It came not in a strike but a role. We, humanity as a people, brought upon our destruction over decades of foolish actions. But all was far from lost. In our darkest days, we finally came together. We finally began to turn things around.
But were we too late?
I was born some odd years after the apocalypse.
Though born might have been a strong word. My mother and father had long been dead. My life came to be as a result of their and others' planning.
Two hundred men had donated sperm, and 200 women had donated eggs. Samples were collected and stored by a machine, The Machine, kept off world just beyond earth's atmosphere. Samples were paired to create children based on how long each sample could remain in storage.
Chances were, my parents never knew one another. They probably never spoke two words to each other. Somehow, long after they died, I came to be.
Unfortunately, the space station, crafted to be humanity's savior, was ironically limited in available living space. Sperm samples could only be kept viable for 50 years before corruption began. So after 50 years, The Machine began making children.
By the time I was born, the station was severely overpopulated with several generations of people. The only solution to free up space was to send me and several others back down to earth.
"Wait!" I begged.
"Please!" I cried as they surrounded me.
The machine was built to assure the survival of humanity. Its directive was strict and unwavering. So how did it decide who to expel?
It got rid of criminals who threatened the well-being of everyone on the station. It got rid of the ill, people who were supposedly burdens to the station. It got rid of those who refused to work, and there was always work to be done. The Machine had the unbearable task of thinning the population. After making all the logical, though many would argue whether they were fair, calculations, our keeper grew petty.
The Machine had to make additional space, so its criteria for who to expel deteriorated substantially. It seemed, each year, it threw some odd number of people out, and each year the reason made less sense.
My year was perhaps the most illogical by far. However, I, of course, had an obvious bias.
The Machine decided to kick nearly 300 teenage boys and girls out of its nest because we were gay.
The Machine was the station's primary operating system. It had been responsible for feeding, cleaning, nurturing, teaching, and more. To say it was all-powerful would have been a severe understatement.
Of course, it had taken the time to monitor all who lived under its care. The Machine had watched us enough to know who had preferences. It knew our behavior and our desires. Somehow it was kind enough, or perhaps cruel enough, to wait until we had gone through puberty. Yet still.
The Machine got rid of the gays.
It decided we weren't worth saving. And, of course, I, among the many others chosen, fought the decision. But I fought two folds because, for the life of me, I hadn't known I was gay. I didn't know. I never cared to know. My life was difficult enough without worrying over something as small as sexuality.
So when my name was called and I was given an intrusive explanation...it shocked me. I had not only been outed to the last of humanity but to myself.
No matter how hard we fought the decision, the chosen were eventually caught.
I was eventually caught.
They put me in a pod, shut the door, and shot me off like a bullet, never to be seen again.
The darkness was crippling. The waiting was agonizing. Was the earth's surface livable? Was my pod even built to land? Would I survive my arrival?
So many questions arose in that hour, but never before when I watched countless others face the same banishment.
I pissed myself.
Screaming out into the darkness, I knew no one could hear me, but I screamed relentlessly.
I died a hundred times in a single heartbeat, losing my mind to sheer dread. What was the worst part? I was about to die. I had been abandoned. All that lay in front of me, approaching without a breath of mercy, was uncertainty itself.
They abandoned me. There was no doubt in my mind. I was worthless.
Eventually, there was a silence, even over the white noise of my pod humming. It might have lasted for less than a second, but it was there.
I accepted what had happened.
I accepted that I had no place.
That should have been the end. I might have laid unconscious for hours before waking to find my pod door had been damaged and cracked. My first breaths of earth air stung like poison, but even in a daze, I celebrated survival. I celebrated him.
"You're not alone."
Those were his first words to me, and they brought peace to my rattled mind.
"We have each other now."
I couldn't move, so he helped me out of my pod.
"I'll protect you."
The light was unyielding, but my eyes adjusted. Had I been born again?
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