by Cherry Potts
Out here, it is always dawn. Our orbit is precise, always with the sun just … just a glow over the earth’s curve.
This is the only safe place left that still allows the hint of light needed to keep the solar panels functioning. The earth turns away from us, scorched and dead, while we continue — nowhere to go, nowhere safe to be but in this cone of shadow, hiding from the monstrous light, the deadly heat, that was once our gentle, glorious sun.
There is no going back.
The technicians are frantically doing paper calculations, their instruments fritzed in the sunburst, trying to keep us in our safe zone, trying to work out how far away is far enough, and the velocity needed to escape, and the power needed to reach that velocity, before we run out of shadow.
I adapt our orbit minutely every time someone passes me an approved revision, nudging us this way and that, just a little faster, a little slower, keeping us where we need to be. I dodge most of the fragments of moon on my own. I don’t tell anyone — they are too tired to care or understand.
The millennialists are saying I told you so and praying. The survivalists are eyeing the women, and the women are sharpening knives.
Even with superefficient recycling, we can last no more than a few weeks and there is nowhere to go.
We all know that we have insufficient power for the speed we need without more sun, and if we have even a little more sun, we fry, like all the people who were in the light, all the people who couldn’t reach safety, all the people who had no right to safety.
We deny it of course. We reassure, counsel patience, discuss best use of resources, mutter about the calculations … I want a quick end, when it comes.
It would be so easy to let our orbit drift, to let that devouring dawn take us. It would be a matter of moments and we’d all go together, not like now, with the suicides and the murders, everyone fighting over dwindling resources, dwindling hope.
I don’t even have to tell anyone, just …
… let the sun rise.
Cherry Potts published her first novel, The Dowry Blade, in February 2016. She is also the author of two collections of short stories, Mosaic of Air and Tales Told Before Cockcrow, and multiple stories in anthologies and magazines. She runs and edits for Arachne Press, and organises the South London live literature event The Story Sessions and the annual winter literature and music festival Solstice Shorts.