March 2412

After seven days of tornados it’s safe to go outside. Smoked a cigarette in the yard, watched the sunset – red and cloudless, almost peaceful. I saw a sandstorm swirling on the horizon but it was moving south, away from here.

I was glad of a few moments alone. The latest reports have frightened me, more than I like to admit, enough to break my hiatus from here. There’s been a spate of outbreaks across the Boreal States, and worse, it’s infiltrating south. Thousands in the Patagonian capital, one of the Indian enclaves entirely wiped out. We’re told to keep our spirits up, the work is valued, but when I ask for more funding, there is none. Are the banks losing confidence in the project? Are we hearing the full truth, or do they pacify us, like children? Has it reached an epidemic, a pandemic? Only Antarctica and the Solar Corporation remain unaffected since inception; up in the Arctic Circle our borders are too porous, the virus slips through like a devil in the night.

Remote as we are it’s easy to feel that we’re indestructible, that nothing can touch us here. The deliveries keep coming. We continue the work. We occupy our minds. Some of us pray, some of us drink. But on days like this it’s all too easy to imagine an alternate scenario: one in which we send our weekly report, and nothing comes back. We wait. We tell ourselves some other crisis has delayed the response – an airship crash, an assassination, the Africans squeezing the energy line, it could be anything – we tell ourselves we’ll hear back soon. Days slip by. Weeks. We wait. Eventually we can’t ignore it any longer, the absence of contact, the diminishing supplies, and we have to admit to ourselves what none of us wish to admit. No one’s coming.

There’s one explanation. The redfleur took them, every one; there’s no one left to come.

Just us, and the desert sky.

And them.

There would be a certain irony to that.