A Starry Night

Reads: 827  | Likes: 0  | Shelves: 0  | Comments: 3

Status: Finished  |  Genre: Science Fiction  |  House: Booksie Classic

A class is watching a documentary narrated by a single man about his childhood and how it affected what he's done to save humanity.

"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 times.
Date: Censored
Document# 340,762,253,448
File Name: A Testament to Humanity
Priority: Vital
Entered By: Luca P. Jarowlsk
"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.
"My inspiration, 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 it."
* * *
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 moan.
"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."
"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 punishment whatsoever.
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 through.
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 bored again.
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 game.
"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 we felt.
"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 Earth did."
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 camera.
"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 deep sleep.

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."

Submitted: July 28, 2008

© Copyright 2023 Javelin. All rights reserved.

Add Your Comments:



Interesting and well enough written, however for my taste there were not enough new ideas, solid but not sparkling (for me).

Thu, August 28th, 2008 10:51am


I understand completely. This is more of a story I just thought would be fun to write and to practice my character development. I'm planning to post another one soon that will be more original conceptually. I'll let you know when I do so I can get your opinion.

Thanks for commenting!

Thu, August 28th, 2008 1:36pm

Maple Bowen

I liked it. But on the other hand, I agree with Tonant to a certain degree; I thought it had plenty of new ideas, except I thought it was "sparkling" enough. Good word choice, the writing flowed quite nicely, and I didn't notice any words spelled wrong... so overall give your self a pat on the back. It was very well written =)
~Maple Bowen
A fan, and always a fan

Tue, September 2nd, 2008 2:35am


Pat on back...

Thanks for the compliment, I really appreciate it and thanks for looking for spelling errors, I usually tend to mistype, but this one was a school assignment and so I was really careful when I edited it. ;)


Mon, September 1st, 2008 10:53pm

Facebook Comments

Other Content by Javelin

Short Story / Young Adult

Short Story / Westerns

Short Story / Humor