Terraforming Terra

Cole sat slowly down, owing the slowness to the low surface gravity, and nestled his body down. The armchair shifted on its own to hold his doughy body more comfortably. He bit the tip off of a thick, tightly rolled cigar—imported from Europa—and lit it with the small butane lighter he kept beside the armchair for just that purpose. He belched and slid his hand under his shirt to rub his distraught belly. The vitamin batter always put his stomach in knots. He puffed heavily on his cigar and watched television through the smoke that accumulated fast than it dissipated.

He watched the Memphis News Hour, which focused on the local affairs of Memphis Facula. The semipermeable dome was a joint venture between three mining companies, and the news primarily focused on quotas—tonnage, ore composition, and the like. Cole was a refinement foreman for Ganyfreed Resources, the smallest of the three partners and the only one subsidized by the Ganymede Officialdom. Presently, the news cut to a public service announcement.

Harlow Keely, the hot young actress, was yammering something about impoverished children. He muted the television and watched her as she walked through a cleared path in a garbage dump, the piles looming high in the background and forming an artificial mountain range. Her shiny hair fell straight down, and her curvy body jiggled as she walked with great effort. Earth, then. The shot cut to a close up of a crying Earth baby, and he changed the channel.

Now this was entertainment! Laughsack was on! It was a nonstop, uninterrupted channel that only aired curated videos of guys getting hit in the sack. Cole laughed heartily and the ash was shaken loose from his cigar, falling in slow motion like the lightest snow. Then the phone rang. It might be an accident at work—they were frequent—so he had to answer.

“What?” Cole grumbled.

“Sir, are you aware that you’re one of a hundred thousand million people living off of our homeworld?” asked the tinny voice.

“So?”

“So, if every one of those hundred thousand million people were to donate just a single dollar, we could afford to terraform Earth, just as private interests have done to the outer worlds, and improve or even save the lives of the billions of poor and destitute souls who can’t afford to leave. Sir, can you afford to donate just one dollar?”

Cole sucked his cigar like a syphon and let the smoke tickle his chest from the inside. “How about you just donate two dollars and we call it even. You can afford just two dollars, can’t you?” He terminated the call, rubbed his belly, and fell asleep watching Laughsack with his cigar still lit.

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