I stood and watched the spaceships descend, and I felt fear. They launched their fire-laden destruction. I ran. When I could run no more I turned to see the city ablaze.
I drove on the edge of control, the motorbike careering across the charred countryside. A stopwatch ticked down. We had nothing to lose. Thirty. Distance eighty seven miles. Over the crest of a hill. Twenty. Checked my compass, sheltered. Ten. I curled into a ball. Zero. The explosion ripped past me like a rabid pack of animals. Frightening power.
When I finally opened my eyes I saw the mushroom cloud hanging huge over the city. Everything was decimated.
Walking through the once city, I saw wreckage of their ships. And their bodies. Grizzly remains. I saw the remnants of a woman holding her baby. I vomited. Sad triumph. I felt no elation. We thought we had nothing to lose, but others had lost. Not me. Not me yet. Not me.
Their spaceships left to cheers, giving up on us, and our planet. Unprepared for the psychotic behaviour of the indigenous species. Not prepared to take the losses. Not prepared to suffer the radiation sickness.
Abort. Abort. Abort.
Slowly I disassembled a spaceship’s engine, desperately trying to understand it. I flinched as another rocket roared into the sky. I watched it rise until it was a small speck. Another one had made it. Another handful of humans fleeing the chaos, rising above the radiation.
Then what? No thought beyond the day. Instinctive survival. Mass exodus into orbit.
I turned back to the alien machinery. To my plan. My hope.
James Bloomer has a PhD in particle physics (he worked at CERN) and has probably forgotten more physics than most people ever learn. He writes software for a living, Science Fiction for his sanity and runs the SF blog Big Dumb Object.