Aurora Australis


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Time We Moved On

June 19, 2018

The constant buzz of the fluorescent lights did nothing to relieve Tara’s headache. Stark white bench tops glared blindingly up at her while the continuous beeping of countless monitor screens reminded her ominously of the countdown of a bomb.  
“Tara!” Sean called from the other side of the laboratory. “The results are coming through! It has to be better than last year’s, right?”
Tara jumped, blinking herself back to Earth. It did not do well to be distracted on the job, but she could not help it. Years of environmental degradation had taken its toll on Earth. Resources were dangerously low while pollution was at its highest in years, and the results of the Annual Earth Liveability Test were crucial.
She quickly made her way towards where Sean was standing before a hologram. The blue glow lit up his furrowed brow as he gazed at the screen. Suddenly his eyes widened and Tara didn’t need to be told that the results were far from what they were hoping.
“No! No! No! There must be a mistake,” Sean said, practically yelling as he typed frantically. He turned to look her dead in the eye. “We’re out of time”.
Tara shook her head in disbelief. There was no way Earth’s environment had deteriorated that quickly. Yet the hologram continued to glow defiantly, with clear, bold letters stating EARTH CAN SUSTAIN LIFE FOR: 72 HOURS.
“You know what this means,” Sean whispered.
As head of Environmental Sciences for the Republic of Australia, it was Tara’s responsibility to analyse Earth’s environment and ultimately decide whether or not to leave the planet. Of course, she never truly believed she would have to make that decision. After all, the previous test results had showed they had another 10 years.
Preliminary space colonisation attempts had revealed that only 20% of the population had the genetic material allowing them to survive the high radiation on other planets. Thankfully, Tara and Sean were both in that 20%, but Tara wasn’t sure if she could condemn thousands of people to the slow, painful death that would come with being left on Earth.
“I need to tell my family” Tara said at last. “I have to make sure they evacuate Earth.” Her whole life, Tara’s parents had protected her and her sister from the broken world they had been born into. She was not about to abandon them to it when she finally had the chance to protect them in return.
Sean looked at her. “Haven’t you seen the gene test results?”
Tara felt the blood drain from her face as she realised what he was saying.
“It was positive right? I have the gene so surely they have it too?” An icy feeling crept over her as she considered what the alternative would mean. But no, it wasn’t possible… 
Sean shook his head. “The results came back negative. They won’t be able to survive in space. They’ll have to stay on Earth”.
Tara slowly backed away from Sean, shaking her head in denial. The walls of the lab seemed to close in on her, crushing her within this new reality.
She grasped the door handle of the lab, desperate to escape the suffocating room, if only for a minute. She stepped outside, letting the cool night air wash over her, temporarily calming her frantic heart. Her parents used to tell her about a time when Brisbane was green and lush, and it would flood from all the rain, but the Australia her parents had known was gone. Brisbane spread out before her like a dry and dusty chess board covered in broken game pieces that had tumbled before their opponent. Far beyond the crumbling buildings Tara could see the glow of the urban district, where her parents and baby sister would be sleeping.
Tara could sense Sean’s impatience as he waited for the evacuation decision but she couldn’t bring herself to think about it. Who was she to sentence thousands of people? She raised her head, gazing up at the star filled heavens above her. They glimmered and winked at her, clearly knowing something she didn’t. Could those stars offer a new home? She should save as many people as she could, take everyone with the gene to space, colonize a new planet, give them a second chance. Then she looked at Brisbane, at what they had done to the planet they had been given and could not help but wonder if they deserved that second chance. Would they learn from their mistakes or would they just continue to destroy planet after planet, wandering through the cosmos leaving a trail of destruction in their wake?
No. Tara wasn’t ready to give up on humanity that easily. They deserved a chance, and she would give it to as many people as she could, even if it meant leaving her family behind.
She knelt down, touching the fine dirt beneath her feet and offered a quiet thank you to the planet which had provided for them for so long.
“Thank you,” Tara whispered to the Earth. “But it is time we moved on.”


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  • June 19, 2018 - 5:26am (Now Viewing)

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