Amazing Kids! Magazine

A Sky Full of Mediocrity

By Angela Wu, age 15, Maryland


Far out in the uncharted backwaters of the unfashionable end of the western spiral arm of the Galaxy lies a small un-regarded yellow sun.

“Orbiting this at a distance of roughly ninety-two million miles is an utterly insignificant little blue green planet whose ape-descended life forms are so amazingly primitive that they still think digital watches are a pretty neat idea.-Douglas Adams, The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy

They had originally started out as simple, single-celled protozoa, just like everybody else. All was well for a short while, until one day one of the protozoa thought it would be pretty neat to turn cannibalistic and eat up all the other protozoa. And so came the very first case of obesity in the history of mankind. Over time, more of these obese protozoa developed, and as they continued to eat each other, they turned more and more into the shape of what was eventually deemed as “man.” Along with this physical evolution came a mental evolution as well; instead of eating one another to assert power, Man established classes to distinguish between the powerful, the powerless, and the power-hungry. However, those who were not at the top insisted that they at least be given an opportunity to appear powerful, and since consuming others would not help their cause, Man eventually came to create governments to help maintain stability in the chaotic realms of his world. He claimed that the duty of the government was to represent the general populace and to listen to whatever this populace had to offer.

It is important to note that only a fraction of the populace could be in this government that Man created. It worked out all right at first, but then, as more and more of the tough questions of society began to arise, more and more Men felt the need to contend and maintain power. Those who won it won everything; and those who lost it lost everything (though to be fair, they did gain a fair share of contempt and jealousy). As time moved on and the humdrum lives of Man became less and less humdrum, revolting and ideas of rebellion became planted in many minds. Man had chosen to ignore the incessant government warnings that someday the planet could actually reach its breaking point. They shrugged off government threats warning that if they drilled to the core of the Earth, they would most certainly find liquids along the way, but it most certainly would not be oil. They took no notice of the warning signs spelling Earth’s doom. All until it was too late to turn back.

By the time the people finally lifted their heads up from the computers and the unbelievably expensive power bill, it was far too late to turn back.

“Maybe we could just move somewhere else,” someone suggested. “I hear that we haven’t completely destroyed all of space yet.” (He was quite wrong, for that matter. But not that anybody knew.)

Since nobody else had the insight to come up with an alternative, it was decided that everyone would migrate elsewhere in space. They wrote an appeal letter to their government, asking for permission to use some of the stored petroleum that the government had been keeping, just in case anything like this should come up. “We want to go to another planet,” they wrote, “and find another place where we can charge our phones and get good cellular services.” They sent their letter off with high hopes.

The government took its time, as it always did, to answer. After three long months, a small note, printed on a sheet of fine plastic wrap (as trees, and subsequently paper, had long disappeared), arrived. The response was quite succinct:

“No. But nice try.”

Everybody was extremely taken aback, as these people had all the necessary equipment for the one-way flight and all they needed was government approval and some fuel. All they needed was a yes or at least no response, so they could just assume that the government was busy and didn’t have the time to deal with their trivial matter. Yet, clearly, the government had not thought of their plan as a trifle and even had taken the time to write them a response, despite it being so terse and blunt. It was quite clear that the government would take extreme measures to ensure that all people would stay where they were.

Another letter was quickly written back, only this time slightly more assertive: “We seek your approval on letting us travel, as our phones are running out of battery and some of us have social media streaks we have to keep. Quite honestly, we would just like to be anywhere but here.” They left the reasoning part out, added something that sounded slightly more professional, and sent it in, hoping that this time the government would be a little more lenient.

When one of the government staffers received the new letter, one of the first things he had to do was to quickly finish his sandwich so that he would have enough plastic wrap to write a response. The second thing he did was to figure out how to formulate an answer that could concisely explain that nobody was allowed to leave Earth, yet at the same time be convincing and satisfying enough so that he wouldn’t get another plea to leave and have to choke down another sandwich.

Hold on a second, he thought. Why can’t they leave?

If they leave, he thought, I’ll never get another one of these letters! No letter means no work!

The staffer was enthralled by the idea; he lumbered to the safe full of fuel and grabbed a canister to ship away. “Please do not feel the urge to write a thank you note,” he scratched on the bottle. “Your departure will be equally appreciated.”

Back home, everybody was elated to see a small package arrive. They hastily filled their rocket tank with fuel and made some general calculations for how they were going to travel to their final destination. (“Just point the rocket up. It doesn’t really matter where we land.”) The inevitable fate of another planet was beginning to take shape.

The average amount of time required for a rocket to reach space is approximately 8 minutes, but after 15 minutes, it seemed that our heroes were nowhere close to space. They were starting to worry a little bit, but since there seemed to be nothing wrong with the machines or the control room, everybody just assumed that maybe the rocket was going slower than usually recommended.

It is said that time goes by slower in space, as the planets’ orbiting around the sun and the galaxy result in approximately a one second loss per Earth week. The Earthlings most certainly felt this time loss, perhaps a little more than they were supposed to. It had already been half an hour, and there was still no sight of human-sized, parasitic-looking creatures, or extraterrestrial aircrafts that shot out spectacular laser beams. The sky, or whatever it was that was surrounding them, was most certainly getting darker, but it wasn’t the kind of dark like when you forgot to turn on your nightlight at night. The air around them seemed to be much denser than before, and the color of the clouds around them was like the color of your phone screen the second after you shut it off, at that moment of transition from dying to dead. It was a very uncomfortable sight: Just looking around made everybody cringe a little.

The eerie journey only worsened from there. It had been more than an hour since take-off, and nobody was quite sure whether they were still trying to break through the atmosphere or if they were just in a very disappointing-looking part of space. The engine was starting to sputter sporadically, and people were beginning to wonder if there was something wrong with the shuttle, or even the fuel itself.

The hours of mental pandemonium turned into days. People began licking the oil off the plastic wrap letter from the government staffer and chewing on their leather seats. By the end of the week, our advanced group of obese protozoa had been completely wiped out.

Meanwhile, back on the desolate wasteland, the government staffer who was obliviously eating another sandwich decided that it was time that he summon up some courage and ask someone about what was really up there, beyond Earth, when suddenly he saw a bright, shining object fall out of the sky. A sub? A gyro? Ooh—a calzone? No, that was too good to be true, but his inevitable sense of curiosity still drove him outside. He really hoped that there wasn’t rye bread: He had already had that for four days in a row, and it was starting to taste bland…

Fortunately, there wasn’t any rye bread. Unfortunately, there wasn’t any food either. Whatever it was, it was extremely worn out: The sides were dented so much that what appeared to be letters were completely illegible. The entire mechanism itself was crushed, just like the way the staffer himself crushed soda cans.

The staffer was deeply immersed in the idea of getting a can of soda later when he suddenly heard a deep, bellowing voice. “What’s a spaceship doing out here?” It was the staffer’s boss.

A spaceship? the staffer mused. How would a spaceship get here? Wouldn’t it need fuel in order to…? Oh. Shoot.

(But he didn’t say shoot. He said something much worse.)

“Well, it most certainly can’t be our ship,” the staffer’s boss huffed. “We haven’t allowed anybody to leave the planet since, well, a long time!”

The staffer turned around to face the burly man that was his superior. Now was his chance to know the truth. “Why not, sir?” he asked nonchalantly.

The staffer soon learned why not. After admitting his mistake, the staffer’s enraged boss sent him up on a spacecraft with another canister of petroleum. Six days later, another bright object came plummeting out of the sky. When it crashed, the shock created almost tangible waves, as the buildings nearby shook a little. This nearly scared the living daylights out of the new staffer who had been hired to replace the old one. He had clutched his sandwich in fear and buried it deep in his chest.

Years later, the mystery of the two unidentified objects that fell from the sky was finally resolved. Researchers had literally poured their blood, sweat, and tears into finding the answer to the phenomenon, but when the question was finally answered, nobody celebrated. The answer sent a simple but haunting message to the few Earthlings that remained: Nobody could ever leave the planet.

Apparently, all the unattended trash particles and whatnot had come together and formed almost this sort of behemothic wall of plastic wrap and unpaid electric bills, which then, having no place to escape, began to cloak Earth’s upper atmosphere. Since nobody ever bothered to do anything about it, the wall had expanded exponentially in size over the years, until it was so thick that nothing could get in or out (since people had been relying on technology for the past few decades to live, sunlight and skin cancer hadn’t been much of a problem for a while). Therefore, the scientists reasoned, the two objects that fell out of the sky must have taken off from Earth, and when it crashed into the wall, the two rockets, having nowhere else to go, must have fallen back down to Earth, leading all passengers to their presumable deaths. Whatever actually happened to the bodies of the passengers still remains a mystery; the scientists had to go on their lunch break.