TIDES • by John A. Underwood

The ocean here is wrong. When I complain about it, they tell me it’s because the atmosphere is different. Thinner, with an exotic composition that carries soundwaves differently from back home. I think it’s more than that.

For one thing, the sound I hear is processed for my ears. We cannot breathe that exotic air they like to blame for everything. Not without filters and admixtures, masks and tubes. It isn’t like I can go out sunbathing. Besides the not-quite-toxic air, our new sun is too hot. It is too active, and too blue.

My partner thinks it may be the sunlight bothering me. Not directly, but in the way it dances on the waves and shimmers away to the horizon. It’s true, the light lays strange upon the water. And what about that water? It’s just water, after all. I remember well the unmitigated jubilation when the survey data came. We’d finally found it: another world with liquid water on the surface. Dihydrogen monoxide, pure and unpolluted. Lifeless, at least theoretically. I’m not so sure anymore.

The twin moons mess with the tides. The rhythm is off. I know. I spent my last days on Earth sitting on a desolate beach, shivering in the icy wind and spray. The ships waited overhead and out of sight behind the sky. I was one of the very last to go up. And still I felt less isolated than when I hear this alien surf.

Ah, I’m being dramatic. I am not alone. So many of us survived the hibernation; more than the experts predicted in their median projections. Those who made it have naturally made it their business to increase our numbers even further.

More babies are surviving every year. That’s a good thing, but I wonder: are their internal rhythms altered as well? When they hear the waves crash against this diamond shore, will they hear the echoes of their own blood?

I don’t think they will. But what do I know?


John A. Underwood began writing at the age of 6, and believes that after more than 3 decades he’s almost good at it. He writes a wide range of speculative fiction, but has lately been focused on a pulpy space opera series featuring rockets, ray guns, and a ghost pirate robot. He can be found on Twitter @modayode or on the web at modayode.com.


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