Title: By the Stars
Author: Jessica Marie Baumgartner
Genre: Science Fiction/Space opera
Allie is faced with her worst nightmare as she boards a space ship that will transport her and her children from their home forever. The human population has dwindled to around 15,000 as the Earth’s become hostile. If they stay they will die.
The alien race who’s come to their rescue seem to have no concept of selfishness, but Allie has her doubts. She’s separated from her husband and left to fend for her family on her own. It’s up to her to make sure that they survive the trip across the stars.
Jessica is a member of The St. Louis Writer’s Guild. Her stories have been featured by Bewildering Stories, Fiction on the Web, Beyond Imagination Literary Magazine, Hellfire Crossroads, and others. She has a Paranormal Romance novelette titled Tale of Two Bookends through Cobblestone Press LLC, and a children’s book about religious diversity and acceptance titled, My Family Is Different. You check her out at www.jessicamariebaumgartner.com
Social media Links:
Author Website: www.jessicamariebaumgartner.com
Author Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/jessicamariebaumgartner
Author Twitter: https://twitter.com/jessmbaum
European Geeks Publishing: http://www.europeangeeks.com/by-the-stars.html
I used to have nightmares about this. I would wake up screaming as they forced me to leave. People giving up; abandoning Mother Earth. The thought alone caused my heart to race, my under arms to sweat.
Here I stand clutching my children, one on each side, as we prepare to be torn away from everything that’s tangible. Before me, a gargantuan structure glares from above. This beast, this ship is supposed to save humanity, or at least what’s left of it.
I’ve lived through mass devastation. It’s hardened me enough.
But leaving? It still scares me.
We have no idea what’s out there for us.
My husband has faith in the alien colony that is aiding us. They made contact just in time. Said they had revolutionized their space program and stumbled upon our signal.
I don’t know what I believe.
As the line moves forward, I pull my girls along. They stumble ahead with fright, carrying their backpacks strapped to their bodies. Our packs are the only human luggage allowed on the crowded craft. But that’s not what they’re worried about.
It’s not the new race they fear. Or even the new world. It is the missing presence of their father.
Some blamed us, said we destroyed everything long ago. Tales of overpopulation and abuse still cause me to wonder. Others believe that Earth was just growing old, as if it were born to die someday like its inhabitants. A great deal of our culture is based off of memories of the past and analyzing it to give us hope for the future.
I know humanity did reach a population much greater than the one today, but I can’t believe that a single species could destroy a whole planet. Maybe they caused the aging of the Earth to advance, who knows? We’ve left it and I’m trying hard enough to reconcile that. The roughly fifteen thousand people remaining have enough to bear. Traveling to a new land leaves a lot of questions unanswered.
Imagine a new planet.
I go through our bags and pull out our clothes, a few books, and my tool belt. It would have been straining in line, something for the girls to tug on and fiddle with unwanted. Here, I tie it around my waist hoping for a job. The Cih’lnarians expect us to work together, carry the cause as one.
I have my doubts as to how this will be productive. Humans need incentive. We don’t just do things to make sure all goes well like they do.
We’ve been given a three day period of rest to help us adjust, but I wish to have all necessities ready in case my services are required. I’ve always been an active person. I don’t intend to sit around waiting for other people to do their portion of the work. I’ll do what I have to regardless of what everyone else does.
Maybe that’s the mom in me. All my life I’ve been taught to prepare for the worst. Ever since becoming a mother, it’s only driven me further. I’m always cautious about our safety and survival.
The girls help me arrange our things on the shelf. Clothes on the bottom, books beneath our provisional supplies. It looks scant. Then again, our lives have always been a series of small surroundings.
Adam encouraged each of us to bring a book. These rare heirlooms have become sacred to those of us who have been taught to read. Time wears them down, but most humans have passed on favorites through generations. Many classics are only spoken through memory now. It’s a tradition that links us, but I do feel a connection to the pages that transfer specific words from our ancestors.
I laugh as I stare at my husband’s copy of his favorite space fiction. Running my fingertips along the cover, I slide them over the tattered edges and let the earthy aroma of the dusty pages sweep over me. It’s much like traveling to another world.
Adam’s always had space travel in him. It’s in his blood. He’s a descendent of the astronauts who used to travel beyond Earth, before our lack of resources caused the programs to shut down exploration. Of course, traveling through space physically as opposed to philosophically is very different, but I enjoy reading his torn up old book.
With a squeeze of my hand on the binding, I hear my husband’s voice in my head, think of the days when we made time to read to each other. It didn’t matter that they were the same stories told again and again. The feel of the tales always brought us together.
“You okay, mom?” Maddi gently touches my hand.
“I miss him is all.”