This can't be all there is, it just can't be.
When a child is five, he thinks, "I will never grow old."
When I was in my twenties, I started looking at people differently. In the pictures of the very
young I could sense the wrinkles and gnarled hands they would someday develop. In
the aged, I could discern the newness of a toddler. It seems preposterous that time
should pass, so smoothly and imperceptibly flows one moment into another. We look
forward to things, we dread things. Our lives are paced by markers, we are beings
in the hibernation of waiting throughout most of the time we are conscious.
The world is burning now. Our Sun moved from infancy to maturity, as we knew it
would. I am of the generation that could not ignore the increasing temperatures,
the eerie red shade of the sky. Things began to flicker, to grow hazy. It was not
simply the age of my eyes, but the melting of the air (or so it appeared).
It never rained anymore, and most of the oceans withered to endless plains of salt
and bone. And now, as I sit in a faraway sky, the world is burning.
I am now two hundred years old, though that is by the reckoning of a dead or
dying star. I am watching the burning alone. This craft will protect me from
radiation, and provides me with food and light and air. It was once an observatory,
built long ago when the sun shone yellow and the earth was a goddess robed in aquamarine.
It became a science station, and was moved further out into space. My colleagues and
I could do nothing but watch, and try to convince the people of Earth that they should
leave before they were consumed. We were successful with some.
I cannot comprehend the oblivion of death. Some walk into it willingly, such as
those who stayed on Earth. Many of them believed in something better than oblivion;
an "afterlife", where they would become see-through, bulletproof, and capable of nothing
but joy. Nothing could ever assure me of such rewards, nor do they sound more desirable
than the truth of seeing through very human, very imperfect eyes, the wondrous
spectacle of existence. I crave the only reality I have ever known. The human lifespan
has more than quadrupled since the 21st century (when things began to go awry).
You, child of the long-past and long-dead, wonder at the books and sarcophagi gracing
the halls of museums. The sun is simply a sparkle that makes you sneeze and warms your
skin. You grow up, have children of your own, and watch as your demeanor becomes that
of Grandma, and the ridges in your nails deepen. Your children wonder if you were ever
small like them.
Sometime down the line, your children's children's children realize that there can be
no more humans, ever. Something about the atmosphere has changed, strange particles have
wrought their way into the code of life, making twists where there should be none. I was
born a Miracle, a freak of chance. My parents were three hundred when I was born, and
I grew up without playmates or lovers.
My shipmates are far, far older than I am. I do not know how long it will be before
I am alone here, but that day will come. I will search for a new world, somewhere I can
settle and perhaps learn a new life and language. Perhaps I will even know love.
But in the meantime, it's a big universe out there.