Why I Chose to Stay Behind

Dan sat at his dining room table, looking out at the sunny afternoon outside the window. It was quiet in his house. His wife and daughter had already left, trying to get a spot in line to one of the shuttles. There were limited seats, and people were lining up for miles attempting to abandon the planet. A comet was heading toward the earth; and the government had a plan to save humanity, but it wasn’t enough to save everyone.
 
Dan told his wife he wanted to stay, but he wouldn’t talk her into staying with him. It was pointless to try to leave the planet at this point. Even if they were able to get to the ones interviewing potential passengers, they would have to pass the interview. Dan worked with the electric system and overhead wires, and he wasn’t even sure what they would have in place on the new planet the media had dubbed “New Earth” in a complete lack of creativity.
 
There was one other skill Dan could boast, but it was more of a hobby than anything else. He was a competent writer, and he had a small following on the internet when he posted as his alter ego: Budgie Bigelow. He had been watching the news and reading their web sites along with everyone else in the country when the story broke about the planet-killing comet heading toward them. The plan to get as many people onto the spaceships and en route to New Earth was seen as a godsend, but the more Dan read, the more sickened he became with humanity.
 
So Dan looked away from the window to open his laptop on the dining room table. He decided to write one last piece before the world was obliterated and turned to dust. He didn’t know if anyone would read it before the shuttles blasted off, or if anyone who stayed on Earth would care when so many were leaving them behind to die. 
 
Still, Dan opened a document and titled his piece: Why I Chose to Stay Behind.
 
***
 
 
Why I Chose To Stay Behind
By Budgie Bigelow
 
I’m writing this during the last days, maybe hours, of the earth. There’s looting in the cities, panic in every neighborhood, and fear in every household. As I write this, my wife is waiting to be interviewed with my daughter for seats on one of the spaceships to send them to New Earth, where they’ll have a second chance on a new planet.
 
But I chose to stay behind.
 
Like every human being on earth, I have been reading the news and watching CNN almost constantly since the bright, yellow trail was seen in the sky as the comet made its first pass, missing earth. I breathed in relief when they told us we came close to annihilation, but earth would persevere. I also wept with the rest of humanity when they said the asteroid would return after the gravity of the sun will propel it back toward us, putting us directly in its projected path.
 
Then the heroes of humanity rose to the challenge.
 
They told us there’s a planet outside our solar system that can support human life. They had multiple shuttles readied to make the trip a week or so before our planet will be dust, floating around space in microscopic pieces for all eternity. Soon after, the first shuttles were stocked and brought to their launch sites.
 
Then the comet’s trail returned: a line of gold and yellow etched across the night sky. Scientists came on TV to tell us it must have left a trail of particles in our atmosphere, and they were reacting to whatever material the comet was made of as it made its way back to earth from its slingshot-course around the sun. They said they needed more time to study it to be sure, but the planet didn’t have it.
 
The manifest of the first shuttle broke on the internet days before it was scheduled to launch. Rumor was a disgruntled NASA employee leaked it so we’d know the truth. It was full of politicians and wealthy businessmen – the one-percent in other words. The manifests of two more shuttles were released, and the results were the same. There were spots for citizens they deemed “necessary”, but it was mostly old, white men and their families being saved.
 
The protests came next. Thousands of people took to the streets of cities scheduling launches, protesting what was happening. They claimed the government had promised to save humanity, but only saved themselves and their richest friends. Televised media painted the protesters as hippies and nut-jobs, and why not? The CEO’s of the news corporations all had their names on the manifests too.
 
The president, his cabinet, and the richest of the rich went first, blasting off into space as the doomed world watched on television. They promised to govern as they did here, upholding the United States constitution, but it’s not as if they did such a good job before. The battle between the left and right will persevere on some other planet after it all went so badly on earth.
 
This was when I came to be suspicious of their plan. The shuttles were readied way too quickly for them not to know the human race was going to need to leave the planet. I don’t know if it’s possible for the government to have prior knowledge about a rogue comet hurling toward the earth, so one would have to assume they planned on leaving the earth before humans had completely destroyed it.
 
And the people now heading to New Earth are the ones responsible for the earth’s raping. The only consolation is the comet would put it out of its misery before humans could finish its slow murder of an entire planet.
 
I was told to wait in the long lines and apply for one of the vacant seats. They said I may be needed during the later days of the colonizing of New Earth, but I couldn’t see why. My wife packed us a small bag each (all that one is allowed), got our daughter ready, and told me we were going to try and get on one of the ships. I told her I wanted to stay.
 
We argued over my choice. I told her to take our daughter and try to leave since she felt they had a chance. There wasn’t time to argue, and she left with our daughter. I really do hope they get on one of the ships, but my gut tells me they’ll be home before the end comes, waiting for the comet to obliterate us as a family.
 
I refuse to go through the humiliating interview process for my survival when the upper echelon of American royalty go for nothing but a handshake. All that’s on New Earth for a middle class worker like me is another lifetime of toil while the over-privileged sit back and rebuild their empire, lining their pockets with our hard work, feathering their nests with our corpses. I refuse to fight just to be part of their herd. Everything wrong with America is on the shuttles, being ushered to a new planet as the people they poisoned and pushed under the rug stay behind to die.
 
This planet is doomed, and I am happy to share its fate. I know there’s a minute chance this article will live on after the comet does what it’s fated to do, but I’ll take the time to post it anyway. I stopped watching or reading the news, so I really have no idea how much time we have left now that the constant doomsday clock is out of my perceptions. I like it better this way.
 
I hope there’s more people like me out there, sitting back, watching the golden-yellow trail in the sky, and waiting to see what waits us all in the next life. I have a case of beer, a comfortable chair in my backyard, and a small bonfire lit in my fire-pit.
 
If you’re looking for me, I’ll be waiting for the comet.
 
-Budgie Bigelow

 

 
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