The ground is still scarred from the launch – baked earth and glassy sand, blackened and skeletal trees. In the end, panicking, the ships took off from wherever they could. This used to be a park. On the edges of the scar the grass is straggling back, poisoned-yellow.
It would never have worked, of course, if there had been more than a few million of us left. There was plenty of space for me, if I’d wanted to go; we built to excess like we’ve always done, everything going into the ships so we could flee the wasted planet like the crime scene it was. We’d killed the birds, by that stage. The ships took the zoos’ stocks of DNA, but we won’t see a tiger again.
We couldn’t all have stayed – not enough air or water or food for even our tiny remnant of population. If the ships succeed it’s only because they made their rendezvous with the comet and stole its massive core of water ice. We had no ice left: the polar caps went decades ago.
The joke’s on them, though. Crammed into the metal hulls, they can’t be sure they’ll ever find a new home to vandalise, even if we deserved it. I, and the few dozen like me who stayed, have had it no harder; scant air and water, enough food to cover the time it took for the plants to re-grow from the piles of bones. But for us, now the skies are clear, the temperatures dropping; the other morning the rain was almost clean. The sparrows, hardiest of human-adapted birds, are back, just a few, but chirping cheerfully. Today, on the edge of the scar, a daisy has opened its yellow face to the sun.
I like this world a lot more with its people gone.