I have a short story for you at last! It’s not in my usual writing style, so I am so nervous about putting this up. I understand I’ve stolen the title from a TV show that aired on Channel Four like 6 years ago but it suits the story so well. I hope you enjoy it, please make sure to tell me what you think down below.
You have to burn them when they die. Old Joe had been here since I was awakened. He was our captain, the leader, and even in his dying days he was the man you would turn to. Old Joe. It was horrible seeing him burnt, all his body sort of melted into one smoking lump of charred flesh and hot, sticky blood – bubbling away like pudding in a pot. And then we closed the doors, we couldn’t bare to see him like that, when we returned the next day, Old Joe was just a lump of ash. Ziggy put the ashes into a little pot of brushed steel and then blasted Old Joe through the extraction pod. We usually pass our waste through there – it didn’t seem right to me.
I guess Old Stephen will take over now, he’s been here long enough. He was there when Donner 5678 discovered Clipton – he said it was the best day of his life. Everyone celebrated with drink and food and cigarettes, they partied for a week until their breath was thick with red wine and their lungs burnt like bonfires. They partied like the ancient people did. That was the last time they discovered a planet and that’s not even what we’re here for. 35 million years ago they blasted some lunatics into space to find another universe when they had destroyed their own. 35 million years later we’re still looking for this goddamn universe – what’s the point? They’re probably all dead anyway. The idiots probably don’t even know we’re here, dedicating our whole lives to an expedition to find a new home for dead men.
Old Joe hated when I talked like that; said this is what we were awakened for, this is what we were made for. But he’s dead now, and if I was made the captain, I’d fly us straight back to Clipton and we’d start a new civilization there.
I don’t even know what the people of Earth are like. I know they made this ship – it took fifty years to build. They scraped every last gram of ore and dug deep into the seabed for every drop of stinking oil they could find. Then they got these smart guys to make tubes full of babies, so when the lunatics died they’d have a fresh batch to continue their legacy. And then they got these proud men to give my ‘parents’ books and scriptures and photographs to educate us on what home was like. When you have been recently awakened you learn about Shakespeare and William Blake but then Shakey and Will get locked away in special volts, so they keep safe for the next generation.
We have an estimated 65-75 million years to go until we hit the next universe, but if we don’t discover this utopia in the next 5 minutes I’m putting myself through the extraction pod just like Old Joe.
Apparently, I think differently to the other crew members. They all think this is an honour. I think this is a load of crap. I am the only one to ever question that maybe the old folks back on Earth have died. They seemed to like destroying themselves 35 million years ago, I can’t see why they would have wanted to stop. Twenty five thousand men have died on this ship and when my death comes around I’m not even going to knock that figure.
35 million years and we haven’t evolved – haven’t changed at all. We haven’t allowed ourselves to evolve. The old folks on Earth were idiots, why are we trying so hard to be like them? We surround ourselves with their art and literature. We listen to the intercoms they sent out millions of years ago, we imitate how they speak and how they breathe between words. We watch their films, we watch how the actors cry and laugh and dance and we practice their emotions. We copy how the men flirted with the women and when there are no women on board we flirt with the men instead – it’s all the same for us. But, there is no need to be romantic, when our children come out of plastic tubes. Their atoms have been brewing like a stew for years, but the babies come out bland, we could change them. We could make them a different species. We could stop stuffing their brains with books and art, but we don’t, we keep reinforcing the same ideas of romance, and love, and friendship and hope because that’s all we know. That’s all we have known for the last 35 million years. Rushing through the universe at the speed of light, but everything seems so slow when you count the seconds. Everything seems so slow when you stop thinking.