Image: chicken and chips. Text: I've seen a eminent brain surgeon told to serve a meal to a useless lump of putrescence.


Short story by Iris Carden

I’m sure it seemed like a great idea to someone.  Create a series of arks, ships to take a core group of people away from the Earth to start over away from all the destruction we have caused, before climate change finally kills humanity. Well, in theory, it was a good idea, to begin with.

A major company recruited us. We scrambled to get everything ready in time.  We were scientists and engineers, farmers, doctors, nurses, teachers, writers, artists, were all included in the program.  We wanted this new society we were building to have all of the elements that make a good society, so we wanted the arts and the sciences.  We wanted all of those workers who made things work, and whose work made life richer. We met together regularly, to plan, to identify further resources and people we would need.  The company assured us we had unlimited resources. This was about saving the human race, and this project would be the company’s last investment, not to make money but to save whatever could be salvaged of our society.

It wasn’t until we were boarding that we found out: the company behind the program wasn’t just recruiting us. It had also sold passenger tickets to many of the richest people on Earth.  Billionaires, legitimate and criminal, were boarding ahead of us.  They all had huge staterooms, while we had tiny cubicles.  They were boarding with the understanding that someone would take care of all their needs.

“Someone” was meant to be us. We weren’t just to do the work to start a new society. We were the “staff”, servants to the paying passengers whose every want we were meant to fulfil.

Seven months we spent in space. Seven months with people who didn’t know how to tie their own shoes expecting us to do everything for them.

I saw a Nobel prize-winning scientist expected to clean up after a drunk spoilt teenager threw up.  I’ve seen an eminent brain surgeon told to serve a meal to a useless lump of putrescence. I’ve seen a prima ballerina ordered to do laundry for someone who was doing no work at all.

Once on the ground, we had work to do.  We had a habitat to build, we had earth to plow, a medical centre and housing to build.  Musicians and writers and artists rolled up their sleeves and helped with the physical work. Their time to contribute in their special way would come later, to start with  they did whatever they could to build something we could use to survive.

Everyone worked, except our uber-rich passengers.  We established a compound, with housing, food production, all the basics for survival.  They established a habit of complaining that no-one was there to serve them while we were away working.

Now the time has come to move from the arks to the compound.

That’s why I’ve called this meeting.

I propose, that when we move, we leave behind everyone who has not contributed to building the compound.

They have enough resources on the arks to survive long enough to work out their next steps.  They even have enough to go back to Earth, if they choose to, and if they can work out how to.  

But they don’t come with us.  We didn’t sign up to be servants.  Everyone in our new society needs to contribute towards the wellbeing of all.  That’s what we signed up for. That’s what we planned.

We can look after people who become sick or get old or become disabled, or children who are born disabled in the future.  We can help people who have physical limitations find a way to contribute to society. 

We can’t look after people who come here with no useful skills and no intent to learn any.  We can’t look after people who just want to treat us as servants.

This is not Earth.  Money doesn’t matter here. 

So here is my plan.  We just pick up the last of the things we need, and we go to the compound just like going for a normal day to work there.  We just don’t come back and the end of the working day.

Are we agreed?


By Iris Carden

Iris Carden is an Australian indie author, mother, grandmother, and chronic illness patient. On good days, she writes. Because of the unpredictability of her health, she writes on an indie basis, not trying to meet deadlines. She lives on a disability support pension now, but her ultimate dream is to earn her own living from her writing.

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