The old prophets said the world would end in fire, and they were right. They could not have known the truth, the scientific facts behind the Sun's aging, swelling body. They didn't know that Earth would become just another Venus in time. They did not know that no god was necessary for the end.
The scientists knew it would happen-they had the facts. They had a plan. They'd get all of us off the planet, we'd go somewhere else. All of us, they insisted, there would be room for all of us. They had plenty of time to prepare.
But everyone knew that some would be left behind, because there would always be some undesirable peoples, political enemies and the Other to exclude. And so we fought, started and ended wars with the push of a button and did half the Sun's work for him.
We were people scrambling, rushing towards the fire exit-trampling screaming clawing crushing climbing pushing fighting our way to the only door and we had all been told to Proceed Calmly Towards the Exit but it didn't matter because the fire was at our backs-or so we thought-and in our blind fear we didn't realize that we all could have made it out ok but the panic drove us on and so only the lucky the strong the agile made it out and the rest burned or were trampled because a man backed into a corner is not a man but a beast and we all played our part-nobody said calm down, nobody even tried.
I am not different, I am not the exception. I have killed millions with my silence.
Out of the dim building and into bright sunlight we few survivors crawled, ash-covered as if in mourning. The scientists picked up the pieces of the plan and built the ship; there was extra room. No one would speak of it. The death of billions made the trip comfortable for the rest of us.
I wept as I painted my suite red; they came and gave me drugs but I didn't want them. I wanted to remember the color of fire and blood, the color of panic.
They named the ship Noah's Arc. I laughed the loudest when I heard. "God kept his promise, after all!" I shouted as they quietly gave me more drugs. I told them not to bother; they could not right the wrongs we committed together.
We left Earth and I wasn't sad until I saw the deep scars in the planet, gouged with fire. I didn't want to remember my home that way, but now that is what I think of when I say Earth and Earth is always in my mind a building on fire full of unthinking creatures that only look like men and women.
When the bloated Sun finally consumes the Earth, we will not be homeless anymore. We will have settled on some other world, thrust our roots into alien soil and we will have forgotten the past like we always do. I will not be there to see the fire-ripped continents dissolve and return to the Sun. I will not see hundreds of thousands of years of Human Progress melt and collapse, but it will happen.
I wish that I could say with conviction that if I could stand there on Earth when the fire came that I would, but I know it isn't true. I did not stand and die when the bombs fell because I am a coward. If I said I would end my life to pay for the sins that scarred my mind as surely as the fire scarred the Earth I would be lying. I did not crawl my way to freedom just to turn around and throw myself back into a madhouse.
But I do wish I could watch the Earth give its final fleeting breath and die in the arms of the aging Sun. I would sigh with relief when I saw that the last evidence of our mutual atrocities had become nothing.
I am insane because I cannot look forward; I do not need doctors to tell me this. I close my eyes and I am pressing my hand against the window watching Earth drift away as I have never seen or dreamed of it before as I could have never imagined it before and the dead burned patches of ground are part of me and I open my eyes to find that people are burning and screaming for help and I stand and watch their skin turn black and crisp and the fat oozes and I don't feel sorry for them at all and I don't cry for them at all-I am crying for myself because I am truly happy that I am not them and when I realize that there is no room for pity in me anymore I know that I cannot escape this moment. I have ceased to be human. I am a moment played over and over again.
And so they drift, looking for home, waiting for the dove to come back with a branch and I can only look at the flat black blanket dusted with stars and wonder how many planets will die before we do, how many times will we make mad dashes for the sky and leave the weak behind to burn?