“Wherever we end up, it’s gotta be better than this.”
Without another word, the girl climbed into the transporter.
Kaya looked on as, one by one, others climbed in and jumped away. But she wasn’t convinced. Not protesting like the Faithful at the end of the auditorium. But nowhere as certain as the redhead who pushed in line.
Lori burst through the double doors and landed in Kaya’s arms.
“I thought you’d be gone by now,” said Kaya, finally letting go. “Hey, I left you half an avocado this morning. Not that it matters anymore.”
They waited together, hand in hand. It was like when that old man in the park invited them to visit his puppies. Like when they waited at the police station after being caught shoplifting. Like when they stood around Lori’s guest room after Kaya’s breakup.
The ground shook. Cracks deepened in the parquet. All this technology for warp travel, yet they couldn’t invent a quake-proof floor? Kaya frowned.
“What was the deal again?” Lori asked.
“Eighty percent chance of survival.” That is, if you went in one at a time. And if the machine got you there in the first place. Those odds were good enough. They had to be.
Were they, though? There was still a chance of surviving on Earth. The Faithful were banking on it.
A chunk of ceiling shattered beside them. The dust made Kaya sneeze and think about the apartment she left just months ago. She heard household dust was toxic in big quantities, but it was nowhere near as toxic as her ex. She wondered if he made it out.
“I have an idea.” Lori kicked away crumbs and pulled Kaya to the end of the queue. “Why don’t we go in together?”
“Are you crazy?” Kaya jerked her hand away. “They said not to do that. We might die.”
Lori shrugged. “We might die anyway.”
A rumble shook the auditorium. One of the Faithful made the sign of the cross; a gesture that rippled through the congregation. With pride, they began to chant:
Blessed are the meek: for they shall inherit the earth. Blessed are the meek: for they shall inherit the earth.
Nothing guaranteed a happy ending. What would come next was anyone’s guess. The Faithful dropped to their knees and prayed amidst drywall and concrete. Blessed are the meek, they chanted again. Their chorus grew louder with each repetition. They believed mankind should stay, no matter how fierce the quakes, how toxic the dust.
Time was up. Kaya took her friend’s hand, as tightly as she could, and they climbed into the transporter together.
Originally published on Every Day Fiction on 12 April 2017.