This story is by Raghav and was part of our 2018 Spring Writing Contest. You can find all the writing contest stories here.
The blue planet has turned grey, covered by dust and toxic gases in the atmosphere. Carbon, Di Oxide level, has increased high which made everyone carry Oxygen cylinders while going out. Half of Lake Superior has dried. Mississippi river is completely dry for more than 36 years. Many countries lack adequate drinking water. There were quite a few wars between neighboring nations for just water and had caused a major catastrophe to environments as well as governments. Both Pacific and Atlantic Oceans now carry more than a Quintillion Tons of Plastic and this year, the volume of plastic substances exceed the volume of aquatic species. World Health Organization has declared that Earth is not a suitable place for living six years back.
There are two things in the universe which do not have a limitation or boundaries. Cosmos and Human Greed. Humans have started exploring living conditions in the nearby planets. Mars is the planet that all the countries have agreed to explore (and exploit). Ice caps were discovered in Mars, about ten years ago that lead to the possibility of vegetation. Seeds were transported carefully from Svalbard Global Seed Vault in Norway to Mars through climate-controlled Rovers. There is a mass exodus of people from Earth to Mars. Only people with more money can afford to move to Mars.
Elizabeth searched for Humans on Mars on her iPad. She had configured her iPad to get little more than minimal news. Elizabeth finished reading the personalized news section that summarized humans on Mars. She is about 92 years old living a small town Quincy, IL. Elizabeth’s only daughter lives in Chicago and Elizabeth has two granddaughters.
Elizabeth asked her personal Robot Genie.
“Hey, Genie? Do you consider me migrating to Mars? I know that it is expensive to spend millions of Dollars for a person to move? New private space shuttles even cost more! “
“Hello, Liz. You can take Edward Space Shuttle. That is cheaper and charge you only 20 million dollars for yourself. You can move to Mars and see how the Red planet is. You have enjoyed the VRs of all famous astrophysicists from Albert Einstein to Neil De Grasse Tyson. You are interested in Cosmos. You will be amazed to see how the Red Planet is. Don’t you?” Genie asked with a grin on its face.
“No Genie. I know you are too smart to read my interests and my reads. But you still don’t read human feelings. I don’t have 20 million dollars. I have only 5 million. You know, I don’t want my daughter to spend the huge money on me. She is young, having two kids and she should have the money to live for next five or six decades. Instead of me going to Mars, they are the ones who should be on Mars. I am a dead weight, you know?” Elizabeth said with a sigh.
“Oh, Come on Liz! You are not dead weight. You are an interested astronaut who explained your granddaughters and your friends on how the Cosmos and the Galaxies are. You have dreamt about being in a Worm Hole and made a VR about that to so many people. “
“Mom. Are you still talking to Genie?” Elizabeth’s daughter Nicole entered her room. Nicole lives in Chicago with her daughters.
“Hey, Nic. Come on in! Yeah, I was talking to Genie, and she was suggesting me to come to Mars along with you and the kids. I had told you before. I am not coming to…”
“Mom, please stop that. You are coming along with us to Mars. What are you going to do here Mom? The whole Earth is hell now. There is a scarcity of water, oxygen, food and what not. And you know what, there are many rules framed in Mars by human beings that no one should misuse and pollute Mars. Everyone agreed to abide by these rules. Otherwise, they will be kicked out of Mars by Robots, and they can’t come back. I am still looking for extra money or to check for any other space shuttle who will send all the 4 of us to Mars. We should be leaving soon. Leave your feeling for the World Mom. “
Nicole stopped for a second, and her voice modulation completely changed when she uttered her next sentence.
“Mom….. I don’t want to leave you here and go there. You are the only person I have after John. I love you, mom. I love you! ” Nicole was sobbing, and her tears flow down her cheeks. She came and hugged Elizabeth which made Elizabeth’s eyes wet. John was her late husband who died due to Lung Cancer – Pollution Driven Lung Cancer.
“You are a very strong girl, Nic! Don’t cry like a small kid. Sometimes you have to take bitter decisions. Don’t feel about it! Everything will be alright, I know Mars will be a good place for you and your kids. Not for me. I have seen the good and the bad on Earth. I grew up here, and I like this small town, Quincy. My life has to stay here. And I tell you, don’t think of taking me there. I don’t want to go there.”
“Mom, you are coming with me. Alright? No more excuses and no more talks. Ok?”
“Oh, baby. I need some more time to decide on this Nic.”
“No Mom. No more time. Enough of waiting, I will arrange for the extra money in a week, and then I will take you on the next space shuttle. You are coming with me to Chicago on tomorrow. We have a lot more that is starting on next week. “. Her watch made a buzzing sound that she had to leave.
“Alright, mom, I got to go now. I will talk to you later. “
“Alright Honey. I will have an answer for you when you come back by tomorrow.”
“That’s good Mom. I will come back by tomorrow then. Get all the stuff that you need. ”
Nicole started traveling back to Chicago. She came to Quincy, IL to tell Elizabeth that she wanted Elizabeth to move to Mars.
But Elizabeth had some other plan in mind.
Elizabeth knew that her life on Mars would be very tough to live, she has seen the Blue planet turn from Green to Grey. She has gone for kayaking and river cruises on River Mississippi and now it is all barren and empty. Camping in Wisconsin along the coast of Lake Michigan and Lake Superior is something that Elizabeth may not find in the rest of the planets in the Cosmos. She does not want to go to Mars. She now has to take a tough decision of either living on Mars or living in the polluted earth which will make her live only a few years. She now thought of the third choice that she had.
She had finally decided. All she needed was some fresh air. She got up from her bed. She came downstairs to her living room. She turned off Genie. She was about to open the door of her house. The oxygen cylinder was there in the door to remind that to wear that outside anytime anyone goes. It is a federal law that one has to wear the Oxygen cylinder when going out.
She remembered everything that she enjoyed with the nature of her childhood years. How she had played in the parks in swings and slides, how she sweated and toiled herself in her school Basket Ball games which happened in days and nights. The camping that she went to Yellowstone, the warm beaches of Florida, beautiful Europe, India, and Egypt. Yes, she had decided and opened the door with a heavy heart.
She decided to choose the third choice. This is the best bad decision that she had taken in her entire life. With all the feelings, she went outside, and she enjoyed the air, warmth, light, and breeze in the air. Yes, this is the world that she had been enjoying all the days since childhood since this catastrophe happened. She also suddenly remembered Nicole and her grandkids. Tears came down her eyes.
“Nic, I told you. You will have an answer when you come back on tomorrow. You will understand my choice! ”
After a few seconds, her alveoli in lungs were filled with Carbon Di Oxide, Arsenic and other toxic gases from the atmosphere. Her brain started losing Oxygen. The Oxygen cylinder was still in the door frame. She chose not to take the Oxygen cylinder when she came out.
She fell by grabbing the ground and said “Good Bye, my dear friend Earth.” She was braindead in next few minutes!!!