Short Story: Right to Thrive

In un mondo che si prepara alla distruzione, due fratelli intraprendono strade opposte per la sopravvivenza. Le loro decisioni cambieranno il loro destino e metteranno alla prova i limiti dell'umanità.

Molly Malcolm

Speaker (American accent)

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Esther implored her brother, Todd, to reconsider. It was her last chance to convince him to do the right thing. She would leave Earth for Mars that night, and if Todd didn’t come with her, she would never see him again. 

Go to Mars and live in servitude and misery?” responded Todd. “No, thanks.”

Todd had a point. Esther knew her new life on Mars would be difficult. All humans would be obliged to work hard to make the planet habitable. They would have to live in a confined space and in restrictive conditions, but it was either that or remain on Earth and die. 

“There is another option,” said Todd, “a better option.”

It was the same argument that she and Todd had had a hundred times before. The other option Todd was referring to was one Esther would never consider, not just because it was uncertain but also because it was immoral. 

Todd was part of a movement called Right to Thrive, which had emerged in the first half of the 21st century, in response to contact from The Others. The government had begun to confirm the presence of UFOs in the 2020s, and had then confirmed the presence of The Others, highly-evolved humanoids who were communicating with them, warning them that if humanity didn’t change its ways immediately, the planet would become uninhabitable by the end of the century.

This revelation had fractured humanity and given rise to two movements: Right to Survive, which Esther was affiliated with, and Right to Thrive, which Todd was affiliated with. Right to Survive advocated sustainable living, while Right to Thrive defended the rights of humans to live as they desired. 

“We’re not going to be dictated to by a bunch of aliens,” Right to Thrive leaders often declared. “We’re not giving up our big cars or our fossil fuels to live like hippies in the forest.”

The Right to Thrive movement had refused to change its ways and so had doomed humanity, and now the Earth was becoming uninhabitable and humans were relocating to Mars on a fleet of spaceships.

“Go to Mars and live like a peasant,” said Todd, “or come with us and become the ruler of a new world.”

“It’s not a new world,” said Esther. “It’s an old world. It’s their world. You don’t know if you can even survive there.”

“Oh, we know,” said Todd, assuredly.

Esther felt sick at the thought of what Todd and his cohorts had done. Instead of supporting the relocation to Mars, they had adopted extreme measures to ensure their survival. 

The government had always been secretive about The Others, about who they were and where they came from, but they had revealed to humanity in recent years that they were leaving Earth and would never return. The Right to Thrive leaders, which by then had their own military bases and arms, had horrified humanity by capturing one of The Others’ spaceships and experimenting on them. 

“Our scientists say their DNA is very similar to ours,” Todd told Esther, “but more advanced, that they come from a planet that’s identical to Earth and that we could survive there. Not just survive, but thrive. While you’re working like peasants, we’ll be living like kings.”

“And The Others? What about them? Are you going to annihilate them, just like our ancestors did when they colonised the Americas?”

“Why not?” said Todd. “We have all the arms we need. Our scientists say The Others don’t use any arms, that they are a pacifist species. And now we can use their spaceship to navigate to their home planet and dominate it.”

Todd said his final goodbye to his sister, marvelling at her stupidity. Then he went to the local Right to Thrive military base and boarded one of the spaceships that would follow the alien ship to its home planet. 

His heart skipped a beat as the spaceship launched. He felt ready to fight, ready to kill, ready to take what was rightfully his. 

The spaceship ascended, flew over the ocean, and then descended. The scientists had told them to expect this, as The Others had always ascended from and descended into the ocean, and it was thought that their launching platforms were there.

Todd looked out as they descended into the water, but instead of landing on a platform, they went through the bottom of the ocean, down into darkness and then, after many hours, into light, and finally they landed. 

It looked like they were back on Earth, but then over the next few days, the terrible truth emerged. They were on Earth, in a world hidden under the ocean, where The Others had lived for more than a million years. The Others weren’t aliens from another planet, but advanced humanoids from Earth. And as the humans destroyed the world above, they also destroyed the world below, and now this too had become uninhabitable. 

The Others had left for an unknown planet and the members of the movement that had destroyed Earth were doomed to die with it, under the ocean, without fuel or food to survive, let alone thrive.  

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Questo articolo appartiene al numero february 2024 della rivista Speak Up.

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