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  • Fernando Bravo

The Sun is Dying

Thursday, June 11, 6:00 p.m. Armando Castillo, Cuban American in his thirties, worked on a car as the radio played an 80s station in the background.

The music stopped. A radio announcer began speaking. “Folks we have breaking news from the White House. We turn now to BN News Correspondent Harold Lincoln in Washington, D.C.”

BN News music played and quickly transitioned to Harold Lincoln who began to speak, “The President is going to make an announcement about a solution for the problem of the coming demise of the Sun, and, well, our very existence for that matter. Okay, here he is, we turn now to the President.”

Numerous camera shutters clicked away in rapid succession.

At the White House press room, President Jeremiah Williams approached the podium and began to speak.

“Good morning, folks,” said the President. “Over the past three weeks our scientists and engineers have worked tirelessly to put together a solution to save the human race. But before I provide those details, let me put into perspective the monumental task we as a species face. First, we don’t yet have the technology to travel to the closest star with a habitable planet within a single generation. We don’t have the technology to feed anyone on a spacecraft for more than a year without a resupply, and the closest habitable planet is at a distance that will take us thousands of years to reach.”

The President was quiet for a moment and then said, “Not to mention other necessities, such as air, water and fuel. Even nuclear fuel would run out in less than a century. And I can go on with the list of seemingly insurmountable challenges.”

“Instead I will tell you about the plan that we have come up with, which is the best chance to ensure the continuity of the human species.”

“We call it, the Ark, it is simply a large spacecraft, equipped with the logistics to support five couples, who will be accompanied by various animals and plants.

The Press room started to rumble with murmurings and talk.

The President continued, “They will have everything they need to carry the Human race on, so that we may transcend the demise of our planet, and thrive as we were meant to. I will take questions now.”

“Angeline,” said the President.

“You say five couples. That’s only ten people; what about the rest of the country? And the world?”

“First, we just don’t have the technology to carry three hundred million people off the planet. Second, even if we could, we don’t have the means with which to feed them, give them water, care for their sick, and propel them and all subsequent generations for several millennia to our closest star.”

“But, Mr. President,” a couple of reporters tried to interject in rapid succession.

“To be honest with you,” said the President as if oblivious to them, “We can’t even feed this crew of 10 for more than a year. They have to find the means to feed themselves out in space, despite the fact that there isn’t a single planet in this solar system with life. So, they have no other choice except to somehow find the vital minerals and elements necessary to sustain their existence in the rocks they encounter along the way.

“Mr. President, Sir,”

“Roger,” said the President pointing to one of the reporters.

“So, what is everyone else supposed to do?”

“Support our plan to get these people off the planet and save the human race,” said the President. “Let’s not let our memories die.”

“Mr. President, Mr. President!” said several other reporters.

“You,” said the President pointing to someone on his left,

However, another reporter yelled from his right, “Is that what you are telling your children!”

The President looked at that reporter, and said “Yes. No further questions.”

Back at his mechanic’s shop, a large wrench smashed Armando’s radio. Armando’s hairy, sweaty hand and forearm held that wrench in an angry steel grip. He proceeded to continue smashing it, until it was in pieces.

Juan Caballero, a Cuban American in his late fifties walked into the garage. He glanced over at the broken radio.

“I guess you heard,” said Juan.

Armando made his way to the back door, and as he exited said, “I gotta think.”

Juan just stood there with the expression of one lost in thought. Suddenly the roar of a very loud, powerful and old V8 engine snapped him out of it.

Out from behind the garage, emerged onto the street an olive drab colored, custom, 1968 Dodge Charger.

Juan said to himself, “Good. He’s taking Gumby.”

Armando looked over at Juan and said, “Hold down the fort for me.”

Juan waved in acknowledgment.

Gumby’s tires smoked as Armando peeled out onto the street and roared away.

Juan said to himself, “Can’t wait to see what plan he comes back with.”

Armando drove and drove. His mind blank. In the middle of the night his eyelids grew heavy. He pulled over and went to sleep on the side of the road.

It was dawn. Armando was lying across the front seat. He sat up, and rubbed his eyes.

He smacked his lips, stepped out through the passenger door and urinated on the untamed grass.

He didn’t like long grass; all kinds of bugs were probably sleeping or crawling around in it.

He finished, zipped up, and looked up at the last star in the sky. It was bright and didn’t twinkle. It was dawn, so it was probably the planet Venus. His dad was an astronomer and it’s one of the few things Armando remembered about space. He hated astronomy, but some things just stuck.

He reached into the glove compartment and pulled out a toothbrush and toothpaste. He found a half-empty plastic bottle of water on the floor, and he proceeded to brush his teeth. When he rinsed and spit out the water onto the grass, he said out loud, “I’ll probably miss you creepy crawlies if I ever make it off this planet.”

He looked up at the sky and said, “Dad, why didn’t I follow in your footsteps? If I had I’d probably know what to do.”

Then he got back in the car and drove off, away from the sunrise.

As the sun rose, he noticed that the landscape around him had less trees and there were more open fields of untamed grass with the occasional ranch and subtle ups and downs.

He was hungry and Gumby was low on fuel. So once again he stopped, but not to eat a full meal. He needed to feel hungry. Armando didn’t know why, but it helped. So he fueled up and was back on the road.

Day turned to night, and sometime, long after it grew dark, he again felt his eyelids being pulled down. He pulled over and went to sleep. After the fourth night, he woke up with a large cactus next his car. Tumble weed blew across the highway, and he thought, so big but so light.

Then Armando nodded and said to himself, “Okay.” He looked in his rearview mirror, made a u-turn and headed back east.

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