Story Contest 2017 #2 - Outstanding Stories (Junior) » Last Man on the Earth
“Last Man on the Earth” is one of the outstanding stories of the second biannual International Short Story Contest 2017 written by Chirantan.S, India.
Last Man on the Earth
Manu looked at the sky through the eyeholes of his gas mask. It would be a pale tinge of blue on a normal day. However, today, it was obscured by smoke and dust coming out of the nearby factories which were being demolished by robots. They were the last few factories left in existence that still worked the old fashioned way. The world had changed dramatically in the last few years. The polar ice caps had melted, although thankfully not completely, and the encroaching seas had swallowed some of the land.
Some famous places like Rameshwaram, Kolkata and parts of Chennai had been submerged due to the rise of 7m in sea levels. Almost every country in the world had been affected by the melt of polar ice caps and the rise of sea levels. Also, due to the rising amount of pollution, air was unsafe to breathe in. All of them had to wear gas masks and the air was purified by the mask before being let in for them to breathe in.
The climate too was unpredictable; there could be a fire in the morning and a hail shower on the very same afternoon. Manu knew it was a matter of time before they would have to evacuate to the moon or to Mars. It was only a matter of time. Almost all the people on Earth had gone to the moon because it was hard to live on Earth.
It was not only because of the quality of air; the greenhouse gases had increased the temperature of the Earth a lot. Scientists had warned that the earth would soon become like Venus. But still, the people wanted to use the cars which belched out smoke just because they were cheaper than the solar or electric cars which were better for the Earth. Manu snorted in disgust.
What had the world come to? The greenhouse gases had changed temperature and weather patterns all over the world. Now, everything was being managed much more responsibly however, the damage had been done long ago.
Waste was being managed by the waste eating robots. They would eat the non biodegradable waste as it was fuel for them.
Manu recalled an old tale, from the Hindu mythology, told by his grandfather. There was once a king called Manu, who had taken two of every animal, and a few of his followers, on a huge boat, on the command of Vishnu, one of the gods in Hindu mythology, to save everyone from getting destroyed in a flood. Ironically, history was repeating itself. All the animals on Earth had been caged and taken to lunar colonies on the moon. There had been a special reserve made on the moon with the soil of the earth for the wild animals.
Manu had wanted to stay on the earth because he felt that he should not abandon the planet that had nurtured him. But eventually, he had no choice.
There were not enough people on the Earth to continue running the support systems that had been put in place. Their water purifier had broken down and they were running low on their supply of medicines. Acquiring food was becoming harder and harder because of the scarcity of resources.
Manu knew that one day the Earth would be as inhospitable as the morning star that was seen just before sunrise or just after sunset. The only hope was to colonize as many planets as they could. Manu envied the people on the moon, some of whom were his relatives.
They lived peaceful lives up there. Manu and his gang were hoping to join them soon.
Finally, Manu decided that he had to leave Earth. He had somehow got his old laptop to work and had booked a ticket on the Mahatma Gandhi Rocket Services’ best rocket, the AI633, more commonly known as The Luxury Rocket.
Needless to say, that had exhausted his laptop’s battery which he had been saving just in case something of the kind would be needed. Ordering a rocket had cost him a lot of money because he and his gang were the last humans on Earth to order a rocket which would be sent from the moon. Manu would be among the last men leaving the Earth.
Manu had still wanted to stay on Earth, but sadly had no choice because of factors that were beyond his control. Man had destroyed the very planet that had given birth to him in his greed. Manu shook his head and got up. He walked back into the house in which he was living. After all, he had to spend a last few minutes on the planet that had given birth to him and nurtured him and he preferred to spend that time in peace and enjoyment.