(24 hours before the universe dies)
“This will be the final broadcast that will be globally transmitted. We hereby strongly urge any remaining citizens of the planet to seek out the nearest relocation spacecraft, the location of which will be locally transmitted to your screen at this instant. You will be safely guided to an artificial gravity station, where life will continue as it always has. The spacecraft will leave our planet in T-minus 3 hours from this very instant.”
After having heard the same message for the twelfth time in a week, I was sure it was prerecorded. The broadcaster blinked at the same timestamp every single time, and the tone of his voice had become grinding and monotonous throughout all the time we’d heard it.
“All devices and services will be seized within the next two hours. This includes any telecommunication, electricity, water and gas. Our sta–”
And then the screen went black.
“I’ve completely had it with this ‘public message’!” my wife sighed, annoyed, as she released the power button on our TV. “Can’t they leave us in peace for one second?”
“Hunny, I’m sure they mean well. It’s quite a big deal; they need to make sure everyone is prepared for what is to come.”
“They’ve been airing this for two months already. Everyone’s left by now, surely.”
But we hadn’t… No. And we weren’t planning on leaving the planet behind either.
From the first moment we heard of our white dwarf dying and the messages being aired literally everywhere, we decided we were to stay here.
We’d been part of this planet since birth, and it had served both of us well, for those seventy-three years. There was no way we could leave our home behind, not with all the memories we built throughout the years… Oh, those memories…
If our planet were to perish, we would perish with it.
I got up from my chair, walked up to her and laid my arm around her.
“Hey, why don’t you sit down for a minute while I get you some tea?”
Her frustration melted like snow in spring, as a warm twinkle appeared in her eyes.
“You want to watch the rockets leave again in a couple hours?” I asked from the kitchen as the water was heating up.
“That seems delightful.”
It had almost become a daily ritual to watch the rockets fly away through the atmosphere after a broadcast had aired. There was something strangely satisfying about watching little, glimmering specks in the distance fly up towards the sky…
We’d set up two rocking chairs in the garden, with in between us a small table just big enough for both our cups of tea and a plate of biscuits.
As always, our white dwarf was gleaming over the horizon, with the sky being a soft, almost turquoise color. We were quite in luck they decided to launch the rockets from the darker side of the planet. If not, the path of the rockets and their shimmering in the white dwarf’s light would probably be completely invisible due to the brightness of the star, even with it being only so dim now.
The first spacecraft started shooting through the sky in a vaguely curving trajectory. I’d heard they did that because it was more fuel-efficient than shooting straight up and doing a 90° turn at the end or something. I frankly didn’t really care for rocketry anymore, not like how I did way back when at least.
It was always one spacecraft that took the lead, before a cluster of about ten started following after it.
“And every time it looks this gorgeous…” I sipped from my tea.
“Dear?” Her voice was confused. “Aren’t shooting stars supposed to fall down…?”
I looked over at her. She was staring at the rockets searing through the sky with such awe, time and time again. As if it was the first time she’d witnessed something like this. I felt myself smile, slightly painfully maybe, while I put down my cup and grabbed her hand.
“Don’t worry about it, hun…” I stroked the back of her hand with my thumb. “Have you wished upon them yet?”
She nodded softly, almost unnoticeable, and she closed her eyes. They were watery, so were mine.
“Let’s head to bed in a bit… shall we?”
If only we could wish upon shooting rockets too…