"Did they know anything?"
"No, not a clue. Yet somehow they survived the
impossible. We wouldn't be here if they hadn't."
"Was Earth beautiful?"
"I've seen the ancient documents. Compared to
almost everything, it seems right, even though I was born long
after the Great Journey. Yes, it is very beautiful."
"Wish it was still here."
"You aren't the only one. We all do. But back to
the topic at hand, class, please turn to the holo and pay
attention, this is the only documentary we will be seeing today and
the most important we may ever see."
The display lit up and a soft glow illuminated the
room. A grizzled face appeared, worn by troubles that no human
should ever need to endure. Green letters flashed a few
File Name: A Testament to
Entered By: Luca P.
"I suppose I should tell you why we
are where we are today, call it a documentary of what inspired me,
if you will. The record needs to be strait so that I---or what
really happened---don't become lost in the churning sands of time
or, worse, become what I was not.
what drove me, was just a family camping trip, nothing more than
that. I was in what I think was a typical American family,
certainly not a group of prophets, and I doubt we were sent by God
or whatever higher power you may believe in. There wasn't a thing
that differentiated us from anyone else. I was the typical kid back
then; comics and movies and video games were all that really
concerned me during that magical time between the enslaving school
years of my childhood.
"My life changed nonetheless during
that trip. And the strangest thing of all was that it wasn't a
spectacular experience---so to speak---and certainly not some visit
by an otherworldly figure. To be honest with you, my family
probably never really even knew that I had been so deeply affected
during that trip.
"Or that it would influence the
future of the entire human race.
"But it was that trip that got me
where I am now and, looking around, I am unable---or unwilling---to
imagine what might have happened to mankind if my family hadn't
taken that trip. If I hadn't been so intensely impacted by
* * *
As you can imagine, the five hour drive into the
middle of nowhere was less than pleasant as our car cruised down
the highway past evergreen after evergreen after evergreen. I
personally think that it was a fairly typical ride.
"I'm hungry," my sister would
"We'll stop first chance we get,"
would be the reply.
"Ohh, look at those trees, they're
all so pretty!" My mom loved nature.
"How much longer? My butt is going
numb." I had to say something, after all.
"We'll get there when we get there,"
my dad would growl tersely.
"But how long?"
"About three hours."
And so on... you get the idea.
Personally, I think that my sister and I could've
driven a saint mad. My parents were no saints, so when we did
finally reach the middle of nowhere, well, they were more than a
tad irritated with us. But sadly---from my parents' point of view
anyway---it's nearly impossible to punish your kids when you're
stuck in a tiny clearing between the towering trees of the forest
in the middle of nowhere. It was like an alien landscape when
compared to the garish, overly stimulating city we called home. So,
naturally, my sister and I got off the hook with absolutely no
I scarcely remember that first night in the forest,
just that I was exhausted by the ride. I suppose we lit a huge fire
and roasted hot dogs and marshmallows and were literally bitten and
feasted upon by every known species of blood-sucking insects in
existence. After that, we probably all climbed into our respective
tents and collapsed, completely exhausted. We were so tired that we
didn't even have the energy to itch the bug bites. That may explain
my minor memory lapse.
What I do remember was being awoken by the chirping
of a thousand little birds hopping in the trees above our tents.
Bleary eyed and still tired, I huddled deeper into my sleeping bag
and tried to ignore their incessant clamor. They were worse than my
Mom, for Christ's sake! Don't take that the wrong way; I loved my
mother dearly, but whoever said that waking to birds chirping was
pleasant and sweet should have died a horrible death, like being
pecked to death by their stupid chirruping birds! Of course, now
that I look back on the trip, I wish that I had enjoyed the
chirping a little more than I did at the time.
Anyway, I eventually sat up and scooted to the door
of my tent, still enveloped in my warm cocoon. I unzipped the door
so that there was a hole large enough for my eye to peek
Breakfast was served! Overdone eggs,
just like home. The whole nature thing was wonderful. Being the
wonderful morning person I was back then, I unzipped the tent's
door the rest of the way and dragged my sorry self out into the
wild. Mumbling a semblance to "good morning," I snatched my eggs
and a piece of toast (I never was sure how it got toasted), crawled
back into my tent, zipped it tight and, curling back up into my
sleeping bag, ate them wholeheartedly in cozy warmth.
Going to the bathroom was another matter entirely. I
lasted maybe two hours after eating my breakfast before the call of
nature (no pun intended) became the scream of nature and was simply
too loud to ignore any longer. As instructed, I took the stupid
little shovel and danced (I really had to go) to behind some bushes
were did my duty with a sigh.
The rest of the day was actually fairly boring.
Nothing happened. It seemed worse than home at the time, although I
did finally beat a handheld game I had been trying beat for ages. I
felt pretty good about that. But then the batteries died and I got
That night, it happened. I'm not sure what
it was, but it happened. When the sky had transformed into
that infinitely deep swirling darkness known as the night sky, I
saw them. For the first time, I really saw them.
The stars. There were so many. Mere pinpricks of
light in an eternal vastness, innumerable, mesmerizing. Some of the
stars, I later learned, were actually other galaxies of hundreds of
thousands of stars so many lightyears away that they appeared no
different to us than the stars still within our galaxy or the
planets in our solar system. So mind boggling and phenomenal was
the sight that I can still envision it to this day.
And that was not all.
There was still the sky itself to appreciate. It was
so deep. I can't think of any other words to describe the
sensation of gazing up into that whirlpool of darkness. The sky was
like an abyss, continuing infinitely into... where? Where did those
tremendous eddies of dark and light end? Did they end? I didn't
know the answers to those questions at the time, so my suddenly
vivid imagination carried me far and wide, to places that were
spectacular and terrifying.
I'm sure you've all looked into the sky and seen the
stars. But have you ever seen them? Have you ever been so
far from civilization that the lights from humanity's cities no
longer dulled the mind numbing starscape above? I suppose that
isn't possible now. The population has grown too much, the cities
endless. The wilderness isn't what it once was, like when I was
young, before the population boom and the horrendous wars. If you
don't understand the majesty of what I'm talking about, then maybe
you never will. Maybe you can't perceive the enormity of the
universe, maybe you never can appreciate what I am saying. That is
a shame. The wonder of the night sky, the vastness and brilliance
of it is... more than I---or any writer, poet, whoever---can ever
adequately put into words without making a fool of the miracle they
had witnessed or a fool of themselves.
That sky had me in its clutches from then till now.
I am not sure how much time passed before I could tear my gaze from
that awe inspiring spectacle and look around at where my feet were
firmly planted, on the ground. On a pitiful little rock planet
called Earth. I remember looking at my family and having the notion
that my parents had been watching me stare, that they whispered
when I left. But I didn't care then and haven't since.
The trip was cut short due to an unexpected storm
front that formed above us virtually overnight. The tempest soon
became too fierce for my family. I remember leaving the next day,
as the first gusts jostled the trees and the first droplets of what
was to become a torrent soared down upon us from the vengeful
heavens above. I remember my disappointment as I stared out at the
small clearing through the distorting maze of rivulets winding down
the window. A tear had almost snaked down my cheek but was quickly
smothered by my palm.
I haven't seen the sky with such
clarity since, it was simply too much to ask of fate.
But I haven't forgotten.
* * *
"That brings me back
to the present.
"The planet is dying. The ice caps
are destroyed. Darkness blankets the world like a malignant coat.
By a cruel and twisted phenomenon, temperatures are dropping and
rising all at the same time. The Earth's flora have mostly died off
and it's fauna are quickly following their example. The dinosaur
catastrophe is a small matter when compared to the devastation
wrought on our planet now. Humanity can't live on Earth much
longer, almost nothing can. It is too late to change that. And
perhaps the death of Earth was inevitable. We can't ever know. Even
if we did, there's nothing we can do about it now, this late in the
"The most ironic thing of all
perhaps, is that we didn't do it. We did everything in our power to
stop it. It hadn't taken long before we realized that there was
nothing we could do, that we had discovered it too late. How tiny
"The planet was struck by a gigantic
meteorite with such force that its axis is constantly wobbling.
Volcanoes spewed lava soon after the impact, the mantle forced out
through any weak spots in the crust as the impact reverberated
through the planet'score. Our orbit became unstable and our planet
may be consumed by the fiery depths of Sol. No one really
knows---there isn't time to calculate it now. Either way, our
planet is and was destined for destruction.
"We humans did the best we could to
prepare for the impact, for Armageddon, but there wasn't much we
could do. There aren't many survivors. We think we've found them
all. If we haven't, then the best of luck to those still trapped in
the holocaust. Our hearts go out to them.
"I've stopping cursing every god
ever known but I sometimes still wonder how space, my beloved
starscape, could have sent us such death and suffering. It taken me
awhile for me accept that it was just luck of the draw and not
intentional. Many of the survivors have stopped praying, their
faith lost. Others have learned to accept what happened as unlucky
and not punishment; most of them still pray, thankful merely for
surviving the impact.
"I simply hope we don't come to a
worse fate than those already dead. I hope this documentary was
made for people to read, understand, that it doesn't disappear as
Strapped in his seat, Luca glances to his left, then
right. All of the capsules within sight were sealed and their
inhabitants in a sleep as deep as death itself. He rechecked the
ship's status, lightly tapping keys on a panel in front of him.
There was nothing left to do. He visibly forced himself to relax
and leaned back. Luca's fingers twitched nervously as they
tentatively ventured towards a button on the armrest. He swallowed
and pressed it. With a whoosh, the lid to the cryogenic
chamber closed. He breathed deeply and looked into the
"This was the last hope of mankind---five ships
like this one---ships I had started designing even before we knew
of the meteor tumbling for Earth. Each ship holds two hundred
thousand people of all ages and five thousands cats, dogs, horses,
and other animals that it seemed some simply couldn't live without.
They also carry vital equipment and documents, the entire recorded
history of our race and a complete encyclopedia all about Earth and
its wonders. My ships even contain historic artifacts that somehow
survived the initial destruction.
"I am proud, terrified, exhilarated. This is the
moment I have so unknowingly lived for since that innocent camping
trip. I---no, everyone---am going into that vast unknown I have
always wanted to reach.
"The universe is at my fingertips and there isn't a
thing to stop me. The swirling galaxies and rainbow nebulas that I
love so dearly are at last within reach. And somewhere in the
infinite grandeur and majesty of the universe, the pitiful remnants
of mankind will find another tiny rock planet similar to Earth. We
will start anew."
Luca's speech done, he closed his eyes and smiled,
ever so slightly, as he allowed himself to succumb to a profoundly
End of Document
The classroom went dark as the holo display
deactivated and no one made a move to switch on the lights. Never
had the class been so quiet. The inquisitive student from before
finally broke it.
"Did he make it?"
"No. No, he didn't," the teacher sighed sadly. "His
ship didn't even make it off the launch pad. That may be the
greatest tragedy of all."