PREFACE: "Optimistic?" is a science fiction short story that I originally wrote in 1992 and has been recently resurrected. I hope you enjoy it.
The year is now 2067.
In this polluted, disease-ridden world that you call Earth, I call Hell. It has come to my conclusion that God no longer cares about the human race, nor is God concerned with anything that occurs here. Yet, do I care? I think not.
First, let me explain the current situation at hand. Pollution is the leading cause of death. Yet, there is a good side to this problem; toxic pollution has solved the over-population problem around the world and the use of biological warfare throughout Asia has also helped this situation. And there are plenty of other catastrophes that I wish to explain to you, but you’ll soon read about some of them for yourself.
You might be asking how an educated person, like me, has sunk to such a low level of pessimism, but you have it all wrong. I consider myself quite optimistic. Right about now, you must be considering me either crazy or just another unstable person not to be considered seriously, but I plead to you to please continue with my life story…
About a month or two ago, if I remember correctly, my mother died. She indeed died… not to my surprise either. Especially since the average world life span is about 35 years, and my mother was a high 44 years old. At one time, this age might have been considered low but not here and not now. You came here not to learn about statistics, but my life story, and what a sad one it is. But I am still optimistic about it.
About my mother again, she died from a common death, a repressed immune system caused by pollution and the common cold. Every year, millions of people die this way.
On a more important matter: I once had a dog; I knew that if I would let him outside that he would surely die from a number of diseases and pollution. Surely enough, he escaped and found a way outside into the backyard. It was only a day after that, that I found his corpse being consumed by fleas and ants. But I am still optimistic about life.
On an even more important matter, last month the United World Energy Conservation Committee (UWECC) reported that their leading space station, SolarCon 2, that has the duty of providing the world with a non-pollutant energy source using massive solar panels, has been shut down due to safety precautions. Since SolarCon 2’s shut down, the UWECC has approved and ordered the use of primitive fission reactors to be re-activated. Upon activation of one of the ancient twentieth century antiques, a massive meltdown destroyed most of the state that you knew as New York and is leaving the rest of the East Cost in mild radioactivity for the next few thousands of years. As a result of this catastrophe, the UWECC has ordered the deactivation of all nuclear power plants in all the independent states of the United Nations as soon as SolarCon 2 is operational again.
In desperation, the UWECC has organized special teams of scientists and engineers from around the world, of which I am included, to be sent to SolarCon 2 to administer repairs, upgrades, and renovations as soon as possible.
Now that you have learned part of my life story, do you still consider me crazy or another unstable person not to be considered seriously? All I have to say is this: nothing matters in life since we are all going to die; however life is worth living, especially for those tiny riches that fulfill our pathetic lives.
Now, am I crazy, or shouldn’t everyone have an optimistic view on life?
I recently arrived on SolarCon2.
Now that I have arrived to this delightfully quaint space station, I am having the time of my life. Even though, I found the surroundings to be cold and lifeless, I’ve managed to cheer up my room with some anti-gravitational tricks that I learned by rotating brightly color and oddly shaped objects. Of course, they will eventually slow down or stop by hitting a wall.
I quickly learned that my Asian roommate knew very little English and needs his computer translator for even basic communication. During our first day in space, my roommate and I discovered a new experience... space sickness.
After a week and space sickness has finally stopped, my mind is much clearer in these nebulous surroundings. I learned that this SolarCon 2 is home to almost a quarter million employees in a cylinder of about 5 miles in diameters and 20 miles long. Around this habitat bubble, there are hundreds of solar panels extending horizontally parallel to each other outwards in a symmetrical radius as far as the eye can see… and still building and adding more. Now that my optimism is returning and the queasy feeling from my stomach is dissipating, I find myself in my first official briefing, swamped with at least six months of work with only two months to do it. But I am optimistic about this job. At least, there is almost no pollution here.
"Smack!" With a quick motion of some type of metallic looking tool, I heard a sudden thundering sound that caused a momentary agonizing torment of pain throughout my skull that shattered my peaceful daydream. And then, someone had the audacity to breath over me as vultures do before feasting on their prey.
"What do you think this is.. a clubhouse? Wake up and work!" questioned an obviously mad yet cute woman. At that time, I had no idea who this person was nor did I want to find out either. I merely grunted a response, not bothering to directly look at her, hoping this vulture would circle someone else.
She said, "I’ll be seeing you tonight, mister. I’ll find you most horrid work that I can as punishment. I promise you that." And then she pushed herself away floating down the long corridor to harass some other exhausted and tired employee.
I moaned in agreement, "Fine, I’ll take you out tonight…” and the rest of my sentence was drowned out by laughter from the rest of my work team.
"Wa-ke uyp! Wake up!" my roommate’s translator said as he shook my shoulder vigorously.
"Yeah. What’s wrong?" I said, not really asleep.
"Your date is soon." Said my roommate’s translator after a few keystrokes.
"Oh, that’s right. What time is it?" I mumbled to myself as I unhooked myself from the wall/floor/ceiling mount and pushed myself towards the restroom. Only then realizing my roommate did not understand what I said, so I said "Computer, what time is it?"
"The time is now nineteen hundred and fifty minutes," regurgitated the electronic speaker.
"I better hurry up." I said to myself, knowing that my roommate would not understand, just as I slammed my face against the restroom’s door.
My roommate signaled as if I was crazy.
Upon reaching the artificially gravitational lounge a bit late, I noticed my "date" had not arrived yet, so I placed myself at the first empty table that I came upon. I started to closely notice the awkward sensation of microgravity when a familiar voice pulled me back to reality.
"Ahhh... there’s my sleeping beauty," I heard as I looked around the room to only find an attractive young lady walking to my table. "So, are you ready to do some manual labor in bio-waste recycling center?"
I replied, "Nope."
"Then what good are you? You’re never ready for anything." She said as she took a seat in front of me.
"But I am ready to have a late night dinner with an extraordinary young lady. Did I mention beautiful too?" I applauded myself for the quick and ingenious manipulation to defuse the situation. Actually, she reminded me of that dog that I once had... pretty, loud, aggressive, and over emotional.
"Let’s get a few things straight. Fist, I am your boss, and you do as I say. Second, I am not as young as you think I am. Third, flattery will get you nowhere. And finally, act as if you are awake, if you cannot seem to get really interested in me." She blurted out in a fast pace, as if she had a speech already prepared.
"Whatever you say," I replied as if I did not pay attention. "I am ready to order, are you?"
For the entire dinner, we bickered enough that I was actually starting to enjoy it. Around one hundred hours, everyone in the lounge had already left or irritated by our loudness. After our heated debates from everything imaginable to some things that I couldn’t even imagine, we shared an exuberant night of sweat and torment. All I can tell you is that the lack of gravity created difficulties in having sex that I highly recommend.
But I do have to concur with Newton, that "every force has an equal but opposite reaction," and boy did we ever prove those laws to be right. The only major complication that I can remember, and not that clearly, was the amount of time it took is to do what we wanted to do, especially when our partner started to float away. I still can’t completely believe that I was having sex with my boss.
Please don’t believe that I was trying to manipulate her just for my perverted ego, that I actually wanted to do, but she was actually manipulating me much better than I ever could her. Things started to look up in the world… whatever direction is up in space.
After that day, everything else because much easier than I could have hoped for, especially when my heavy workload of practical engineering changed to chief coordinator of assignments where I was giving directions to geniuses that were far superior than I will ever hope to be. With this new job, I had an enormous amount of free time compared to the rest of the crew that I would usually share with my new girlfriend/boss, especially when I made my roommate my assistant. Don’t get angry with me because I gave him most of my work, but he actually enjoyed bossing people around and was surely more qualified than I was. The only time when he actually got mad was when he first started and no one understood him. Did I mention that I got a pay raise? I wonder if my new girlfriend had anything to do with my good fortune. Life is good, wouldn’t you say?
From there on, my girlfriend and I shared the most psychotic relationship that I ever experienced. We would usually argue, sometimes even physically harmful to each other, until we had nothing left to argue about or until we would collapse from physical fatigue.
Rumors around the space station ran rampant: one week they said we were in love; and the next week, the rumors seems to illustrate us in a battle greater than the Battle of the Titans. But no matter what the rumors were, we still maintained a special relationship that neither of us was able to put into words. Also, it was a relationship where neither of us was willing to admit our true feelings for each other, since that would be a sign of weakness for the next argument. At one time, I honestly believed that my life would never have changed even after I met her. Now, I know differently.
On that faithful day, June 15, 2067…
About eight hundred hours, I was practicing my hand and eye coordination with a friendly game of zero gravity paddleball. It was an interesting game but not after thirty minutes of jumping wall to wall to ceiling and back again. I decided to leave, take a shower and eat breakfast, which is not the usual routine for my mornings. As a result, my day started off differently from the usual monotonous proceedings of the day; as I missed my usual rendezvous with my girlfriend/boss.
At around eleven hundred hours, I was at work mapping out the necessary work needed to be one this week when she came in. You would not believe the uproar she made, especially when coming from such a petite woman. Let’s just say that after thirty seconds of listening to her screaming, your head would have felt as if you’ve developed a full grown brain tumor. The glances that my fellow workers gave me, indicated their feelings of how crazy I was just for going out with a girl who found it offensive as such as she did just for missing a monotonous rendezvous that we normally do every single morning.
After she delivered her long winded speech about the stupidity of all males, I simply apologized and told her the truth. I still don’t know what I said wrong. She got all update and flew out the airlock door as if the future of mankind depended on our rendezvous. I have to say that only a woman can understand the inner workings of another woman. I can only guess what goes on inside those complex minds.
A few minutes before twelve hundred hours, the day got even more confusing. I still had the mother of all headaches and was preparing myself for lunch, if you call eating chunks of dehydrated cubes and drinking out of a straw lunch.
I fastened myself down to the chair, so I wouldn’t have to worry about floating off while I was contemplating the situation that I put myself in. But before I had a chance to eat anything, a loud thundering sound followed by a strong gravitational pull, when there should not have been. Everyone in the room was immediately attracted toward one wall. Unfortunately for me, that wall was now directly above my head, thus the extra blood flowing to my head made my headache worse by hanging upside down.
Then I started to worry about what happened to the space station for such a strong gravitational pull to occur. I estimated the gravity to be more than that of Earth’s gravity, but because my muscles were now mostly adjusted to the weightlessness I could have been mistaken. As I got out of my chair and landed on one leg and one knee with considerable difficulty, I immediately started worrying about my girlfriend. As I left the cafeteria, I noticed half of a human body on my side of an emergency sealed locked hatch. I didn’t even mind vomiting from the sight of intestine hanging down from the hatch, because my mind was mostly occupied with what happened to my love.
It is now sixteen hundred hours, and I have explained my pathetic life story to half of a corpse whose eyes are staring straight at me. It seems like days before the emergency hatch unlocks itself, and I forcefully open the hatch. I run towards my girlfriend’s engineering room at a frantic pace, barely noticing the dead and injured bodies scattered throughout the corridors. Through an eternity of blurry visions leading up to the engineering’s main corridor, I try to open the hatch so I could enter my girlfriend’s engineering room to see what happened to my love one, but the hatch was not opening. I could not see anything through the tiny little window of the hatch, only darkness prevails. I began pressing the computer console on the hatch to activate the backup lights in the corridor to see better in the engineering room. The computer consoled showed that all power, including light and life support, was severed to the engineering room. However, the extra light in the corridor reveals the most revolting of sights…
I start to run aimlessly down seemingly endless corridors until I find myself at a random dead end… the docking back. I am not able to stand the mental anguish any more of continuing my life without her. I only think of one possible solution... to meet the love of my life through whatever means possible. I enter one of the airlocks, close the hatch behind me, and I press the two emergency buttons simultaneously to open the bay doors…
by Phil for Humanity