World For Sale: One Careless Owner – a story of seemingly despair by: GF Willmetts (fiction).

January 4, 2014 | By | Reply More

   Hey, you! Yeah, you! I’ve got a planet to sell off. Dirt cheap. Well, dirt is the only thing that is cheap and common around the universe and there’s a lot of it here. Little of it is radioactive. There’s also a mix of rock and water with a once oxygen-based atmosphere that promotes some rust but not enough to combust materials all the time but good for respiration once you’ve filtered out the impurities and there’s a lot of that.

All right, it didn’t do the last owners much good. They killed themselves by their own abuse of wasting planetary resources. Didn’t monitor their carbon dioxide levels properly or something like that. They called it the greenhouse effect when the ozone layer dropped, it melted the ice caps which also released a lot of untapped methane into the air. Massive flooding on top or below it as you will. Wiped out a lot of their resources. They just weren’t prepared or idiots thinking it would never happen and didn’t spread their technology sufficiently to one of the surviving continents. Without their intervention, some of the caps have re-frozen and even purer than before. I’m sure you can filter and make use of all that methane. Hell, you might even know a species who can breath this shit. Beats these carbon dioxide/methane filters we have to wear. They simply couldn’t make enough to go round themselves. Didn’t help the thousands that survived those first two onslaughts. Extinct species walking.

NASA finds smallest habitable zone worlds yet.

Nor did they have enclosed environments to take advantage of anything left. At least they hadn’t gotten around to pillaging the nearby planets. Certainly not hospitable enough to try. One hell-like, even by our standards. The other has an atmosphere too thin to keep anything worth breathing. The other four main planets of note are gaseous giants. Too far out from the star to make their moons habitable but might be worth mining.

What you see here on this planet is all that’s left. What organic bodies are left are heavily calcified. Early life-forms. Carbonised. Did I tell you they were a carbon-based life-form? Those that aren’t are coated in volcanic dust after their recent eruptions. Sentient species drained all the easy spots and then thought they were getting advanced with gas-flushing. They got carried away with that as well. Didn’t even get that natural way right. Ignored the tides and that little white star up there for energy for the most part. Too little, too late but still exploitable to you.

The sentients? Oh, them! Nuclear-level but after a little warfare with them and a few accidents, didn’t really do much with energy generation. Too scared of their own shadows if you ask me. Picked fusion over fission. Got a lot of radioactive waste from it. Suckers didn’t even know how to use even that and breed and recycle radioactive material. I can give you a good deal on that, too, although I’d rather sell outright than job lot.

Odd culture. What they called the arts covered only a few senses. A small range of visionary light. The same with the audio range. They even figured out some of the numbers with that one, just couldn’t get the progression beyond what they called a few bars. Both got some diversity. You might make a few bucks off of that. There’s always someone out there who collects dead civilisation material. Shame so much got lost in the flooding. Who’s going to dive to an arts vault that’ll wet the contents the minute its opened? One of their books gave a reference to a mass flooding millennia ago. Too bad they got the wrong time when it happened with the ice caps melting and the sustained volcanic activity. Too bad they stopped evolving. That happens a lot. A species develops intelligence and thinks it’s found the top of the evolutionary tree and nowhere else to go. Couldn’t even sort out the faults in its own genetic code. Nothing contagious to any of us. Frankly, I’m surprised they survived all the various plagues that they had. Enough genetic diversity to keep some of them alive. Well, near the end that was.

The planet itself will probably recover itself in a few centuries. A millennia tops. Not quite the same as it was originally. Unlikely to see those giant lizards again. Those smartass monkeys didn’t even make a page on the book of time compared to them. They made their own downfall. The lizards just couldn’t adapt after a massive asteroid collision. Needed sunlight not a century of cloud ash that never settled. It was the last owners that were careless.

Do you think you can do better, sir? I have a few clients now up for the bid. You’ll have to have a sitting tenancy while things settle back to normal but I’m sure you’ll have fun exploring and watching evolution do its thing again for the third time. Who knows, you might get a smart sentient next time.




© GF Willmetts 2013

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Category: Scifi, Short fiction

About the Author ()

Geoff Willmetts has been editor at SFCrowsnest for some 15 plus years now, showing a versatility and knowledge in not only Science Fiction, but also the sciences and arts, all of which has been displayed here through editorials, reviews, articles and stories. With the latter, he has been running a short story series under the title of ‘Psi-Kicks’ If you want to contribute to SFCrowsnest, read the guidelines and show him what you can do. If it isn’t usable, he spends as much time telling you what the problems is as he would with material he accepts. This is largely how he got called an Uncle, as in Dutch Uncle. He’s not actually Dutch but hails from the west country in the UK.

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