Excerpt from the journal of Alexander Blackburn
They say that all life on Earth will be destroyed, and I feel awful about this, but upon hearing that news, I breathed a sigh of relief. I’d rather the meteor takes us all out in one go- no more melodrama, no more suffering, just one big “crash” and a fade to black. It’s a terrible thought, of course, but with so many years of being depressed I had often hoped for an event like this to come and end my life and leave no one to grieve and feel guilty. It’s selfish and morbid, and always has been, but so was everything else in my life then, and so I feel that it is a reasonable thought to have in that unreasonable context.
But my death will not come by meteor. And neither will the death of the human race, at least not entirely. The Atlas Corporation has built humanity an ark, more specifically ten of them. They’ve unveiled their new vacation space vessels two years early, and plan to refurbish them into colony ships and take the future of the human race to the stars. I worked on the vacation ship project (as a biologist, I worked to build the algae vats that will oxygenate the ships), and benevolent Atlas has granted me a ticket to salvation. I will not have to pay the tariff that has eaten up many a life’s savings just to keep living and to hope to keep living. It’s ironic, almost. I spend so long wishing for my own death and now I am robbed of my easy way out, and forced to keep living no matter what. I asked if the ticket was transferable. They told me no. I don’t know who I would transfer it to, even if I could. I have no friends, no real family. Briefly, I thought of selling the ticket, and of using the money to spend my last few weeks living as a king. But no, I cannot. I will live to see the future, so long as Atlas health insurance continues to cover my zoloft prescription.
I came into work today, to complete preparations on the algae tanks. It feels silly- coming into work like nothing is wrong and that the earth won’t be blasted to space dust in a month’s time. That warehouse was the only place I’ve been recently that has any semblance of the energy of life that proliferated on this planet before we were all damned to our fate, for everyone here has been granted free passage to the arks of the future by the hand of Atlas due to their positions on the project. People laugh and talk, but I do not laugh and talk with them. I feel sick to my stomach.
A woman came up to me on my lunch break. I’d never seen her before, but she wore a sharp suit and a lapel pin with the Atlas logo. Her smile was warm, and she made pleasant ambling small talk with me as I prodded at my salad, which I had lost all appetite to eat. Finally, once the pleasantries were through, she started to speak with me about what was evidently her reason for starting the conversation. I had long abandoned the foolish hope that someone would strike up a conversation with me out of a willing desire for friendship.
The woman told me that Atlas had been experimenting in cryogenic freezing. I was confused about what that had to do with anything- we had neither the materials nor the time to set up experimental cryogenic chambers for all the passengers of the ark to stay forever young before we reached a habitable planet. But she went on, and told me that Atlas had been running the calculations, and that it had been found that there was a chance (a rather large one, I was shocked to hear) that the meteor’s impact would not totally obliterate Earth as had been professed on the news. I had abandoned my salad at this point.
With the human race setting its eyes on the stars, the woman told me, we needed people who remembered life on earth, we needed scientists. One day, we might return to earth, and we would need a litmus strip to see how much had truly changed. I was to be one of those litmus strips. I would be frozen, and then unfrozen after so many years when we decided it was finally time to reevaluate earth.
Deep down, I guess I knew this whole ordeal couldn’t be separated into the simple camps of “live” or “die”. That would be too kind, and so this divine wrench in my plans came in the form of a power suit clad executive and promised me the future. This third option gives me a new start, and I suppose I’m grateful for that. I will die, not physically, but in the minds of anyone who’s ever known me. They will grow old and die, or perish when the meteor hits but I will be forever young in suspended animation- more a photograph than a man.
I asked the woman why me, why choose me out of all the brilliant minds Atlas had at their disposal. She laughed, and told me it was because I had nothing else to live for. Of course, she was right, but it stung to hear it from someone else’s mouth. I guess she’d been reading my psych evaluations. There were no attachments that kept me from throwing my life away to an experimental procedure that might not even work. And so when she handed over the waiver for me to sign, I put my signature on it without a second thought. I hope I made the right choice.
In a week they will put me in cryogenic freezing. I almost wish it was sooner, for I have no one to say my goodbyes to.
(Archivist’s note: Why was this diary sorted in with the files and records for the Sphinx disappearance? I can see no reason for it to be connected, and all the events described in it are blatantly historically inaccurate, which leads me to believe this is some sort of sick prank from one of my colleagues here at the university.
From my further research, I learned that Alexander Blackburn was documented to have committed suicide shortly after this letter was dated.
[Blackburn’s autopsy report is stapled to this document for those who would wish to view it. Fair warning, it is fairly graphic, as cause of death was determined to be a result of stepping in front of a high speed train.]
Likely these are the science fiction addled ramblings of a clearly depressed man in the last days of his life, and I include it in my report only as a memorial to this poor man, and as proof that my colleagues at the university continue to dislike me and my work.)