One Earth

June 7, 2010
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Earth was dying. Global warming wasn’t a fluke after all. The government ordered the evacuation of Earth immediately, all personnel, their pets and their belongings. A huge space shuttle, larger than the Hawaiian Islands put together, was fit for seven billion people to board. Food and water and fuel were all stocked in the shuttle, and the president assured us we would live for years and years in space without fear of death, gaining everyone’s trust in saying so. But the people also trusted that the ocean was a safe place to swim, until you saw the sharks.
This final year is 2172. I’m a history teacher just out of college. Age of 24 and full of undying spirit. It was the middle of November, the sun blazed overhead in a white-blue sky. Already it was ninety-seven degrees outside, still rising. The electric bills for every household had been skyrocketing since 2098. That was when the world took serious notice of the situation. Antarctica, once snowy and cold (or so it says in the books), is a barren desert, dry and dead. Mountains are giant cones of granite, where vegetation once grew, and snow liked to settle. The oceans evaporate a little more each day, leaving them no larger than lakes. Roads have been built on the dry sediment of the ocean floor, and the real estate is selling by the millions. The US and many other countries fight over these territories all the time.
Today, all humans are departing from Earth. There isn’t a quiet household anywhere, especially in lower Manhatten. I’m standing in front of the bathroom mirror, pulling my wavy reddish brown hair into a sloppy ponytail. I had on a T-shirt, ratty old jeans, and my favorite pair of black and red tennis shoes. I’m working on packing up my belongings into a black leather suitcase. Frolicking about my tiny apartment, I toss in books and clothes and other must-haves. Luckily, the government paid for all the supplies teachers needed, less junk in my already bulging suitcase. In two hours, I’d catch a plane to Washington D.C. where the shuttle was located. I had to admit, in a terrified way, I was excited. This could really be an adventure! My parents had sent me a text; they were boarding the ship in three hours. I sat on my nasty stained couch and tried to calm down. I couldn’t wait…
In a bus on the way to the launch site, a little boy, no older than eight, sat next to me. I couldn’t see his parents anywhere.

“Hi, I’m Carson.” He greeted me with a wide smile, his brown hair neatly covering his hazel eyes.

“Hi Carson, I’m Kiri.” We shook hands. “Are you all alone?” I asked him.

Carson nodded. “My parents must’ve left early, before I was awake, ‘cause when I woke up, they were gone. They left me for some reason.” Carson’s eyes dimmed, like a light being switched off. I was shocked. Who would abandon their child?

“Oh, well I hope you find your parents.” I half smiled, the other half of my corner refused to lift.

“Yeah me too.” Carson turned his head to stare out the window at all the traffic. From this position on the crowded freeway, I could see the entire space shuttle. It was shiny silver and so enormous, it was hard to comprehend just how something could be so big, yet easily lift of the ground…
Suddenly, an eruption issued from the shuttle, as smoke and fire shot from the engine of the ship. Carson’s head whipped around.

“What was that?” He cried.
The monster space shuttle was lifting off the ground – without us! Billions of people swarmed about, trying to get away from the shuttle as it abandoned us on this dying planet. On the freeway, people flew from their cars, shaking their fists and cussing, crying and running into shops to hide. On the bus, the people were shoving out every exit, screaming and fearful. I couldn’t find Carson anywhere as I pushed my way to the exit. I felt a sharp jab in my stomach, and I was sprawled out on the cement freeway, dodging the trampling feet of others. Without thinking, I crawled underneath the stopped bus, watched the feet of frantic, confused humans of every country. Some people were knocked to the ground and stepped upon, like human rugs. Animals were running, sniffing out their masters. Children stood and cried for their parents who had lost them in the chaos. The ground shook as if in an earthquake, and a fiery light outlined the running people and the parked cars. The front of the bus lifted up and I was blown back. Something hard hit my head, and everything faded…
How long was I out? I wondered as I sat up. My head swam as I tried to breathe again. I inhaled deeply…and choked. The coughing played my ribcage like an xylophone. After the coughing fit, my watery eyes examined the destruction. Fires smolder in piles of rubble and the ground is coated in grayish black ash. Smashed, overturned cars scattered along the highway, shops are piles of burning splinters or shards of charred bricks. The sky is dyed red from the fire and smoke, I search for the un, but it’s hidden behind the crimson atmosphere. Bodies litter the street, all these people…dead. I sat in the middle of the destruction, shocked and scared beyond all thought…
I cannot be the only person who survived, it’s simply not possible, so I’ve decided to search for other living beings. Even the discovery of a diseased rat would have made me happy, just to know something was alive…I shouted for hours, pleading for someone to answer me. Silence. The crackling of fire and the soft shuffle of ash could only be heard by my own ears. After walking for a while, I came upon a crater, the launch site. The crater was gigantic, probably several miles deep, with smoke and ash billowing out of it in huge, toxic plumes. It seems to want to swallow me whole. I wish it would…
*Two days later*
I’m starving. I haven’t eaten anything for at least fifty hours, and my stomach is protesting violently to the lack of nourishment. I’ve been trying to scavenge for food, but everything is dead. Beneath a crumbling overpass, I sat down next to the Amtrak tunnel opening. I stared at the sky, wishing the red would fade away. I want the sky to be blue. I want something to eat. I want to wake up out of this nightmare that never ends. Miserable tears streaked down my dusty cheeks, leaving wet spots on my clothes. My almond shaped brown eyes shut tight, as I try to ignore the growling in my stomach.

“Aww, don’t cry Kiri.” A child’s voice greeted my unwilling ears. Did I fall asleep? I opened my eyes. Hardly recognizable, Carson sat in front of me. His hair was disheveled and his eyes reflected the bleeding sky. His clothes were colorless from ash and dirt. I don’t think I was ever happier to see anyone. Having forgotten how to smile, I could only stare.

“I got food. You look hungry.” Carson led me into the Amtrak tunnel and handed me some jelly beans in a half-melted plastic bag.
I grabbed a handful of the jelly beans and shoved them into my mouth. Normally, I didn’t really like jelly beans, but my taste buds and retreated and would take anything.

“Kiri, how did you survive?” Carson was eating a blackened box of crackers.

“I dunno. I was hidden under the bus that may have had something to do with it.” I answered quickly, scooping up more jelly beans.

“I hid in the construction stuff off the freeway, in a ditch.” Carson watched me stuff my face like a pig. Did he really have to watch? “Do you know what time it is yet? I’m sleep, I think it’s past my bedtime.” Carson and I stared at the sky.

“Can’t tell, the sky’s looked like that for two days now. I’m pretty tired too.” I replied. I wrapped up the jelly beans.

“I think we should go looking for more people.” Carson suggested.

I shook my head.

“After we sleep a little.” He amended. Curled up in a ball, we fell into a dreamless sleep…
When we woke up, Carson and I began searching for more people, but we couldn’t find anymore. No matter how far we thought we got from the crater, we were never far enough, for the crater was always there. Walking along a broken road, Carson and I felt the Earth tremble, then shake more violently. Losing my balance, I topple over, grabbing Carson close to me. The ground cracked and broke around us. Th quake made the cracks in the ground grow wider and farther apart, until deep crevasses were breaking the Earth apart. Then, just as the earthquake settled, the ground Carson and I sat upon tilted inwards toward the crater. I felt myself sliding as the shy earth was pulled into the pit. I reached for something to grab, anything to keep Carson and I from falling into the crater, but nothing was stable. As we slid with the pieces of Earth, I noticed the earthquake had split the crater, and the magma in the Earth’s mantle bubbled eagerly forward. I dug my heels into the ground in a useless attempt to stop the sliding. Carson and I were only few yards from the crater. Any last words? None, only a wordless scream as I tumbled for miles into a boiling lava pit…
*On the shuttle*
From the windows, the people could see the pieces of the Earth slide into the yellow-red ocean of lava. Not a sound was made aboard that ship. The people knew that the government had betrayed them, and their loved ones were dead. But what could they do, except watch? The Earth practically turned inside out; the brown color of the planet became bright red as the lava swallowed it whole. Suddenly, in an explosion that made the stars vibrate, Earth, the people’s home, blew apart. There were no other words to describe it. In a single instant, the planet they loved became melted debris amongst the stars. Now they could never return home, because home was destroyed. Had it been their fault that Earth was gone? Were the deaths of the innocent their own doing? No, of course not. The government had done it, the government’s fault. That sure is one good thing about government, if something goes wrong, you can always blame them. But the people felt guilty, as they huddled together, shedding silent tears, their souls forever scarred by the murder they knew they’d all committed…

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