This is an example of a story I created using the Wribly method.
- Stage 1. NASA scientists calculate that an earth-destroying meteorite will crash on earth in 2 years. US government tries to maintain this a secret, but the information leaks. Everyone tries to get a solution, but after 1 year they realize human kind is doomed. Economy crashes, wars, suicides, crimes, etc. Story follows the story of 2 astronauts (male and female) that will colonize a new planet. They are not a couple and need to leave their families behind.
- Stage 2. This stage is based on All Hale’s eight-point arc. For a quick description of the different sections______________________________________________________________________
This is the “every day life” in which the story is set. Think of Cinderella sweeping the ashes, Jack (of Beanstalk fame) living in poverty with his mum and a cow, or Harry Potter living with the Dursley’s.Trigger
Something beyond the control of the protagonist (hero/heroine) is the trigger which sparks off the story. A fairy godmother appears, someone pays in magic beans not gold, a mysterious letter arrives … you get the picture.
The trigger results in a quest – an unpleasant trigger (e.g. a protagonist losing his job) might involve a quest to return to the status quo; a pleasant trigger (e.g. finding a treasure map) means a quest to maintain or increase the new pleasant state.
This stage involves not one but several elements, and takes up most of the middle part of the story. “Surprise” includes pleasant events, but more often means obstacles, complications, conflict and trouble for the protagonist. Watts emphasises that surprises shouldn’t be too random or too predictable – they need to be unexpected, but plausible. The reader has to think “I should have seen that coming!”
At some stage, your protagonist needs to make a crucial decision; a critical choice. This is often when we find out exactly who a character is, as real personalities are revealed at moments of high stress. Watts stresses that this has to be a decision by the character to take a particular path – not just something that happens by chance.
The critical choice(s) made by your protagonist need to result in the climax, the highest peak of tension, in your story.
The reversal should be the consequence of the critical choice and the climax, and it should change the status of the characters – especially your protagonist. For example, a downtrodden wife might leave her husband after a row; a bullied child might stand up for a fellow victim and realise that the bully no longer has any power over him; Cinderella might be recognised by the prince.
The resolution is a return to a fresh stasis – one where the characters should be changed, wiser and enlightened, but where the story being told is complete
Trent is among the 10 astronauts being trained to build and maintain a base in Mars. The plan is to get the base running in 10-15 years. Trent has a wife and two daughters at home, and a happy life.
A meteorite is discovered by NASA telescope. The meteorite will collide with earth in about 2 years killing all life on earth.
Authorities are informed but information leaks. Rumor grows while government tries to deny it. Within a few months economic chaos cripples the world. Some people stop working and start robbing. No one cares about consequences: why care? the world will end anyways in 2 years! Food is scarce, hospitals don’t work. The military, the police, even politicians don’t feel like fixing the problem. Diseases and crimes kill off one quarter of the population. Trent finds refuge with his family in a self-sustaining farm far from the city. Within this 10000 people community they guard themselves from outsiders with the goal of living whatever is left in peace. There he meets Marbo, the president of the united states, as well as Vladimir, a russian microbiologist. At this point he has no power, since all countries have dissolved. No groups seek to gain power, since there is only a few months left anyways, so what’s the point. Vladimir tells them about these bacteria he studies, that in the absence of food, they become a small worm that can travel grater distance than a bacteria, and when it finds food, a couple lucky bacteria will keep on living while the rest dies off. This gives them the idea to send a human couple to colonize another planet.
Trent, Marbo and Vladimir decide to carry this out. They need to cryofreeze the bodies of 2 people who will travel for 200.000 years towards the closest known planet with similar characteristics to earth. But to achieve this, they first need to get millions of people and resources to work on it. Since electricity is mostly out, they decide to start a spread-the-gospel door-by-door strategy. They convince the rest of the community, and embark upon this task. They find people that don’t care, groups that threaten them, but little by little they start providing something people had not had since the news: hope. Not hope of saving themselves, but hope of saving human kind. Suddenly, the idea spreads to the millions, cities, countries, everything starts working again with the sole goal of getting this idea done.
Then comes the point of choosing the 2 people that will continue human kind. The requirements are to have basic survival skills in inhospitable environments as well as a clean health and genetic profile. Trent fits the profile perfectly: his training for the Mars base and perfect health and genetic profile are ideal. For the female, they explore Trent’s wife. Her genetic profile is negative. Another astronaut from their team, Janelia, fits the profile well. Trent faces the decision of abandoning his family to die, or staying with them until the end. He decides to go.
The rocket is launched 1 week before the collision. When the space-sail is supposed to launch they realize it is stuck. They don’t know what to do. They despair. Trent is highly depressed, and thinks he has no intention of carrying out the mission. Janelia, in a similar state of distress, gives up too. The collision can be seen from the spaceship.
The collision triggers a switch in Trent’s heart, and he decides human kind will not disappear because of him. He fixes the sail.
When Trent wakes back up from cryofreezing, he opens the door, and sees a beautiful blue sky with birds flying, purple trees and beautiful flowers.
- Stage 3. - Sub-Stage 1 (extend Stasis).Trent, a 28 year old engineer, has been working in NASA for the last 5 years. His dream was to visit space, which would come true in 10-15 years, when him, and 9 other astronauts would be flown to Mars to build a sustainable base. Since the base would be small, they would take turns in pairs of astronauts to go to Mars. Trent’s partner is Linda, an attractive and hard-working botanist. Trent’s role would be to build machinery, while Linda’s role would be to develop agriculture. Other astronauts had other roles of their own. At home, Trent is married to Jane (28), mother of 2: Ron (3) and Lisa (5). He is a loving father and husband.
- Sub-Stage 2 (extend Trigger and The Quest).A scientist tells his boss in NASA that preliminary calculations suggest that an earth-killing asteroid is in collision course with earth. While the boss asks him to keep quiet about this until the results are confirmed, the scientist, a strong christian believer, thinks the apocalypse will come, and they have to prepare. Disregarding his boss’s instructions he communicates the news to his church community triggering a massive spreading of the news. Initially people disregard this as some crazy man’s idea. However very quickly all astronomers in the world conclude that the calculation are correct. Religious groups start expanding, claiming to be the only salvation for afterlife. The economy immediately crushes… money, from one minute to the next, looses all it’s meaning. After all, it will be worthless after 2 years. With the economy in ruins, basic services stop, water stops flowing, electricity stops, medical services stop, food supply stops. People start loosing control. Doing anything in their power to find food. Armed groups (fractions of the military and police) start ruling the streets. Governments dissolve. People flee the cities towards food sources.
In the midst of the chaos Trent hears about a non-religious group of people in Mexico that decided to live peacefully until the end of their days, and protect themselves against outsider’s ‘animal’ behavior. He gathers all his reserves of gasoline and drives to Mexico. Finding the community proves very difficult. They roam the empty streets of Mexico, asking everyone they see around, but no one has heard of this place. They are running out of food. Trent goes to a dodgy bar, where drinks were exchanged for food to find information. In a last attempt of hope, using the last can of tuna in an attempt to gather information he finds someone from that community. After asking questions to check their motives to come to the community this person decides they are suitable and brings them to a secluded area in the jungle. There he sees an impressive array of jungle houses. The community (housing some 10,000) has a group of leaders that maintain order. He learns that one of the liders is the president of the united states, Marbo (50). They quickly settle in, learn their duties in the farm and building industries, etc. Life becomes normal but there is only 1 year before the meteorite collides. Trent becomes friend with Vladimir (60), a microbiologist who tells him about this bacteria he used to study. They live as single cells (like all bacteria), however, if food becomes scarce, instead of all of them dying of starvation, millions of them gather together and form a 2mm worm. This worm can travel long distances in search of a food source. Once one is found, a small group of ‘lucky’ bacteria are selected as the ones to survive. The rest, dies. Trent realizes what they need to do: organize the world to send humans to colonize another earth-like planet.
- Sub-Stage 3 (extend Surprise).After convincing the whole community about the urgency of the situation (1 year left) they set a deadline of 2 months to get the USA onboard. They gather all the fuel the have available and set off to ‘spread the gosspel’. Within one month a big region of the east coast is onboard with the project. Basic services resume, NASA starts building and planning. With 8 months left, the idea spreads to European and Asian countries. The whole of humanity seems to be self-organizing to get this done as quickly as possible. The whole world, for the first time in history, is a peaceful place. No wars, no crime, only a sense of purpose.
- Sub-Stage 4 (extend Critical Choice).Given the restrictions imposed on the spacecraft and the resources needed to fulfill the mission, they decide that they can only afford to send 2 people to colonize the new planet. One man and one woman. To allow the best chances of survival, the 2 people would have to fulfill a very strict list of requirements. For the woman the requirements are: must be of early reproductive age (around 14 such that the aging that occurs in cryofreeze of 2 years will leave her at 16, the peak reproductive age, and early enough to ensure many pregnancies), clean health and clean to all known tests and flawless genetic composition. For the man, he must be able to pilot the ship (or learn within the 2 months left, but that, they all agree, is too late), have a clean health and genetic background, and also be of reproductive age (between 14 and 30). Trent fits the profile perfectly, so he is selected. Millions of girls screen for the female position, and a girl (14) from china fit the profile. Trent has a meltdown and decides he wants to stay with his family until the end. His wife convinces him to go, and he agrees. In the 1 month left he is trained by world experts in all topics crucial for survival: medicine, agriculture, building stuff, hunting, etc. The chinese girl is intensively trained to learn english (Trent has no time to learn Chinese in between all the other things he must learn).
- Sub-Stage 5 (extend Climax, Reversal and Resolution).One week before the collision they launch the rocket. This gives them time to be far enough to not be affected by the collision. It is supplied with all the necessary things they could think of. Trent is highly depressed. One day before the collision they need to extend the space-sail. However, when they try to open them, the sails don’t open. NASA tries to direct Trent to fix it but he has given up, too depressed to do anything. The whole world is following this on the radio. His wife convinces him with a touching speech seconds before the collision. He sees the collision from his ship.
In this emotional turmoil, he decides to fix it. Then he exits the ship, fixes the sail, cryofreezes and takes off to another world.When Trent wakes back up from cryofreezing, he opens the door, and sees a beautiful blue sky with birds flying, purple trees and beautiful flowers.
- Stage 4. - Chapter 1.‘Like many other kids, I always wanted to be an astronaut. Fly in the infinite skies, explore the far reaches of the universe’ Trent was thinking while working the rice field. Shirtless, under the shiny sun, work was hard. The crops had grown very high. ‘Lucky me, I am an astronaut… and a damn good one’. Surrounding Trent, the fields, and the lake lies a transparent, blue-tainted capsule. Beyond the capsule is the harsh desert of Mars.
For the last 20 years NASA, in collaboration with the Europeans, Russians and Chinese, has been building the Mars Sustainable Environment, or MSE, the first ever attempt at creating a sustainable habitat outside of Earth.
- Are you excited to go back home? – asked Marvin, Trent’s colleague and good friend, over vegetable soup.
- Ah, can’t wait to see Jane. I miss her so much. And Ron and Lisa must be so big now! Ron turns 3 next week and Lisa just turned 6 last month. Can’t believe I still have to wait one whole year before I see them again!
- Well, next year, for Ron’s 4th birthday, we will celebrate it together in your house with a big barbeque, ok?
- Can’t wait Marv. Can’t wait.
- Let’s get rest for tomorrow, we have a lot of work before we take off.
- Chapter 2.One year later.
- Dady dady! Look what uncle Marvin gave me for my birthday! – Ron exclaimed while running with his new water-gun.
- Hey Marv! Good to see you guys! – Trent gives Marvin a big hug – I hope you are both hungry. The meat is almost ready
- Don’t worry buddy, after a year of vegetable soup you will be lucky to grab a piece after I’m done with the grill – joked Marvin while Trent flipped over a juicy piece of steak. Trent and Marvin’s wife, who were also good friends, left them to talk. After popping open a beer and chugging half the can, Marvin approached Trent to talk to him quietly, avoiding being heard by others.
- Have you heard the rumors running around in HQ?
- No, I haven’t been back since being debriefed, why? what’s going on?
- I don’t know man, it’s just rumors. You know these astronomers, sometimes they get carried away. Anyways, my buddy Ronny works at the supercomputer department. He told me that last week they received an order from high-up to stop all computing immediately and proceed to run some complicated equations.
- So? what about that?
- Well, the rumor is that they are confirming a preliminary calculation that a meteorite is in earth-collision trajectory – Trent’s heart skipped a beat. He looked over at his wife, his daughter, his son. ‘Earth-collision trajectory’ kept on repeating inside his head.
- But you know man, the likelihood that they got the answer right without the supercomputer is very slim. So don’t worry about it – Marvin said after which he chugged the other half of the beer.
- Chapter 3.At NASA headquarters a group of 5 scientists awaited impatiently at the supercomputer room. Thousands of computer units had worked at full speed for 2 months, and the results where finally arriving soon. The counter read 2 minutes. 1 minute. No one moved. Finally, when the time was up, a red screen flagged on-screen reading:Probability of collision with earth, 99.8%
Time to collision, 854 days, 7 hours, 25 minutes, 34 seconds
Chance of survival of any life-form after collision, 0%Everyone stayed perplexed, staring at the screen with disbelief – This information doesn’t leave this room. Understood? – said one of the scientists in a broken voice
They all nodded. But no one could speak. They all walked slowly towards the main office, where the rest of the colleagues were located. Even though it was highly confidential information everyone knew what they were waiting for. As they entered the common area everyone stared at their faces. No one said a word. When a tear slipped off one of the scientists faces, everyone knew.
- Chapter 4.Two weeks later the news had spread. TV, newspapers, blogs, everyone was talking about it. Trent was watching TV next to Jane, watching a group of Christians screaming that the final judgement had finally arrived. One of them could be heard yelling
- We should just give up on living! two years is nothing! NOTHING!
- Honey, what should we do?
- I don’t know baby – told him while hugging her tightly – I really don’t know.
The newscast was abruptly interrupted by an American flag. An urgent presidential address was about to begin. President Marbo addressed the nation:
Dear citizens. Rumors have spread over the last 2 weeks that a meteorite is directed towards Earth. With a deep pain in my heart I have to confirm this information. This can no longer be kept a secret. Scientists from all over the world have reconfirmed our initial calculations. If this asteroid were to impact Earth, both the asteroid and our planet would disintegrate. Needless to say, nothing would survive. However, I vow to you that we will do whatever is in our power to prevent this from happening. We are arranging a meeting with the leaders of the world to explore our possibilities. American citizens. World citizens. We will survive. God bless you. And God bless human kind.
- Chapter 5.Behind closed doors, in the White House, leaders from all countries in the world, together with their leading scientists discussed the situation.
- SILENCE PLEASE!! – exclaimed President Marbo – Let us begin the discussions. I have gathered the proposals developed by all countries, and now we will discuss them in turn.
- Not surprisingly, the most common proposal is to use nuclear weapons on the asteroid to either destroy it or deviate it off it’s course. This was our first thought as well, and we have run the calculations. If we gather all the bombs currently in existence, and gather, from this moment onwards, all the available human resources in the world to produce all the bombs we can until the asteroid arrives, we would be able to gather close to 1 Tera-ton of power. – the large screen behind President Marbo showed the equations and calculations – This is the equivalent of 6.5 million times the power of the bomb used in Hiroshima. Our calculations estimate that to be able to destroy an asteroid of this size we would require close to 10,000 Tera-tons of power. As you can see, this is beyond our most optimistic capacity. Along the same lines, our calculations estimate that to be able to deviate the asteroid off it’s course we would require at least 100 Tera-tons of power, in addition to a space station to launch the missiles. We can all agree that with current technology, the use of nuclear weapons is not a viable option.
- I encourage you all – proceeded President Marbo – to encourage scientists in your own countries to double-check the calculations. But until then, nuclear power is out of the question.
The perplexity in the face of everyone in the room was evidence of the confidence everyone had on using nuclear power.
- Now on to another common proposal: to expand the Mars Sustainable Environment (MSE) across the whole of Mars, such that it could sustain all of human kind. We have considered this possibility as well. It took us 20 years, which included over 200 trips to Mars, to build the MSE. The MSE currently has a maximum capacity to sustain 4 people for extended periods of time in an area of 6 square kilometers. Obstacles such as the one year travel time, as well as necessary materials needed to export a sustainable environment to Mars make the building of a massive MSE in less than 2 years close to impossible. Even if it were built, the transportation of billions of people would be equally as challenging as building the base. Furthermore, if we were to accomplish this task successfully, the current length of time that the MSE is viable without input from Earth is of around 5 years. Wear and tear of equipment such as the dome and the solar panels, among others, would require materials non-existent in Mars. Not to mention the need for fossil fuels that, needless to say, don’t exist in Mars. Once again, we can all agree that with current technology, the use of the MSE is not a viable option.
Twelve hours passed, during which they discussed dozens of ideas. Not a single one proved viable.
Exhausted, President Marbo asked the floor – are there any additional ideas we have not discussed so far?
The floor was quiet.
- Chapter 6.The next morning, as Trent was driving back home after dropping the kids in school, he saw crowds queuing in front of the bank. Being curious, he stopped the car and rolled the window down.
- Excuse me madam. Could you tell me why everyone is waiting in line?
- I don’t know why they are waiting – exclaimed an the lady – all I know is that if I only have 2 years left to live, I don’t need to work no more! I’ll just take all my money and spend it in this couple of years.
Trent immediately understood what was happening. An economic crisis was inevitable. Probably the biggest economic crisis ever. Being a survival expert, instinctively he drove as fast as possible to the nearest grocery store. After stuffing his minivan with as many canned goods and bottled water as he could he drove back home.
- Honey, what’s going on?! – exclaimed Jane – have you gone mad?!
- Baby, I’ll explain on the way back. First help me unload the van please.
Jane, seeing her husband’s worrying face, helped him with no more questions.
After unloading the whole van, they drove to another nearby grocery store.
- Can you tell me now what is happening? – asked Jane, just as Trent drove near a bank.
- Look baby. Do you know what that is? This is a run on the banks. And a big one. Given the circumstances, I fear supplies will run short very soon. The more canned goods and bottled water we get, the more time we will have to figure out what to do if food and water shortages happen.
- I see. I hope you are wrong.
- Me too.
- Chapter 7.As it turns out, Trent was right. The very next morning the market had the biggest drop in history, closing with a 70% decline. The following day there were no news of the market. Wall street was closed, never to open again. Trent, Jane, Ron and Lisa went out to get some more canned goods, however all stores were closed. They drove around until they found one small convenience store open.
- Ok baby, let’s do this quickly. This might be our last chance to purchase food.
Jane nodded. Inside the small store some 30 people jammed the entrance. One young man leaving the store was complaining to himself – who would spend $100 for a can of tuna! that guy is nuts!!
After waiting for 3 hours they got to step into the store. Now prices had doubled from the time they arrived, and a single can of tuna was going for $200. They tried earlier getting more money from the ATM, but they were all empty. All they had left was $2000 in cash. They spent it all in 10 cans of tuna and left the store.
Back at home Lisa and Ron went to their bedroom to play, while Trent turned on the TV to get some news. To their surprise, no news channels were broadcasting. The only active channels streamed kids shows, movies or prerecorded shows. CNN read:
Due to unforeseeable circumstances, programing is indefinitely suspended.
- It’s unbelievable – exclaimed Trent – All it took was one day.
Earlier in the day they had received a call from the kids’ school informing them that due to massive quitting of personnel they had to cease operations. They had gathered reserves of food for about 1 year, and drinking water for 2, maybe 3 months. Trent left his gun in his side table and went to bed feeling uneasy.
- Chapter 8.The next morning they woke up to the sound of traffic. Jane was sitting next to the window looking at the street
- What are you doing there? And what is all that noise?
They lived in a quiet neighbourhood in the suburbs.
- It’s traffic – said Jane glazing out the window – not sure where everyone is going. Land lines and cell phones don’t work. Radio, TV and Internet are down. And guess what, the newspaper hasn’t arrived.
Trent approached the window to look out. He had never seen so many cars driving past their street.
- I guess people are just going out to make sure their family and friends are fine. Or maybe they are driving to another town in the hope this is a local problem.
- Maybe they are hungry and searching for food – said Jane while staring at a pile of canned foods in the corner.
Trent looked too – Maybe we should stay home for now until the situation becomes more normal.
Using the food they had in the fridge Trent cooked breakfast. The kids, unaware anything was unusual, were playing in the living room.
That same day, electricity and gas went off. They had a few candles and flashlights in store, but they decided to keep them until completely necessary.
Five days passed by. The only thing that changed was that the heavy traffic had stopped. In fact they barely saw any cars passing by. They run out of fresh food two days back, so they had to start using the canned goods they had collected. Water was still flowing, but they were not sure whether it was drinkable, so they started drinking the bottled water.
That night, around 1am they heard a loud knock in the door. Trent grabbed his gun and slowly walked downstairs. The knocking had stopped, but he could see shadows through the curtains. Someone was looking into the house through the window. The shadow then went back to the front door and loudly knocked again. Trent approached the door pointing his gun. When he was close to the door the wooden floor made loud noise.
- Trent! It’s Marv! I can hear you, let me in!
- Chapter 9.- Marv! So nice seeing you!! – they hugged very tightly – and Cathy, hi, come on in.
As they entered, Jane came down the stairs to welcome them. Marvin came in with a big heavy backpack.
- We were worried about you guys – said Mavin as they went to the living room. Jane brought some candles – we were not sure if you had left town, if you had food, water.
- Yes, we are ok – claimed Trent – we were able to gather some food before the crisis began.
- Ah – exhaled Marvin in a sign of relief – so glad to hear that. We thought you might need some of this – he opened the bag he was carrying and hundreds of canned foods could be seen – but I guess you guys are fine then.
- It is crazy down in the city Trent. We went there to get some food – he said pointing at his bag – people are ransacking the whole city. We had to break into a store to get this food as well. It’s really crazy. People are running around with guns taking anything they need.
- I’m not sure what to do Marv. Maybe the best thing to do right now is to wait for things to get better.
- But what if they don’t?
- Then we’ll need to think of plan B. In the meanwhile, why don’t you guys stay here in the guest room.
- Yes, that’s a good idea. Thanks Trent.
- Chapter 10.A week later, Trent and Marvin were drinking some whiskey in the living room.
- We need to figure out something to to Marv. Food and water will eventually run out and then what?
- Yes, I know. However we have no information. Maybe we need to go to the city to gather information. Maybe some other cities are coping with this crisis better.
- Sounds good. Let’s go tomorrow. We should probably walk though. We are running low on gas, and we might need it to travel somewhere else.
The next morning the started walking towards the city. It would take them about 2 hours to walk there. The streets where deserted. No cars could be seen. No one walking around. Trent left his gun with Jane at home in case she needed it. Piles of trash lined the streets, and the stench of rotten food invaded their noses.
Two hours later, they were approaching the city. They took a break on the side of the road and shared a can of tuna for lunch.
In the city all stores were closed. Some people could be seen biking or walking, and a few cars were driving along the streets. On a side-road, a very weak woman, lying on the floor against the wall, cried while holding her baby.
- Excuse me – Trent approached her – can we help you with anything?
The tearing woman raised her reddened eyes, looked back at her baby, and started crying profusely.
- It wasn’t her fault – she said while crying – no doctors, no food, no water. What was I supposed to do! And now she doesn’t wake up. Please wake up. This is mama. Please wake up.
The mother, hugging the baby’s corpse, was a very sad view. Trent left a can of tuna next to her, and they kept on walking. They realized many people were lying in the streets. Some corpses, some would become corpses soon.
- I don’t think we’ll get any information here – said Marvin – If these people had any information they wouldn’t be here, waiting to die.
- That’s true, let’s head back.
On their way back they heard a gun shot, and a woman’s scream.
- Careful Marv, let’s go see what happened quietly
As they approached the noise they could see a woman hugging a dead man in the floor. He had been shot in the chest. Three men, carrying shotguns, were waiting outside.
- Let’s go help her – said Marvin
- Are you crazy??!! They will kill us right away! They are probably trying to get their food. I can’t believe we have reached this point. Let’s go back now. Our house may be in danger.
They walked quickly back home.
- Chapter 11.- It’s been over 3 months now – said Trent while sitting in the couch of the livingroom – and there are no signs of improvement. We need to do something before we run out of food
- Maybe the government is working on something to fix the situation – said Marvin
- There is no government anymore! I wouldn’t be surprised if the white house was empty right now. With no food, no water, no electricity, no communication there is no way of organizing people. Needless to say a country. Forget about the government… we are on our own.
- You are probably right. And if we stay here they will eventually come with shotguns to take it away from us – said Marvin
- You are right. I can hear gun shots every night. We can’t stay here any longer.
- Sure, but we have nowhere to go – Marvin said discouraged
- Ok. Let’s think. I’d say the most important good at this point in time is food. And here in the city we won’t find it unless we go around shooting people to steal their food
- I wish we lived in a farm instead – said Marvin
- Then let’s go to an area with lots of farms. I’m sure they are coping with this much better than here in the city!
- I agree. We have no other choice.
And so they started planning their trip. They decided to gather all the cans of food and bottles of water they had left, with which they filled the trunk of the minivan, and squeeze the 6 of them in the seats. They had no space left for clothes or anything else. The one issue left was that they only had enough gas to fill half a tank. They decided to go explore neighbours houses to see if they could find any abandoned cars to extract their gas. Most of the houses had been abandoned, a few had corpses of famished or sick people. They eventually found a car in an abandoned house with a full tank of gas. They filled all the empty bottles they could find.
As they departed Trent looked back at his house. He knew they would never come back again.
- Chapter 12.For the first time in months they were more than a few miles away from their house. What they saw wasn’t nice… trash everywhere, fires, dead bodies. It seemed like the city was a ghost town. They didn’t know if most people had died of starvation, or murdered, or diseased, but it was clear that most people were dead or gone. They drove for many miles until finally they started approaching farmlands. Most farms were filled with dead plants and weeds. As soon as they saw one farm that seemed to be in better shape they pulled over. No one could be seen.
- Are you sure it is safe to go in? – asked Jane
- We don’t have much of a choice. At the very least we might get some useful information. – Trent seemed worried. He passed the gun to Marvin and asked everyone to stay in the car while he went to check out the house. He grabbed two cans of tuna and carefully walked towards the house. He saw no trash, no dead bodies. It seemed like a normal house. He knocked on the door, but got no response. All the drapes were down, so he couldn’t look through the window. He thought it might be a good idea to go around the house to see if the back door was open. He reached the back door and knocked once more. Once again no response. It seemed the house was abandoned. He tried to force the door when he suddenly heard a click behind him. He turned around to see 5 shotguns being pointed at him. He slowly put up his hands, one can of tuna in each.
- I’m not here to steal – he said – I would just like to talk to someone. To get some information.
The person standing closest to him, an old man with a messy beard approached him, always pointing his gun at Trent’s chest.
- You need to leave right now. We won’t ask twice.
- Please! I just want to talk. I brought these cans of tuna as a sign of goodwill.
The old man looked at the cans, and after a couple of seconds lowered his shotgun and, without looking back, extended his arm backwards. All the other people lowered their guns.
- Fine. We will talk, and then you will be on your way
The old man extended his arm and Trent passed him the cans.
- What do you want?
- Me and my family would like to find out if there are any communities that have not collapsed. Any communities that have been able to sustain themselves.
- I don’t know anything
- What about the community in Florida Gramps? I’ve heard some people talking about it – said a teenager some steps away.
- I told you to keep quiet!! – said the old man – as far as we know that is nothing but a rumor. We have no reason to believe it.
- But my friend Marty said he had talked to someone that knew someone in… – he was abruptly interrupted by the old man
- Tim!! Keep your hole shut!! – the old man was very distressed – please leave now sir. This is all we can tell you.
As Trent approached his car, the boy’s words resonated in his head. With no other information at hand they decided to head south to Florida. It was a long road ahead.
- Chapter 13.After 2 weeks driving south, and having ransacked many abandoned cars for drops of fuel, they reached the state of Florida. While they were able to refill their water bottles, mostly collecting rain water, they had not been able to find a single source of food. Just as their own town, this city had been abandoned. Covered in litter and dead bodies, this was not a good place to drive around. Their food supplies were very low… at most they had 3 more days left. Trent was starting to worry. After driving and walking around the city for 3 days, they didn’t encounter a single person. It seemed as if the information they got was nothing but rumors. That night, food reserves were almost depleted. All they had left was 2 cans of tuna. Not knowing what to do, that night, after everyone was asleep, Trent grabs the 2 cans of tuna, leaves the shelter where they had been sleeping and starts walking in the moon-lit streets in no particular direction. After wandering around for hours he spots a figure moving in the dark. Trent approaches him, and sees a man in his mid fifties, dressed in dirty smelly clothes, walking drunk down the street singing a song out loud. Trent approaches him
- Excuse me sir – the man looked at him with his half-open inebriated eyes.
- Who the hell are you. Haven’t seen you around before.
- I’m coming from out of town sir. We heard there was a community of people here in Florida.
- Ha! Community my ass – he burped – all we got here is a bunch of drunks enjoying our last minutes in this condemned world.
Trent looked down. This is what he expected (but was dreading) to hear.
- If you want my advice young man. Go get yourself a drink, and stop worrying about stuff. There is a bar down the road… if you can call a bar that pig hole. Make sure you bring some food to exchange for drinks – and he keep on walking and singing down the street.
Trent headed to the bar to see if he could talk to someone there. As he walked down the road he could hear some voices in the distance. He approached and opened a half-closed door, walked down a narrow corridor and saw a man standing next to a door.
- Who are you – asked the man
- I’m just here to get a drink. I heard there is a bar here
- Are you carrying food?
- A tuna can sir
The guard looked at him suspiciously, but after Trent showed him the can, he was let in.
As he entered he realized this was the living room of a house. Inside, there were two tables. A man, drink in hand, was sitting at one of the tables. In a corner, a man sat next to a box. Trent approached him.
- Can I get a drink?
- Show me what you got.
Trent showed him the can of Tuna.
- Ok, that will get you 2 glasses.
He picked one of two bottles inside the box, and poured some liquor in a glass. Trent had a sip. It was some sort of low quality vodka. He went to the empty table and sat there for a few minutes.
- Were you kicked out as well? – asked the man sitting in the table next to him.
- Kicked out of where? – asked Trent
- Never mind – said the man. Trent knew this man had some useful information he was trying to withhold. When he noticed the man’s drink was over, Trent asked the bartender to serve him the second drink his can of tuna could buy. Without looking at him, the man raised his glass in a silent cheers, and had a sip of his glass.
- Been in this town for long? – asked Trent to start a conversation.
- Two or three months? Who knows. Stopped counting a while back. Shit, you kill one moron, and they kick you out without asking what happened. That asshole stole my jacket. He deserved to die. Fuck! – he downed the glass, and stepped up to leave.
- Wait up, I’m heading out too.
- Be my fucking guest.
As they exited the improvised bar Trent tried to gather some information.
- Who exactly kicked you out?
- Who else, the friggin police
- The police??? What police?
The man looked at him without understanding
- Are you nuts? – inquired the man – the police at Park Heaven, where else.
- Ah right, Park Heaven – Trent went on – Is just that I hate that place.
- It’s two of us my friend. Who are they fucking kidding… they will all be dead in a few months anyways. Fucking morons.
- Do you know how to get there by any chance?
- Nah, can’t be bothered to remember.
As Trent considered it, he decided to trade his last can of tuna for the information.
- If you tell me I’ll give you this.
- Fine – he said grabbing the can – it is somewhere 30 miles south of here. Follow the signs to Bradmont and you’ll get there. Don’t just go like that though… they might shoot you.
Trent walked towards their shelter knowing he had hit the jackpot.
- Chapter 14.They headed towards Bradmont the next morning. Hungry, but with the spirits high for the good news, everyone sat quiet in the car. When they saw a highway exit towards Bradmont Trent slowly pulled in. “They might shoot you” reverberated in his head. A sign read “Bradmont 3 miles”. Suddently, they heard a gun shot.
- Eveyone down!! – yelled Trent – and don’t raise your heads!
Everyone inside the car complied. As soon as the car stopped Trent took off the white t-shirt he was wearing and slowly opened the door. He opened the window, and raised his arm holding the t-shirt and starting waving it. Slowly got off the car with both arms up in the air and yelled:
- We come in peace!!
From behind some trees he heard a voice
- Please turn around and leave!
- We have nowhere to go! – replied Trent – We are 4 adults and 2 children! We heard there was a community somewhere around this area. Please! any information would be very useful!
From behind the trees a woman in her early forties approached them, followed by 2 men, all pointing shotguns at their car.
- We have more people pointing guns all around your car. If you try anything funny we’ll shoot you all down – she said.
- Please! – insited Trent – we are just looking for a place to live in peace for the few months we have left to live.
As the woman got closer, she lowered her gun and extended her hand
- Hi, my name is Soledad. Everyone please get off the car, leave the keys in.
As they complied, the 2 men next to Soledad started padding everyone down to check for weapons.
- There is a gun under the front seat – said Trent – and we don’t intend to use it against you
One of the men went into the car to retrieve the gun. He then drove off with the car. Everyone looked perplexed, but Trent made a sign to ask them not to worry. They didn’t say anything.
- Please follow me – said Soledad, and they started walking behind her forming a line. Behind the group the man with the shotgun kept guard. On their way they run into other people with shotguns, apparently patrolling the perimeter. After about 1 hour walking they reached a small hut in the forest. They were escorted to a room and waited for another hour there. Soledad and the other man kept guard outside the house.
- Chapter 15.A man opened a door leading to another room. He pointed at Trent, and without saying a word, signaled him to walk into the room. As he started walking, Marvin stood up to follow them, but with a hand sign, the man signalled Marvin to stay where he was. Trent sat in a chair in front of a small table. This looked like an improvised interrogation room, and that was precisely what it was. The man asked Trent about everything that had happened that brought them here. When he asked what his job was, the man was surprised to hear he was one of the famous astronauts. Immediately the tone changed, and they decided to bring them to meet their leader. As mounted everyone in a minivan and drove them over into an improvised city. Huts lied amongst the trees, and people were roaming around, carrying crops, working the fields, building wooden utensils, etc. It looked like a small village. They parked in front of a wooden cabin and told Trent to go in, while the rest of the family waited outside. Trent entered cautiously into the cabin when he saw a man approaching him.
- Mr Trent, what a pleasure to have you join us – Trent looked at him in awe
- Marbo? Oh… I’m sorry. Mr President??
- Please my friend, no need for formalities under the circumstances. Plus, there cannot be a president when there is no country. Please, come on in.
As he entered he noticed that the room had all the basics, but nothing fancy. Marbo explained everything to Trent. After the crisis broke, and everyone panicked, the country became uncontrollable. And as far as he could tell, this happened in every other country around the world as well. Most of the public servants; military, police, politicians, firefighters, and others panicked as well. Marbo was able to gather a group of people willing to live their last months on earth in peace, and set up this community. They chose this location because it is located next to a lake that can provide water, a wind farm that can provide electricity, and abundant fertile land that they can use to grow crops and feed animals. Furthermore, it is enclosed by mountainous terrain, so it is easy to guard against looters and troublemakers, all of which abound, hence the tight security. They only take people into the community that is willing to live a civilized life until the end of times, and have had to kick out of it many people that lose control. Marbo offered Trent to settle in the community with them.
- Tonight you all can stay in my cabin. I don’t have extra beds, but we can throw some pillows and blankets in the floors. But first, you look like you could use some food. Follow me.
Marbo took Trent and his family to the common halls… an array of houses that contained kitchens and dinning areas. To provide food for everyone in fair manner, all the food produced was brought to the common halls and distributed there. The community, currently at over 5 thousand people, and the common halls could house only around 1000 people at one time, they ate in half hour slots to accommodate everyone. They ate amongst the hundreds of people while Marbo told them more about the community. After dinner, they went back to Marbo’s cabin and everyone crushed exhausted. For the first time in months, Trent slept in peace. Now he was safe.
- Chapter 16.Within a week they had built their hut with the help of the designed builders of the community, and they all were assigned to different jobs. Trent, given his agricultural background in Mars, was assigned to work the fields. They had now exactly 12 months until impact. Trent tried not to think about it, but everyone around him was a bit depressed, which made harder to keep his mood high. Working the fields one morning he sees a man working next to him.
- Hello – the man says with a strong Russian accent – I am Vladimir. And you are called?
- Trent, nice to meet you
As it turned out, Vladimir moved to the US from Russia some 20 years back to do research at a university. He was a microbiologist. Over the next couple of weeks they became good friends. One night, while chatting next to a fire, and enjoying a home-brewed beer, Vladimir was talking about his old work. He studied a population of bacteria that, as all bacteria, live as single cells, however, if food becomes scarce, instead of all of them dying of starvation, millions of them gather together and form a ~2mm worm. This worm can travel long distances in search of a food source. Once one is found, a small group of ‘lucky’ bacteria are selected as the ones to survive. The rest, dies off. As Trent heard this story his eyes teared. In that moment he knew what they needed to do… like the bacteria, humanity needed to gather all resources and send a few people to colonize a distant planet.
- Chapter 17.Trent grabbed Vladimir by the arm and run to find Marbo. Marbo listened carefully and with a new-found sense of purpose decided to support Trent and proceed full strength. He convokes a meeting with the rest of the community. When they see the great reception of the idea amongst the community, they realize that this is exactly what the community needed right now: hope. Not hope of saving themselves, but hope that human kind will go on.
Trent and Marbo start organizing. They know there are other communities that have formed around the world, including many in the US territory. The first step is to recruit as many people as possible to join the effort. They only had one year left. Within a week, with incredible speed, the community had become organized to start ‘spreading the gospel’ as they started referring to it. Marbo, with extensive organizational experience, arranged it as he would have organized a war… with supply lines, front lines, intel, etc. Organized the different groups in squadrons and these went off in different directions. In addition they started emitting radio and TV signals explaining the plan in case anyone could listen.
To the surprise of everyone, ‘the gospel’ spread like wild-fire. Many communities around the US joined forces and began their own ‘spread the gospel’ operations. Marbo, as well as a large contingent of other people, moved to NASA headquarters in Washington DC. Within 2 months, basic services were going… food, water, trash disposal, hospitals, etc started running. Oil-rigs started pumping, mines starting mining. The whole machinery of the economy was now 100% devoted to producing a single outcome: a spaceship capable of transporting humans for 200,000 years and delivering them to another habitable planet. Scientists from around the world flocked to NASA.
- Chapter 18.With 8 months left until impact, Marbo convenes a meeting with the top scientists and engineers of the world. First, they all agree that the closest (and best) possible planet would be ApRT304.9U (code-named Eden). This planet has 0.8 times the mass of Earth and is located 900 light years away. It orbits a red dwarf star and is believed to contain liquid water and a nitrogen atmosphere similar to Earth’s. Other than that, not much is known about the planet.
Then they discuss different methods of transport. The use of nuclear energy is discarded, since there isn’t enough nuclear material on Earth to power through such long distances. They decide to use laser beam propulsion: a powerful laser will be used to remotely power the movement of the spacecraft, which captures the laser beam using large ‘sails’. This technology allows great speeds (about half the speed of light) and the fuel does not need to be carried onboard. The only problem is, there will not be an Earth left to house the laser beam. So they decide to build the laser and all the necessary energy sources to maintain the laser working on the surface of Mars. Finally, they discuss the possibilities for crew. Some people raised to prospect of having generation after generation living in the ship until arrival, but this idea was discarded since there would not be enough energy to maintain life for the thousand year trip. Cryonic preservation was decided to be the best choice. For this they would need to replace all the water in a human body with a non-crystalizing liquid, and they freeze the body close to absolute zero (easily done in deep space). The capacity of the spaceship is calculated to be maximum 2 people. Must be a man and a woman that will populate the new planet. And they need to select them soon to start training them on everything they will need to know before they leave.
Teams are assembled to manage the different aspects of the operation:
- The calculation team is in charge of performing the appropriate calculations necessary for the space travel, such as optimal path and likelihood of failure due to gravitational interferences or collisions with other objects.
- The ship team was in charge of building the spaceship.
- The laser team is in charge of building the laser and facilities in the Mars station that will self-sustain for at least 2000 years.
- The cryo team is in charge of building the cryofreeze machine.
- The Adam and Eve team is in charge of selecting the 2 people to be onboard the ship
- The survival team is in charge of providing the travelers with the needed supplies to survive in the new planet
- The culture team is in charge of deciding which cultural information will be carried onboard.
- The background team is in charge of making sure that unlimited amounts of resources are available for all the other teams.
- Chapter 19.A large hall housed the 30 or so members of the Adam and Eve team. It was composed of people with several different expertise and nationalities. Doctors, biologists, anthropologists, engineers, artists, politicians, military personnel, psychologists, astronauts, amongst others from all over the world were gathered, and Marbo, being the head of the team, was standing in front of them. The discussions took many days. Everyone in the committee had a chance to voice their opinions, and then discussions ensued. A member of the ship team, who was also present in the discussions, pointed out that at least one of the two crew members should be able to pilot the spacecraft. Training for these types of procedures could take years to accomplish, so at least one of the 2 should be selected out of the pool of currently available astronauts. After 5 days, the team reached a consensus, and generated a list of attributes for the 2 selected people:
- Both must have clean health and family health history.
- Both must have clean genetic makeup
- Both must clear a psychological suitability test.
- The female must be starting her reproductive age to be able to reproduce for the maximum number of years (around 14 years old).
- The male must be an astronaut with experience piloting spacecraft.
The search begins immediately. Of the over 600 astronauts that existed in the whole world only about 200 of them had survived. Out of the 200, 180 were males, and thus eligible for the position. Trent was one of them. After careful screening of the 180 candidates, they realized none of them fit the profile perfectly. They narrowed the search down to the 5 top candidates. Trent, who was amongst the 5 candidates, had mutations in genes involved in 5 hereditary diseases. However the rest of his profile fit well. Other candidates had other problems, such as high risk for cancer, or diabetes, or schizophrenia. For the female spot, the search was much harder. Of the 400 million 14 year old girls, only 10 million are still alive. Health care providers around the world were recruited to perform the required tests. Due to incomplete health history in the majority of applicants most were immediately disqualified. In the end, a pool of several hundred girls were shortlisted for a complete genetic analysis. Finally, after weeks searching, one girl, recruited from northern China, fulfilled all the strict criteria. The committee met one month later to perform a final vote. After careful exposition of the pros and cons of each male candidate, the voting ended with an almost unanimous vote for Trent. Adam and Eve had been chosen.
- Chapter 20.Trent knew he was being considered for the spot, but also knew it was one spot out of hundreds, so he never considered it too seriously. Until the day Marbo arrived at his doorstep and asked him if he would consider being Adam. Trent and Linda were speechless. Marbo urged them to think about it and let him know by the following morning.
Trent and Linda stayed up all night discussing. Trent had a breakdown, he didn’t think he could do it. He couldn’t leave her, Linda, and his two kids behind. He could not live with himself knowing that he left the 3 people he most loved in the whole world behind to die. Linda understood his position, and deep inside, she also wished that they could be together until the last moment. All of them as a family. However, this was bigger than them. Bigger than anything. It was the only hope for humanity. And the best minds in the world had decided he was the best person to do it. In the end, and with immense emotional distress, Linda convinces him, and he agrees. Trent would be Adam.
Marbo was very happy when they told him the news the next morning. Immediately they arranged a press conference and Adam and Eve were introduced to the world. With only 3 months left until impact they had much training to go through. Li Ren (Eve) had to learn how to speak english, since Trent didn’t have time to learn chinese. Trent, on the other hand, had an intense training in medicine, agriculture, building stuff, hunting and many other survival skills that the committee decided would come handy in the new planet.
- Chapter 21.After arduous 3 months of training, Li Ren had mastered basic communication skill in English, while Trent had been training relentlessly. He literary understood he had the weight of humanity on his shoulders. Trent had very little time for leisure, however every second he had was spent with his family. They were all confined within a facility to prevent diseases in Trent and Li Ren. In the meanwhile, all preparations were complete. The calculation team had found the route that would yield the lowest likelihood of collisions with other objects, the Mars base team finished building the base containing the lasers, the spaceship team had finished the ship with the large sail, the cryofreezer team had optimized the automatic freezing and defreezing sequences, and the culture and survival team had defined the needed items to bring onboard.
All was ready and they had to take off within a week. A deep depression attacks Trent, as well as most people in the world. Everyone begins saying their goodbyes. Trent knows he needs to push through and be strong, but at times he thinks he won’t be strong enough. After saying goodbye to everyone Trent and Li Ren board the ship: the biggest rocket ever seen on Earth. The sail, a very thin but strong graphene derivate, was tightly packed within a large container at the tip of the rocket. When extended, it would become a sail with a diameter of 10km. Due to the immense size of the ship, a nuclear reaction was needed to lift it off to orbit.
The ship takes off, and everyone is very excited to see that everything works ok. They have 2 days until impact. Trent is highly depressed. He talks to his children and wife over speakers. One day after takeoff, with 3 hours left for impact, it was time to open the sail. Trent pushes the open button, and nothing happens. Everyone on Earth was watching attentively. At the same time, people on Earth could see the meteorite as a small moving light, with their naked eyes. NASA runs all the checks but find nothing. With 2 hours left, everyone in NASA is trying to figure out what went wrong, going over plans, models, etc. No one could figure it out. Maybe one one the nuclear explosions had affected a mechanical or electronic circuit involved in the deployment of the sail? One hour left. While NASA scientists search for possible ways to fix the problem. 5 minutes left. The meteorite can be seen from Earth as an object half the size of the moon. Trent gets a few minutes with his wife. He starts crying, desperate saying it was all over. He can’t handle seeing her be destroyed. He can’t live knowing that all the people he loves are gone. His wife, highly distraught with the situation, struggles to tell him that if he dies, all that love he felt will disappear as well. For the sake of everything that is beautiful, for the sake of all the love in the world, for the sake of future kids that deserve to have a chance at life, he needs to go on. As Trent observed the meteorite approach Earth at an unbelievable speed, he heard Jane say “Don’t give up. Our love will never d…” the communication was lost. The meteorite can be seen from the ship, thousands of miles away, colliding with Earth in an impressive manner. Both balls of rock melted within seconds and plumes of molten rock were expelled in many directions. All of this in the deepest silence. Trent watched this while a tear rolled down his face. After a few minutes staring at the spectacle without moving a muscle, he stands up, puts on his spacesuit, and prepares to exit the ship to go fix the sail. He notices that the heat had melted a piece of metal over one of the points where the sail should open. He takes out his diamond-tipped drill and starts making holes in this piece of metal. Suddenly, in front of him, the head of the container is released to space, and within seconds the 10km long sail starts unfolding. He looks back at what was left of Earth, and heads back to the ship. Trent tells Li Wen that everything will work fine (she was very distressed) and sets her into the cryofreeze process. He then sets his own, and “falls asleep”.
Trent opens his eyes. Looks at the clock counter: the had been traveling for the last 1855 years. The cryofreeze capsule opens. Li Wen’s opens at the same time. They look at each other. Cannot hear anything. The ship isn’t moving. They slowly get up, and look outside window. A beautiful green/blue sky is surrounded by 7 moons. Bright colored trees can be seen at the distance. They had landed in yellow grass plains. A green light in one of the consoles signals that they can exit the ship safely. They open up, and a gentle breeze bathes them with amidst the warmth of the sun. A small smile can be seen in Trent’s face as he walks away from the ship.
- Stage 5. Work in progress…