May 5th, 2026
Nemesis. That’s what they’re calling it. Named after the Greek goddess who punished hubris, now also the brown dwarf hurtling toward us. It was discovered several months ago hurtling along a path that passes right through our solar system, right past Earth. Apparently a brown dwarf is a star too small to expel radiation, so it was able to creep in under our radar. We only have a few months left until it gets here.
The science goes something like this: “Nemesis,” this world-ending star, is a companion to our sun on an incredibly long orbit–somewhere in the millions of years. As it enters our solar system it will travel through the oort cloud, where it will grab a bunch of comets in its gravitational field. And then we’ll meet the same end as the dinosaurs.
The news didn’t go over as badly as most of us expected. There was limited chaos, yes: riots, looting, et cetera. But it was not the pandemonium our stories of the end of the world have always predicted. The bad behavior was mostly confined to the people who were already up to no good. The rest of us didn’t really know how to react. It’s not as if the four horsemen were riding in on the sunset–we still had most of a year. All that time to pay bills, buy groceries, get our hair cut. All of those tasks that used to consume our lives now seemed so futile. With life as we know it on the brink of destruction, what’s the point in putting in that hour at the gym?
So, a desperate sort of apathy crept in. The number of suicides shot through the roof. Euthanasia was never officially legalized, but no one really cares about the law anymore. There are plenty of doctors that are more than happy to oblige those who want to pass peacefully in their beds, with their loved ones close, rather than in a hail of comets or starving and freezing in the years-long winter that will follow.
But that’s only one side, others had the opposite reaction. Survivalists, modern packrats, began gobbling up supplies to stockpile their bunkers with food, medicine, and ammunition until the government rationing programs started. Global production came to a near standstill, but again the government turned that around, this time with their long-term survival programs. The countries that can afford it are all trying to build some sort of lifeboat or hole to hide in. A few of them are digging bunkers deep in the Earth and filling them with supplies, some are going to try to wait it out under the ocean, ours is going to space.
It only took a few weeks after the initial detection for the plan to take shape. Our floundering space program suddenly became the country’s top priority. It is astounding what can be done in a few months when the continued existence of your species depends on it. Three enormous ships are being constructed with the intention of sending a fragment of our population into a solar orbit long enough to wait out the destruction and hopefully return to a planet fit for human habitation.
I got the letter yesterday. A spot on a ship. A chance at life. I can’t imagine a less worthy recipient.