Lucas Beck – 31 when we meet him (he was 5 when the comet hit). Lucas has a limited memory of the world before the comet struck. His father, William, shaped much of Lucas’ view of a world and of a civilization that no longer exists. And thus William has infused Lucas with an eternal hope that someday they will make contact with others and that civilization will be reborn.
Lucas’ earliest memories of life before the comet are significant. He remembers his father forming the clan 27 years ago, when it was nothing more than four young families living in a Westcliffe, Colorado suburb at the foot of the Sangre de Cristo Mountains. His father told him that the families were carefully chosen for their survival skills. Each of them served a specific purpose in the survival plan he outlined. And Lucas revered the men who made up the clan’s leaders.
Now 31, Lucas has taken over leadership of the clan. His days are consumed with the many difficult tasks necessary for their survival in this relentlessly cold and harsh climate. As well, there’s no rest from the constant threat of attack from an enemy clan that will stop at nothing to uproot them from their home high atop the mountain. And there’s the impossible love he has for Amelie, the sister of his enemy, Remy Farnwell.
Day 1,098 (3 years after the comet / 8 years old)
Remy is nice to me. I love Mary and Anna and Xavier. And Mother and Father.
It is cold today. I fed goats. They have sharp teeth and try to bite me.
I stood on the big propeller today. It moves slow. Father told me not to. I might get hurt.
Father told stories. There are more people out in the world. He told us they are good. I like to write.
My hand hurts from writing.
My goat died. We are going to make his meat dry. And eat it. I loved him.
Mary likes snow. We make food with snow. And eat it. I had fun today.
I need to stop writing. I have to work more. I am older now.
Father showed me the stars. He said the sun is sleeping. Stars are for light at night. I pinch them with my fingers.
I am 9 today! Veena made me a gift. A knife. Mary made a present…a snow castle. We sat inside. It was fun!
BREAK IN JOURNAL – LOST ENTRIES
Day 6,205 (21 years old)
Incredible day! We spotted other humans for the first time ever. There are 30 of them camped out on the middle-ice shelf. Remy and I were tracking goats near the glacier flow when we saw them.
Remy called them Outsiders. He’s worried they might harm us. He’s especially concerned about disease. We stayed out of sight. They were moving slowly. Maybe a few hundred yards today.
Our fathers came with us today. We watched the Outsiders struggle up the icy mountain. Several of them appear injured. Watching them reminded me of when we hiked up the mountain 16 years ago. I was 5! My memories of life before the comet … of our home in Westcliffe … they’re like these tiny blips that I can’t seem to hold onto. I still remember the dark soil and the color green. It was everywhere. Not like the plants in our greenhouse…but like green grass and trees. The memories are short. They whirl around in my mind’s eye. Now we have ice and snow. Shades of blue and white and gray. And it’s been that way, it seems, forever now, since the comet pushed us away from the sun.
Isaac wants to stop the Outsiders from coming further up the mountain. Father wants to help them.
We decided to watch them some more.
For as long as I can remember, Father and Isaac have made all the decisions for the clan. Today was the first time I saw them disagree – and with tempers. Isaac thinks the Outsiders will bring disease and death to our clan. Veena agrees with Isaac. They’ll want food and shelter. They will destroy the delicate balance that keeps us alive. Father disagrees. He doesn’t think they’ll need much from us if anything. He thinks it’s important for us to find out if they have news of the world. What has become of it. And who has survived.
Against Isaac’s wishes, Father and I went down the mountain to make contact with the Outsiders. Father insisted on making introductions alone. If there was contamination, he wanted me clean. Father brought medicine and food for them. I snuck as close as I dared and watched as they greeted Father with surprise and suspicion. Father disappeared into one of their battered tents. He didn’t come out for nearly an hour. All the while, I panicked. I thought of rushing the tent. My ice-axe ready. But chose patience rather than haste. When Father returned, he was quiet. We didn’t speak for most of the hike back to the observatory. Except when I told him we were being followed by one of the Outsiders. I was ready to use my ice-axe to kill the Outsider. He instructed me not to take the offensive. Father didn’t want a fight. He wanted peace. He left some dried meat for the Outsider, and we took a path that the Outsider wouldn’t be able to track. We watched him. He was young. Maybe 17. He took the meat and ate it. When he couldn’t find our trail, he turned back.
Father finished his sixth day of quarantine. Veena and Anna agreed that if he had contracted a disease from the Outsiders it would have manifested by now.
Father’s first night out of quarantine. Even Isaac wanted to hear about the Outsiders. Where they were from and how they survived all these years. The Outsiders were by no means helpless, Father said. They came from the lowlands and had travelled for the past year. The glacier flow had quickened and forced them higher into the mountains in search of more stable terrain. They had no contact with the outside world over the past 16 years. In the beginning, they had survived the comet’s heat blast by hiding deep inside a cave. When the weather turned and the snow came, they moved to avoid being buried under the first winter’s snow. The snow never melted and that was the beginning of the glacier that buried all of the valleys. Each few years they moved higher up the mountain valley.
Isaac pointed out that there was nothing the Outsiders could offer us. We should make certain they never find the observatory.
Father had promised to check in on them from time to time. And he said he would honor his commitment.
Remy’s mother, Christina, is sick with a high fever. Isaac blames my father. The fever must be from the Outsiders. Father brought it with him. I feel ashamed.
Remy’s mother died this morning. We held a small ceremony and buried her deep in the snow.
Isaac won’t speak to Father anymore. He blames him for Christina’s death. It’s been hard for Remy and I to talk. He’s very angry that his mother is dead. And when he looks at me, I know he blames me too.
Father and Veena went to visit the Outsiders. Everyone is nervous. Isaac doesn’t hide his anger anymore. Not even in front of the children. His daughter, Amelie, turned 12 last month, so I suppose I can’t call her a kid anymore.
Amelie warned me that her father plans to lock my father out of the observatory when he returns. Remy is preparing for a fight. I don’t want to believe it. But I must trust Amelie.
Father is returning soon. I must prepare. The thought of fighting Remy is impossible. I love him like a brother.
BREAK IN JOURNAL – LOST ENTRIES
Farnwells attacked the observatory yesterday. Two computers were stolen. As a result, all historical logs and archives are gone. It has been decided that I will re-record the history of our clan. We have one computer and two external drives left. No video. Just a voice recorder. I have instructed the clan to continue writing in their journals using the current numbering system of days post comet. I’ve always found this system odd, but Father explained it was a temporary substitute for a calendar, as we were counting the number of days until we could return to civilization. No one imagined we would still be counting 27 years later. When the weather first turned cold, it was Father who realized the comet had knocked Earth out of orbit away from the sun. And with that realization, hope has long since vanished.
Fear among the clan is my daily enemy. And it’s not just Remy’s attacks on the observatory. It’s the tremors. Dozens every day now. And Remy uses fear well. His attacks have grown more bold and desperate. Because he knows the ice is shifting. And everyone wonders if this is the beginning of a seismic shift in the ice. And if the temperature continues to drop, we just don’t know how much longer we’ll survive.
Born and raised in Greenville, North Carolina, James Ward is a graduate of the University of North Carolina at Wilmington. James is also a graduate of the American Academy of Dramatic Arts in New York. New York stage credits include: Three Years from Thirty, Ah Wilderness, Moonchildren, Jimmy Shine and Little Moon of Alban. Los Angeles stage credits include: The Last Days of Judas Iscariot, The Baby Dance, Star Crossed, Laughter on the 23rd Floor, The Big Funk, and Richard III.
James’ film credits: Transformers 2: Revenge of the Fallen, Dying Days, and This Solace Eternal. Television: Sons of Anarchy, Entourage, Numbers, Life, Heartland, Saints and Sinners, (Series Regular) and “Justice.”