I feel like I’ve said this far too much lately, but apologies for not posting as often lately. Moving is taking a lot more time and energy than I’d anticipated. I hadn’t moved in years, and I’ve got way more crap this time around. There’s also been a lot more renovation than I expected. On the bright side, I now know how to lay a vinyl plank floor and paint, but it has come at the expense of regular blog posts/book reviews.
Because I didn’t want this to be another week without any posts, have another short story. This is another one that I like, I could definitely have explored the themes more, but I think it still gets the point across. It was supposed to be for a flash fiction contest, but it ended up being over the word count by too much to cut down without butchering the storyline. Oh, and the title is a reference to an Oscar Wilde quote.
“How long now, Yuri?”
“About fifteen minutes, and however long it takes to buffer.”
“I thought you fixed that?”
“You can’t fix buffering, Armand. I cut it down as much as I could, but their system affects the time too, not just ours.”
“Will it be fast enough to bypass security?”
“It’s going to have to be.”
Three years ago, Armand had come to me with a dream to take back the sky. He was a well-known environmentalist, and I’d made my own opinions on the changing world clear enough for him to reach out. Still, the plan had been all but impossible before Jia came aboard. Working together, we’d written some of the most elaborate code the world could never know about. In about 12 minutes, we’d know if our time had been wasted.
“Boys, you wound me. Every simulation I’ve run leaves us plenty of time to upload and delete before we’re even detected.” Her voice preceding her, Jia entered, and I tried my best to emulate her calm. A coding prodigy, she’d made her first million from tech before she left high school. We hadn’t even found her to bring her in—somehow, she figured out what we were doing and approached us. And of the three of us, she had the most to lose.
Armand had dropped out of school, while Jia had more degrees and honorary degrees than your average parliament. I’d had some modest success on my own, though never managed to successfully transition to the corporate world. My various health concerns, mobility issues and social difficulties made me an undesirable hire, and my work wasn’t profitable enough to make me worth the investment.
Without Jia’s expertise and resources, we would undoubtedly have been caught and shut down years ago. Her work on various security protocols, and her own personal monitoring systems, meant we were as safe as we could be in the planning phase. The real challenges would arrive with the launch. Despite Jia’s confident words, I saw her scanning the various displays as we waited, final checks complete, for our chance.
“You’re sure this won’t cause any safety issues down the line?” Armand again. This scheme was all his idea, but he had the least effect on the final outcome. Truth be told Jia was the true brains and money behind the operation now.
“No more than all that debris and cramped orbits were already causing. Just in the time we’ve been working on this, how much have space falls increased? The laws still aren’t strict enough, we shouldn’t have anything up there too large to burn up in the atmosphere, but corporations buy their way out of responsibility. It’s up to us to take a stand.”
Armand looked convinced, but suddenly, I wasn’t.
The tv in the corner, previously muted, switches to a channel playing the launch live. Our code began uploading to the onboard servers, and it was too late to stop it now. The three of us watch in rapt, terrified silence as the rocket is fired, carrying the virus we’d written in to range of the various satellites and bodies that had slowly blotted out the stars. The light pollution combined with the decreased air quality from the fires and volcanic eruptions that had steadily been increasing in frequency until the only lights in the sky were manmade.
The first satellites begin to fall a week later. It makes the news, until enough news and internet satellites fall for such things to become impossible. Telecommunications systems everywhere are impacted, and last I heard about half a dozen terrorist groups had claimed responsibility. The sky becomes darker, falling stars leaving only heavenly bodies behind.
I don’t regret what I did, even when Jia and Armand disappear and faceless figures dressed in black tactical gear come to confiscate every piece of technology I’ve ever owned. The computers we worked with are long gone, not that it’ll do anything. Armand and I weren’t covering our tracks very well in the beginning, it’s no wonder they figured out we were involved. When they drag me outside, I don’t struggle. Tears roll down my face as I tilt my head back and gaze in wonder at the moon.