This flash fiction is a small window into my new series, Finding Earth. There are no spoilers.
“Verify your score. Elite status to the green door.” The voice over the intercom was the same computer generated voice that had droned for all three days of testing.
Bleary eyed, Tiber’s finger shook as he provided his fingerprint and retina scan as verification. ELITE flashed on his screen. Eyes wide he checked his status again and moved toward the soldiers.
A man grabbed his arm. “How can this boy be on the list when I’m not? I speak five languages and have three advanced degrees.”
Another man stood and pushed the first away. “Go boy. Godspeed.”
“Thank you, sir.” Tiber walked quickly toward the Elite level doors. Verification complete, he didn’t notice the patch the soldier slapped on his shoulder before hustling him through the door.
Another soldier pointed toward a hall. “That way, son.”
“Yes, sir.” Tiber headed toward the hallway the soldier pointed him toward but the fast moving river of people slowed his progress. He looked for his brother and that also slowed his progress. The instructions said that elite status would unite family. His father, as a prospective ship’s captain was among the first to be tested, while Tiber, Willis, and their mom were in the last wave. When others greeted their family, nervousness set in. He didn’t see any of his friends or family. Not one. Was he the only one to make it this far?
It had taken the end of the world for the leaders of earth to work together. Earth was dying. The humans who remained behind would die from hunger and thirst. Many already had. Twenty-five population ships, each housing five thousand crew and settlers, would leave and search for healthy new worlds to populate.
The press of people eased up as an armed woman in a medical uniform walked up to him. “Tiberius Herschel Wright.”
He cringed, mostly because she used his full name. He hated his full name. “Yes, ma’am.”
She changed the patch on his shoulder and said, “Come with me.”
Other nearby perspectives shook their heads and turned away from him. Wondering if his elite status was an error, he followed her through a green door. When the door shut his mother engulfed him in a hug, “Oh honey, I’m so thankful.”
“Mom!” He hugged back, something he hadn’t done in a while, because fifteen was too old to hug a parent. He hugged her tight. “Where’s everyone?”
“Any children of crew who earn Elite status are automatically given Prime status and assigned to the ship their parent is assigned. As one of the ship captains, your father was assigned based on needed travel skills, not sorted for skills needed at landfall. You skipped that part of the process.”
She looked across the room at a red door. “Still testing. The door turns blue when testing completes. When notifications go out, it turns green.”
Tiber watched the door turn blue. “Will we know? Can we see the results?”
“No. We know when they start the test, but until someone comes through the door, we don’t know.”
Tiber couldn’t take his eyes off of the door. What if Willis didn’t make the grade? Why couldn’t families go together? But he knew the answer. They all did. To increase the chance of success, only those with the mental and physical ability to be productive passed. Some families would be split. Most wouldn’t make the list at all. They watched the door.
“Tiber! I see your Dad got Pyxis. Mine will be Captain Cetus. Hello Ms. Wright.” Cade, Tiber’s best friend, joined them.
It was then Tiber noticed the patch on everyone’s clothes. The patches were of constellations and represented a ship. Each ship was named after a constellation. His matched his mother’s and was the constellation Pyxis, the compass box. PYX was under the picture. Cade’s was the form of the Cetus constellation, the whale, with CET underneath. The constellation was not their destination or even their direction. It was a naming convention so that perhaps, one day the descendants of earth would find each other, and remember their shared heritage.
Tiber’s mom smiled at Cade, “Is you sister still testing?”
“Then wait with us.”
The door turned green and the room became silent. When no one came through the doors people became restless.
“What’s taking so long?” Tiber asked.
In response an explosion shook the room. The boys moved into a fighting stance, along with everyone else. Soldiers rushed to the door and immediately became fodder when a laser sliced through the wall.
“Breach!” One solider exclaimed, before the laser cut him in half.
The boys dove for the ground to escape the same laser, Tiber took his mother with him. Tiber watched through the jagged hole as children of the crew who made the cut were singled out by medical personnel and the soldiers pushed them toward the actual door, as well as the hole.
“Over here!” Cade ran over, grabbed his sister’s hand and Willis’s arm, yelling at Tiber and his mom as he ran, “This way.” More soldiers poured into the room, moving efficiently around those who had attained prime status. Fighting began in earnest. Cade led them past more soldiers, to a door that opened into a secure hallway.
Hugging Willis, Ms. Wright looked up at Cade, “Thank you.”
“No worries, ma’am.”
Over the intercom the same automated voice droned, “All personnel, proceed to your ship.”
Cade headed down the hallway marked CET with his sister, but turned back, “Fly straight, land softly.”
“You too. Godspeed.” Tiber waved to his best friend and turned down the hall marked PYX with his family. The galaxies awaited.