This novel is limited to 100 free copies due to its part in Inkitt’s Novel Contest.
Only July 21, 4099, Terra was destroyed and I received oral sex for the first time.
I received advance warning of the destruction from my usual informants and relayed the information to the usual sources. My prediction was confirmed by Dr. Orah Stephenson, a leading seismologist. The complete and total evacuation of Mainland Terra, population 100 million, commenced. We would go to the colonies or to the unpopulated Americas, with their endless waves of grain.
By this point, Terra belonged to the rich and it was a struggle to get people to leave their things behind in the mad race to make it to one of the colonies—though they were worlds in their own right by this point, no longer fragile outposts. This time, Terrans would be the displaced, the poor.
My sources did not tell me how most of these Terrans would be received. Basic logic, however, dictated that they would be ill-liked by the Martian farmers and educated class, hated by the Titanics desperately trying to scrape out a living, and despised with a burning passion by the perpetually poverty-stricken Europa. At least the Terran manses and jewelry and snow-white dogs would always exists in infinite other universes.
Dr. Orah Stephenson, as it happened, was a Martian by birth and was on Terra with a prodigious research grant. It was a miracle that she was picked out of the overlooked masses on the colonies. She really was a genius, and a nice enough person. I didn’t mind her. She had a family on Mars, older siblings and parents and a husband who she was not allowed to bring with her.
She despised most of us, as Martians were wont to do, but she appreciated what we had given her. When the earthquakes devoured us, she will return to her family on Mars and never again find such success.
Tam lapped at me and I gripped the bedposts tightly, my knuckles going white. A moan escaped me and I could only guess at how Sylvie acted during coitus. Anyway, I didn’t think that Tam cared very much. He was completely focused.
Pleasure rolled through me, hot and rich. I begrudged Sylvie this, as I begrudged her so many other things.
I have always been the special sister. I know things that I should not. I say things that I should not. My guesses are always correct.
Sylvie has always been the beloved sister. She is beautiful and passionate, with a nose for business, and as I am told, a good fuck.
I tried to emulate her in all fields. When that failed, I attempted to settle for loving and admiring her with the notion that she would reciprocate that love towards me, her younger sister. She did not. She was now no longer around to feel bitter towards, at least in this timeline.
Tam was just one of the bad business decisions Sylvie made. He may have been the biggest.
Karma finally caught up to Terra, in the end. Something out in the void must have looked down on us and winced, saying, “well now they’ve just gone too far, we can’t let this happen any longer.”
Terra had become the Las Vegas of the solar system, not that I should know what Las Vegas stood for in the old world. It was too far in the past, and I never liked history.
In any words, it was the planet of debauchery, the kind of place that upstanding humans or Mars and Titan and Europa look at and shudder. Sylvie and I were both conceived in orgies, though that alone isn’t horrifying. Still, we passed the line of free love, another concept I should know nothing about, and went farther. Too far. We broke lines in every way. Sylvie’s friends were surprised to hear that she and I had never had sex.
Terra was the kind of planet that grandparents told horror stories about. It was the kind of planet that teachers had thinly-veiled disgust for. It was the kind of planet that parents forbidded their children from visiting, the kind of planet that the children eagerly shipped to as soon as they had the means. They were stunned and titillated, and reviled by Terrans as poor and stupid, and leave because they could no longer afford to stay.
So: we deserved the earthquakes scheduled to devour us.
I do not know why the Powers That Be were so surprised. We were wealthy and bored. The combination leads to any and everything.
Tam flicked my clit with his tongue and I let out another breathy moan. I heard a throaty laugh from between my legs. “You’re beautiful, Sylvie,” he murmured, “beautiful.”
One of the people that refused to leave behind their wealth was Annamaria Abbott. She was aged, already 103, but still beautiful. Her villa was plated with gold and encrusted with jewels. Her family had lots of time and money on their hands.
She may not have been a good woman by any standards, but when I was young, she often called at our house. She would bring Sylvie and I a box of cookies with gold flake in the flour and compliment me for listening so well. She will remain in her manse surrounded by all she could not bring and she will think it good.
The earthquakes will shatter the china and topple the statues and her multitudes of glass chandeliers will fall to the ground. Perhaps she dies in this wanton chaos. Then her home will fall into one of the opening cracks in the earth’s surface. Perhaps she dies there.
Karma, you see, is a strange thing.
I met Tam through Annamaria Abbott. (See, I had a reason for telling that story.) Tam was a Titanic laborer at the Abbott home, helping to redo the gardens and then upkeep them. I ran into him on a visit to Mrs. Abbott to deliver a cake and some news.
He was very pleasant, polite, but he had a snap in his hazel eyes that led me know he had fight in him, drive. It didn’t take long before, at my request, he told me an utterly unfunny Titanic joke.
“That’s horrible,” I told him.
“I know,” he grinned.
And somehow, I understood what he meant! I was young, and he was the first person that I ever really made a connection with. The void informed me that in one universe he was a hand-to-mouth comedian, in another an architect. A teacher, a cashier, a freelance editor of semi-pornographic literature. There were plenty of timelines where he was a complete deadbeat. Tam was kind, smart, funny, with a non-Terran propensity for monogamy. I was in love.
He was far from perfect, of course. He had no vision of a better life for himself. He had trouble speaking Terran, preferring a New Athens dialect from his childhood. He had a Titanic inclination to get roaringly, hilariously, blindingly drunk. Terrans, meanwhile, preferred getting politely intoxicated or completely stoned. But none of this mattered. Love is a strange thing.
I started taking him out. The money didn’t mean anything to me, not like it did to him, and I loved getting time alone with him. He was his family’s third son, the fifth out of six children, and there were no jobs for him in New Athens. He had bypassed Europa and Mars and gone straight to Terra. It didn’t surprise me. The most attractive laborers were sent to us.
I told him about my own childhood, which had scarcely ended. He loved hearing stories about my utopic youth, about playing hide and seek in the hanging gardens, about food engineered to have the caloric content of sand so that we could eat so much of it. My sex life: the casual sexuality disgusted and intrigued him.
He was a virgin when he arrived. It took a month for him to become deflowered, three for him to be plunged into the pool of possibility.
It was too much for him, I think. Titanics clung to the old religion and he was some sort of monotheist. He was repulsed by some of the things he saw.
“I didn’t believe any of this,” he confided in me one night after I took him to the top of an artificial hill to stargaze. “It was too insane. I thought that the stories were lies, we all did.”
“Will they call you a liar, too?” I asked.
“Probably. I’ll be Ol’ Man Kalivas, sitting on top of someone’s roof and telling crazy stories to the kids. My sisters will tell their kids to stay away from crazy Uncle Tam.” He laughed as if enjoying the vision of the future, but it trailed off too quickly.
“Alexia…” He had sighed, and I had heard a bang of a gun somewhere in his future. I shuddered.
He spoke again. “God must hate us. Here on Terra.” He said it with certainty and trepidation, and I didn’t object.
We watched the sky, where through layers of smog, Titan hovering 8.5475 AUs away.
I’ve always loved the term AU, by the way. It stands for Astronomical Unit, the distance between Terra and Sol A, but also for Alternate Universe, where I believe I get my premonitions from.
I told Sylvie about Alternate Universes before, and she understood what I was trying to explain, but saw it as just another chance to debate philosophy.
“Tam,” I cried, pleasure searing through me.
“Come for me, Sylvia,” he whispered. “God, you’re beautiful.”
Tam’s younger sister Emery would be 18 when she died.
She would die in the birth of her second child. Things like that are commonplace. Her last request would be to name the child Tamsen, after her older brother that had gone to Terra and never come back. She loved math and dreamed of one day walking through a real forest.
Terrans and Martians do not have gods, for the most part. We were our own gods here on Terra, and on Mars they casually mention being something or other or belonging to this or that temple, but real belief in a higher force is far between.
Out on Europa, they developed the first post-Terra pantheon. I am told it is fairly fanatical and considered insane by the rest of the human colonies (except for the always-dying Io colony which treats it with respect and even jealousy). They worship Sol A, which is more like a large star out where they are.
Titan, though, is where they hold on to the old religions the most. Out there, things almost resemble the way that things were a long time ago in the old world. Titanics were the strongest of us all, in a way.
I would never be able to rule out the possibility of a God, or gods, or even of Sol A being one of the Powers That Be. I like to believe that I am not a hypocrite. Perhaps for this reason, Tam and I could get along.
Tam would have to be insane to mention his beliefs to Sylvie, but mention them he did. She didn’t even bother to debate philosophy with him, instead laughing vicariously and walking away with a flip of her golden hair.
I made my first prediction at the age of eight. The junior vice president of Terra was visiting Calgary for a meeting about technology. I screamed to my family that we had to stop him, we had to stop him or he would die, and was summarily sent to to my room. He was assassinated by a Moralist insurgent five hours afterwards.
After that, my family looked at me harder, stranger, as if trying to make me reveal the secrets that even I didn’t know. Sylvie accused me of being a Moralist, and wouldn’t stop no matter how much I got upset.
“Morie, Morie,” she changed in a taunt.
I finally hit her, a strong punch to the stomach, and she yelped, “you’re mean, Lex!”
“You’re meaner than me!” I retorted, lashing out again. I was supposed to know how to take this, how to stay calm. But she always got under my skin. She was magic that way.
She punched me then, in the left eye, and then our grandmother had to pull us apart. We didn’t speak for a week.
Titanic was also the name of a boat that sank, a thousand years ago. We really should’ve forgotten about it by now, but it remains a popular story. Everyone loves a good destructo film.
Most of its remains have disintegrated by now, at the bottom of the expanded Ocean Terranus. What wasn’t lost forever was brought up from the bottom by an expedition of rich Terrans seven hundred years ago. Its remains have been auctioned off to private collections. Full fathom five…
And yet, we remember it. We forget Mark Antony and Toyotomi Hideyoshi, Henry Tudor and Harriet Tubman. But we recall the Titanic.
Tam pulled himself up and I felt his length between my legs. Then he pushed forward and I moaned again.
He moaned too and I wasn’t sure if I felt enough like Sylvie but I don’t think he cared anymore.
I was the first person that Dr. Stephenson called after she checked the verity of what I said.
“Fuck you, Alexia,” she sighed.
I gasped. “Does that mean—“
“Of course it means you were right! Did you really expect not to be?”
“No. But I was hoping…”
She hung up the phone and left me alone in the large house. Grandmother was out. Mother was out. Sylvie was out with Tam.
Slowly, I sank to the floor to register what I had just heard, what I had know for a long time now. Terra was going to be destroyed. The cradle of human civilization, the richest and happiest out of all the planets—it was going to be wiped away completely in a sea of vengeful earth and fire. And I had predicted it. I felt as though I had been the one to call all of this destruction down. I knew it was wrong to think that—I had saved so many lives. But still—if I just hadn’t said anything—then maybe nothing would have happened.
I threw up right there and then was overtaken by a vision of an Alternate Universe, where the marble floor suddenly cracked under me, a path opening up to the very center of the earth, and then I fell in. I was jerked back into the real world, the perfect stone glistening all around me, and I threw up again and was sucked into a universe where Tam rushed in at that moment and helped me to the bathroom and held my hair back as I vomited. Then I jerked out of that one, as well, and was simply lying alone on the floor in my own sick.
Dr. Stephenson called the authorities next and then a planet-wide evacuation was announced over InstaClick and Songbird and television and even the old radio system that was practically obsolete. There was a mass panic. There was widespread disbelief. But no one could look away from the facts that were presented simply (and over Songbird, anything was true), and fear strikes deep.
The seismic issues would leave the Americas untouched, for the most part—at least down in the endless fields of wheat that provided food to so many of the people on Terra and on Terran colonies. They would only swallow the Mainland, where so much of Terra’s population was concentrated, living out their days in perpetual bliss. It’s hard to argue against the existence of karma sometimes.
Dr. Stephenson pointed out the strangeness of this when she appeared on the Terra Messenger a few days after the disaster had been announced. “This doesn’t follow any known patterns,” she complained. “It’s insane—almost as if the earthquakes are trying to leave our cropfields untouched. I don’t pretend to be humble—I’m one of the best minds in my field. But I can’t get my head around this. None of us can.”
The second of the three guests on the show, a champion elephant racer from Astana, laughed derisively. “They’ve got it all wrong then,” he declared, “might as well eat all of that corn and leave us with what we’ve got.”
“Who is ‘they?’” the host asked.
“Oh, whatever,” the elephant racer said, waving his hand dismissively, “it doesn’t matter who ‘they’ is, just that this is unfair. Who even cares about all that wheat? We can get that back! We can’t get back the art. The architecture. The culture, stars, the culture—at the very best, we’re leaving civilization in the hands of a few educated Martians. This solar system can’t survive without us.”
Dr. Stephenson had a look on her face like she was smelling something very bad, as most Martians did around Terrans. I just hoped that this show didn’t broadcast out on Europa. They’d murder whatever refugees came to them after the quakes destroyed what we have. Nevertheless, Dr. Stephenson plowed onwards. “We need to make the necessary evacuations to the Americas, or offworld. It’s imperative that everyone makes plans. The future is nearly upon us. It’s time to move forward.”
The show collapsed into argument and I shut off the television. Sylvie scoffed behind me. “Just like you. You never could face the future.”
She had her golden, inebriated glare focused on me and I shook my head. “You still think this is my fault?”
“You certainly haven’t been acting very upset,” she accused.
I opened my mouth to shout but Tam, who had had his arm around Sylvie for at least five hours now, stood and spoke before I could. “Alexia. Don’t do this.”
I wanted to ask how any of this, any of this was my fault, but Tam had always been the thing that calmed me, that brought me back, that convinced me I was wrong, and I wasn’t going to fight him.
“Let’s go out,” he said to the two of us. “Come on. One last time.”
His voice caught on ‘last’ and I could tell that he was close to breaking down. I sighed, nodding in agreement. But Sylvie was just glaring at him. “I need to think,” she spat. “You go if you want to. Have fun partying.”
Tam looked heartbroken, but Sylvie turned and breezed out of the room before he could say anything. I pulled him outside, and he followed, his hand limp and warm in my grasp. “To the hill?” I asked.
“Let’s go,” he agreed, softly, grabbing another bottle.
Laurel Watts is another person who will flee Terra. He will end up on Europa after a long and disgusting odyssey. Words cannot describe his disappointment, his horror, that he had ended up on Terra’s trash heap after living a mere forty years in heaven. The people there are filthy and backwards. The buildings are falling down, the only one in any sort of good repair being the temple to Sol A, and Laurel cannot imagine entering it. The people are cruel and he is robbed blind at least five times in his first week.
A kind family by the name of Ko takes him in. They convince him to try to get a job. They treat him well and leave him alone. The father of the family, Luka Ko, tries to educate him about how to survive on Europa and how to be a good person. Luka is kind and helpful and has only the best intentions.
Fawke Ko is not beautiful by Terran standards but on Europa, she is something at least, and she catches Laurel’s eye. Laurel does not know how to contain himself and when Luka finds out what Laurel has done nothing can stop him from killing Laurel in his rage. No one can find a way to convict Luka.
In the end, our sins catch up to us. There is not much that we can do. Karma is a funny thing.
Tam fell in love the second time with the telescope that we went to when trying to spot Titan. It was strong, high-quality. Only the best for Terra.
He was surprised when I drove him not towards the bright lights of the city, but towards the dimmer lights of the parks and hills and gardens. He was even more surprised when I drove even past that, to where the lights became few and far between, at least an hour. I’m pretty sure he thought I was going to murder him, but his Titanic politeness and deference to Terrans stopped him from saying anything. In a different universe, my sources told me, this would end with us consummating what we had under the stars. Perhaps I was hoping for that. I have learned not to trust what I tell myself anymore.
In any case, I led him to the top of the hill, to where there was a telescope. It cost a few coins to use, not too much, and I fed in the money and then watches as the telescope came online.
“Try it,” I told him.
He gave a brief laugh, staring back and forth between me and the stars and the telescope, and then bent to stare into it, up at the stars. He immediately jerked his head back, and gave another laugh deeper. “Alexia—this is—this is—”
“I know,” I said, unable to keep the frantic giggles out of my voice. I wanted him to be happy. I wanted to make him happy.
Tam stared again, and then started moving the telescope back and forth, guiding it towards the gibbous moon and Alpha Centauri and Mars and where Saturn would have been if it hadn’t been for the light pollution.
I could’ve watched the stars myself, I’m sure it would’ve been a character-building experience, but instead I just watched him. The way that his face would move, grinning, grinning wider, the smile dropping off as he considered the vastness of the universe, and then grinning again.
I watched his form, the way that his slim neck bent like a willow, the way that its curve led perfectly into his back, strong and lean. His skin, olive-toned and rough, with obvious knots from stress and physical output. His arms, muscular and almost scared as they gripped the telescope, like if he wasn’t grabbing onto it, it would float off and he would never get a chance to look into space again. His legs, firm and strong, and his ass, small and shapely. There was a certain rhythm to his body, a music.
He looked for the hour that we had paid for, and then I quietly paid for a second hour. When that was over, we lay back on the hill, genetically engineered to have soft grass, and looked up at the sky.
“I didn’t know that there were so many stars out there!” he told me, laughter still in his voice.
“I know!” I exclaimed, and realized that both of us came from homes with high light pollution and no way to see into space! Every single commonality we shared—a favorite color, a favorite music, a favorite hairstyle—made me excited.
“But you found a way! You can see everything! Does that just magnify the sky, or does it connect to a space station or something?”
I was forced to admit that I didn’t know and then was hit with a flash of an Alternate Universe. I was sitting in some sort of hall, a classroom maybe, looking at an image on a screen. It was what appeared to be a space station and I knew that it was the best space station Terra had created yet—when was I?—and then my class saw a set of images taken by that space station.
I looked at Tam and caught a glimpse of a universe where we were together. He was driving this time, out to this same hill, but we wearing a strange gold skin and had glares on our faces. He turned a little to spit something at me and I slapped him and he put his eyes back on the road.
I forced those thoughts out of my head and didn’t let myself think about who Tam was in other universes: sometimes cruel, sometimes tired and hopeless. I didn’t let myself think about who Tam was here: naive, crude, infatuated. I didn’t let myself think about the future, where being with him would be insane. I focused on Tam right now, tonight, in this moment: his hair rustling in the wind and his lips curved into a youthful beam, his brown-gray eyes staring down at me and twinkling, and how nice it would be to kiss him right now.
I raised to my tiptoes and moved to kiss him.
Our lips touched. It was rather tasteless, boring. His lips were soft. Sparks ran through me.
I lowered myself to the ground. His eyes were wide, he did not look as though he cared for what had just happened. But starstruck, too; he looked as though a god had reached down and spoken with him, only it was a god that he didn’t believe in. He looked like he would be up for more if I wanted it.
I felt warmth spreading through me and I turned on my heels, confident that he would follow. He did, stumbling as he tried to catch up, and I knew that we had something.
Another premonition shot through me. That I should not introduce him to Sylvia.
And Sylvia, and Sylvie, where she will go and what she will do? Sylvie will evacuate to Mars, and become a self-made model with the glorious power to back up her glorious beauty. Sylvie will make her way to Titan and marry the magistrate and then assassinate him so that she becomes the governor. Sylvie will go to Europa and become a high-class whore, but not high enough, so she catches a transport back to Mars and then to Terra, a transport ship only for the richest and most important.
And Sylvie, and Sylvie, she is a million things, she is a singer and a businesswoman, she is a trophy wife and she is murdered. She will stay on Terra and be killed. She will stay on Terra and find her way across the ocean to the great cornfields and Moralist center of Topeka. She will somehow survive the earthquakes because Sylvie is our golden girl, the perfect woman to anyone that knows her, she is my goddess, even I cannot deny that. The bond of sisterhood runs deep. She is my older sister, and nothing will stop me from idolizing her just a little bit.
I want to wish her the best in life. I want to hope that she survives.
I don’t think that I can forgive her.
Tam’s hands were tight on my shoulders and his movements were smooth, gliding. I was shuddering and I could feel his muscles tighten. He was close.
“Yes, Sylvie, yes,” he said, his voice loud and shaking and out of control, “God, yes...this is what I mean…”
I imitated Sylvie’s laugh, my stomach and core clenching sporadically. It felt good, so good, like fire but different—
“Let’s go all the way,” Tam begged, “let’s get away from here, I’ll take you anywhere, anywhere, let’s just do this together—”
He gasped suddenly and I felt him climax. I screamed with him and then I heard him give a low chuckle. It was dark. I couldn’t see him, just feel him above me. I wished that my nose was more pointed, by cheekbones higher, just in case he noticed something was wrong, that I knew he wanted to abandon me..
He didn’t. “Come with me,” he sang, “just you and me.”
Tam fell in love the third time with Sylvie.
Silly me. All of my sources warned me not to let the two of them in the same room together. They warned me that she would ruin everything. She would ruin what Tam and I had. She would ruin the fragile relationship that we had built for ourselves out of glass and string and the tiny bones of birds. And Tam—she would ruin him, too, utterly and completely. She would destroy him, body, mind, and soul, destroy everything that he was.
Tam, you see, may have been strong in his body and maybe even in his mind but his soul, which only he believed in, was weak.
I drove him back home one night, that was how it happened, and we were talking and I was saying something as we walked in the door but he didn’t respond. I had been leading him towards the upstairs, perhaps trying to imply that he could fuck me if he wanted to. I’m sure that he noticed. I’m ashamed of my conduct, looking back. I was such a Terran.
He didn’t respond to what I was telling him, and I looked and him and saw his gaze fixated on something in the distance, like a sailor watching a lighthouse, and I turned and saw Sylvie. I remember exactly how she looked: she stood at the top of the marble stairs wearing a gossamer gown, bronze and steel colored, shimmery and see-through. Her golden hair was loose, flowing down her arms. Her eyes were disdainful, glimmering, and her smile was predatory as she looked down at us. Of course she noticed Tam. Who wouldn’t?
He was surprised, perhaps, that such a golden creature could be in my house. He had probably gotten used to me, just me, rather plain and tame by any standards. Sylvie ignored me and made eye contact with him. “Sylvia Monder,” she breathed, like a laugh and a sigh.
Tam knew his training well. He collapsed into a bow, and then rose, not daring to look up at Sylvie. “Tamsen Kalivas,” he introduced himself.
“Kalivas. You work with Annamaria, don’t you? From Titan?”
“Yes,” he admitted, his voice jittery.
“She was complimentary. Now I see why. What do you think of our planet so far?”
Tam looked terrified as he went over what would be the right answer here. “It’s amazing,” he decided finally, “there’s so many resources here, so many different things to do with your time, such a lack of inhibition...it’s not home, that’s for sure.”
“Well, we’ll just have to make it home,” Sylvie decided. “And what do you think of our home here?”
“It’s beautiful,” Tam assured her. “It’s rich, but tasteful. I like it a lot. My parents would flip—I mean, my parents would be amazed. To see this.”
She laughed at his Titanic lilt and slang and suddenly her eyes were no longer disdainful but friendly, warm, sultry. “I’m sure they would be,” she agreed. “And what do you think of me?”
Maybe Tam’s mouth went absolutely dry. I’m certain that mine did, and suddenly I was burning with anger and jealousy. Sylvie, always Sylvie...Sylvie gets the best things, Sylvie gets to be happy and special and meanwhile I’m hidden in my own room like a dirty secret!
“I don’t know you very well,” Tam said carefully, “but Alexia has been very complimentary. And you seem like a wonderful person.”
Her face went stormy as she regarded him and then she broke facade, grinning. “I like you,” she said. “Alexia’s finally brought home someone good.”
He laughed awkwardly and I turned and left the room. It was a few minutes before he joined me outside, under the perfectly black sky that had hidden the stars from us with all of the light and air pollution.
He had a dreamy look on his face and I could only sickly wonder what had happened between them. “You never told me that she was...like that,” Tam accused.
“I didn’t think you needed to know.”
“I didn’t. But I would’ve liked to. She’s...she’s…”
“She’s perfect,” I warned him. “Absolutely perfect. She’s Terran. She’s the best of us.”
“She’s really something,” Tam said, and by this point he wasn’t even paying attention to me.
I don’t know how Sylvie got him caught so well. I don’t know if she played unattainable until neither of them could stand it, or if their first time was that very night, two rooms away from me. I don’t know how she got him to fall in love—
No. I do. Who could resist loving Sylvie? Not even me.
I don’t know why she fell in love with him, is all.
I know that I was in love. But I was supposed to be the exception, the only Terran that could fall for Titanic trash. Sylvie was better than that. She was only supposed to make the smart moves, the strategic ones, and Tam was absolutely not strategic. He was effectively useless.
And yet, they persisted. Sylvie was considerate to him. She was even kind, at times.
She threw what they had in my face whenever she could. Maybe for some reason, she was trying to get back at me. I don’t know why. She could never be jealous of me, of anyone.
She didn’t love him.
At least, that’s what I tell myself.
I once had a dream that Sylvie and Tam were married. They were on Terra, a long time ago. They were both teachers and hated their jobs. They came home and yelled at each other and then made dinner in a microwave and laughed and kissed. I was their only child.
Ysolde Way is the daughter of the elephant trainer from Astana, though she will never know it, having been raised by her mother. She will flee to Mars. She marries into a Martian family, a good one, old blood, rich. Her husband will be ten years older than her, but handsome and good enough. She will have two children before things come tumbling down.
She is still a hot-blooded Terran, after all, if we know anything about Terrans it is that they can never adjust to anywhere else. How could we? We have seen paradise, touched it, kissed it, and then seen it torn away from us like a first-born child, not that we know the joy and love of parenthood as others do.
He throws her out and she deals with it. She marries the man she was seeing behind his back. It lasts less than three months, when she starts up another relationship. The cycle goes a few more times and then she is a black mark, a face that no one wants to see. She ends her days as little more than a whore, wondering how she got where she did.
I believe that I will run into her in my travels, if my travels end up existing. I do not know what I will say when I see her. I believe that we will fall into each other’s’ arms at the joy of seeing another Terran. Ironically, I doubt that I will love my planetmen until it is all over. Either this will happen, or I will be long gone, and unable to give what little comfort I can to my fellow dead.
In the end, all stories are the same.
After we went up that hill for the last time I could see that Tam was getting antsy. He wanted to go back. He was drunk. He needed Sylvie.
Don’t let him, the voices told me. Don’t let him. Don’t go back. Run away. Never look behind yourself again. Get off this godforsaken world and do what you can to make a new life.
“We’ll all do this together,” Tam said without my prompting. “You, me, Sylvie. I can protect—ha, I don’t know why I still think that, you know? You can protect yourselves. And each other. And me. You’re amazing. Run away with us, Alexia.”
“Sylvie doesn’t want me there.” I hated to break the news to him.
“Yes, she does.”
It was funny how blind he was. “She doesn’t. But I appreciate that you want me there.”
“How could I not? You’ve always been my best friend here, Alexia.” He sounded like a little boy lost, his voice thick with alcohol. His paradise that he had only recently found was being obliterated, how could he not? Which one of us was losing more? I had been born here, but I hated it, and I had always been used to it. He had only come here recently, he had only just tasted what he could have had, but he had always known that it would end somehow.
Don’t bring him back, take him away from this place, end it—
“Let’s not go back,” I told him.
“You mean, stay out here?”
“No. Come with me. Let’s just drive. We have twenty-four hours, we can go anywhere—”
I stopped because he was laughing.
“You’re a genius, Alexia,” he chuckled. “Let’s see everywhere we haven’t. And then we can fly away.” “You’re making fun of me.”
“I’m not. But I can’t leave Sylvia. We can’t leave her. Come on, Alexia. You’re not thinking straight. Let’s go.”
I’m the one not thinking straight? I wanted to ask. He started down the hill and I couldn’t help but follow. I hated myself with every step of the way but I couldn’t leave him.
Don’t let him go don’t let him go—
“Come on. Let’s go home.” He laughed again. “Home. I guess I’m crazy.”
“I’m sorry,” I whispered. I didn’t know if he could hear me.
Don’t let him don’t let him don’t let him—
The voices got louder and louder with every moment we drove towards home and then I could see flashes of the future—a knife, a gun—screams, shouts—home—
What was home?
“Yes,” I said, trying to imitate my sister’s voice.
“No. No.” I could hear the epiphany hitting him and it made me sick. And yet it was pleasurable at the same time. Look what you’ve done, I wanted to taunt, you wanted Sylvie but no one ever has Sylvie, you fucking monster, you killed my sister and I hope that you hurt—
But I didn’t want him broken or in pain. I wanted him whole. I wanted him to be happy and free. I wanted him to fly.
“I’m sorry,” I said.
When we got home and walked inside it smelled like whiskey. Sylvie was on the stairs. She had been drinking too much for even her, and it showed. For once, she didn’t seem perfect. I could actually see that she was broken up by the future destruction of our home. Her eyes were red. Tam ran to her, taking her in his arms.
But she pushed him a way and I saw that more importantly, she was broken up by the fact that Tam had gone with me. “Get away,” she hissed. “What do you know?!”
He was incorrigible when he was drunk, so he insisted on hugging her tighter. She slammed her fists into his chest, pushing him back several feet. She was strong. “You’re useless!” she screamed. “You’ve got a home to go back to! You’re just going to leave us behind! You don’t know what we’re losing!”
“Sylvie!” he yelled back, because he was drunk and this was how he acted towards her. His blood was hot, pumped up by Sylvie’s anger. I knew how it felt. When she was mad at me I couldn’t control myself, I wanted to attack back. “Don’t you dare talk to me like that!”
“Oh, why not?!” she was crying now. “You’ve been using us from the first moment you got here!”
“Tam—Sylvie—” I tried to interrupt.
They both turned on me. “Get out!”
Get out—get out—said the voices—get out—get out—you’ll die—
Or they’ll die—it’s them or you—
I chose me.
I heard some screams. I heard a shot.
I didn’t go to check.
I was afraid. I was hateful.
Karma is a funny thing.
The Moralist party arose over a hundred years ago when it became obvious that Terra was not going to fix itself. They were at first a voice of reason trying to convince people that we needed to change our ways. They became increasingly militant as people did not, carrying out semi-successful coups and assassinations. They gained a foothold in Omaha before being ousted by the government of the United North America, then centralized in Topeka.
They will remain in place, making North and then finally all of the Americas a Moralist stronghold. They will try to spread to other planets before finding out that those planets don’t really need them. I cannot see how they warp Terra in the future, but I do not think it will be good. Not that I really have anything to say about it. My view is biased.
Incidentally, July 22, 4099 will not be a Thursday. Not that it matters very much.
I lay in bed alone, wanting to cry. I needed to follow Tam. But I couldn’t make myself. I hated him too much. He made the wrong choice, long ago when he met Sylvie. He made the wrong choice when he came to Terra and when he integrated into our society. He made the wrong choice when he shot my sister.
I hated her. I should be glad. I should’ve shot her myself, long ago. But filial love goes a long way. Only I have the right to hurt my sister, only she has the right to hurt me. And Tam broke both of those rules.
I still loved him, maybe, or at least I wanted to love him. I wanted to escape with him and pretend that none of this ever happened. I wanted to pretend that we were two new people just meeting today, on the last day of the world. I was scheduled to board a ship. So was he. We had to get out of here.
It was 4 in the morning. One last day. I began to push myself out of bed, away from the scattered pillows and the imprints of my body on the mattress.
I heard a bang outside.
I heard something falling. Someone.
I heard the body hit the ground.
I heard the echo of the bullet on the marble entrance hall outside.
My body felt like it was being weighed down, or maybe it was simply weightless, like I was floating in space. I jumped up and sprinted outside, banging open the door. The house was empty save for me. I was alone.
Tam was on the ground. His blood was forming a small pool around his head like a halo.
“No. No!” the cry ripped from me and then I knew I was a monster.
What do I do with the bodies?!
Rainy Yan is a pilot of one of the rockets that evacuates people from Terra. He is from Mars as well and can’t help but despise all Terrans. Nevertheless, he will do his job. He is not a murderer.
I believe that I am a murderer. I have killed the two people that are integral to my life. Tam is gone; Sylvie is gone.
All that remains is to try and tell the stories of the dead.
I regarded the gun. It was smoking slightly.
Karma is a funny thing.
In the end our sins consume us. Tam was too good for this world.
No. If he was too good, he never would’ve gotten caught up with me and Sylvie. He was bad enough to be eaten by Terran culture annd just good enough to feel guilt.
I felt nothing. Not that I expected to.
Except. I felt strangely alone. Empty. Sylvie was a part of me. Despite everything, Tam was a part of me. What was I supposed to do without them? How was I supposed to move on without them? How could I leave them behind?
Don’t tell me I’m selfish. I know I’m selfish. I know I’m a monster.
In the end, don’t monsters deserve a bit of relief? A bit of certainty? A bit of kindness?
For once, the voices were silent. I needed their guidance more than ever. But I didn’t want it.
Sol A rose on the last of the world—of my world.
It was yellow and hazy through the smog in the sky. It was slightly covered by a film of clouds. It was like the center of an opening flower.
Despite the destruction of Terra, Sol A would always be there, in some form. It would always endure. Someone would always have a memory of it.
That would have to be enough.
Hawkebat: Playing both Kotor I & II and Swtor I found the story line interesting and it held me until chapter 35 Very good story and plot flow until then, very few technical errors. I felt that the main character was a bit under and over powered, as it fought for balance. The last few chapters felt too f...
Laraine Smith: My only suggestion on the grammar is to use www.grammarcheck.net. I have it bookmarked on Google Chrome. I see myself in the determination in this beautiful story! I have Cerebral Palsy, and I have dreams that I have been working hard for, too! The humor made me laugh!
spooky jedi: Love your story!I really hope more people read this story!Its amazing!! The plot is very unique and different, which is very good to have in a world full of stories. You have very complex and intellectual plot line, with your many loveable character and that hint of 'will they, won't they' is ju...
christylynnr5: This was beyond amazing! I loved this book. The characters seemed so real. It was amazing how the author let Zak and Kaylees personalities slowly change. This story was very sad and eye opening. It could teach some people a very worthy lesson. It was a great combination of romance, mystery, and a...
allisonflin: Without a doubt the most well written story that I have read on this site. Informative, discriptive, well punctuated. Then we have the story itself, which by the way I am waiting on the edge of my seat for part two of, the characters are more than likeable, you feel them and their emotions...
Ding Fernando: very nice read.so realistic you can hardly put it down,i really like the character so human despite posessing immortality and eternal youth.though i would prefer a better ending..i still love this novel and i am recommending it to all sci fi fans to give it a try .you will love it too!!
re8622: The Last Exodus quickly grabbed my attention. Almost as soon as I started reading the story, I couldn't put it down. I found that the ideas the author put forth were very thought provoking given the turmoil we have seen gradually rise over the last several years. I felt that I could understand th...
snowview03: This is the first book I have read on this app and I loved it! When I read the title I thought about the hunger games, but this novel is so much more. Some book have a comparison between other books that fallow like premises so i will do my own: Arena has the compellingly emotional stresses and t...