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Dear Future Discoverer,
I am not sure who or what is looking at this video log. Whosoever you are, thanks for taking an effort to dig this one out. In case you don’t understand this language, I am also copying the translation of this message in multiple languages including binary. You can use this video to decode and understand all the languages prevalent at this time. Hey! That’s modern day Rosetta Stone for you right there. Anyway, I have a penchant to digress.
Ok, where should I start? The date. I am recording this message on 11th October, 2056 A.D. These dates may not mean much to you, but you can try to figure out the age of this video to date it from your era. In case you don’t get the date horribly wrong, the Sun is still a young mid-size star only 4.1 billion years old.
Now that we have established a date, let me get to the true reason I am recording this video log. You see this machine in my hands? It is called Thermo Human Imaging (Nuclear) Gadget or T.H.I.N.G for short. THING detects human life by looking at thermal signatures. It was a powerful device already and then I rigged it to search for human life within tens of thousands of miles. Effectively the whole planet. Coupled with satellites, it detects the exact location of other people on the planet, and projects it on this screen on my right. Let me pan my camera….there. Do you see that screen? Alright. Now, do you notice that one small dot on that rotating globe? Ok - that is me. Couple of weeks back THING’s screen was a swarm of red dots that has been shrinking since then. Today, it is projecting only one small dot.
Did you get it? Yep. I am the last man on the Earth. It is a very weird feeling being the last of my species. I am sitting on the ruins of a civilization which we were very proud of. I never thought it’d end like this. WE never thought it’d ever end like this. But I guess every civilization ends one way or another. I don’t have too long either. Maybe, another two to three days as I wait for my death.
How did we get to this? Future Discoverer, I hear you ask. Well, that is certainly a valid question. But before answering, I want you to not to judge us on what we became. We did the best we could. We survived for 200 thousand years before perishing. We developed ourselves to the point of being the dominant species on this planet even when we were physically inferior to the other animals. We went to the space and visited other planets. We developed medicine and doubled our natural life span.
Dear Future Discoverer, we did well for a while. You might even say that we became too complacent. The trouble started when one of our telescopes discovered a new asteroid in the night sky. Well, not immediately. It was one of those discoveries where the discoverer gets a tiny mention in the footnote of those thick astronomy books. It was one of those insignificant moments which would have gone unnoticed if not for one small detail – the asteroid was headed right towards the Earth. We called it “Nemesis”. Nemesis was big and fast. Big and fast enough to wipe out the entire planet forty times over. (I don’t know where scientists got that number from. For me, “one” was crazy enough). We estimated that it would collide with Earth in 12 months.
Dear Future Discoverer, that was 363 days ago. Now, that collision is 2 days away, Nemesis is thrice as big as the moon in the sky, and our civilization is already extinct. Ironic isn’t it? It just took 363 days and a global panic to wipe ourselves off the face of the planet.
I don’t want to lie to you – I feel a little embarrassed to admit all this. But as I said please don’t judge us on last 12 months. The moment Nemesis’ trajectory became apparent, all the governments tried to censor the news of the upcoming “event”, while they tried to figure out their response. They were afraid that it may spark a global hysteria? (You think?) But you can’t hide a giant ball of rock in the sky from the public forever. And then all hell broke loose. Whole countries were shut-down as everyone wanted to be with their loved ones. Economies broke down. Religions went berserk. It was crazier on the streets. There was neither police on the streets nor armies on the borders. There were no drivers to run the trains or pilots to fly the airplanes.
Mobs went on a rampage. They looted whatever they could. The whole world became a free-for-all anarchy where even normal people joined the riots to get food for their families. People died. After all the shops and gas stations have been emptied, the gangs turned to each other. Another round of violence ensued. Many more people died. Those who survived the gangs died from hunger. Before we knew, half of our population was gone and remaining half on the verge of dying.
Amidst all the panic, a global consortium was formed. It was a peculiar mix of erstwhile most powerful people on the planet – several Presidents, industrialists, rock-stars, rich people, religious icons, odd-ball celebrities and NASA. The consortium unveiled their plans of building the space-arks as humanity’s last ditch attempt to save the human race from extinction. Arks were to be self-sustainable and meant to survive in space for many generations, while searching for another habitable planet. But there was a catch. Building these arks required immense resources and manpower. Consortium discovered that it is difficult to incentivize people to work when they have only few months to live.
Consortium stumbled on the answer– Lotteries. You could get a lottery ticket for a seat in one of the arks in exchange for your skill and labor. More important you are, you get more lottery tickets hence a better shot at securing a berth in the arks. Top engineers and scientists got one in hundred lottery; junior ones got one in thousand. Even if you didn’t have any specialized skills, you can get a one-in-billion ticket in exchange for a manual labor. Hope is a wondrous force. That is something I want you to remember about humans. People got working again just for a minuscule chance of getting themselves off the planet before Nemesis fried everyone.
Now you can take a guess what odds a fresh college grad with a degree in geology would get. One in a billion. I didn’t want to toil last few remaining months of my life to play a one in a billion gamble. I decided to live to our fullest in whatever time I had. There were others just like me. We helped each other in achieving our crazy fantasies.
Sky diving from Statue of liberty. Check.
Play paint ball at Taj Mahal. Check.
Race horses on the Great Wall of China. Make love atop the Pyramids. Play football at the Colosseum. Check. Check. Check.
No one bothered us as rest of the humanity was busy creating the eighth wonder of the world – the Arks. They were gigantic. Each of the eight Arks were more than half a kilometer in length and more than hundred meters wide. The rockets which were supposed to propel these arks into space were unfathomably huge. It was impressive that we built such a thing in such a short span of time.
As the date of launch closed-in, the launch site at Jiuquan, China became the modern day Mecca for everyone. As the Nemesis became bigger and brighter, people begin realizing the crude reality of impending doom. Billions of the people flocked to the launch site. Everyone hoping that they’ll get off the planet before our beloved home became a victim to space billiards.
Lotteries were a complete chaos and completely meaningless. No one cared about it in the end. Everyone just made a dash towards the Arks. At last, the consortium also panicked. They resorted to firepower to protect their Arks. I don’t know the exact details but all-out war broke out between the consortium, criminal mobs and the common people. At first guns were fired, then the tanks were brought in. Ultimately, in the madness, nuclear weapons were fired. Such was the power of these weapons that the shock-waves traveled across the earth – twice. All those who were close the launch site were obliterated immediately including the arks. And that was most of the humanity. A few hundreds of us survived mostly on the other side of the planet but not by far. One by one people died as I watched tiny red dots on THING going out of existence one by one.
So, here I am, dear future discoverer; the last of my species. Waiting for Nemesis. Nemesis – the asteroid that was supposed to destroy all of us will only claim one life after all. It looks huge from here…not threatening but majestic, even beautiful. I can see the craters and shadows cast by mountains. I can see it’s day night terminator. Here, let me turn the cam towards it. You see that? Yes, that is Nemesis. You can even see its night side.
Dear future discoverer, I will now log-off and leave you with this image of Nemesis.
Wait a second...why is THING beeping? Let me check.
Where are these red dots coming from? What does it mean above?
Hey, and what are those lights on the night side of Nemesis?
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