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Destiny of Destruction: A Short Story by cam

Updated on December 17, 2016
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Chris has written more than 100 flash fiction/short stories.Working Vacation took 21st out of 6,700 in the 2016 Writer's Digest competition.

Terraformed Mars (Artist's Depiction)

An artist's impression of a terraformed Mars centered over Valles Marineris. The Tharsis region can be seen of the left side of the globe.
An artist's impression of a terraformed Mars centered over Valles Marineris. The Tharsis region can be seen of the left side of the globe. | Source

Vincent Smythe stood at the bay window in the conference room of the Industrial Development Bank viewing the city of Munis that spread out from the central plaza in concentric circles across the martian landscape.

Vincent’s mind was not on the miracle of science that had created this new home for mankind following the degradation of planet Earth, but on the proposal he was about to present to the bank’s two top executives, a plan that could supply Munis with needed energy and make Vincent and the bank a great deal of money. His hand slipped into the pocket of his sport coat, fingering the white silk glove as he recalled the last time he had worn it.

Vincent’s company had borrowed money to create a canal from the northern sea to a nearby reservoir during a period of drought. According to a longstanding tradition between private developers and financiers, Smythe and the bank president had each worn a white glove for the signing of the contract, a symbol of integrity and trust between the bank, the people and himself. The canal and reservoir had been providing the region with water for decades. Everybody had won as a result of honest business.

Source

Munis was the primary city on Mars since man had abandoned Earth centuries earlier. The terraforming process had involved the introduction of greenhouse gases to Mars’s atmosphere which had eventually produced a warm, habitable climate. The Polar ice had melted, creating a fresh water ocean in the far north and a cycle of evaporation and rain. Mars was no longer a desolate wasteland but had become a fertile planet supporting farms which supplied the people with food.

“Hello, Vincent.” The bank’s president, Jackson Taylor, crossed the room and shook hands with his old friend. “Let’s step over to the bar and make a couple of those Bermuda Blacks you like.” They mixed the ginger and lime juices with rum and settled into leather armchairs arranged around a black coffee table fashioned from Martian basalt.

The door opened, and Miriam Nichols, a short, white haired woman, stepped into the room. The bank’s vice president walked to a television monitor and turned it on then visited the bar. She took her place in the third chair and held her Green Ghost over the black surface of the table. Vincent and Jackson did the same with their drinks.

“To the future of Munis and the rule of common sense.” Miriam spoke the toast as a television news reporter interviewed activists outside the bank.

“I see the protestors to my plan are keeping up their vigil,” said Vincent. “How about you, Miriam? Are you still opposed?”

“More than ever, Vincent.” Miriam ignored her drink. “You’ve done a great deal of good for Munis, but this idea does not seem to be in the best interest of humanity.”

“We need energy. We can build solar panels until they cover the surface of the planet, but dust storms will still cut their efficiency by half. Nuclear energy was foolishly banned from the beginning in an irrevocable Charter. So here we are, centuries down the road, still burning fossil fuels with no realistic alternatives. I can supply those resources, but I need your help.”

“I hear you’ve gotten correspondence from potential investors.”

“There’s a lot of money to be made. I’d like to keep it for my company and this bank, if possible. Vincent locked eyes with Miriam, but the television reporter drew their attention.

Dust Storm on Mars: Before and During

Before dust storm-June 26, 2001 During dust storm-September 4, 2001
Before dust storm-June 26, 2001 During dust storm-September 4, 2001 | Source

“We have with us Dr. Newell Thornburg who has joined with those protesting Vincent Smythe’s plan to go back to earth and mine for fossil fuels that he claims are still abundant. Dr. Thornburg, why are you opposed to this idea?”

“Smythe is going too far. His plan will have dire consequences for Munis and Mars by tying us perpetually to fossil fuels. We must focus on energy sources that won’t destroy this planet as we destroyed Earth. The man’s thinking has gone from reckless to insane.”

“Vincent, everyone who opens their mouth about your plan is speaking out of pure ignorance.” Jackson walked to the television and turned it off. "We’ve been given only the sketchiest insight into what you’re proposing, and rumors are running rampant. Why don’t you enlighten Miriam and me now.”

Earth Photo By Apollo 17 Crew Member

The photo was taken by the crew of Apollo 17 on their way to the Moon. Antarctica, Africa, the Arabian Peninsula, Madagascar, and part of Asia are visible.
The photo was taken by the crew of Apollo 17 on their way to the Moon. Antarctica, Africa, the Arabian Peninsula, Madagascar, and part of Asia are visible. | Source

“I’ve prepared a hologram which demonstrates my plan,” said Vincent. He recited the file’s access code for the network, and a three dimensional image appeared of a rotating, environmentally pristine Earth, suspended above the black surface of the table.

“Earth as it hasn't appeared for half a millennium,” said Jackson. The image changed with each rotation until a smoldering orb was all that remained. “Sad, isn’t it?”

“The history of this bank reaches far back in time, Jackson,” said Miriam. “So far that it was around to finance some of the devastation we’re looking at.”

“Devastation may be too strong a word," said Vincent. “Vast pockets of resources we need still exist beneath the surface. We can’t access them the conventional way because the deposits of oil, coal and natural gas are too deep.”

“When we left Earth, we thought we would never again need those archaic forms of dirty energy, but here we are, still relying on resources and technology that destroyed our planet,” said Miriam. “Wouldn’t it be wiser to invest more in forms of clean energy before we destroy yet another planet?”

“That’s the problem. There is no end in sight of our need for these fuels. Some people are burning anything flammable to heat their homes. They carry water from the canal and boil it. Science fiction leads us to believe that future discoveries will solve challenges such as energy, but the fact is, we’re not flying through the galaxy in starships powered by dilithium crystals. We limped over to Mars over a period of centuries on conventional rocket ships of the time, while Earth was becoming uninhabitable. Some technology has advanced remarkably, but some has actually regressed. On one hand we terraformed Mars to become habitable, but we’re having trouble providing our people with some of the basic needs of life.”

“But you said the deposits on earth are too deep,” said Jackson.

“For the old ways of mining, yes. We’ll never reach them by digging and drilling,” said Vincent. “Watch the hologram.”

Devastation of Earth

Source

Several spacecraft appeared, hovering at various points above the devastated planet, sending lasers nearly to the molten core.

“What are they doing?” Miriam rose to her feet.

“Those are tunneling beams, creating multiple shafts through which matter and antimatter collisions can be carried out.” Vincent remained seated.

“Resulting in what?” Jackson said.

“The controlled fracturing of the planet.” Smythe stood to meet the opposition.

“You want to blow up the earth?” Miriam set her drink on the table and rose to her feet. “Thornburg was right, you have gone crazy.”

Asteroid Belt Orbiting a Star

Source

“Not blow it up,” said Vincent. “Just break it down into manageable pieces. The debris, along with the moon, would continue following Earth’s orbit. The effect on the rest of the solar system should be negligible.”

“I’ve seen and heard enough,” said Miriam. “My vote is for no loan, Jackson. If you go through with it, you’ll have my resignation immediately.” The woman walked out of the meeting, leaving Jackson to decide the fate of the proposal.

“Go on, Vincent. I’m listening.”

“We’ll mine each segment until it’s been exhausted of all usable resources.

Jackson slid to the edge of his chair. “My god, Vincent, people still refer to Earth as our home.”

“What’s the point in heroic efforts to save a ruined planet, especially when it’s the only place we’ve found in the solar system that has an abundance of fossil fuels which we desperately need?”

“You really believe you can pull this off?”

“I’ve been over the details with planetary engineers. It can be done.”

“So all you need is the money?”

“Yes, and the return on that investment will be nearly incalculable. But there is one small issue.”

“I need another drink.” Jackson led the way to the bar where he poured two shots of scotch.

“A spot of green has been detected in the Amazon River basin by my scientists.”

“Planetary recovery?”

“Possibly.”

“Hasn’t it been noticed by others?”

“It doesn’t appear that anyone is watching that closely anymore. We’re considering a mission to burn the area, but the sooner we get started with the big plan, the better.”

Exploding Planet

Source

The two returned to the image above the table and watched the event unfold. Multiple explosions occurred simultaneously. Fractures formed until dozens of pieces of Earth were floating independently. One by one they disappeared, until only empty space remained.”

Vincent’s eyes dropped from where the earth had been to the tabletop beneath, a blackness that suggested more than the absence of the planet.

“You can promise astronomical profits?”

“Trillions.” Vincent pulled the white glove from his pocket. Integrity?

Jackson did the same and hesitated. “I’ll sign the contract, Vincent, but I won’t be wearing the white glove when I do. We’re crossing the line.”

Vincent nodded and tossed his glove onto the table. Jackson’s landed beside it, white fabric against a black void.

Neil deGrasse Tyson: How to Blow Up a Planet

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    • cam8510 profile image
      Author

      Chris Mills 14 months ago from St. Louis, MO until the end of June, 2017

      wingedcentaur, I'm sorry I've taken so long to respond to your excellent comments. I've revised the story in a few places based on your input. I think this does make the story stronger. It is still a mile long dialogue, but I'm taken by this concept. It needs to be developed into a much longer piece, but right now, I have other projects to work on. Maybe someday it could be a novel length work.

    • wingedcentaur profile image

      William Thomas 15 months ago from That Great Primordial Smash UP of This and That Which Gave Rise To All Beings and All Things!

      Well done, Chris!

      I like the way you framed the problem of energy in this imagined interplanetary age. On the one hand: "When we left Earth, we thought we would never again need those archaic forms of dirty energy, but here we are, still relying on resources and technology that destroyed our planet."

      But on the other hand: "... but the fact is, we're not flying through the galaxy in star ships. We limped over to Mars when Earth became uninhabitable, and while some technology has advanced remarkably, some has actually regressed. On one hand we terraformed Mars to become habitable, but we're having trouble providing our people with some of the basic needs of life."

      That is powerful, paradoxical imagery you have there, Chris: flying to Mars, but not in "star ships." The people "limped over" to Mars. If there is any improvement to be made, Chris, you might say more of what you mean by "limped."

      What was supposed to fuel the "star ships" that, apparently, failed to materialize? And what alternatively---and primitively---fueled the rockets by which the people "limped" over to Mars?

      Great story and I love the bit about the white glove: Its a deal but they can't quite give it that ultimate seal of approval---integrity!

    • cam8510 profile image
      Author

      Chris Mills 16 months ago from St. Louis, MO until the end of June, 2017

      Shyron, I thought if I told the story, it would be jinxed and not happen. Let's hope it works. Thanks for reading and commenting. Good to see you.

    • cam8510 profile image
      Author

      Chris Mills 16 months ago from St. Louis, MO until the end of June, 2017

      jgshorebird, I'm glad you liked this story, but I'll be the first to admit it has its problems. I worked on some of them after submitting it to the NYC Midnight competition. Then I revised it some more and lengthened it by 500 words for a Writers Digest competition. I don't imagine it will do well there either. The story is too confined to this small conference room. But I just can't let it go. :)

    • Shyron E Shenko profile image

      Shyron E Shenko 16 months ago from Texas

      Chris, I am wondering is this a premonition?

      Sounds a little bit to close to home for me.

      And piques my superstition

      Hope this is a fantasy

      Blessings Chris.

    • jgshorebird profile image

      jgshorebird 16 months ago from Southeastern U.S.

      My interest is if the Amazon area is recovering...is anyone living there? And I'm letting myself imagine the mining/fuel extraction process of chunks of earth as they sort of float in a half-ball of cosmic mush. I do recall the older story...a bit. All in all, I liked this one too. Of course, I really like sci-fi.

    • cam8510 profile image
      Author

      Chris Mills 17 months ago from St. Louis, MO until the end of June, 2017

      Shauna, You and other commenters are right when you say this story is not so far fetched. Someone could take this kind of idea and sell it to a lot of people. Spin it just right, and it sounds reasonable. I appreciate your words. Thanks for reading my story.

    • bravewarrior profile image

      Shauna L Bowling 17 months ago from Central Florida

      The message of this story is that we are destroying our planet. I know it's just a story, but the fact that man wants to continue to reduce our planet to nothingness, despite the fact that appears regrowth is occurring, isn't so far fetched. Will we ever learn?

      Great story, Chris. Something for all the world to think about.

    • cam8510 profile image
      Author

      Chris Mills 17 months ago from St. Louis, MO until the end of June, 2017

      Frank, thank you. The flash fiction version for the comp had technical problems. The story line was well received. Also, I fixed the science in the story to be in keeping with current knowledge and then extrapolated.

    • Frank Atanacio profile image

      Frank Atanacio 17 months ago from Shelton

      Cam, I really enjoyed this jangling thriller.. I don't know about the judges in last year's comp.. but this piece is a high water mark.. bravo my friend :)

    • cam8510 profile image
      Author

      Chris Mills 17 months ago from St. Louis, MO until the end of June, 2017

      MsDora, I wish Miriam could have played more of a role, but I had a limit of 1500 words for this story. Thanks for reading. It is good to see you here today.

    • MsDora profile image

      Dora Isaac Weithers 17 months ago from The Caribbean

      I like Miriam's spunk. I half expected her to take a peek at the men towards the end. Great story-telling though.

    • cam8510 profile image
      Author

      Chris Mills 17 months ago from St. Louis, MO until the end of June, 2017

      Eric, I'm glad you enjoyed the story. You called it a winner. I appreciate that. But now I don't know if I'll be able to use it in the competition since it has been stolen and published somewhere other than my personal blog. That is a shame too. I was hoping it might do well.

    • cam8510 profile image
      Author

      Chris Mills 17 months ago from St. Louis, MO until the end of June, 2017

      Ann, thanks for reading and for your comments. I was able to break up the mile long section of dialogue (which the judges disliked) of the flash fiction version. I've recently learned better ways to write dialogue and not use traditional dialogue tags. It makes it less repetitive when the reader isn't seeing so many "he said," "she said" tags.

    • cam8510 profile image
      Author

      Chris Mills 17 months ago from St. Louis, MO until the end of June, 2017

      John, I'm glad you enjoyed it. This story got stolen as soon as I published it just after midnight. I'll be filing a DMCA. I just could not pack into a 1000 word flash fiction some of the details that made this much better as a short story.

    • cam8510 profile image
      Author

      Chris Mills 17 months ago from St. Louis, MO until the end of June, 2017

      Venkatachari M, I appreciate you reading this story and for your comments. It is good to know this one is gaining an emotional response which is something I always strive for.

    • Ericdierker profile image

      Eric Dierker 17 months ago from Spring Valley, CA. U.S.A.

      I certainly remember the old version. This is an impact story. One that leads the reader to think and think and rethink what we take for granted. This surely is a winner!

    • annart profile image

      Ann Carr 17 months ago from SW England

      Very ominous. It's much better with the added 'green' regeneration which adds to the angles of underhandedness and greed. It reminds me of the way many things happen here when the business men assure us that it's all going to be fine and they've done little research and sometimes it's impossible to know - big risks with other people's lives and well-being.

      You bring up many issues here and I found it more compelling, more engaging, more realistic and therefore more scary!

      Ann

    • Jodah profile image

      John Hansen 17 months ago from Queensland Australia

      Wow Chris, I love this new version of the story. Venkat is right..it is scary because the way we are treating this planet it is all possible in the future and not totally far-fetched science fiction. I can't suggest any improvements.

    • Venkatachari M profile image

      Venkatachari M 17 months ago from Hyderabad, India

      A thrilling story. But very much scary also. Blowing up earth is unimaginable at all. How can they do it and what if they are unable to carry on Mars? It can end up in the destruction of whole mankind.

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