Shell is on a world ship, heading to a planet she’ll never see. Behind her, Earth burns and ahead lies a life she has no interest in. But Shell has been listening, and Shell has a plan.
Nah, Screw that.
Dear Survivor. Dear anyone who escapes this hellhole and actually cares enough to read this.
I’ve never been good with crap like journals. It’s not that I don’t like writing about myself, I’ve just never been good at doing something every day. Habits are boring. I’d much rather search this shitty place for something more interesting.
I should start at the beginning. My name is Shell Dislengua and I’m 17 years old. I live in Sector 11, Cabin block 32. My mother just about remembers Earth, my father never saw it.
I don’t want to see it. I guess that’s why I’m writing this. All anyone goes on about is Earth, about how beautiful it is, how it’s all so green and the sea’s so blue and the sky’s so big. That’s what they tell me. If I wait around long enough, they get out the movies and show me, just to prove it.
I stopped waiting around a long time ago. Why do they insist on watching those bloody things? They’ll never see it. Not one person on board this flying coffin will see Earth, so why’s everyone so obsessed?
That’s the question I’ve been asking myself for years. Then this morning, two days before my 18th birthday, I figured it out.
I can’t believe I didn’t see it earlier. I spent ages thinking I was unique, that I was the only one who saw the big fat lie we’ve all been sold, but I was wrong. Everyone sees it. How can they not? It’s not like anyone’s really tried to lie about it. At least, only to themselves.
We’ll fly through space our entire lives, with Earth getting further and further away and Planetary Body Alpha 251 getting nearer and nearer. But none of us will see it, nor walk through the apparently green forests that cover 90% of its surface. None of us will see the mountains that tower high above anything on Earth. None of us will even see it through the screens.
None of us.
Everyone knows it, but instead of being like me and admitting the truth, they lie to themselves. They’re scared so they hide behind this weird love of Earth, this passion for something that makes no sense, that means nothing to them. It’s like believing in God. No one’s done that in hundreds of years, but they still laugh about it.
‘Can you believe people actually used to believe in a higher power?’ Someone comes out with it now and then and everyone else has a good laugh. But everyone on board’s doing exactly that. Only God’s this planet that we came from, or at least, the thousand or so people on board who were alive when we left.
I’ll be getting hitched in two days. Apparently calling it getting hitched is funny, cos it’s this old expression from Earth, but there’s nothing funny about. Somewhere on board, a computer’s selected my perfect mate from the twenty thousand men, well, boys, on the ship. In two days time, I’ll be given his name and we’ll have our first date.
He’s got no more choice than I have. No more choice that dad had. Apparently, mum chose him from a line up. They did it like that before we had the first mutation. Now the whole thing’s based on these poxy algorithms they sent through from Earth. One of only three occasions when they actually responded to a message we sent.
Things are bad there, now. They were bad when the ship left, but now there’s not much left. That’s what makes the lies even worse. Everyone on board is dreaming of this wonderful planet that doesn’t even exist. Half the eastern seaboard was a burnt out wreck before the ship even launched. It’s been forty two years, so what are the chances there’s anything left at all?
I’m rambling. I didn’t mean to ramble. I wanted to explain my actions. I’m not sure why, it’s not like I care what anyone thinks. I want you to understand, though, even if you can’t forgive me.
Let me start again. My name is Shell and in two days time I turn 18. In two days time, my fate is bound to another for no better reason than because a computer says so. I’m travelling to a destination I’ll never see, because I’ll be dead long before I get there.
So you tell me, what would you do? Because there’s only one route out that I can see. I toyed for a while with using one of the escape pods. I could shoot myself into space and drift until my oxygen ran out. It’s tempting, sorely tempting. But then I started listening.
I listened in the mess halls, to the excited chatter of the brainless morons who inhabit this piece of shit. I listened in the engineering bay, where dad and another couple of thousand people make sure we keep going in the right direction. The convo was better, not all sunlight and roses, but they were still clinging to lies and BS. I listened to my teachers, who tried to tell me it was worth working hard and getting qualifications, because it means I won’t end up cleaning the mess hall or washing the sixty thousand pairs of dirty underpants the ship produces every day.
I listened to all of it and, by the time I’d finished, I felt sick. Because I’m in a flying coffin that’s filled with zombies. Mindless, witless zombies. And they need to wake up. They need to wake up and accept their reality.
How are they going to wake up? Well, I did some learning, just like my teachers told me. You’d be amazed by the bombs you can make with the stuff they leave lying around in engineering.
I’ve not rigged the whole ship. Aside from how long it would take – like, an entire year – I don’t want to kill everyone. I just want them to hear. Really hear properly, instead of just nodding and smiling and saying ‘yes, sweetie, of course, sweetie.’
Okay, so maybe I just want my parents to hear. But the entire ship’s gonna hear. They’ll call my name and I’ll walk out into the centre of that horrible cream room and I’ll see him, the guy I’m apparently going to ‘learn to love’ and then… boom.
They’ll radio Earth and tell them. Let them know the casualty numbers just before telling them that of course they’ll go on, because the mission is more important. The mission is everything. Without the mission, the human race is doomed.
Well, let me tell you what I think. I think the shock wave from my bombs is going to end the human race way more effectively than the wars ever did. Because once people hear, I mean, really hear, they won’t have any choice but to listen.
They’ll hear the banality. They’ll hear the nonsense they tell one another and, one by one, they’ll wake up. And then what happens? Well, here’s what I think. I think there’ll be another Shell and she’ll get to where I’ve gotten. Except, she won’t stop with just the Joining Room. She’ll have help and, between them, HMS Grand Belief will go boom all over.
It’s either that, or by the time they land on Planetary Body Alpha 251, they’ll all be mad. Either way, mission very bloody well accomplished.
So, dear diary, dear survivor, whoever. Before you toss this book in the bin and sniff as you turn your nose up, answer me this. Exactly what have you survived? And why?