Wednesday, July 16, 2014

Planets Anonymous

Planets Anonymous
“Good morning, everyone.”
The fluorescent overhead lights, of which there seemed to be a million, flickered dimly, casting yellow glows against the blackened ceiling. It was as though the room went on forever, stretching out into the vast beyond tirelessly. Alas, it didn’t; it was merely a part of something much larger and inexplicable, a system with the same name as an indulgent caramel candy bar. And it was within this system that the members of Planets Anonymous resided, gravitating in a silent harmony around a blazing sphere of fire known as the Sun. He, at the center of it all, saw everything, and had declared that a meeting take place before another cycle of rotation began.
“I hope you’ve all been doing well since our last gathering.” Sun cleared his throat, hair golden, eyes radiating with flame. It was Planets Anonymous protocol that a more universal appearance be taken by each of its members, and, for somewhat satirical purposes, all had voted on imitating the human form. They were, after all, the most meddling of the terrestrial beings. “Who would like to start today? Perhaps you, Mercury?”
Mercury was a rather small, hyperactive force, with a silvery complexion and locks the color of a sepia photograph. And he was boastful, too, always telling everyone about how he shared a name with both one of Earth’s periodic elements and a Roman god. That’s right–not just one thing, but two. “Of course I’d like to start, Sun.”
Jupiter let out a slight moan. Mercury always started first; it was his alignment. Moving his leg up and down anxiously in his seat, the fiery little planet began. “Hi, I’m Mercury.”
“Hi, Mercur-”
“Not….not much has really changed, see, with respect to me. My atmosphere’s stayed pretty much uniform. But a couple of Earth years ago, right after our last meeting, some humans sent some sort of ‘MESSENGER’ spacecraft to check me out, and it recorded magnesium in my atmosphere. Took ‘em long enough, right?” Mercury laughed enthusiastically, then, at his own joke, clapping his hands together as though it were hysterical.
Sun nodded placidly. “Thank you, Mercury. How about you, Venus?”
“Me?” Venus asked. Effortlessly, she moved a sandy strand of burning hair from her delicate face. From a distance, it appeared completely unblemished and pearlescent; however, as her sister planet Earth knew, that was merely due to a thickly concealing cloud layer. And beneath her guise of calm beauty was volatility. “Let’s see, then…hi, I’m Venus.”
“Hi, Venus.”
“I continue to attain the highest temperature in our solar system, my volcanoes continue to be doing well…” She looked away thoughtfully for a moment. “I’m sure I’m missing somet-”
“Or maybe it’s just that nothing has happened,” Saturn muttered.
“Excuse me?” Venus raised an eyebrow, gentle eyes flashing the color of molten lava. “Is there a problem, Sat?”
Saturn stole a glance at one of the rocky bands around his finger. “I don’t know, Venus. Is there?”
“Look, just because you’re a gas giant doesn’t mean you get to interrup–”
“Quiet!” Sun rose from his seat, tall amongst all the others, heat emanating off of him. “There will be no arguing.” He paused, the temperature of the room dropping. “Let’s move on to you, Earth. Since Venus seems to be done.”
Earth was noticeably fragile looking beside her sister, blue complexion faded and green eyes a foggy ashen color. She’d been getting worse every meeting, wheezing her words out through charcoal-stained lungs, bloodied scars and patches of radioactivity disfiguring her skin. “Yes, Sun.” Her lips were dry, cracked, head burning with a fever. “Hello, everyone, I’m Earth.”
“Hi, Earth.”
“You look unwell,” Venus said. She reached an arm towards her sister, but Earth pulled away, the heat too extreme to bear.
“That’s because I am unwell, Venus.” Earth sighed, brushed a leaf out of her hair with her fingertips. “It’s this violence, this pollution, this discrimination, this starvation, this poverty…it’s too much! I fear that I cannot take it any longer.” She let her head fall, tears streaming out of her eyes. “I’m supposed to sustain life, not destruction.”
“There, there, Earth,” Venus whispered. The mood had gotten significantly more morose, the other planets sitting in their chairs awkwardly, watching as Earth fell apart.
“It’s the humans, isn’t it?” Jupiter asked. She, like Mars, had an off-red complexion, locks the color of clay.
Earth hesitated. “In a sense, yes.” She paused. “There are some of them who…who take me for granted. They either think I’m immortal or that, if I am to die, they can just relocate.”
Sun stiffened. “Relocate? Where? I thought that they had yet to realize there were other life-sustaining planets.”
“But that’s just the thing! They don’t seem to see that as a barrier anymore. They’ve already planned trips to Mars!”
“Why me?” Mars exclaimed. His voice echoed through the meeting room. It was amazing that someone so small could create a noise that was so loud, so commanding. Then again, though, he was named after the god of war.
“How should I know, dear Mars?” Earth asked. “They’ve…they’ve separated themselves from me. No longer am I their planet–they are the planet. Everything else? It’s expendable.”
Mars’ eyes were wide with terror. “The rovers are fine. Wonderful, even. But the humans, too? I can’t handle the humans. Roads, sewers, waste processing plants….” He appeared nauseous at the very thought.
“And what happens when they’re done with Mars? Will they find ways to populate us, as well?” Neptune roared. “They’re a plague, I tell you! A plag–”
“Silence!” Sun stood from his seat, a red halo burning around him. “There is no need to panic. The humans have yet to lay foot on Martian soil. Currently, the only one who need worry is Earth. And even for her it has yet to be over.”
The noise of the room dropped significantly with Sun’s outburst. Earth retreated back into a quiet misery, biting her lip with pain as another fight broke out amongst the humans. All she could hear were the screams of wounded animals, lost hopes. She was losing control. Even Nature had managed to temporarily slip from her grasp.
Humanity had finally gone too far.

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