<< Back

There is a Discrepancy Between the Myrmidons and John Doe

Hello, and welcome to Anadrasil-1. The date is December 24th, 4099. The rotational time is 0945. Daily morphine and saline has been administered. Taro Yamada, please report to the feed room for a meal.

You know, some say the original sin was Man vs. God. I think that might not be true, I think it might have been Man vs. Man, since, in some way, we created God. That's how war begins, right? And some say now that it's Man vs. Technology, but again, it's our own creation--still retaining Man vs. Man. That paradise that God made, and that Man destroyed, what was its name? I've wondered for many years, but every scripture that was related to the story has long been destroyed.

As space children, our bones are brittle like sticks, our joints squishy and lacking in volume, like collections of orange rinds. Pumped full of vitamins and minerals in some hope to keep us alive, but us last survivors decided that we would never have children, we would never subject another generation to what we've had to go through. Man was never made to live here. There is no atmosphere. There is no natural oxygen, no natural water, no way to grow food. We are the products of greed, we are the products of cloning, of zero-gravity procreation, of parents that do not exist or have been gone for a very long time. Then, expected to simply live with that conclusion.

Uniquity is no longer a thing. Our faces may as well all be the same. Or maybe I just can't see the difference--after all, we're all predisposed to more issues than the earth-born humans. The term I learned was "prosopagnosia". I can hardly recognize my own face, either way, so it's not like it matters. It's all scheduled. Most of us have given up on physical therapy, most of us have just about given up eating, too, though we're pumped full of carbohydrates, proteins, and fats during the night, so it's not as if it's necessary for us to eat to survive. Why do they keep us alive? Is it a sick joke?

"Good morning," says Gildong, a strip of blood dripping from his mouth. He seems unbothered by it, really. Probably another incurable coughing fit. It's the virus--thousands of years later, we discovered how to suppress the suicidal urge it causes, since the "cure" was too difficult to keep cloning, but we still get sick. Well, not "we". Just Gildong.

And Juan, all he can do is fold and unfold the same blanket he's had forever, pressing it into neat squares, then fluffing it out, then folding it to follow the golden ratio, then fluffing it out. It must be calming to him, because when I watch him, I feel neurotic and want to break one of the 20 inch-thick translucent carbon bulkheads and choke us all out.

Li likes to do extravehicular activity. The one caveat is that they go out without any sort of protective cable attached to their bodysuit. They haven't fallen off, not yet, but that's probably only out of sheer luck. "Where would I go?" They like to joke before stepping into the airlock. At least they're honest--there's nowhere to fall to. But there's also nothing to catch you if anything goes wrong, only inorganic metal arms between you and the cold expanse of the unknown.

Fulan has been getting into card tricks lately. The only caveat about that is that the cards have long since worn off their printed-ink labels, so nobody can really tell what was supposed to be on them in the first place. Well, all of them, except the joker. But nobody used those anyways, I hear, so it didn't really matter. It's not surprising to find one of the blank cards lodged between an exposed PCB and a metal plate, though said joker found itself in the collar of my all-day suit, so maybe she's trying to fool me.

Ivan locks himself up in the monitor room with a pair of wirecutters every day. If you hear some ominous snipping, clipping, static sound, that would be him. I think he's trying to stop this infernal steel body we're in. Maybe the next wire he cuts will blow everything up. That would be nice, I think, I wouldn't mind going out like that.

Maria is the youngest of us all, probably just recently 18, but nobody's really counting. She spends every day staring out one of the windows at Earth, or what remains of it; no longer a shining ball of blue, but instead a dusty speck of red. We're quite far from it. The magnifying glass has been pointed at Earth forever, and probably always will be. I can appreciate her dedication, always whispering, silver and near-silent, about how one day she'd like to go down there. None of us have the heart to tell her that will never be possible, but maybe she's already aware. Maybe she knows, and she's just holding onto it like faith. Faith, religion, something people used to have but nobody has anymore, because no god could save anyone from the onslaught of technological revolution.

Yes, I hate to admit it, but I think about it often. What life was like, two thousand years ago. Before all of this became the norm. I wonder what grass would feel like beneath my bare feet, feet that weren't stiff and calloused from a lack of abrasion. I wonder what the wind would feel like in my hair, I wonder what it would be like to smell something that wasn't burning memory modules, nose-blind frozen food packets, or me and my crewmates' collective generic hormonal scent.  We are some of the last survivors of human mass extinction events. No, we are the last survivors, I'm almost certain of it. Earth is nothing more than a husk of carbon-based crystal and stone structures by this point. There is nothing down there. That supposed paradise, I wonder what would have happened if we stayed there. What would it have felt like? Would it have been just like Earth used to be? Was it the right choice to expand beyond what we could possibly comprehend?

This is your captain speaking. Inhabitants of Andrasil-1, please commune in the general area for the middletime meeting. Thank you.

Bleed, fold, walk, shuffle, cut, pray. The seven of us gather in the general area, the clock turning 0000. We're seated, strapped in for the next 15 minutes. It's silent as we all stare down at our fidgeting hands, some in better condition than others. The disparity between experimental zero-gravity children is clear--some hands are tightly stuck together, almost akin to ancient animalia evolutionary extremities, what was the word, "fin". Similar to finale, or final. I think this is it. Other hands have the metacarpals extended out to lengths that go to the knee when resting palms at their sides. That was the failed "artificial expansion" modulation, hoping to prevent the effects of zero-gravity on the spinal column. It didn't have the exact effect they hoped for.

Eventually, we're released, back into the zero-gravity environment, we push off from the floor. A rotating red alarm howls in silence on the wall. Li points to it. "What's happening?"

"Catastrophe imminent," Juan shakes his head. "Not good."

"Is there anything we can do about it?" Fulan looks to the rest of us.

"If a hole's been punctured in the walls, the odds are good we'd be sucked out into space," Gildong looks out the large, clear wall facing the outer expanses of the universe as we know it. "What's that out there?"

"It looks like a comet," Ivan folds his arms. "I think it's coming right for us."

"Do we have any evasive methods?" I ask. "Any anti-comet blasters?"

"Nothing." Ivan's face is cold. "I disabled it all."

"It wouldn't have done any good, if that makes you feel better," Gildong laughs, somehow. "Judging by the speed and size, we wouldn't have enough time to make an evasive move. Even if we shot it and broke it down into smaller pieces, those would just hit us too."

"So in short, it's definite." Fulan pushes off towards the wall, looking out on it. "Not possible, not likely, just... purely definite."

"Exactly," Juan grits.

This is your captain speaking. Catastrophe imminent. Please make your way to the emergency evacuation pod. Suggested course: 39 degrees Andromeda-bound. Impact in T minus 30 minutes, 9 seconds.

"Do we even have that anymore?" Li looks out the wall in awe of the horrid majesty of the comet.

"A past generation disabled it, thinking we'd be safe from space debris in this 500-square-kilometer area," Ivan pushes away, back to the monitor room. "What a farce."

This is your captain speaking. Catastrophe imminent. Please make your way to the emergency evacuation pod. Suggested course: 39 degrees Andromeda-bound. Impact in T minus 28 minutes, 23 seconds.

"If I'm gonna die, I'd love to make that thing shut up," Fulan purses her lips. "That voice has always bugged me."

"Why don't we, then?" Gildong suggests. "We're out of time, anyways. There's no way to avoid any of this."

"If we turned off the limiters on the captain module, it'd probably end up breaking itself," I reply. "That'd be the quickest way to break it."

"Easy," Ivan pushes the monitor room door open and gets to work. One could almost hear the metaphorical cogs turning in each space-liver's brain as they thought of exactly what they wanted to break, where, and how they'd do it, now that they knew they would die for sure.

Li moved off to the pod-room and began unplugging all of the pods, ripping out the saline and morphine cables, letting the bags flop around in the minimal atmosphere. Juan tracks down every piece of bendable material and begins folding it all into squares. Fulan dumps out every card deck she could find, letting the blank pieces of paper and plastic shoot off in every direction. Gildong tears into the food machines, leaving nothing but frozen chunks in his wake. Ivan lets out a horrible roar as he takes a hammer to all of the monitors, destroying everything he could see. I stay behind in the general area with Maria.

I remember when she was released from her gestation pod. I was probably around the age of 28, if one were counting the years, and I remember everything about her then. She never cried, not once. And I don't think I remember her smiling, either, she was always quiet. The final space-child, and she was almost as insignificant as we were on planet Earth, specks on a speck in a bag of specks. Still, she lived to be 18, or the equivalent up here, rotated with us in this metal beast until this moment.

This is your captain speaking. Catastrophe imminent. Please make your way to the emergency evacuation pod. Suggested course: 39 degrees Andromeda-bound. Impact in T-T-T-T.

"It stopped," I muttered. I looked out the wall. The comet approached ever closer. One couldn't properly gauge speed here in space, with nothing to compare it to, but it was certainly growing larger every passing minute. We had about 19 left, if my calculations were correct. Maria stood a meter away from me.

"Taro," she asked, voice just above a whisper. The red lights stopped flashing, and the metal beast seemed stiller than it ever had been before. "What do you think it's like to die?"

"Dying is a natural process wherein cell reproduction is halted." The universe around us swirls, the comet as a bluish punch coming forth. "I imagine it could be quite peaceful."

"Why do you say that?"

"Well. Think about how we're always moving up here. Even when we're strapped down. Haven't you ever wished it could stop?"

She nods slightly.

"Why do you ask?"

"I think I'm afraid." Her face looks empty, brown hair lilting behind her head, a single red bow, a remnant of a long-gone civilization tying it together. "I'm afraid it'll hurt."

"It should be near-immediate in this situation," I try to reassure her. "The comet will hit Anadrasil-1, and if we're not killed on impact, we'll quickly be sucked out into the vacuum of space. All of the gas and liquid in our bodies will rapidly escape, and the resulting force would kill us."

"Oh," she looks down. "Taro?"

"What is it?"

"What do you think Earth was like?"

"Hm," I wonder. There was a time when life was able to be sustained there. Not anymore, and probably not ever again. That time is probably what she means. "I'm sure it was... warm."


"Yes. And green, and blue."

"Green and blue..."

"And there was wind, and the Sun and the moon as the main celestial bodies."


We look out on the comet, still approaching, much larger than before. We hear the gaseous pressing of space boots as the others approach and watch the comet alongside us. Maria shuffles closer to me.

"We have about five minutes until impact," Ivan looks out, expression unreadable.

"You know, I thought humans used to fear death," Gildong puts a finger to his chin. "I don't feel afraid at all."

The others nod in agreement, except for Maria, who just stares.

Anadrasil-1 is silent as every system overloads itself and shuts down. All that remains is the light system, kept up so we can see our final moments of our demise.

What would our ancestors think of us now? What of all those six billion, and those 36.79% who died in their own ways? Whether it was a destructive virus, released by one unassuming alternate-timeline mother and 18 exploding antimatter reactors, or a synthetic comet overtaken by nanomachines and machine intelligence far surpassing anything humans could ever create hitting the continent, it was bound to happen some way or another. It happened to the dinosaurs, it will happen to us. They perhaps never imagined something like this. After dozens of proclaimed "world wars", Earth was ravaged beyond her own repairs, and mankind looked to space, but space, too, rejected us, knowing our nature. Perhaps we're not all bad at heart, I think as I look to Maria, eyes full of curiosity.

The final god turns his back on us: on me, on Hong Gildong, Maria de Tal, Li Hua, Juan PĂ©rez, Fulan Al-Fulani, and Ivan Sidorov--placeholder names for placeholder children. Humans of a bygone era, the last of our species. The comet takes up nearly all of the viewport now, and it happens almost like it was fate. There is no sound as it rends the body of Anadrasil-1, opening a wide gash and forcing us into that endless lack of atmosphere. We're all cast in different directions. A few have died on impact. The rest of us quickly have the oxygen expelled from our bodies, veins thrumming with a lack of pressure to keep us alive. With my last impulse, I look to my side--it's Maria. There's something white on her face--no, not on it, in it. It's a smile. The galaxies beyond us are swirls of green and blue, much like we imagine Earth used to be. In her final moments, she witnesses what she wanted, everything she wanted in her short life.

In my last few seconds of consciousness, I feel the grass beneath my feet, the wind in my hair, and the sun on my face. I hear a voice calling to me, and a final thought passes through my mind: