Demolition. Short Story.

I’m feeling fairly wrecked the last few days, which isn’t exactly fun. Oh well, could be worse! Not too much has been happening, what with it being summer and all. It’s kinda crazy how much time has passed.

On with the show!

————————————————————————————

“So there’s people still down there?” “Well, not technically. As of six hours ago they are no longer classed as people.” “But they are people.” “Well, I guess. They still are, but they’re not classed as it, so this is all legal.” “How?” “Well, they were warned. They’ve known for years that this was coming, now it’s just those who want to halt progress left. They had their chance to leave, we’ve given them every opportunity and they’ve decided to stay, knowing that they’ll die.” “Maybe some of them think you won’t do it.” “They know we will. We’ve explained it all to them, multiple times. They know what is coming and when. It was their choice to stay. Do I think it’s stupid? Yes. But it’s all legal and above the board.” “What about the poor?” “Transport was free. Those who didn’t have any land we could buy were offered a home on one of our other planets and some cash to keep them going for a while. Everyone else either sold their land or took a free flight off the planet.” “And it doesn’t strike you as bad that there are people still there?” he shrugged, “Not my problem, nor is it yours. You wanted this promotion, you knew things like this were happening, you can’t get nervous now that you’ve to pull the trigger.” “I’m not nervous.” “Then why are we talking about this?” “I was just wondering is all.” “Well, don’t.” They looked at the monitors, “So, I think it’s your turn to push the button, the first is always the hardest. Don’t worry.” She nodded. “I’ll be ok.” “We’ll see. Everything clear?” “Yeah, last ship moved out of range six minutes ago.” “Good. We’ll get started soon.”

He double checked the scans, the tests had already been done, but if anything went wrong he didn’t want to get the blame for it. The planet had been stripped of all useful resources, now it was just a lump of rock. They’d blow it, collect the slag, sell it off. Much easier than mining, less time consuming and fewer workers were needed. They’d put something else here instead, a luxury resort or something. Personally, he felt it was a waste, the planet could be used for something, but it wasn’t his job to decide that. It was his job to figure out the detonation points and press the button. It’s why he was paid so much. Well, he didn’t actually have the money yet, he was on a ten year contract and at the end of it, one lump sum would be deposited into his account. He didn’t need to worry about food or board, so at the end he had an almost insane amount. He knew that many people couldn’t hack the job, but that didn’t matter, once he was done, he would be set for life. He just needed to get through a few more planets and his term would be over. He didn’t mind so much, he was able to distance himself from it all, they no longer made people like him go down to the planet. That always creeped him out, all those empty buildings and streets. It had only happened twice and he was thankful it didn’t happen anymore. The last time he was down there he had seen the people left behind, filthy, starving wretches. He knew they had been offered transport, but the transport ships were not coming at this point. A few of them might have even changed their minds about staying, but there was nothing that could be done. He didn’t know how many people exactly were on the planet when it went, but he knew that there was at least five. That had been the hardest button to push. It was easier up here, you didn’t know if there was anyone still on the planet and he liked to think that everyone had already left. That the planet was devoid of life. For all he knew it probably was. According to reports up to eighty percent of the time, the planet was clean. He poured himself a cup of coffee and sipped. It was pretty good, much better than in some of his other jobs, the company made sure to take care of them out here. Hell, he could request almost anything he wanted and they’d probably get it to him.

He sat down in his chair again and handed her a gently steaming cup. “Are you ready?” “I guess so.” “Good. I want you to take a deep breath, then start it when you’re ready.” She nodded, then after a deep breath, she tapped the screen. The automated systems took over, he pressed the button, lowering the screen, then they watched in silence.

The planet’s surface fractured, twisted, then exploded outwards, going a relatively short distance before the containment fields blocked it. It wouldn’t get too far. Once it cooled off a bit, they’d send in the drones to separate and catalogue it all. He reached down beside himself and brought up a bottle and two shot glasses, “here, you deserve this.” She watched as he poured the shots, then took her glass, they didn’t bother to toast, both knocked back the drink quickly, then he poured two more. He put the bottle down again, “Figured I should take the edge off. Don’t get used to it though. We only get a bottle a year. They’re always paranoid we’ll become alcoholics or something. She nodded and put the glass down. “So, how do you feel?” “I don’t know.” “Give it a moment. Whatever you feel, don’t be embarrassed or ashamed. It’s perfectly normal. Hell, we’ve just destroyed a planet. Things can get a little intense.” She nodded again, “I think I’m going to go lie down.” “OK, that’s fine. See you in a bit, if you need anything let me know.” She didn’t respond, instead she stood and left the room. He watched as the drones went in, he could just about make them out. He wondered if she’d last for her run. It was always hard to tell with first timers, the ones who seemed fine might crack at the next one and the ones who broke down could be fine. The second planet was always the decider, the ones they do by themselves, when they think no one can see them. He gave up a thumbs up to the room. The camera would catch it. Of course their own screens would tell them how it went, but still, it was a tradition of his. He flicked a switch and the viewing portal closed, he didn’t like looking at the wreckage for too long, it made him contemplative. Every time he’d go back to thinking about all those rumours that the planets were filled with people, prisoners, exiles, political adversaries. Hell, there was even a rumour that for a certain price, the company would put anyone you damn well wanted onto a demolition planet. He stood from his desk, it didn’t matter, he was almost home free and once he was, he could do whatever the hell he wanted with all that money. Probably get a small house on the shore of a beach somewhere, one of the luxury planets all the rich people lived on. He’d live the rest of his life in blissful peace.

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About Alan James Keogh

I am a 26 year old writer who somehow tricked U.C.D. into giving me not only a degree in English and Classical studies, but an Hons Masters in Creative Writing too. Visit my blog where I post short stories twice a week (Monday and Wednesday) and an installment of a serialised novel on Fridays. I did consider writing this in the third person, as though it was written by someone else, but Alan is not comfortable writing in the third person as it seems kinda creepy and unbalanced so Alan decided it was probably best to write in the first person. He hopes it went well for him.
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