Happy New Year

I had once known love. Bartholomew was my love, my life, my reason to live. He was the most beautiful man I had ever seen, and kind and gentle. He was generous to the poor and weak in our society and was also blessed with the most wonderful singing voice. Talented and unusual in so many ways, I felt complete when with him. This most extraordinary man loved me, a fact which astonished and thrilled me with each day that passed. Then my life fell apart in the most terrible way.

Too many years have passed now since he was dragged from me as I fell screaming in desperation to the floor. The Ministry had decided he was needed to lead the fight against the alien hordes who were filling our skies with their crafts full of planet pirates. These were peoples whose own planets had become overcrowded and unable to support their populations. Some of these creatures then took to the galaxies searching for new worlds which they could then take over. Our world was chosen by the ruthless Uranonauts. They quickly took on a likeness to the human population thereby making it difficult to know who was really human and who was an imposter. The imposters were vicious and relentless in their determination to drive out the world’s population and so the wars started.

Strong intelligence was needed to defend our world. My beloved Bartholomew was the most celebrated mind on the planet. He was called on to help defeat the invaders using his superior intelligence to gather knowledge of their ways of life, and their hopes and fears. He worked day and night on this task until he made an amazing discovery. The Uranonauts had no resistance to the common cold, something which we on Earth had been trying to find a cure for in the previous two hundred years without success. Humankind did not have a cure for this illness, but nor was it fatal, it resulted in sickness which was inconvenient for a few days rather than anything more serious. However, the Uranonauts had no resistance to it and catching the virus was inevitably fatal.
The infiltration of these creatures on Earth had made the job of searching them out almost impossible, until Bartholomew in his endeavours found the answer.

Every city in every country in the world was sprayed with the virus. Sickness spread throughout the planet. Before long humankind was sickening, spending two, maybe three days in isolation whilst the illness ran its course, but for the planet pirates it was a different matter. They could not recover from the virus. As they sickened they began to crumble and die, their deaths taking between three and six months. While they succumbed to the deadly illness, so their likenesses to the human population began to fade and their true origins began to emerge, discovery became a certainty.
Those aliens who managed to escape the virus then hid amongst the populations of the different countries, absorbing their cultures, disguising their features with scarves and masks and disposing of the indigenous peoples in their efforts to survive.

Once again Bartholomew found the answer. Now in a position of high command he ordered soldiers in protective armours to patrol the streets shooting to kill at the sound of a sneeze. Their weapons pulsated with a strong blue light which was antiviral and deadly, the germ carrier disintegrating immediately together with the virus on contact with the light. Of course mistakes were made and there was also some inevitable collateral damage, but this was accepted by high command.

For forty years these battles raged, as our soldiers, ministers, scientists aged, and fewer and fewer young were born.
During this time America fell, as its population died and its cities fell into disrepair and finally decrepitude. China followed, surprisingly quickly given its huge population, but ministers explained that overcrowding of that country meant that even the indigenous population were finding the illness difficult to contain.
Swiftly the news came of more and more of the world’s assets being destroyed, drained, used up. There were no longer the workers available to replenish and build. Any remaining Uranonauts gave up the fight and departed our planet, leaving us with destruction and fear in what was once a green and pleasant land.

Life was hard for those remaining. I lived on what I could scavenge and tried not forget what once had been. If I tried I could remember that once there was hope, and love – but it was all so long ago. This coming year sees my centenary, although the medication forced on me sixty years ago means my time is not up until another fifty years have passed. All able bodied persons have to have the treatment at forty years old to ensure that there will be enough workers available to support the elite. Now our population is less than it has ever been in the history of the world and I am tired. To think of this life for another fifty years is terrible and frightening. I wish Bartholomew were with me to provide support.

At midnight on the last night of the year, 2099, Big Ben’s chimes echoed around the streets of London unheard, unnoticed. In the darkness, the sound of two cats screeching at one another was the only other sound to break the silence. I made my way south across London Bridge towards my little flat. I kept my head down and my wits about me. You just never knew who might be behind you. Reaching the steps leading to my flat, I took a quick look left then right and dashed down to the scruffy, weatherbeaten front door, inserted the brass key and pushed the door hard, hastening inside and closing and bolting it behind me. I waited a moment, breathing hard, then walked silently down the hallway and into my familiar sitting room. As I looked around, noting all was well, I began to relax.
Pottering around in the gloom, I lit the lamps, feeling pleased I had remembered the paraffin in my last visit to the storeroom.
I felt a little surge of hope. This was the dawn of a New Year, a new Century, a new chance! I opened a bottle of wine I had been saving for just such an occasion, having found it, unopened, in this flat when I had moved in ten years before. God, it was delicious! Nectar! My spirits brightened with each sip. This was my beginning. This was my fresh start. Welcome 2100, this would be my year!

Dawn found me asleep in my battered armchair, the empty wine bottle clutched in a loving embrace. My head felt heavy, my legs weak, but the sky was rosy and clear and I heard singing. Someone was standing on the pavement just outside my basement window. I could see legs, encased in silvery cloth, and feet pushed into red leather boots with the highest heels I had ever seen. The singing was beautiful, perfectly pitched and melodic and I felt my eyes fill with tears as emotion swelled in my heart as I recognised the voice. He sang:

My heart is strong, and love will conquer all

This is our time, and we will find our way.

Give me your hand, and walk with me a while

Give me your heart, and tell me that you’ll stay.

Our future is written in the stars

Our lives will forever be entwined

Just tell me that you love me as I love you

And we’ll leave these earthly troubles far behind.

As I watched and waited the singer turned. My Bartholomew had come back to me. I would have known his beautiful voice anywhere. He made his way down the steps to my door, I opened it and we fell in to one another’s arms, unbelieving that we had somehow found each other again.
Our fingers entwined, our eyes locked on one another, we stood for long moments just gazing as if in a dream. I reached up and stroked his beautiful skin, his silken hair, his soft and sensuous lips. My Bartholomew, my love.
My thoughts flew to him.

How did you find me? What do we do now? Can this be real?

His answers came to me instantaneously.

Yes, this is real. I found you – that is enough, now we must stay together. My ship awaits, will you come?

I could do nothing, my heart swelled in my breast as I vowed to him

Yes, I will come. I have waited for you for so long, my love!

Together we moved to the end of the little street to a clearing where a small silver craft awaited. As we neared it the side of the ship opened revealing a space through which we passed together. Once inside the ship the aperture closed and we were sealed within. Bartholomew moved to the control panel and fired up the ship’s engines. The ship began to pulsate, and within seconds we were airborne. We headed away from the only world we had ever known, towards the stars. The search had begun. We were now looking for a planet whose atmosphere could support us, where we could flourish and prosper. We had become part of that band of planet pirates, cruising the galaxy to find our own piece of heaven.

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