Sunday 26 April 2015

The Last Mother by Lee Tonks

Image courtesy of Victor Habbick /
Lee Tonks' 'The Last Mother' was the winning story from June 2014's Short Fiction Contest.

The Last Mother by Lee Tonks

My sons and daughters,

By the time you read this I will be long gone, but through you our legacy will hopefully live on. As I dictate this I'm staring down at my home, or what remains of it. Earth was once beautiful and in a way it still is, but now the surface is red and scorched, the cities burning, the atmosphere poisoned by weaponry so terrifying I can barely bring myself to contemplate it.

They are gone. All of them. Not a soul remains on the planet below.

I am standing in the observation lounge of Orbital Science Platform 7. I have been here for several hours now wondering what I should tell you of myself, my family, the human race, our home, our achievements, our failures, our ultimate destruction at our own hands. And I've decided that it doesn't matter, none of it does. All that matters is that we survive, that the human race in some form or other continues. What came before is meaningless now that it's all gone.

The other scientists have taken the shuttle and headed for the moon-base. They begged me to go with them, of course, but I refused. For one, at least two of the missiles were aimed directly at it; we watched them pass. For two, even if the base survived there is no hope there - no air, no water, no food. Once the supplies are depleted all that awaits the people there is a slow, lingering death. That's not for me.

This facility was originally charged with studying the long-term effects of space travel on human and animal biology. In the past few days I have taken every human egg I can find from our stores and fertilized them in the lab. As a result I now have around two hundred thousand viable embryos, which I have frozen into twelve canisters and loaded into the life-pod. The pod was intended to enable the staff of the platform to survive for only a short period in the event of an accident, but frozen embryos do not require air or water or heat. The vacuum of space will ensure they remain frozen.

Soon I will also load the pod with as much equipment and information as I can find that will help explain how the embryos can be revived and brought to term. I've programmed a single burn of all of the pod's fuel and this should give it enough momentum to carry it out of our solar system and away. Away from all this destruction.

These embryos are you. If you are reading this then I have succeeded; some other civilisation has found you and revived our species from oblivion. It's a small hope, but it's all I have.

The oxygen here will run out tomorrow, but I don't intend to be around when that happens. For now I'll enjoy the silence and mourn my world just a little longer. 

Take care, my children. 

For you are humanity.

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