Future Nostalgia - a possible story

by Adina Cernea

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Confused, sleepy voice: Where am I? What time is it?

Voice over the loudspeaker: Good morning. This is the Captain Antreas speaking from the bridge. Welcome onboard the Atlas spacecraft. Today’s date is January 21st, 2051. The time is now 8:00am. We are heading towards Mars with 120 speed light. If we stay on this course and we don’t have any space encounters with Daquan ships, we should be arriving on September 21, 2051 at our destination. 

Voice mumbling: Atlas spaceship?

Captain speaking: I know most of you are in a state of confusion. Your memories of the past few days have been deleted as a form of protection, as you wouldn’t be able to process all the pain and destruction that has taken place on Planet Earth. My crew and I will ensure you will get safely to your next destination and have prepared a brief presentation in the Blue Ocean Room. Meet everyone there at no later than 11:00am. Meanwhile, you can attend the mindfulness class on Deck 3 with your teacher Gwen, followed by healthy snacks in the Breakfast Room on Deck 4 - Hannah Room. Take as much as you need and engage in conversations with your fellow passengers.

11:00am Blue Ocean Room (classical music on the background, beige walls carrying large fish tanks, in the air aroma of green forests).

Captain speaking: I am glad to meet everyone in person and introduce myself. I hope you are enjoying the green spaces and diversity of activities that we have prepared for you. Please rest assured you are in good hands and your safety and well-being is our upmost priority. Guryon is my 2nd in command. Guryon, please start the presentation.

Guryon: Due to climate change, a reflection of the modern human disconnection with itself, most of the vital things like nature, animals, natural foods have disappeared leaving Planet Earth much like a desert where no human can ever live again. You were the only ones brought to embark this spaceship, the Atlas, based on your capability to create and bring life through your talents and levels of awareness and consciousness. Obviously you have been chosen for your unique talents and together, if we stay united, we will be able to survive and recreate life. But we all need to stick together. You all have the power to transcend this life with its painful moments and transform it into something beautiful. You have the power through your craft to transmit and to keep the soul alive. These are your tools. That’s why we have among us singers, painters, physicians, scientists, piano players, astrologists, geologists, mediums and geoscientists. 

Gloria, a mid 30 something year old, geologist: I don’t understand Captain Antreas. What will happen to us? Do you mean Planet Earth, as we know it, no longer exists? We can’t go back there? Are we stuck on this spaceship that fakes natural looking landscapes?

Captain: Thank you for your question, Gloria. We will be travelling on this spaceship together for 9 months, enough time to prepare you, unlearn old habits and pick up new ones that will help you in the future. We are heading towards Mars, a planet where we hope to establish ourselves, build a community and be able to live.

Nigel, a melancholic and fragile piano player on the verge of depression: This mission is suicidal! 

Francesca, the opera singer, answered: Nigel, stop complaining! This is our only chance. We have children here with us that still need to look forward to the future. We are here stuck on this spaceship and we need to move forward; you can’t continue being so negative about this whole situation. 

Nigel, asks rhetorically: Why didn’t we die with the others? 

Lauren, the medium, answered: There is still something we need to accomplish; and this will be our mission. To develop new life and build what we once destroyed with our own will.

Captain: We will instruct you in everything you need to know. Mars, just like Earth has seasons and apparently used to be wetter, warmer, billions of years ago, however now, it’s dusty, very cold and with a desert like landscape. So, Mars, or the Red Planet, has 62% less gravity than Earth which means you will experience a decrease in muscle mass and performance, reduced aerobic capacity, and losses in bone density, in addition to other physiological changes. We have developed countermeasure systems, compiling nutrition and exercises to help you overcome these losses. In time your bodies will remodel and adapt to the new conditions and your bones will naturally gain strength. We will practice with you these exercises every morning so that it will become second nature to you.  

Nigel, in a sarcastic tone: I am sure Lauren probably thinks she will be able to transcend everything, keep her muscles toned and live without oxygen, just with the power of her mind. 

Lauren: I think I will get rid of you first, this way there will be more oxygen for all of us. 

Captain: We already know from past missions that life was once possible on Mars and the environmental conditions such as liquid water and milder temperatures once registered there, were capable of supporting life as we know it now. 

Carlos, the geoscientist: How do you think we will survive there? While the Planet had an atmosphere and lots of water, that was billions of years ago! We won’t be able to make it without sufficient food, oxygen and that low gravity!

Captain: Even though the soil is toxic, we can decontaminate it and start growing something there. The regolith, the material which covers the surface, could be used to make concrete, and there are cave systems which could be converted into underground habitats to protect us from the radiation. We will be using our space costumes in the beginning, we have enough oxygen to last for a while until we understand how to extract water from the underground supplies and use that to generate breathable air. 

Before everyone drops out of this mission, please remember: 

If we succeed, we will be the first Mars colony and we all know that beauty rises from being able to set new ideals, challenge ourselves to resist in the midst of harsh, unfriendly conditions and make what seems an impossible dream a reality; do what no other man has dreamed before. I will need each and everyone one of you to document this journey, to support each other and to bring back life, as we once knew it, but in a new and surprising form.

''A journey of a thousand miles begins with a simple step.''

All crew on your positions. Engage!


*a short story written by my sister, Adina Cernea, in response to “Future Nostalgia“ series


*for links to more interviews and essays, please visit Biography page