SUNDOME… Today’s Hot HyperShort by Ethan Lawrence #ethanlawrence #hypershort @dailysciencefiction @sfsignal


Another awesome HyperShort for today comes from the sunny side… the DARK sunny side, thanks to an “end of the world” master.

SUNDOME by Ethan Lawrence

Of all the trillions of people who have lived and who will live, I was not especially important, nor heroic, nor handsome, but for a few moments I was cradled by the laws of nature.  In a universe that allows humans to survive in a minuscule sliver of all possible times and places, this was a rare accomplishment.  I was under the Sundome.

I wanted to see the killing sun for myself so I took the Long Elevator to the surface.  The Sundome was a hemispheric pocket of air trapped under massive polymer plates on the crust of my dying planet called Earth.  The Sundome persisted only through the efforts of robotic fixers, and the robots themselves needed constant repair from the ravages of the sun.  Through the transparent ceiling of the dome, I watched the sun rise over the world it had destroyed.  The sun was a boiling disc, white and fringed with solar arcs.  Ancient archived images showed a turquoise sky, but the sun had long since blown the atmosphere to wisps across the ruins of the old city.  Rising from the centre was a tower many kilometers tall.  It had been even taller once, reaching all the way to orbit.

As the sun rose in the sky, the number of visitors to the Sundome thinned out.  It was a terrifying experience for many people to stand beneath the blinding and blazing star.  But not for me.  I wanted to face the sun, to challenge its authority to kill me.  While the bulk of the people around me withdrew to the safety of the rock beneath their feet, I chose to go further outwards.  The Sundome hosted a number of small transports that allowed visitors to tour the old city.  They were rarely used in daylight hours.  I went to the transport bay, now completely emptied of people, and found a bus.  The doors closed shut with a pneumatic sigh, and then it trundled out the airlock gates.  As the transport moved over the blighted landscape, it gave an automated commentary.

“Different astronomers on Old Earth,” said the bus, “reported different colors for the sun over different centuries.  It was thought that the colors had been misreported due to the primitive telescopes of the time.  Now we know that the old astronomers were seeing signs of instability.”

I tuned out the words, but the sound of the voice was soothing.  The transport made its way over to the great, ruined tower.  It was impressive, but once it had been majestic, almost god-like in its engineering.  Now it was a candle stub of eroded carbon.  The soil at the foot of the tower had been baked to glass.

The bus took me around the Old City.  The voice pointed out downtown, Santa Monica, and a charred area known as The Valley.  Every one of them had long since crumbled to an abstract mass.  I sat quietly on the bus as the sun showered the world with light of many frequencies and particles of many energies, with some that knocked lesser particles off the land around them and made the world glow.

On the time scales that affect human consciousness. I did not have long before I would be processed by the forces of nature.  Human sacrifice had dogged living creatures as far back as pre-Columbian Aztec civilization.  With the evolution of abstract intelligence, the tragedy of death became a folly.  But without that folly, humans would never have made it across the Red Sea and there never would have lived a man like me taking his last ride across the crust of a dying world.  Each of us ultimately took this tour before they died, for recycling.  Up ahead, at the end of this Grand Central Line, the bodies of the living were committed to the huge bacterial vats that broke down flesh and bone and returned organics to the community.

It was my last day on Earth.  And I couldn’t wait.


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