By Kip Elder
The day we finally beat the Earth was a Friday.
Ms Mele Mafi saw the sunrise first, Chul Ho Yoon bought a tube of Vegemite, and Eleanor Cobb celebrated her husband’s birthday with the annual morning fellatio. Meanwhile off the coast of Argentina hundreds of thousands of fish floated to the surface, dead.
For no real fault of their own, extinction events often fail to live up to the hype. Thanks to popular culture the word 'extinction' tends to summon images of the finale: meteors and burning skies. And while that may eventually occur, the bulk of extinction happens quietly and over an extended period of time culminating in days like Friday.
Eleanor Atwood swam laps of her local pool, named after a famous swimmer who once competed at the Olympics – a global sporting competition renowned for its corruption. A sensible woman, Eleanor separated her recyclables, shopped with canvas bags, and drank double shot cappuccinos from her glass-and-cork Keep Cup. Around the 700-metre-mark Eleanor began to notice her back growing warm but kept swimming to complete her kilometre. Over the next 300 metres Eleanor boiled to death. It turns out temperature has no respect for routine.
Across town at a newly finished highway overpass, visiting Minister John Bircham fronted a press conference resplendent in hardhat and hi-vis. As he lavished praise on his party's decision to build the 52 kilometre ribbon of black top, he admired his dark reflection in the bank of automated cameras lenses. He might take the hardhat home and wear it during sex, he thought. It was quite sexy.
'This road created hundreds of jobs and will facilitate hundreds more in the years to come,’ he said, with a winning smile. Jobs were still important then despite the fact machines could do everything better. People still valued being unhappy for their income.
The nodding man standing behind Minister Bircham shifted slightly from side-to-side before his suit set alight and the cameras went dead. Technical difficulties.
All across the country people died and planes fell from the skies as the final straw burst into flames much in the same manner that befell the planet Venus. Soon Ms Mele Mafi and even birthday-boy Graham Cobb were naught but ashes; their opinions lost with them as the few remaining humans moved underground. Those who survived fought for their lives and managed emergency transports to the mothballed moon base built and abandoned a generation ago. At first they damned the fools who muted the blues and greens of earth, but over time that too passed.
'Unrealistic,' they said. 'Political suicide.'
And each day as the world crawled skyward over the lip of Tranquility, the remnants of a species stared and mourned for their once clear-eyed Mother now milky-white and blind.