“The single raindrop never feels responsible for the flood.”
– Douglas Adams –
The world as we knew it... Image courtesy of OpenClipart-Vectors and http://pixabay.com
Damn him anyway.
Why does he have to be such a tyrant? "Adah, please connect me to my father."
Must he dictate every detail?
We are so ready for launch. I finished clearing out my personal things yesterday.
Am I really sure I want to leave this job behind? I've done alright here. But what choice do I have?
"He's not picking up... Can I get anyone else for you?"
"No, thanks. Do you have a moment?" Despite your shortcomings, I will miss you, Adah.
Coming through the office door, Adah stops in front of me with a questioning look. Gripping her shoulders, I gaze into deep brown eyes.
"Are you sure you won't come? There's room for you and Jubal—and the dog." Having worked together for years, I sense her skepticism. Walls go up again.
"You know we appreciate the offer. It's... just... too unbelievable... We'll have to pass."
She doesn't want to offend me.
"Take care, Adah." Sadly, I kiss her cheek, dropping my arms.
A final scan of the office reveals nothing new. I leave the building, briefcase in hand.
It's chilly. I cinch my jacket.
The waterfall roar of the 5:10 commuter from Oceania briefly drowns out the street vendors hawking chestnuts and sweets.
"One bag, please." Looking around nervously, we complete a quick exchange. Now that it's finally time to leave, I don't want to get mugged. But I can't say no to chestnuts. Who knows when I'll taste them again?
Unlocking the flyer, I take my seat. "Home."
Chestnuts warm my hands as the field generator whines gently to life. Gazing down while we swiftly rise, I wonder what commuters debarking from the rocket below are thinking. Will they miss the subsonic rumble of that soon-to-be-supplanted technology?
With a deeper chill, I remember that something else is about to put an end to rocket transport.
For years, loyal son that I am, I took Dad's word for everything. I never questioned what we were building. When you grow up around a project of this magnitude, it becomes the backdrop to your life.
Usually, I manage to overlook the snide comments from everyone around me. I've done well in my chosen field of design engineering. The respect I receive in the workplace takes some of the sting out of our "family folly." Besides, working for Dad supplements my earnings.
But as the project got closer to completion, public ridicule rose to such a crescendo that I could no longer ignore it. Something in me began to rebel, and I started getting into it with Dad.
"How can you be so sure you're right? It's you against the world."
Though I kept working, my heart wasn't in it, and I grumbled. Worst of all, Dad rarely fought back. More often than not, it was just "Pass me that hammer."
Dad is so damn hard-headed.
He thinks he has a direct pipeline to the Divine. There's just no arguing with him.
Well, maybe he does.
I don't think we could have finished our vessel just on our efforts alone. Mom, Dad, my brothers and I, and the occasional hired help.
Honestly, some of the procurement challenges seemed flat-out impossible. In these days of global, autonomous shipping, powered by the all-pervasive energy of subspace, who in their right mind could imagine something this immense built without an ounce of metal?
No wonder Dad—our whole family, for that matter—is the laughingstock of all the late-night talking heads.
As my personal transport speeds toward home, a news bulletin comes over the air. With lightning strikes increasing all around me, I've never been more thankful for digital anti-noise audio.
"It has now been more than a week since all contact with the settlement on Ares was lost. Authorities fear the worst. Astronomical observations indicate a vast cloud of unknown origin has obscured the planet, and seems to be moving toward Earth."
Just another confirmation that Dad knows best.
I'm almost home. The craft I've been mulling over is now in plain view. Long as a 50 story building is tall, it's hard to miss. The project fills my entire field of vision as I descend.
Arriving, I touch down near our behemoth.
I had been planning to drop out. Grab my wife, stand my ground, and just say "No." The peer pressure, the incredible improbability of it all... But then I started paying attention to everything around me.
Life in the city has become downright scary. Violence reigns. Humanity has gone terribly wrong. The world really does need a reset.
Within the last week, weather reports, along with the sky overhead, have become direly ominous. Absence of word from the Ares colony cinched it for me.
I guess I needed a wake-up call.
That, and recognizing that everything Dad has been preaching is coming to pass, changed my mind.
I get out of the transport, and, sighing, leave everything but my all-leather briefcase behind.
Communicator, pocket knife, flashlight—even my belt buckle. According to Dad, nothing technical, electrical, or metallic can possibly survive this cataclysm. Though I can't say I understand fully, he's been spot on about everything up to this point.
Now that I think about it, abandoning my stuff is probably why I've been so angry. Finally certain that Dad's right, leaving it all behind is a little bit easier. But I'm sure going to miss my flying gad-about.
As I make my way up the long, earthen ramp to the entry door, large drops of rain splash mud all over me. I'm the absolute last to arrive. Thirty yards ahead, standing in the doorway, I can see Dad—and my wife—waiting for me.
My wife... words still so new to me.
We had postponed our marriage for a long time, not wanting to worry about pregnancy or an infant in the midst of the coming unprecedented crisis. Waiting was hard, and one or the other of us at times contemplated pulling out.
Seeing my love now, running down the ramp toward me—embracing me...
"I was so worried you wouldn't get back in time!"
"Shush... I'm here now."
Together, we walk back to the doorway where Dad stands waiting.
I'm apprehensive. Due to the heavy demands of different schedules, I have not seen Dad since my change of heart. Our last parting was not amicable.
It's now time to finally seek an armistice. "Dad, I'm so sorry. I realize how difficult I've been. Lately, it's become crystal clear to me. You've been right all along."
Dad's open arms and his hug transcend anything he might possibly have said. Even so, his words warm my soul. "I'm glad you're finally on board, Shem."
After ensuring that I've brought no metal or tech gadgets with me, Dad turns and leads the way inward.
As we walk towards our quarters, there is a sudden darkening behind us, followed by a loud chuffing sound.
It seems that God Himself has shut and sealed the door. There's no turning back now.
"Jon's 1st Fiction Contest - Armistice - "
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