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The Scattering

The Scattering

view of earth from space

The Scattering

by J. Anthony Hartley

Allanson looked out of the viewport, at the ragtag flotilla of ships trailing behind, some of them slow to catch up. It was to be expected with the little time that they’d had to cobble the fleet together. They’d make it eventually, or so he hoped. It was almost enough. It had to be enough. They’d had it all, or so they thought. There’d been talk of the singularity, of all of the power in their world. Their might, their knowledge was enough to conquer everything. Humanity, in its wisdom. He sighed and turned away from the viewport, from what they’d left back there, out of sight now. Maybe they’d find something else. Maybe it would be soon enough. Who could tell? He needed to get up to the bridge and check the instruments.

Pride came before a fall, they said, or rather, they used to say. Belief in themselves came before a fall as well, or so it seemed. Humanity’s might could conquer everything. Or so they’d thought.

He stopped and closed his eyes for a moment, then opened them and sighed, continuing up the passageway to the bridge, the noises and smells of the old ship all around. Somewhere down below came the sound of muffled voices, echoing.

He paused at the doorway, looking out at the blackness ahead, at distant points of light. One day, perhaps, they might reach them. They’d barely managed to escape. Yet escape they had. There’d been so little warning.

And yet, humanity could conquer everything. They were all convinced.

Nobody had counted on the sun.

He could almost believe it was laughing at them now. Taunting.

There was nothing they could do.

Let there be light, it had said.

Now all they had was darkness.

J. Anthony Hartley is an Australian author transplanted to Germany by way of the UK. His work almost always wanders across genre boundaries or shamelessly blurs them. He has recently had pieces appear in Short Fiction, Hybrid Fiction, Worth a 1000 Words, Short Circuit, Unthinkable Tales, and The Periodical: Forlorn. He writes primarily short fiction, but is working on a novel or two. He can be found at