This is the 34th in a series of 365 Flash Fiction stories I’m writing. You can find out more about the challenge here.
Dystopian Dreams of the Absent Minded Author, by Jonathan L. Lawrence, 3rd January 2012
Word count: 793
Theme: war, hopelessness, future, dystopia, desire, dreams
Humanity, the tiny blot on an otherwise pristine lifeless landscape of the universe, was growing ever larger. Though no destiny could ever bring a race such as humanity to rival in significance the awesome size of the universe, they were becoming noticeable.
Earth had quickly become a hard place to survive, once the planet went over the Green Cliff seas rising, depletion of fresh water wild food stocks started to be affected by the masses of extinctions. Land vanished, crops withered, disease ran rampant. Mankind had no choice but to look to the stars for salvation.
In the century following, a billion people left Earth, over a quarter of the world’s population abandoned the planet for better lives among the stars.
It proved to be an optimistic dream, within a traversable distance, Earth was the only planet like Earth. The planets that met the criteria of gravity and warmth, and occasionally water of some variety, lacked life, or even hospitable atmospheres. Mankind was to be penned in by protected domes, for most, they would never see the sky alien or human.
It’s not enough to land on a planet and establish a colony, work was needed almost immediately to begin capitalising on resources. As no planet could truly support life, the resources of a planet had to be tradable, and given the scarcity of vital life giving resources or had to be on an industrial scale. Fully two fifths of colonists had no choice but to work in mines of some variety. One fifth were responsible for fungus farms, fungi being the primary source of food. The assorted jobs for another fifth of the population were often no more pleasant, seeing to the basic and vital functions of highly restricted and regulated colonies.
Life as it was struggled on, with colonies fortunes being made or lost based on it’s outputs. Deaths through malnutrition, oxygen deprivation, carbon monoxide poisioning, structural failures, and theft and robbery were all too common occurences for the colonies that could not trade all they needed.
When things got desperate, there was only way for these struggling colonies to go, to war. Ships would be gathered and sent out as an armada, attacking and boarding transport ships as they went and collecting the goods inside before passing it back to the colony.
Colonies with something to lose of course worked hard to counter it, and the colonies with nothing to lose learned to counter the counter. A new arms race had begun, and the prize was survival. The Resource Wars were the dawn of Mankind’s first interstellar war. In ancient times the idea of a space war usually featured some inhuman creature as the protagonist, the reality was that people dying by their thousands and millions were all very much human.
As the pirate action became more and more militarised, the obvious solution to a bothersome colony was not to fight it’s ships, but the colony itself.
In the space of one decade, the colonies of man went from one hundred and thirty three to sixty seven. No weapon was deemed to underhanded, there was no international, or indeed interstellar, agreements in place. Even Earth did not refuse to be part of the madness, and it too suffered calamarous reaction. One third of Earth’s inhabitable lands were rendered unapproachable by nuclear seeding. Millions died on Earth alone.
At the end of the decade, the remaining colonies came together to find a resolution that didn’t result in humanity being wiped away by its self. Discussions were long, and hard, and too often bitter. Each side considered it’s own needs priority, each considered the justice it required as absolute, but refused to be held to account by any other colony.
The result was another interstellar war, now with new alliances, new technologies, and new aims.
The madness swept through colony after colony, until seventy percent of those of working age and fitness were in the various armed forces.
And colony after colony ceased to be. Life after life was snuffed out.
The war never stopped, each colony established new colonies to perpetuate it’s survival, some took from the destroyed colonies, others ventured further out hoping to avoid the war. None was safe.
From the start of the first interstellar war, to the end of the second a century and a half passed. Where the populations of the colonies had risen to eight billion at their heights, through war, and hunger, and other calamities the human race in total was reduced to two hundred million. Struggling to survive, many felt the end was at hand. No saviour to themself, no plan was hatched, the survivors of humanity, spread out, isolated, distrusting, and uncooperative struggled to survive as their numbers dwindled further and further.