This week's 300-word flash fiction prompt in the Fiction Writers Group on Facebook was tough for me. I'm neither a reader nor a writer of fantasy, so I went in a different direction.
Living in a Bubble
They told us the habitats were small, but this has gotten ridiculous. We bought passage to Sirius Nine with the promise of a new life and a new world to explore and make our own. That’s how it started out, of course. The robot ships the Company sent ahead of us did their job, building a small town of bubble houses out of the native materials. When we landed, and for a year or so afterwards, everything was great. Then the planet’s magnetic poles flipped.
Overnight, our lush valley full of crops and clear flowing streams turned into Hell on…Nine. The pole shift changed millennia-long convection patterns in Nine’s mantle, which triggered massive volcanic eruptions. We could have lived through that, but the ash clouds combined and spread out, blocking out the sun on most days. Needless to say, our crops and most of the natural vegetation died in the first couple of weeks.
The Company promised to send emergency supplies, for a fee of course. We added it to our already exorbitant mortgage, but what else could we do? Mr. Stewart took inventory and came up with a rationing plan that would make our food and water just barely last the two months it would take for the supplies to arrive. Then the acid rain started.
We didn’t notice at first that our homes were shrinking, surface tension pulling the bubbles tighter as they were dissolved by the acid rain. The first one to pop was the Ross’s, pierced by an aluminum Christmas tree they brought from Earth. One by one, our homes shrank, receding from each other, separated by swaths of hip-deep toxic mud. So, here I sit in what’s left of my house, watching as my own long-dead ficus stretches the roof over my head.