“I never thought sunsets were so precious, Trent. I used to be annoyed at how people would keep taking photos of them.”
“You never know the blessings you have until they’re gone, Esta.” They stood together at the edge of the shallow sea and watched the sun descend into night.
“You mean like Earth is gone, like how we destroyed the biosphere? But it’s not gone, Trent. It’s sitting out there pristine and pure. Can’t we go back to how it is now?
“That’s not how the tesseract works, Esta. We brought five hundred people and everything we’d need to build a human colony here. The gateway leads only from Earth’s present to Venus three billion years ago, our now. It’s a one-way trip. Earth’s out there, but we’ll never see it again except through a telescope.”
“Can we take better care of our life on Venus, Trent?”
“Yes, but it won’t last. In about a billion years or so, the climate will start changing on Venus too, and it will become another living hell.”
I wrote this for the FFfAW Challenge for the Week of November 21, 2017 hosted by Priceless Joy. The idea is to use the image above as a prompt to create a piece of flash fiction between 100 and 175 words long. My word count is 175.
I have to admit when I saw the photo, I really did think something like “oh no, not another sunset.” I mean how many stories can you write about a sunset? Then I started thinking about how to tweak this to make it a very unusual sunset. A lot of different ideas came to mind, but then I went to my “files” and revisited the Science Daily article Venus may have been habitable, NASA climate modeling suggests. Based on current climate modeling technology and techniques (which admittedly are far from perfect), some NASA scientists believe that up until about two billion years ago, Venus may have been habitable, possessing shallow oceans, breathable air, and a livable surface temperature.
However, being much closer to the Sun than Earth, ultraviolet radiation eventually burned off the oceans and, with no surface water available, carbon dioxide built up leading to a runaway greenhouse effect. Today, the surface of Venus is a unparalleled hell, with an atmosphere 90 times as thick as Earth’s, acid rains, mega-hurricane winds, and a surface temperature that can go as high as 864 degrees Fahrenheit (462 degrees Celsius).
I previously used the concept of a one-way tesseract or temporal gateway leading from Earth’s present to billions of years in the past on another planet in the story The Five Billion Year Love, which I still consider one of my better efforts at a romance, loss, and science fiction tale. In today’s story, the tesseract is a one-way portal from an Earth with an all but unlivable climate to three billion years into the past on Venus when it was habitable.
It’s an interesting thought that if humans could save themselves by moving to Venus in the distant past, then would natural events have caused the second planet’s eventual environmental demise or would human beings make the same mistakes twice?
To read other stories based on the prompt, go to InLinkz.com.