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Fiction

Memoranda from the End of the World

[For internal use only]

RE: YOUR COMPANY-ISSUED BREATHING APPARATUS

Attached, please find your personal company-issued Breathing Apparatus, for immediate use within all corporate campus unfiltered air locations!

This includes all outdoor locations, such as: the parking lots; the parking garage; the smoker’s hut; the paths between the buildings; the shuttlebus waiting area; the tennis court; and the corporate golf course. It also includes a limited number of indoor locations, such as: the shuttlebus; any area listed as “Under Construction”; and the employee bathroom on level two in the north wing of building H.

(Note: If you are reading this memorandum at any of the above-listed unventilated locations, please skip to the section entitled “How to Wear Your Personal Breathing Apparatus” immediately and follow the prescribed steps.)

As detailed in the prior memoranda, “ON THE UNFORTUNATELY HIGH PARTICULATE MATTER COUNT IN OUR COOLING TOWER EJECTA” and “WHY YOU MAY BE COUGHING MORE THIS WEEK,” per policy, all employees must wear their personal Breathing Apparatuses when at risk of inhaling unfiltered air while on the corporate campus.

(For more information, please consult the updated Policy on Breathing in the online corporate handbook.)

FAQ

Q: How long will this policy be in effect?
A: Hopefully not for long! Air quality tests are being conducted constantly by our on-campus team of researchers and the legal department. We will provide a timeline shortly.

Q: In addition to experiencing shortness of breath, I have also experienced some of the following: redness and itching of the eyes; excessive saliva; skin irritation; panic attacks; and dissociative episodes. Are these symptoms related to the air quality concerns expressed by the corporation?
A: These symptoms cannot be positively linked to the corporation’s unfiltered air quality issue at this time.

Q: Should I be concerned for my family?
A: If your immediate family resides more than ten miles from the corporate campus, then no! Otherwise, please contact your supervisor about signing the litigation waiver and obtaining additional Breathing Apparatuses for your immediate family members.

Q: I’ve heard rumors that the high particulate matter count in the coolant tower ejecta is related to work on Project ExtraSolar. What can you tell us?
A: As always, everything relating to Project ExtraSolar is classified as Top Secret. Please refer to the Policy on Denying the Existence of Project ExtraSolar in the online corporate handbook for more information.

• • • •

[For internal use only]

RE: THE IMPORTANCE OF NOT BREATHING UNFILTERED AIR AT THIS TIME

It has come to the attention of Corporate Safety and Security that the mandatory Breathing Apparatus guidelines are not being strictly adhered to by all employees.

As previously outlined—see: “YOUR COMPANY-ISSUED BREATHING APPARATUS”—the wearing of your personal Breathing Apparatus is required whenever inhaling non-filtered air while on the corporate campus.

Many have noted that in the course of issuing Breathing Apparatuses to all employees, we have neglected to explain why it was important to not breathe unfiltered air while on the corporate campus. There are a number of litigation-adjacent reasons we did not do this (and why we still cannot). However, we can discuss a number of the quite dangerous theories that have recently come to our attention.

Theory #1: “This is actually a psychological test and there’s nothing wrong with the air.”
This is false. There very much is something wrong with the air. Please also note that our psy-ops department was defunded two years ago.

Theory #2: “The air is toxic and if you’ve already breathed it you’re going to die anyway, so why bother?”
This is false. Corporate would not issue Breathing Apparatuses if we knew the air was toxic and it was already too late for everyone. The truth is we’re still running tests.

Theory #3: “The air grants people special abilities and corporate is trying to keep it all for themselves.”
This is false. This theory—and the similar “freedom air” theory—are the most popular and the least plausible of the theories we have encountered. We cannot at this time confirm the nature of the pollutant in the corporate campus’s unfiltered air, but—as is true for any industrial accident—the air does not grant special abilities.

(Note: We can neither confirm nor deny that there was an industrial accident.)

It has also been reported that some of the employees who have inhaled unfiltered air on our corporate campus—whether by accident or intentionally—claim to have experienced a kind of euphoria. Like the above theories, this is false: Euphoria is not a recognized symptom.

Again: Euphoria is not a recognized symptom.

Any employees caught “chasing the euphoria” by “breathing the freedom air” and/or encouraging others to do so will be referred to H.R. immediately, and may face termination.

• • • •

[For internal use only]

RE: MEDIA INQUIRIES

In the wake of recent events, the corporation felt it important to address what is becoming an increasingly common problem for our employees: dealing with the media.

It’s important to remember that all media inquiries should be directed to our Public Relations department and/or the Legal department. When a member of the media asks you a question about the corporation, you must refer them. (Contact information for both is attached to this memo.)

We also strongly urge all employees, when faced with media inquiries, to ask themselves: are you the person within the corporation best qualified to speak for the corporation?

Almost without exception, the answer is no. This is irrespective of the question, the questioner, or the circumstance by which the questioner and the questioned happen to encounter one another.

However, we also recognize that under extreme duress, employees may not have the presence of mind to ruminate on the appropriateness of an in-progress media interaction. Likewise, not all media members readily identify themselves, and some circumstances do not permit time for an employee to ask if their interrogator is speaking on behalf of a media conglomerate.

This is why we at corporate headquarters are advising that all employees learn to apply the following phrase—“I don’t know”—to all external inquiries regarding the company.

This phrase has been approved by the legal department for use in all circumstances in which an employee is asked a question relating to the company by a non-employee, and it is to be used at all times regardless of the question.

Here are a few real-life examples of how saying “I don’t know” can help both you (the employee) and the corporation as a whole continue to succeed.

Example #1:
Five quarantined employees escape containment and exit the campus in a heightened state of euphoric dementia. After sacking the local police station, their leader—“Nigel”—declares himself king. The five escapees are eventually contained, but only after killing seven people and biting another twenty-two.

A member of the media reaches out to known employees of the corporation. You, an associate of “Nigel,” are asked to comment.

Option 1: “It was only a matter of time. We’re all going to [expletive] die. Do you own a gun? Get a [expletive] gun. (crying) Those poor bastards . . . Look, go underground and maybe you can hold them off for a while. It’s worth a try, right? Right? (more crying.) I’m sorry. I’m so, so sorry.”

Option 2: “The corporation strongly denies any connection with these individuals, cannot explain why they have employee badges, and only learned about the unfortunate attack on the police station just now when you asked about it.”

Option 3: “I don’t know.”

As we can see, the real-world response shown in Option 1 is inappropriate. Option 2 is ideal, but difficult to reproduce without legal assistance. Option 3 is therefore preferred.

Example #2
An old college friend asks if there’s any connection between the company’s drastic increase in security fencing, the breakdown of local government, and the spread of “Euphoric Fever.” Unbeknownst to you, this old college friend now works for an international media organization.

Option 1: “This is what happens when you try to play God with alien microbes. Jesus Christ. This [expletive] company, man. Hey, I gotta run, they’re having a problem with the flamethrower again.”

Option 2: “True or not I must assume that you, old college friend, are currently employed by an international media organization. The corporation’s updated fencing was purely aesthetic, we have no comment about local government, and we’ve never heard of ‘Euphoric Fever.’”

Option 3: “I don’t know.”

As before, option 3 is preferred, option 2 is better but challenging for most employees, and option 1—the real-world response, unfortunately—is highly damaging to the reputation of the corporation and should be avoided.

Example #3
While off duty and after being relocated to a secure facility, during the course of waiting in line for rations you overhear an army general discussing the use of napalm for an upcoming counterstrike. Concerned, and with information regarding the viability of fire, you approach to discuss it with him.

You do not notice that the general is currently on live television.

Option 1: “WE TRIED FIRE! NOTHING WORKS! THEY’RE NOT HUMAN ANYMORE! [garbled ranting] [expletive] [garbled ranting] [incoherent shrieking]”

Option 2: “These corporation-supplied rations are healthy and delicious!”

Option 3: Do not approach the general. Do not discuss what you know with the military at all.

Option 4: “I don’t know.”

You are correct: this example is actually a trick! The best option is 3. Options 1, 2, and 4 all feature interrupting a live television broadcast, which draws unwelcome attention regardless of what one says following that interruption. However, if you find yourself completely unable to avoid doing this, options 2 or 4 are far better than the real-world option 1.

We hope this advice and the provided examples prove useful to you, our valued employees, in navigating the challenging times we are currently experiencing.

Also note: If you think you have said or are going to say something to a media representative, we ask that you reach out to your supervisor immediately for further guidance.

• • • •

From: the office of the Search for Non-Terrestrial Intelligence (SNOTI)

To: all SNOTI-participating observatories

RE: POSSIBLE NON-TERRESTRIAL SIGNAL IDENTIFIED & PNTL WARNING

Dear participating members:

We here at the main SNOTI office hope that this message reaches you, and that you are well and not currently infected with the PNTL contagion (about which: more below.) Tragically, the latest information has it that our observatories in North America and Western Europe have, much like the rest of society in those regions, collapsed. (So, if you are reading this and located in one of those regions, it’s likely you are not entirely yourself. If this is not the case, cheerio! We hope you have adequate food and water. Please let us know if we can help.)

We have two important pieces of information to share with our members at this time. First, current evidence indicates that our New South Wales observatory, in conjunction with our Guizhou branch, have confirmed the receipt of a message from a non-terrestrial source!

This may sound very much as if we’ve discovered the existence of water moments before drowning. However, despite the very real global threat the Parasitic Non-Terrestrial Lifeform contagion represents to us all, many of our SNOTI observatories have continued to work hard in the search for intelligent non-terrestrial life that is also not currently on the planet. To that end: we appear to have succeeded!

We’re attaching the coordinates for the signal source to this memorandum. Please note that the coordinates do not correspond to anything in particular; the signal is either being sent from a previously undiscovered planet, or a local non-terrestrial object.

If you are able, have power, and are of sound mind, please direct your array to the coordinates. Be aware that we have not been able to discern what the signal is saying at this time, if anything. However, it is repeating and non-random.

(In what was a gesture of wishful thinking—the stress has gotten to us all—the NSW office did craft and send a response, in the unlikely event the signal origin was somewhere nearby, astronomically speaking. We welcome you to do the same, if it lightens the mood.)

Secondly, it has come to our attention that those inflicted with the PNTL contagion are uncommonly attracted to observatories. If you have not already done so, we strongly recommend you fortify your facility as well as is possible.

Happy signal hunting! We promise to share any new findings as they happen, for as long as we are able.

Sincerely,

Your SNOTI administrators

• • • •

[For internal use only]

RE: SAYING GOODBYE TO OUR SOUTHWESTERN CORPORATE CAMPUS

It is with a heavy heart that we must formally announce the closing of the corporation’s main campus, effective immediately.

This is not a decision lightly made! Despite the trying times of the past several months, we here at the Corporate Shelter have been attacking the problem daily in the hopes of coming up with a solution.

(Note: As mentioned in the previous memo, “WE ARE UNABLE TO DISCLOSE THE LOCATION OF THE TOP SECRET CORPORATE SHELTER”, we are unable to disclose the location of the top secret corporate shelter at this time. We continue to log your requests!)

However, recent satellite surveys of our southwestern campus have brought us to the same conclusion many of you no doubt already reached: the campus technically no longer exists in any meaningful physical sense.

This was ultimately due to the military’s firebombing campaign, although the riots were a proximate cause. We have also been notified that the upcoming nuclear strike is likely to render any insurance claims moot.

And so: we have decided it would be in the corporation’s best interests to close the campus permanently, write off the loss, and move on.

Unfortunately, this means we will also be initiating a mandatory attrition for all employees assigned to that facility who have not already self-furloughed by way of premature death or infection.

(Note: employees afflicted with Euphoric Fever are ineligible for severance. Please read Corporate Stance on Non-Human Status of PNTL-Infected Persons in the online corporate handbook for details on this policy.)

If you believe your employment status has been impacted by this change, but have not yet been contacted by Human Resources, let your immediate supervisor know immediately so that we may begin the mandatory attrition process.

We would like to apologize to all affected employees, and thank you all for your years of service. None of us at the Corporate Shelter would be here without your hard work and many sacrifices.

• • • •

WELCOME TO YOUR GOVERNMENT-SPONSORED BUNKER

Hello and welcome to Long-Term Subterranean Housing Bunker #7, or as we like to call it, “The Bunker!”

Before we go over some very important rules about your new long-term housing, we would like to congratulate you on having made it this far, and to thank you for being here! The total collapse of society is difficult on us all, but we are sure that in time you will adjust, just as we have, to the changed circumstances!

Now, a brief questionnaire, to bring everyone up to speed as quickly as possible! Don’t worry, there are no wrong answers. Take your time and have fun!

Entrance Questionnaire

Q: What is your age, and are you medically capable of fathering/bearing children?
A: __________

Q: What is your unique/special skill/knowledge base that was considered critical in rebuilding civilization? Are you the only one who can do it, or can it be taught in the event something should happen to you?
A: __________

Q: Do you have a fever?
A: __________

Q: Are you happy right now? As in, very happy?
A: __________

Q: Please list all the weapons you are proficient in the use of. (Provide as much detail as possible. Ex: instead of “guns”, say “Sig Sauer P320” or “Winchester Model 94 carbine 30-30”.)
A: __________

Q: Have you ever killed a person? (In self-defense or otherwise.)
A: __________

Q: Are you sure you’re not an unreasonable degree of happy right now?
A: __________

Q: Please list any skills not already mentioned above. (Ex: truck driving; masonry; flamethrower maintenance.)
A: __________

Turn in your completed form to the bunker sergeant. Note that this questionnaire is mandatory.

Important Rules About Your New Housing

It’s critically important that all bunker residents be aware of each of these rules, and to follow them exactly, at all times!

Rule #1: Do not go outside. If you are not an active member of the assault team or the fire squad, do not leave the bunker at any time, for any reason. You will not be allowed back inside.

Rule #2: No smoking. We appreciate that this is a challenge for many of you, but please keep in mind that the air filters are the only thing keeping the bunker safe from the contagion; any unnecessary stress to the filters should be avoided. Also, there is no supply of tobacco products in the bunker. If you plan to step outside for a smoke, please see rule #1.

Rule #3: Report happy people. Parasitic Non-Terrestrial Lifeform contagion, AKA PNTL, AKA PANTAL, AKA PANTALOON, AKA Euphoric Fever, has the following easily-identifiable symptoms: 1) overwhelming euphoria, 2) a mild fever, 3) delusions of grandeur, 4) a strong urge to bite people. These symptoms generally present in this order, which means that happiness is the first sign that something may be wrong. If you encounter someone in the bunker who appears to be happy in a way that makes no sense to you, trust your instincts! Report unnaturally happy people to the bunker sergeant so that they can be isolated and tested.

Rule #4: Do not ask for more food. Your daily assigned rations have been apportioned precisely to provide enough calories for all of us to survive. Do not ask for additional helpings, or for seasoning or condiments. What you have been provided is all there is. Keep in mind that our bunker nutritionists are calculating not only how much food each of us can have per day, but for how many days, based on how much food we currently have. Additional helpings now may mean a total lack of food later.

Thank you for your time! Please see your bunker sergeant for your sleeping assignment. We wish you luck as a new and productive member of The Bunker!

• • • •

[This missive translated from [Untranslatable] to English.

When only the best [Untranslatable] will do, choose [Untranslatable] for all your galactic translations!]

NOTICE OF IMPENDING FUMIGATION

People of Earth:

Your planet has been designated for fumigation. Please see below for details.

Why is this happening?

The Galactic Corporation at [Untranslatable] has determined that Earth is currently in the midst of an outbreak of [Untranslatable] Flu. (You may also know it as the [Untranslatable] Fever, [Untranslatable] Plague, or The Crazypants.) As you are aware, this disease is caused by a highly infectious, sentient pathogen, commonly known as [Untranslatable] or George.

As there is no known cure for [Untranslatable], the best recourse once an outbreak has occurred is to eradicate the infected populace.

Is there a cure?
There is no cure.

Eradication seems drastic?
Eradication is the only viable option to halt the spread. Those infected with [Untranslatable] seek only to find others to infect. Once a planet has run out of host candidates, the afflicted will exhaust all options to leave the planet for other worlds.

Any of those infected who are still capable will acquire spacecrafts, while the later-stage infected will instinctively gravitate to higher ground for as long as higher ground exists. We at the Galactic Corporation’s corporate headquarters at [Untranslatable] have a responsibility to our shareholder planetary systems to step in before a runaway outbreak of [Untranslatable] Flu jumps planets.

How will the planet be fumigated?
Employing the latest and best technology, our expert team of fumigators will surround the planet with our patented Neutron Shield and irradiate the surface with high doses of gamma radiation.

This process uses 1/3 less gamma radiation than our competitors, with twice the effectiveness in half the time. (Ask for a brochure!) Your planet should be ready for repopulation in fewer than twenty-thousand galactic standard years, which is a lot better than the thirty-five thousand the competition can promise!

When will this begin?
The fumigation has not yet been scheduled. Expect a second notice closer to the date.

FOR SPECIAL CIRCUMSTANCES ONLY

What do I do if my entire species is located on this planet?
We at the Galactic Corporation at [Untranslatable] recognize that some less advanced species may be facing total extinction as a consequence of this outbreak. (Although this is rare.) If you have reason to believe our fumigation program will result in the cessation of your lifeform as a whole, please take the following steps.

1: Collect.
Gather all individuals you can prove, credibly, are uninfected.

2: Evacuate.
Leave the planet’s surface immediately.

3: Assemble and remain self-isolated.
Find the nearest uninhabited orbital object—a moon, or a nearby asteroid—land and wait. You are now self-quarantining.

[IMPORTANT: Do not attempt to land on another inhabited planet. Now that the Galactic Corporation of [Untranslatable] has identified your world for fumigation, all craft originating from your home planet will be treated as hostile.]

4: Notify.
As soon as you’ve touched down, send word to your local Galactic Corporation corporate representative. Tell them what planet you are from and whether you require retrieval. Once the mandated quarantine period has elapsed, a representative will arrive to tend to your further needs.

Thank you for trusting the Galactic Corporation at [Untranslatable]!

• • • •

To Whom It May Concern—

If you’re reading this and I haven’t shot you yet, it means I’m dead. Assuming the cabin I’ve attached this note to is still upright, you’re welcome to what’s inside.

I’m sure you’re thinking this is real neighborly of me, and you’re right, except that’s how I got the cabin, and how the fellow before me got it too. Basically, somebody way back at the beginning of the contagion (probably before the contagion) stocked this place with everything needed to survive the end of the world and then the end of the world came and he didn’t plan near as well as he thought he had, seeing as how he’s dead now.

Anyhoo, it’s a pretty sweet little place.

Probably. I mean, I may be dead inside, or alive but so happy I want to bite your face off. If I’m dead, bury me or whatever and I hope I didn’t stink it up too much. If I try to bite you, I apologize for that but you know how it is with these Pantaloonies.

Here’s some things I worked out about your new home.

First off, there’s a bomb shelter under the cabin floor. I wouldn’t’ve found it if the last guy hadn’t tipped me off, so now I’m doing the same. You gotta roll up the rug. The handle’s under the loose floorboard with the splintered end. Give it a good tug and there you go.

It’s a decent shelter, not that I have any to compare it to. Damn shame the end of the world didn’t involve bombs—not including when the government nuked New Mexico which, I mean, didn’t even work. It’s cement-lined, got its own generators, and that’s where all the food is.

Second, there’s no goddamn can opener.

I don’t know what happened to it; maybe the first guy had one of them special pocket knives with an opener on it or something, but I have gone through this entire house top-to-bottom and it’s just not here. The guy before me used a hunting knife to pop the cans, so I did that too. It’s hard work, and I nearly lost a finger one time, but unless you’ve got an opener of your own it’s probably the best you’re gonna do.

Third, there’s plenty of ammo, but not a single note about what goes where. Hopefully, you know from guns, but aside from the rifle I was planning to shoot you with I never worked out much. (I’ll tell you one thing: smaller gun does NOT equal smaller bullets.) I’d have probably gotten further along, but I was afraid of using the guns too often. I didn’t want to call attention to myself.

Fourth, there’s some kind of coordinated gang of Pantaloonies roaming the countryside. Not sure why, because there’s not a lot to see out here other than the observatory on the hill. (Which is locked, incidentally. I think there’s people holed up in it, but I headed there before finding this cabin and I can tell you that if they’re alive, they aren’t open to visitors.) If you’re going to spend a lot of time out of the shelter, I’d recommend figuring out the timing of that pack first; they’re pretty regular.

Fifth, you’re not gonna be able to spend all your time in the shelter, as much as that seems like a good idea. I think the designer messed up with the filtration system. Either that or something died in it. So unless you’ve got an HVAC degree and can fix it yourself, I’d moderate my time down there if I was you. (Then again, I didn’t make it, so what do I know?)

Finally, and this isn’t really related to the cabin, I’ve been seeing some pretty weird lights in the sky around here. Like, “alien spaceship” weird. They’re probably here for the observatory too. I wasn’t brave enough to send a flare (the flare gun’s in the shelter next to the peaches) on the chance they’re on some kind of rescue mission or whatever, but maybe you’ll be braver’n I was.

Oh, and the wood stove works, but you’ll probably need wood for it, depending on when I died. There’s an axe near the door.

Best of luck to you!

• • • •

[This missive translated from [Untranslatable] to English.

When only the best [Untranslatable] will do, choose [Untranslatable] for all your galactic translations!]

APOLOGIES FOR OUR ERROR

People of Earth:

We at the Galactic Corporation at [Untranslatable] would like to apologize for our recent NOTICE OF IMPENDING FUMIGATION. Receipt of this message undoubtedly caused a panic.

It was sent in error.

Due to a clerical misclassification, your planet was categorized as Advanced. This was based on a survey of your unpopulated orbital satellites, frequent concentrated radiographic bursts directed away from the planet, and trace evidence of habitation on your nearby moon.

Now that we have received your numerous frantic (and profane) responses to our initial notification, it has come to our attention that you are not Advanced, and currently lack the technology to self-sustain off-planet for long periods.

The correct classification for your species is Intermediate. Had we known this, we would have sent no notification at all.

We apologize for the confusion.

Thank you for trusting the Galactic Corporation at [Untranslatable]!

• • • •

[This missive translated from [Untranslatable] to English.

When only the best [Untranslatable] will do, choose [Untranslatable] for all your galactic translations!]

WE WILL OF COURSE HELP IN ANY WAY WE CAN!

People of Earth:

We apologize for the last two messages—NOTICE OF IMPENDING FUMIGATION and APOLOGIES FOR OUR ERROR.

Please allow us to explain.

Galactic Corporation’s corporate policy dictates that we only notify species categorized as Advanced or higher of impending fumigation. Galactic Corporation’s corporate policy also dictates that we make no contact with species categorized as less than Advanced under any circumstances. Finally, it is—as previously stated—Galactic Corporation’s corporate policy that under no circumstances are we to directly interact with a planet with an [Untranslatable] Flu outbreak.

The previously-outlined accommodations in the event our fumigation was to cause the total extinction of a sentient species has been our only alternative assistance plan. However, we now recognize that proceeding with the fumigation as planned—and as policy dictates—creates significant reputational liability for the Galactic Corporation at [Untranslatable].

We have heard your complaints! And we are listening! (Indeed, it appears every remaining uninfected person on Earth has a radio transmitter and a colorful vocabulary. There is a lot to listen to!) Your spirited interest in remaining alive has captured the attention of our legal and public relations departments in particular, as well as the attention of the Office of Endangered Sentient Species on [Untranslatable] Six.

Very shortly, we will be dispatching five ships to Earth in advance of the fumigation, to the locations disclosed following this message. These locations were chosen because they appear to be empty of any humanoid lifeforms, which is the only way we can (hopefully) avoid anyone carrying the [Untranslatable] Flu.

All uninfected members of your species who can make it to one of the five locations at the specified time will be removed from the planet, quarantined remotely and then [Untranslatable] for long-term care.

We hope this solution is satisfactory, and that you are encouraged to stop using your radiographic devices.

Thank you for trusting the Galactic Corporation at [Untranslatable]!

• • • •

WE’RE SORRY WE MISSED YOU

From: The last of the human race

To: Everyone else

Hello!

We’re sending this from aboard the last spaceship leaving Earth!

We’d like to say we hope this finds you well, but it probably doesn’t.

We’re sorry about this, but we tried to convince the aliens to make another trip, and we don’t think we got through. Their translation program isn’t all that hot and they’re not a hundred percent sure which species they’re even supposed to be talking to. I mean, they let us bring our dogs (dogs made it!) but then they spent our first three hours of the trip trying to talk to them instead of us. This was a real problem when it turned out they didn’t know we needed to breathe oxygen.

If we’re being honest, this whole rescue thing has been a fiasco from end to end. The aliens—they call themselves something that sounds like gargling, so we’ve been calling them the Gargles—seem pretty advanced, but not super-well-organized.

Just look at where they landed their ships. All of us here got on at the one that landed in Northern Canada, and we’re pretty sure at least two or three people made it to the Sahara location, but that’s about it. I mean, obviously, right? One landed on top of Mount Everest, another at the bottom of the Atlantic (they really didn’t know what kind of species they were picking up,) and the fifth one in New Mexico, which is still super-radioactive.

They honestly looked surprised anyone showed up at all at the Canadian location. That is, if we’re interpreting their facial expressions accurately. (Provided we’re even looking at their faces; there are three anatomical possibilities.) The more cynical among us think the Gargles weren’t really trying to rescue anyone at all, and they just guessed wrong about Canada.

Anyhow, we’re here now and like I said, we’re being told they can’t go back to rescue anyone else, and we’re really sorry about that. I guess the fumigation is impossible to reschedule, and they are really worried about this viral whatever, which is fair. Assuming you’re listening to this live, they should be arriving to sterilize the whole planet in twenty-four hours.

So I guess this is it.

We wanted you to know that some of us made it. The human race will survive. Yes, all we have are Canadians—and whoever the Gargles scooped up in northern Africa (assuming they retrieved humans and not a bunch of camels)—but we’re here, and we’re okay.

We don’t know where they’re taking us, but they seem all right. I mean, we’re not exactly in a position to do much if they decide we look delicious or whatever, but so far so good!

And hey, it sounds like the planet will be habitable again in about twenty-thousand years, so that’s something to look forward to, right? Something for our descendants to inherit, if they want it. Also, the fumigation won’t destroy things, so if you want to write back, go ahead. Nobody will be able to read it for a really long time, but, I mean, it’s something to do!

Anyway, we’re all really sorry about how this worked out for the rest of you.

All the best!

Sincerely,
The last of the human race

Gene Doucette

Gene-Doucette

Gene Doucette is the author of over twenty sci-fi/fantasy titles, including The Spaceship Next Door and The Frequency of Aliens, the Immortal series, the Tandemstar books, and The Apocalypse Seven. Gene lives in Cambridge MA.