It’s all a matter of perspective.
3rd place in Derby #249: Astronomy, with 598 votes!
I thought it would be much worse.
When the president came to the podium looking so gravely solemn and said, in his careful, measured tone he’d perfected over the years of campaigning and speeches and debates, that the scientists were right I thought there’d be chaos. After all, so many people subscribe to the belief that it’s a fear of reprisal that keeps us moral; the idea of justice punishing those who transgress against their neighbors prevented people from acting out and committing crime was woven into our society. It was the reason we had a police force. And now what would stop them, with the sun in our sky about to explode and obliterate everything our species had ever accomplished without any trace?
Instead, the planet took the news more bravely than I’d ever expected. There were outbursts, certainly; no one is perfect. But overall a spirit of community emerged. People came together. Families continued to have children, despite the inevitability of their situation. Barons sold their fortunes and fed the poor. Industrial giants relieved workers of their obligations, but many stayed dutifully at their posts out of routine as much as honor or duty.
And all the while the sun grew larger. The days grew warmer, until even in winter they were unbearably hot. Even the night sky grew to be as bright as late afternoon, and the birds and animals panicked and were confused. It was as if they could sense they were trapped here with us, with no means of escape. Eventually the atmosphere began to boil off, and people began arriving in hospitals and medical centers with horrible burns and fast-growing cancers no one had ever seen before. Doctors gave them the option of ending their suffering, but some held on, maybe out of optimism or just a fear of death. A lot of people died, then. How could ending one’s life be a crime against nature when nature itself was slowly ending all life on our planet? Many took pills and went peacefully in their sleep. Some used guns and went violently, taking others with them.
No one knew when it would happen exactly; the moment our star would expand catastrophically, enveloping our planet in its outer layers and burning everything on it to cinder before collapsing in on itself in one last godlike spasm and bursting apart at the seams, throwing everything in the solar system out into the freezing black deep of space. But it happened. And it took us all, beggars, politicians, priests, and whores. It took our statues and our buildings and our art and our scientific achievements and it tore them all asunder.
And hundreds of millions of years later, on a planet almost unbelievably far away in a galaxy we never knew existed, some strange being of an unfamiliar species looked up into the night sky, saw the remains of our great world expanding in the dust clouds, and whispered, “Oooh, pretty.”
Wear this shirt: While making your own clouds of hydrogen, dust, and ionized gas. In your pants.
Don’t wear this shirt: If you’re taking a trip to the Pillars of Creation. They’re already gone, man.
This shirt tells the world: “I spend a lot of time alone looking at the night sky.”
We call this color: Black Eye Nebula
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