I’ve started writing a series of short stories that would end up being part of a larger project called Ashes of Jove. Each story will reflect parts of the story seen from the point of view of different characters. This is the first short story of hopefully many.
Keep in mind these are unedited.
by Frederic Beauchamp
Serge Duchenay. Quite a long time since his family had seen him. Currently up north of Canada, near Yellowknife. The diamond mine business had been good recently; there was not much to complain when it came to earning money. If only his wife agreed with him about this job. Unfortunately things would only get worse for her.
Serge stood quietly reading a letter that had just been delivered. He was slowly reading it over and over as to see if he had missed any detail. His eyes stared at the paper as if he was waiting for it to change its mind.
He went back to his quarters with dampened motivation. Colleagues waved him by as he ignored their presence. Worried, they whispered to each other. “What is wrong with Serge? I’ve never seen him this way.” Even after hearing them, there was no point to reassure them that everything was fine, although this time, for the first time in a while, nothing was fine.
It has been already 12 years since the announcement of the heightened solar cycle. Intense radiation followed by what scientist claim was unforeseeable, a solar collapse. The fusion inside the sun’s core was seemingly beginning to end, a premature death according to some, an unjust end according to others. Many had turned to religion to calm their fears of the inevitable. Serge, on the other hand, like many others, had chosen to ignore the news and simply live on as if nothing was happening.
Amélie Duchenay, Serge’s wife, was desperate to live out all the experiences she dreamed of before her final moments. Painfully she saw Serge leave their town of Nancy in France to go mine far out in the Canadian north only weeks after both learning about their unborn grandchild.
“Nous avons vraiment besoin d’argent.” He told her after he made his decision. He had just been laid off after the foreclosure of the salt mine. Similar businesses crumbled after the economy began to collapse after every news story about the inevitable Armageddon began to be more convincing. “The world isn’t ending; we’ll need money to pull through while everyone else is losing their heads.”
It wasn’t all clear whether money would be worth anything at all once the economies of the world fell to their knees. The United States, China, Russia and India and many others were facing crippling austerity measures to avoid recession. The world’s largest corporations were being commandeered by the government and special laws regulated social unrest in the streets. Wealth had no meaning; the state commandeered anything they needed. Personal property and liberty, they were now things men and women only dreamed of. Few rose up to complain, suicide rates rocketed, and spending was still high as even the most frugal of people threw away their savings to live comfortably before the inevitable end.
It seemed that, year after year, things would degenerate until humanity itself would collapse under the expectations of doom before it even happened. Serge happily ignored those facts, until he read the letter that was sent to him.
“Dear Serge Duchenay
On behalf of the recently established Global Space Initiative (GSI) we would like to inform you that you have been selected as one of the prime candidates for the Phoenix mission.
This mission has a goal of sending the world’s first interstellar spacecraft to the near earthlike world of Gliese832c.
Your background in geology and mining could prove invaluable and have been selected at random amongst a large set of people with similar credentials. This is a unique opportunity offered to be a member of the elite few with the responsibility of safeguarding humanity against extinction.
Should you accept this mission you will undergo 24 months of training at the GSI training institute located in Bengaluru, India. There you will learn how to perform your role as a member of the phoenix crew. The crew will rendezvous in orbit of Europa where the spacecraft is being manufactured.
You have 24hours upon receipt to accept this mission, failure to communicate with us will be considered as a refusal and the next candidate will be considered.
You will find attached to this letter our contact information.
We hope to hear from you.
GSI Interstellar Operations Manager”
Instead of calling them, Serge called his wife Amélie and his daughter Chanelle. Grieving the fact that he had been gone for so long, he had finally ended his fugue with nothing but regret. His grandson was born, a boy who would only live long enough embrace chaos and the worst of humanity as his mentor.
Serge, the man who didn’t believe, could no longer ignore the truth. It was too late to reconcile with his family. Serge accepted the proposal and left for India.
Serge’s Ashes © 2014 Frederic Beauchamp All Rights Reserved