I still remembered the mixed feelings we had on that first day, on arrival at Eden. We had left Earth behind knowing it would become a molten fireball sometime during our six-month space odyssey. Some called it the Venus Syndrome—the theory that once a planet’s ozone layer was destroyed, temperatures would rise exponentially until the planet turned into a raging inferno. Absolute worst-case doomsday scenario. This was what probably befell the planet Venus. Or so it was speculated. For Earth, speculation turned into a horrifying reality.
Most of us felt a measure of guilt for leaving Earth and its remaining five million inhabitants … especially because the selection process had been so clinical, so cruel. Initially, it was done in secret. Then the news leaked and it became public knowledge. Anarchy. Bedlam. Chaos. The ABCs of Earth’s final hurrah. Already cracking up, planet Earth became one big, bloated, blistering madhouse.
The only reason Dad was chosen over another brilliant, equally qualified microbiologist was simple: I was over the five-years-of-age bracket, seven to be exact. That Mum was dead probably helped, too. The other doctor, Joseph Reynolds, was married and had two children. One aged four and the other just six months old. Children under five would not make it on the long, treacherous voyage, the selection panel said. At least, that’s what the party-line was. Clinical. Cruel.
Was there any other way?
Plus, selecting the two of us opened up two additional spots for other people with the necessary skills to give humanity the best fighting chance of survival. The Ark could only hold thirty thousand.
We never passed judgment on the selection panel. I certainly would have buckled under that responsibility. And of course, we were selected, so why would we complain? We weren’t left guessing what those not selected felt. It was difficult to see any dignity in the human race during those final, mad, crazy days. Dad only lived two years on this unforgiving planet, but he lived those two years with a back-breaking load of guilt. He agonised over Dr. Joseph Reynolds and his family every single day.
On the day we arrived on Eden, the culpability we harboured was partly dissipated by the new sense of hope we all felt. Our new home in an adjacent solar system, one that could sustain life.
Similar to Earth in so many ways, the main difference being Eden was younger and larger, and it had just one land mass surrounded by oceans. Pangaea-like. And the land area was a fraction of the Earth’s—basically, a planet of raging oceans with a little garden strip in the middle.
Because Eden was so far far away, the research conducted on the planet was limited, and when the temperatures on Earth started to double every day, Ark-I was launched well ahead of schedule. They planned to complete the building of nine more. Planet Earth lost its race against time.
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