, the spaceship Endeavor approached its cruising speed of a very large fraction of the speed of light.
A star only 790 light years away was circled by an Earth-sized planet in the so-called “Goldilocks” zone. The latest research, done centuries ago, showed an oxygen rich atmosphere and a very high probability of life.
Captain Gupta studied the blank vision screen, the oncoming stars blue-shifted to near invisibility having erased anything that would normally have been seen.
They were on their way. Perhaps the crew was right, it was their only real choice.
Faced with the hopelessness back on the empty Earth or the excitement of exploration and the hope of discovering a new green world out in the emptiness of space, the crew had chosen to face the darkness with hopes of finding a new light.
This story was written for Sue Vincent’s writephoto challenge. The photo at the top is Sue’s, and she gave us the key word “Darkness”.