Rugby Cafe Writers were challenged to write a piece for the start of 2022 on the theme of Beginnings. Here is a selection of their work.
A New Beginning? by Steve Redshaw
So far, so good. As Chief Medical Officer aboard Pioneer 37 of the Scatterseed mission, it was planned that I would be the first to be roused. And here I am, awake and fully functioning it would seem; but totally alone on just one of the vast hibernation decks. Soon I shall begin the re-awkening process, starting with the full medical team, who will then oversee bringing the 5,000 migrants on board back to life. But for now, I will allow myself a short, solitary reflection on the planet I used to call home.
How did we reach the point where, not only human life, but nearly all plant and animal life, became unsustainable? Why did we not heed decades of warnings? Why did we ignore and often dismiss growing evidence as our environment degraded at an ever increasing pace? Of course, over the latter part of what we knew as the 21st century, there was increasing concern, then desperation, and finally mass panic and chaos. But we had left it all too late. This was not due to a lack of ingenuity, or technology, or even finance; no, our failure was the inability to co-operate, to reach out, to consider others. Humankind polarised, fragmented. We built walls, formed pacts, harboured false suspicion, hurling accusation at opposing alliances. And those who were powerful and wealthy enough began to plan their escape. Thousands and thousands of pioneering explorers would seek out and inhabit new worlds. Or was this tiny percentage of the human population just another group of desperate refugees. From the dawning of the 22nd century, fleets of huge inter-galactic life-rafts, 50 from the Western Democratic Alliance alone, were abandoning Mother Earth.
Such a sad and desperate plan. Many of the first escaping craft were shot down by enemy missiles before they had even escaped Earth’s atmosphere. And doubtless, many more are marooned in the vast, unknown and lonely cosmos, never reaching their intended destinations. And what of the millions who were left on the dying Earth? I don’t suppose we will ever know their fate.
Pioneer 37 is now orbiting Exo-planet 4398z, 7 light years from Earth. The universe has been seeded; the human species has been given a second chance. For me, one question remains, lurking in the dark, shadowy recesses of my conscience; are we even deserving of a new beginning?
Seeing Stars by John Howes
“I’m not watching any more sodding soap operas,” growled Peggy, leafing through the Radio Times.
Derek looked up, remote control in hand. Where had this come from?
“But what about the Dingles? I can’t just abandon them.”
“I couldn’t care less about the Dingles or anyone else from Emmerdale. It’s fantasy. Life isn’t like that. It’s not real.”
Peggy shifted position. Now to deliver the killer blow.
“There are some lectures on BBC4 about science. I’d like to educate myself. You could do with a bit of that as well.” She enjoyed that last line in particular.
Derek’s face crimsoned, almost to a gammon hue. How dare she deprive him of his lifeblood? How could he exist without his soaps?
Peggy and Derek had been together nearly 20 years but recently things had become a little tetchy. He’d been picked up for not using all of the toothpaste in the tube, not leaving the hand towels in a perfectly horizontal position, and for wearing socks for more than a week in a row. The writing was on the wall.
Not just that. He’d noticed Peggy deep in conversation with ‘hot’ Rod from next door – he of the flaming sideburns and the classic Ford Capri. They’d been talking about satellites, and shooting stars. Rod had a telescope and was always at his bedroom window.
“I’m going to the spare room,” said Derek defiantly, “and watch what I want.”
“Go then,” said Peggy, decisively, switching channels.
For Peggy and Derek, this wasn’t the end of the beginning.
More like the beginning of the end.
Too Many New Beginnings by Jim Hicks
This year, I shall get a rescue dog.
This year, I shall learn to play the piano.
This year, I shall conduct a survey of hedgehogs in our garden
throughout the year.
This year, I shall become an ordinand in training, and I shall study
hard, and I shall hate it.
This year, I shall marry a beautiful fifty year old woman, and we will
live together and make our home together and sleep together, and we
will have no children.
On further thought, cross out “beautiful” and substitute “talented”.
This year, I shall write a computer game, and it will be
extraordinarily successful, and people will complain on social media
that it did not win an award.
This year, I shall make a major breakthrough in mathematics and prove
Alan Turing and Alonzo Church wrong—ha-ha!—and become a Fellow of
the Royal Society.
This year, I shall carry on going to the Café Writers, and go to
church, and continue to participate in the u3a, and look after my
mother. In the years after, I shall dwindle and go to my grave.