We can send men to Mars. We can pay with just the chip in our arm. We even have flying cars. We can do so much. Why is it that we can’t cure diseases, can’t find a solution for poverty or even saving our planet? It’s complicated, that’s what they say. We don’t have the money, the resources, the what-have-I-not-heard in this endless fight. However, there was no way of knowing that our planet would be hit by this asteroid… read more
Those two words made her whole body shiver. Her legs felt like two puddings melting to the ground. She had to hold tight to the nearest surface. Which was the elevator she just came out. Would it be too late to go back again? Would it be too late to forget about everything?
“You’re not giving your own parents a hug?” Her father spread his arms. However, Tess couldn’t and didn’t want to move. Her hands were shaking. Her throat felt like there was sand in it and swallowing it down took a long time.
“What are you doing here?” She looked from one parent to the other. They didn’t change a single thing. Her father had the same outfit when he left earth and her mother had still her gorgeous long silver hair. Tess always envied her mother’s hair.
“I told you she wouldn’t be happy to see us.” Her mother pointed at her father.
“How can she not be happy to see us? It’s been how many years?” It was clear that he started counting. But before he could finish Tess already answered. “Not enough after everything you’ve done. To my brother… my friends… and to me!”
She had to force herself not to cry. This time she couldn’t let them win. She had to be strong for Josh. He tried so hard to protect her before he died. Even when she didn’t believe him, he always believed in her and that she would find her way.
“I”m sorry, Josh.” Tess whispered.
Her father started to laugh. “She’s talking to Josh, my dear. Can you believe that?” Before Tess realized it, her father was in front of her. “He’s not here anymore. You fool!”
It felt as if nothing ever changed. Her father raised his hand and Tess prepared for the pain in her face. Her hands were turned into fists, her eyes were closed, by now it should have been over. Why is it that she didn’t feel anything? Tess opened her eyes again and the man who helped her out of the car stood in front of her. A gun pointed at her father’s face. There was no need to tell her father to stop, the gun did all the work.
Tess regained her strength and thanked the man. He wanted to give her the gun but she just shook her head. Even though her father taught her different, she never believed in violence. She believed in other stupid things that she regretted her whole life and that was more than enough.
“Tess, honey, let me explain everything.” Her mother kneeled in front of her, begging for her to listen.
“Don’t you think it’s a little too late?” Tess wanted to scream but seeing her mother crying made her soft. She almost ran toward her mother. Almost. But her mother knew what she was doing back then.
“You killed so many people. You said Planet 16 was safe and sent so many people there. Yet you knew it would never last.” For the first time, Tess confronted her parents with their actions. “You promised a new life, a better life. Full of a lifetime of happiness. A promise to better infrastructure, buildings, schools. And what did the people get? Nothing. Because there were no buildings, there was no water, and there wasn’t even air!” This time rage took over and Tess almost spat out the words. It was time for her to go. She didn’t need to fight her parents. She knew she had won this time.
The man still held the gun and pointed at the machine behind Tess’ mother. Tess had seen such a machine before and promised herself to never use it again. However, she had no choice. She had to find her friends and she knew that Jamie still carried her GPS.
“They’re dead! They’ve been dead for years!” Her mother sobbed. “Please, Tess. Don’t look for them, you won’t find them.”
Of course, Tess didn’t listen to her mother. She continued typing in her friend’s name and GPS number. It was a miracle that she hadn’t forgotten it. The machine started to make some noise and the screen showed a circle loading, as the color machine at Tess’ work. How could this day – her birthday – turn into such a miserable event. She tried so hard to be a better person and this is what she got back. Self-pity won’t help her poor state of mind but she couldn’t help it.
Finally, the screen turned green and gave the right coordinates for Jamie. When Tess noticed the red color of the arrow, she felt on the ground. Was her mother right or was the machine broken? The first time she blamed the machine for not working properly but the robot operating it was never wrong.
The man asked her if she was alright but she couldn’t answer him. Was she? She found her friend too late and the asteroid would be there soon. Could she be okay? From the corner of her eye, Tess could see the man wanting to come to her. In that moment of weakness, her father hit him in the head and took the gun. Without hesitating her father shot him in the face.
“No!” Tess crawled in his direction.
His hand still felt warm in hers. Tears ran down her face, dripping on the ground like small raindrops. She cried for this man who risked his life for her, for her friend who wasn’t here anymore, and her brother. It took a moment until she could feel again. It was now or never. She had to take the gun back.
Her father never saw her coming. She jumped at him and wrestled for the gun. In the distance, she could hear her mother scream. That was the last thing she heard before she hit the ground. A warm feeling on her breast spread around. Slowly with her hand, she reached for it. Blood? Tess asked herself. She then looked into the eyes of her father. Did she see remorse or was it just a glitch? She would never know.