I’ve had a long day and didn’t have the energy for writing. Also our air conditioner isn’t working, and that’s not helped me brain at all. But I wrote a bit of backstory anyway so that at least it’s here to come back to.
Thanks for reading!
Every government minister except for Neptune’s Finty McGrew stared up at the screen and its image of a revolving Earth. Finty had found cheese stuck in the edges of her communication device and was distracted.
“As you can see,” said Glenn Nix, a security agent and guest of the ministry, “what was blue is now gray. What was green is now…” he paused for effect. “A kind of green. But not one any of you would wish for your garden.”
The ministers nodded, except for Finty, who was wishing she’d paid more attention at lunch.
Minister Lo of Venus thanked Glenn for his report and sent him on his way. “We agree something must be done,” the minister said. “Earth gave life to us all. She is a jewel in the universe. We can’t allow her to die.”
Finty applied to much pressure, trying to use her fingernail to dig the crumbled cheese out of the groove and the device flew from her grip and clattered across the broad table they sat around. She reddened.
Minister Hasphel of Europa handed the device back without a word. Her raised eyebrow was chastisement enough. Finty smiled sheepishly at Anna Hasphel. “I’m sorry. I put to much cheese on my salad at lunch.”
“If I may continue? Thank you, Minister McGrew.” Lo cleared his throat. “I trust everyone has reviewed the various proposals.”
Finty let out a groan before she could stop herself. Then she coughed and hunched forward to hide her face. They all realized she hadn’t read any of the proposals.
Hasphel patted Finty’s arm before addressing the others. “Obviously our first priority is to save the population. And of course I support that fully, but I feel that we must also commit to saving the next generation. You saw that graph in Glenn’s report, didn’t you? Fertility rates are plummeting. Birth defects are soaring. What does it mean to go through the time and expense of saving the Earth if it is going to die out before our adorable Finty here learns how to keep her technology out of her lunch?”
Finty sank lower into her chair, her device gripped tightly by both hands and pressed into her lap. She had meant to read the reports. She had.
“Proposal Endeavor!” Lo said aloud. The image on the screen of the Earth vanished and a green filled with graphs and formulas and words appeared. “This idea is radical, I know, and I don’t suggest wide spread efforts. We carefully choose a community of two. Select a handful of couples and…see what happens.”
The minister from Mars protested. “It’s mad science. It’s abhorrent. You may not follow the God, Minister Lo, but you have to understand—”
“That every avenue must be explored while we can. Or no one will be left on Earth to care about the God one way or another.”
Arguments broke out. Voices spoke all at once. Finty turned her device over in her hands. She could put the device in her pocket. Out of sight, out of mind. But would the cheese melt? Would it melt into the device, damaging whatever was in there to damage? It was going to be embarrassing to buy another new device in less than a month. How many had she had to replace in just the last ten weeks?
“Finty. Finty McGrew.” It was Anna Hasphel.
“I’ve been listening. I have.”
Again with that sharp eyebrow. “Good. Then you’re ready to vote.”
Finty sat up straight. Every minister staring. They almost never needed her vote. Once in a great green Jupiter moon they cared. “Really?”
“We’re tied. We need your vote.”
She could’ve asked for more time. She could’ve said she wanted to read the proposal more closely, maybe do some of her own research. She liked research. She did. But that meant another gathering held. It meant returning the Center Station to spend another rotation with Anna and her eyebrow.
“You could make history, Minister McGrew,” said Minister Lo.
“Not all history is good,” said another minister. Finty didn’t catch who. But what did she care either way. What was Earth to her? She’d surely never see it for herself. It may have been their origin planet, their first home, but hadn’t it had its time? And if they’d screwed things up so badly, didn’t they deserve their end? She finally glanced at the empty chair at the table. Earth’s minister wasn’t there. She was in a hospital clinging to life.
Finty adjusted in her chair. The Earth minister was nice. Always had a smile for everyone even as the death toll rose. Wouldn’t she want everything possible done to save her population?
The device almost slipped from her sweaty hands. “Yes,” she said. “I vote yes.”
The minister from Mars cursed and pushed back from the table. The others clapped.
Minister Lo picked up his device and spoke into it. “Contact Glenn Nix,” he said. “Tell him the experiments can begin.”