When it became apparent that disaster could not be avoided and that long-term survival on Earth after the impact would be untenable, both private and public efforts were undertaken in every country to prepare for the end and to ensure that some aspect of humanity might be given a chance to survive. Governments mobilized to expand underground bunkers in an effort to extend life for at least the chosen few, as well as retain a record of humanity’s collective accomplishments in samples of its art, science, and literature. Hardened bunkers built to withstand nuclear strikes might survive the impact for the former players in the deadly game of mutual assured destruction. Existing facilities were expanded to the extent possible in the available time, and stocked with sufficient food, water and oxygen to permit a few thousand people to live underground for up to five years. Technology developed for space and for use in submarines, including air and water reclamation processes, hydroponics gardens growing genetically altered strains of fast-growing wheat and other grains, and small nuclear generators capable of providing the necessary energy to run the equipment that made a self-contained closed environment possible, were utilized and implemented with all due haste. In the U.S., military bunkers from the cold war era were reclaimed and new ones built with a total capacity to house perhaps 250,000 people. No attempt was made to make the selection process of the chosen few democratic or fair. There was not even the pretense of a lottery system that might buy the chance to cheat death for a lucky few. In the end, the survival of the species was of paramount importance and the decisions made were based on the criteria set by a civilian government backed by martial law. Other countries made similar preparations and, even in the poorest countries, some effort was made to provide the chance for survival to a select few. All of these efforts would be largely thwarted on the day of the impact, but they represented a brave effort nonetheless at avoiding defeatism and giving in to despair. Although the record must show that in the final days anarchy ruled the world, perhaps there is some comfort in knowing that humanity did not surrender to its fate or walk quietly into the night like sheep to the slaughter but met its fate fighting to the end for life.
A book trailer for this short story collection that includes my unedited, “cold-reading” of the shortest story in the collection, “Justice”, is available here.
The excerpt above is from the book’s newest short story, “Mars: Genesis 2.0” which is also available as a stand-alone Kindle story. (Click on the cover below for more information.)