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News & Features » October 2017 » “Blue Sky Volume 1: Damnation” by M.A. Powers

“Blue Sky Volume 1: Damnation” by M.A. Powers

In October 2017 we published An Unkindness of Ghosts by Rivers Solomon, a rare literary science fiction set in a future universe so gorgeously described and perfectly self-contained—and yet so harrowing and cruel—that its only parallel universe is our own. Solomon’s novel has inspired this speculative fiction series. We’ve been through the past, and we haven’t really learned from it. The present? We’re too busy attempting to survive it. So we’re asking you to provide us a glimpse of what comes next. Illustrate the essential choices we must make in the present that will lead us to your brilliant utopian future. Or, if you cannot anticipate utopia, provide us instead with your cautionary tale. Show us where we will fall if we—when we—fail to alter our course. Fri-SciFi stories are published on Fridays because we expect we’ll need the weekend to contemplate your vision. 

This week, M.A. Powers (coauthor of Broken Circle) describes a monumental fall toward planet earth . . .

Blue Sky Volume 1: Damnation
by M.A. Powers
Year: 2092

The blackened fingernail curve of the earth is highlighted by crystal refractions of light. Breathtaking.

I rotate slowly, enjoying the view courtesy of the auto dimmer in my spacesuit visor. I spin away from the sun’s rays, clutching the deadly canister to the soft fabric of my space shirt. My blackened visor clears. There’s the sunlit spaceship I’ve just ejected from receding into the diamond points of a trillion stars splashing across unobstructed space. Outfitted with the latest tactile sensors, my gloves caress the smooth curves and hard metal of the canister of interstellar fuel I’m cradling like a baby.

My plan was to jump out of the airlock facing the earth. To face my demise head on. To trigger the healing of a corrupted planet. But my toe hung up for a fraction of a second on the corner of the airlock hatch and threw me into a slow spin as I fell away from the receding ship.

No matter.

I am slowly accelerating to my death, pulled in by the mass of a diseased and angry planet. Here at the culmination of a plan, years in the making. Except for the little toe issue, everything else went flawlessly—leaving the low orbit space station, reprogramming the ship computer, exiting the spacecraft with no warning to mission control. No one would know that I removed the highly condensed interstellar ship fuel I am now hugging to my chest.

Now it will be up to the next species to evolve the good sense we never had.

On top of the canister the initials: JLU. I smile. Jack, my boyfriend from the eco club in college, and the physicist in charge of the International Space Agency Fuel Consortium, left those initials. They stand for “Jack Loves You.” Next to the letters is a hidden recess that conceals a “go” button under a plug-in bracket. It’s a two-step process to blow up the canister, releasing the energy of a million neutron bombs.

First, depress the button, arming the detention charges built into the canister wall.

Second, release the button triggering the biggest man-made bang our world will ever see.

We designed the detention process this way, allowing me to arm the bomb while still in orbit and hold it armed as I reenter earth’s atmosphere until I have to let it go because I’ve passed out or my finger has burned up. An almost purely analogue solution. Undetectable to digital scrubbing programs. I should be deep enough into the atmosphere that the detonated bomb will suck up ninety percent of the oxygen, killing all terrestrial humans and animals and most of the plants in the process. Anybody underground can survive, but with no way to produce food because of fallout. But the earth will recover and be better off without humans. I can picture Jack, sitting in his lawn chair, head tilted to the blue sky, anticipating his last light show.

As I spin back around, the earth is so large, it fills my entire field of vision. I am falling faster into the atmosphere now. Before the shaking of reentry makes it difficult, I reach with my gloved finger to press the button.

I can’t get it into the recess. The glove is too large!

Ugh! The space around the button was designed for the old space gloves. With the new sensors, all I can do is look at the hole in horror!

Air particles slamming into my suit heat up the interior and I start to sweat as I accelerate towards the ground. I fumble to pull off a glove, knowing that I’ll lose the pressure in my space suit and I’ll pass out soon after it is gone. But all I need is a second!

I let go of the canister so I can use both hands. The canister and I fall together.

I rip my glove off and hear the swoosh as pressure leaves my suit.

My hand! It is hot, burning up.

I reach for the canister and turn it.

I’m shaking. How can I hold my finger still long enough to enter the hole?

Now I’m jamming my shaking digit at the top of the canister, hoping I find the hole.

I’m blacking out.

My legs are burning!

The top of the canister sparks light and fades to black.

I can’t feel anything!

But I think something moved!

Is that


M.A. POWERS is J.L.’s “little” (but much taller) brother. He has a PhD in the oncological sciences from the Huntsman Cancer Institute at the University of Utah in Salt Lake City. He is currently a stay-at-home dad and lives in Maine. Broken Circle, available now, is his first novel written with his sister, J.L. Powers.


Do you have a story you’d like us to consider for online publication in the Fri-SciFi series? Here are the submission terms and guidelines.

—We are not offering payment, and are asking for first digital rights. The rights to the story revert to the author immediately upon publication.
—Your story should be set in a conceivable, not a fantastical, future. No dragons, please.
—With your byline, include the date or era OR galaxy or ship or planetary system in which your story takes place. Or both. But not neither.
—To be perfectly frank, we prefer dystopias. But feel free to surprise us.
—Your story should not exceed 750 words, and must be previously unpublished.
—Please include a short bio with your submission.
—Accepted submissions to Fri-SciFi are typically posted 1–3 months after the notification date, and will be edited for cohesion and to conform to our house style.
—E-mail your submission to info@akashicbooks.com. Please paste the story into the body of the email, and also attach it as a PDF file.

Posted: Oct 20, 2017

Category: Original Fiction, Fri-SciFi, Original Fiction | Tags: , , , , , , , , ,