Flash SF Story: The Way of the Dinosaurs

“I don’t understand why we have to leave Earth for a stupid space ship anyway,” Tory, my 10-year-old daughter, griped. She had been a muttering, grumpy bundle of joy all day as we loaded belongings into our assigned shuttle.

“Because it’s time for the human race to grow up and join the galactic community,” I reminded her patiently.

“But why do we have to give up Earth?” she snapped. “It’s our planet dad!”

“It’s not our planet,” I countered. “We were just using it as a home until we got smart enough to leave. It’s all the other species’ turn to use the Earth now, to evolve and see what they come up with.”

“Newsgrrl said the heavy metals in the soil will show our cousin species that we were here,” Tory said, piling her toys haphazardly on a box exactly opposite what I’d instructed her to do.

‘Newsgrrl’ was Tory’s new favorite podcast, a political pundit protesting the off-world human migration, providing a young girl, seeking to assert her intellectual individuality, a million ways to protest her off-worlder dad.

“When we’re gone, the trees and plants will take over everywhere we lived,” I said, “and they will pull the metals out of the soil so nobody will know the difference.”

“Newsgrrl said it’s silly to think we can just leave Earth without people finding evidence that we were here,” Tory lectured. “Newsgrrl says we’re going to look pretty stupid a hundred years from now, when our cousin species find out we were here.”

“A hundred million years from now, the next species to evolve intelligence will look through the geological strata and fossil history to find a mass extinction, dramatic climate change, and a layer of unusual metals and compounds in the rocks our soil will become,” I explained carefully. “They will hypothesize natural causes, like meteor strikes and volcanic activity, for all of those findings.”

“Our civilization was here a whole twenty-thousand years,” Tara quipped. “You can’t hide that.”

“We were leaving technological evidence here for only twenty-thousand years,” I countered. “That’s only point-zero-zero-zero-two percent of a hundred million years. We changed the Earth a whole bunch in that blink of an eye while we were growing up, but now it’s time to let another species grow up, something completely different. That’s why we’re taking all the large land animals with us when we go, so something completely new will evolve.”

“It’s still not fair,” Tory’s bottom lip stuck out, pouting, and I realized my error in trying reason with her on such a high level.

“Don’t you want to meet your new online friend, Qili, in person?” I asked, referring to the female exchange student from our more-advanced cousin species.

Tory nodded reluctantly, “Yes.”

“Then we have to go to a new and better place,” I said gently. “Qili’s great great great grandparents, great times ten to the sixth power, had to leave Earth, just like we’re doing now, 65 million years ago. If they didn’t, the mice from way back then would never have grown up into people, and we wouldn’t be here today. You don’t want to keep our next species-cousins from growing up, do you?”

“No,” she answered sullenly, and I knew I had won the argument. It just had to sink in with her. After a moment, she asked, “Is Qili a real life dinosaur? Like a brontosaurus or a velociraptor?”

“Yep,” I answered, resuming our packing. “Just like you’re a real life mammal, like a girraffe or lion.”

Tory gave me a skeptical look, and I knew another argument was forthcoming.






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