Earth is no longer fit to live on, we must make our
Escape
CHAPTER
1
The Selection
“Boarding has to start now, or never,” stated Mrs Zed.
“Only one ship is ready for launch, and we have not yet installed the sleeping pods,” objected her colleague, Mr Xi.
“The conditions on Earth are worsening from day to day. If we want humanity to survive, we have to prepare for takeoff,” she retaliated, “Anyway, the sleeping pods don’t matter. With our improved technology, the journey takes only twenty years.”
“As we have just a single ship, each country can take a maximum of one hundred citizens! That is, apart from the officers and crew,” Mr Xi responded.
“Yes, and I say we should just take people aged ten to twenty, so that, when they arrive to planet Auros, they are a productive population.”
“How will we decide on who will and won’t go? A raffle?” asked Mr Xi, who by this time had accepted the need for a swift departure.
“No, choosing people at random won’t work. We need the best youths to come,” she said, pacing the sterile laboratory.
“A test?” he volunteered.
“A test,” she confirmed.
Xen watched the officers filing into the school building. They dropped in every now and then to issue warnings and announcements. Their bright blue uniforms contrasted sharply with the bleak, grey surroundings. After the bomb was dropped, all seemed to have lost its colour. It was only a matter of weeks until the school would have to be closed. The condition of Earth was deteriorating rapidly.
Her violently purple hair fanned out on her shoulders, Xen sat on a rough, metal seat behind a desk in one of the classrooms. Their teacher droned on and on, but what did it matter? The lecture was drowned out by a monotone voice from the speaker. All students were expected in the main hall in five minutes. So she was right - the officers were here to make a statement. To snuff out all hope. They were good at that.
Xen kept close to her friend Carol as they were marched to the hall through white-washed corridors. Everything was so bland, like a blank slate. Now she thought about it, they were lucky that this school was still left open. The others were closed immediately after the explosion.
The large glass doors opened to reveal the main hall, yet it looked different than was usual. Rows upon rows of small rectangular tables filled the space. On top of them rested laptops, closed at the moment.
“Find your seat. There are name tags on the tables,” the chief officer directed. Unlike the others’ uniforms, his had a golden star pinned to the front. Written on it was ‘Selected’.
“You are here to take a test. Those of you that will succeed will have a place on the ship to planet Auros. The results will show up immediately after you have finished the exam,” he continued.
I took my seat in front of Carol. The air tingled with tension and expectation. So much depended on this test. Our lives, in fact. All of us knew that there was no hope for those that were left on Earth.
“You may start,” the officer declared, as soon as we were settled. The laptop lids opened at once, displaying the first question. “Here I go then,” I thought.
Logic, science, maths - all questions were based around them. I shut out my surroundings. Now, more than ever, I needed to concentrate. Luckily, logic was something I was good at. It was a relief to find out that neither language nor art skills would be tested. If that would’ve been the case, I would have definitely failed. Confidently, I clicked the answer to each question. As soon as I did, another one popped up.
Silence pressed in; all movement was halted. Only the clock’s black, slender hands inexorably sliced away seconds. Cold droplets of sweat ran down my forehead. My legs shook, but I didn’t lose focus. Time trickled away like water, but everything else stood still with bated breath.
I finished off question one hundred. It was done. All done! But wait. What if I failed? Horrible thoughts zoomed through my mind. If I failed, I was lost. Then another realisation hit me. What about my family: mum, dad and Zara, my three year old sister? They didn’t even get a chance to have a go at the test!
The screen of the computer was blank for a moment. Processing information... it said. Then a single word appeared:
Selected.
My heart stopped. Me? Out of all of them? Happiness flooded through me. It lit me up from the inside. Yet then I remembered Carol. I craned to see her screen. Please, please, please let her be selected. I saw the simple phrase:
Not selected.
A tear carved a pathway down my cheek. Specks of light obscured my vision. I was selected, but Carol was not. Then the world went black around me.

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