Buzz! Bu- SLAM!
He didn’t need to wake up to turn his alarm clock shut.
He had been awake all night dreading this very moment. He could’ve slept through the night, getting the rest he knew he needed to survive this day. But he just couldn’t.
He sat back straight up, staring at the foot of his bed. What was going through his mind, nobody knew, not even him. It was all just a blur or words, music and emotion. Anger turned to lust, lust turned to Matt Bellamy’s guitar solo in Hysteria, which turned into sorrow.
His stomach lurched as he looked at the clock again to see he had wasted a whole minute sitting and doing nothing but let his mind wander into the eternal craziness of oblivion.
He rose from his bed and stretched, thinking what could be on in everyone else’s minds. All the people in the rooms next to his. On his floor. The whole building. The whole sector. The whole Colony.
Then he remembered that it didn't matter. None of them mattered any more. Today, it was all about him and getting through the day.
The cold water from the shower was enough to shake out any form of exhaustion that was still left in his body. His mind, however, was a whole other story. He hadn't slept more than 3 or 4 hours in the past few days, thinking about today.
Fifteen minutes later he was out in the cold. It was still dark, as the days in recent times had become; the Sun set hours earlier than it normally would, and rose much after every one was wide awake and going about their daily routines.
He stood in line for the bus, and when it arrived, there was no jostling and pushing to enter the bus first. Everyone walked calmly inside and took the seat that was designated to them with their names written on it. The doors closed behind him as soon as he boarded and the bus jerked forward, throwing him off balance for a moment.
He found his seat next to a pretty girl who he had never seen before. He almost let a “Hi” slip out of his mouth, when he knew how pointless it would have been. He would probably never see her again in his life. Or that day. Whichever ended first.
The bus ride was long. He had enough time on the journey to remember his family and what it was like growing up in a time when none of the rules of the Colony applied, or were even needed for that matter. The swing sets he had played on as a child, the barbecues with his parents and brother in their back yard, the house parties as a teenager, his first kiss, the first time he made love to his girlfriend, the first time he stole a six-pack from his uncle’s refrigerator to get drunk with his friends – all of it seemed such a long time ago. Then again, he thought to himself, three years is a long time to have lived through after what happened that night.
The bus finally stopped with another balance-throwing jerk, and he snapped out of his reminisce immediately.
He checked his watch. It had taken them 3 hours to get to the warehouse, much longer than the 5 minutes it would have taken them to travel the same distance of 7 kilometers just 3 years before. Earth had become a crazy place to live in, even crazier than what he had been chosen to do today. Which was the only reason he had signed up to do so in the first place.
He got back in line with the others from the bus, only this time the line was a good 800 meters long thanks to people coming in from the buses from the other Colonies. There were 7 such lines, all leading to the 7 doors that let you enter the warehouse. He was standing behind the girl from the bus (he made sure he stood behind her). There was a light breeze blowing from the front towards him, and every now and then he’d get a light whiff of the flowery perfume she had on. He was glad to have something other than the usual scent of fear that he could smell from every single person around him.
Ten minutes later, he was in front of the door. He had watched the girl from the bus step across the metal frame and suddenly fall limp and slump into the arms of the two guards standing in front of the door. He swallowed dryness from his mouth and stepped through the frame. He knew nothing more.
“I swear, I’ll come back, babe! Just stay here, I’ll go get help!”
He had left his girlfriend under the car, where they hidden to stay out of sight of the giant machines that were now tearing up the streets of his neighbourhood.
They had come out of nowhere, and the news on the television had told them that there were similar reports from hundreds of cities across the world that were similarly invaded by “robots from outer space”. Straight out of a science fiction drama from the 50s, he remember thinking to himself just before his garage was blown to bits.
He crawled out from underneath the car and looked down the street. There was nothing left on the street except for overturned cars, burning houses and lawns and the sounds of alarms and bombs going off in the distance.
He shouted for help, but no one came. There was no one left to hear him yell out for help, telling them that his girlfriend had a broken leg and needed immediate medical attention. (He didn’t know that he himself had two cracked ribs from being thrown back by the blast from his garage) He turned around and started heading back towards the car.
He suddenly stopped dead in his tracks. He could smell the gasoline pouring out from the car under which his girlfriend was hiding. He could see it flowing, inching closer and closer to the Felix’s place right opposite, which was now just a smouldering pile of burned down wood stone.
Before he could even open his mouth to yell to her to get out from under the car, he was thrown back (once again on to his ribs, not feeling them crack this time either) with the force of the car blasting.
He woke with a start, sweating and breathing heavily. He tried moving, but he was now strapped onto a chair with rows and rows of buttons and joysticks laid on a panel in front of him.
He looked to his right, and the woman from the bus was there, staring at him, scared.
“Sorry,” he said, “Bad dream.”
She calmed a little, told him not to worry about it and turned away from him. She had already begun her run down procedure, flicking switches and buttons seemingly at random on the panel that extended in front of her too.
He looked back in front, and found his own rundown sheet. He began his work.
“Mission: Explorer is good to go.”
A voice had spoken from inside his head. He’d almost forgotten about the comms systems they’d embedded into every pilot’s brains after they had completed their training procedures.
“We go live in 10 seconds”, the voice added.
He glanced at the girl. She looked back at him.
“Do you really think we’ll find another planet like Earth out there? Somewhere we’ll be able to go back to our old lives and die old and happy?” she asked him.
“No,” he replied and turned back to face the shining Sun that was now a deep, dark shade of red at 12 in the afternoon.