My adopted parents kept the shuttle that took me to earth. Neither of them was particularly tech savvy, and even if they had been, intergalactic space travel is pretty advanced science here on Earth. I was a baby when it landed, so it’s not like I was steering. So, it was pretty busted up, and sitting in a garage for 40 years hasn’t done it any favors. I should have started working on this earlier, but with the sea level rising, everybody is feeling that way.
Katrina arrives in the afternoon. We’ve worked together for years. She a tech expert. She’s in pretty high demand lately. For the past 15 years, most people pretended she didn’t exist. Prior to that, she was incredibly popular. Smart and beautiful. A hero that used more than just her fists. Then she started talking about climate change, and particularly about legislative solutions. Suddenly, she was the most hated person in the world, or at least among right wing pundits.
“Let’s see what we have here,” she says, and starts pulling the engine apart.
“I understand if you’re too busy.”
“I need a break. And for me, getting to mess around with an alien spaceship is a break. Sheesh, this is amazing. I wish you’d shown me this earlier.”
“Think you can get it running?”
“I can get anything to work, given enough time? How soon do you need this?”
“You’re the expert, how much time do we have?” I say.
Suddenly, it dawns on her what I’m trying to do. She fully takes in the dimensions of the craft.
“You can’t fit in this.”
“Let’s take a walk.”
My neighborhood is reasonably nice. Under normal conditions, there are kids playing in neatly tended lawns. But now, most of my neighbors have fled, heading away from the coast. Some are still around. People who need to still be here for their jobs, and don’t have savings to live off of. Some people who don’t believe there’s anything to worry about, and others who are still holding out hope that a solution will come, waiting until the last possible moment to give up.
Katrina is taking it all in. I’m sure she notices the unmarked security cars patrolling the neighborhood. The whole area might be flooded, but in the meantime, nobody better loot from the empty houses.
“He’s your son,” she says, “And you’re going to send him off the planet?”
“When faced it catastrophic environmental collapse, that’s what my parents did.”
“My parents spanked me for writing on the walls. I’d like to believe that if I had a child, I could do better than them.”
I pick up garbage as we walk along. It’s weird that with the decreased population here, the amount of litter seems to grow.
“We did try to do better. I know you were more outspoken, but I did those PSA’s. I talked to people, tried to influence politicians. I know I could have done more…”
“You did a lot. It doesn’t feel that way because I got labelled a communist and a hysterical woman, while you still got to be a hero.”
“And now you’re the hero again.”
“For the moment. If the carbon-eaters work. If we can get enough of them running. If a committee doesn’t suddenly cut off funding because climate change is just a hoax. No matter how you look at it, some people will be saved, and some will be lost, and only the lost will be my fault.”
I know she’s right. Save five people from a burning building, the story is always going to be about the one you couldn’t save. Even if it isn’t, that’s what we remember. When it’s about saving lives, there is no partial credit. But there’s one life I have to save.
A car U-turns and pulls up next to us. The driver peers at us.
“Excuse me, can I ask what you’re doing around here?”
“Just taking a walk,” I say, “I live in the neighborhood, and my friend is visiting.”
“Is that right? Well, you should know that this area is under surveillance, so don’t think about trying anything.”
“Would you really rather everything here be destroyed than be used by somebody in need for a few weeks?” Katrina asks.
“Just don’t touch anything. I’ve got my eye on you.”
He revs his engine and drives off. Speeds around the block to pass us again.
“Come on, let’s go fix your spaceship.”