© Copyright 2008 - Darkraptor1 - Used by permission
Storycodes: MF+/mf; bond; wrap; tape; entombed; sci-fi; nc; X
This is what the future of humanity is like.
After centuries of war, pollution and sucking away the planet's resources, humanity eventually came to the realization that they had killed their planet. With nothing left, and everything to loose, they could no longer stay on earth. Steps had to be taken to ensure the survival of the human race. So, with all the technology and resources available, mankind's greatest minds worked to devise a solution to save humanity. The solution was surprisingly simple, yet daunting.
If humanity was going to survive, it needed to leave earth.
Spaceships were designed, constructed, and built. Entire fleets sprung up within a few years while humanity tried to prepare for the journey, as well as the difficult task of selecting who would be privelaged enough to head into the stars.
Five years after humanity's salvation began, it was ready. A fleet of thirty starships, the biggest ever built, were sent out into the cosmos towards the planets found most likely to sustain life. Many were dozens of years away, some hundreds. But they had to be reached, no matter the cost.
The ships departed, carrying with them a third of humanity. That was a year ago…and you were one of the ones fortunate enough to have a place on them.
Yet space travel is not without its hazards. In addition to the problems of meteorites, asteroids, and all manner of space debris, there's also the human factor. For every single person on board your ship has to stay awake during this journey. Suspended animation, such a common staple in science fiction stories, was not developed in time for the journey. There is no sleeping away at the trip, no lying down and waking up decades later to find that you've arrived at Quaxon twenty six in the Myda quadrant. No, you have to go through the days waking and sleeping.
This led to problems.
When confined to a relatively small space, humans will inevitably, no matter how hard they try to avoid it, be at each others throats. Conflicts will develop, tempers will flare, and people will be pushed to their limit and beyond. But that's not the biggest problem facing your fellow passengers on this trip. No, the biggest problem is even greater.
With little else to do to pass the time, sex is a favorite past time among space travelers. But the greatest law on board is that no unauthorized babies may be born. Space is a premium on board the ship, and even with recycling technologies, there simply is not enough resources to support hundreds of new lives. A dozen or so each year, but no more.
Needless to say however, there would be some who will ignore this rule, or will be so obsessed with having a family that they will have babies and try to raise them in secret. Or they'll just be so overcome with lust that they ignore the consequences of their actions.
And the consequences are grave indeed.
There is a reason why having an illegal baby is perhaps the greatest crime one can commit on this ship. That and murder, but murder has the unexpected advantage of freeing up more room and more resources. Babies, if too many are born, can lead to starvation and death for everyone else. That is why the crime of unauthorized births carries with it the greatest punishment.
That is what you are watching right now, standing in a hallway with eyes looking over a display screen. This is a ship wide event, and all are required to watch. The authorities do this as a warning to others, lest they be tempted to commit the same crime.
It's hard for you to watch the screen, because you know the two people being led in.
Their names are Justi and Ted, dressed in standard issue spandex body gloves. Barely in their mid twenties, they're some of the youngest passengers on board. Understandably, they look terribly frightened, eyes darting around the room.
You wonder how they could be so stupid, so foolish. Hormones perhaps…perhaps their lust for each other was so great that they figured they couldn't get caught if the hid the whole thing carefully. But they were wrong. No matter how hard you try to hide things on this ship, they will inevitably be found. Especially if it's a squalling baby.
The two captives are forced into the center of the room as the rulers of the ship come on screen, read the charges against them. Illegally conceiving a child, failing to report it to the authorities, keeping it hidden. All extremely serious charges, and the two know it. That's why they're shaking so much, because they know what awaits them.
The baby, it is said, will be kept, since it is too late to abort it. But for it to take its place on board the ship, two people will have to be sacrificed to make room. With that, Justi and Ted are found guilty of their crimes and given their punishment…a sentence of space burial, to be carried out immediately.
Justi weeps as she's forced towards the center of the room and locked into shackles, leaving her dangling from the ceiling. Ted is forced there as well, locked beside his lover. They struggle against the shackles, try to slip loose, trying to avoid the fate chosen for them.
From the other side of the room, two of the ships embalmers walk over, assistants wheeling huge crates behind them. Reaching the captives, the embalmers reach in and pull out huge rolls of silver bandages. These will be used to wrap up the captives and mummify them. Quickly shackling the ankles of the captives to the floor, the procedure begins.
The embalmers walk around Ted and Justi again and again, wrapping the bandages around their squirming bodies, wrapping each one as tightly as they can, squeezing and compressing the bodies beneath.
Justi is crying, weeping, pleading as she's mummified, the bandages covering her spandex suit, forcing her legs together, encasing her breasts. But there will be no mercy, no reprive. She will have to endure the punishment for her crime.
Ted isn't fighting as much. He knows it's hopeless, so he goes limp, allowing the embalmers to do their work.
When the bandaging reaches the ankles, the shackles are released. Justi is fighting, but with her legs wrapped together, there is nothing she can do as her feet are wrapped as well.
The procedure continues. Within ten minutes, feet, legs, chest, upper torso, neck, and arms are all wrapped up in the silver bandages, leaving two mummies dangling from the ceiling. Justi is looking herself over in a panic, trying to fight and escape her encasement. Ted too is fighting, but he knows it's hopeless.
Their hands are unshackled. Guards prop the two up as their arms are forced to their sides and wrapped, sealing them in place and rendering them useless. That really freaks out Justi, who's screaming and pleading, trying to get away.
But it's almost over.
The bandages are now wound around their heads. Slowly but steadily, making sure that each wrap is tight and compressing. Several bandages are forced into their mouths. Justi screams as she's packed. Ted just opens his mouth and lets them do it. Then more bandages are wound from the top of the skull underneath the jaw, forcing their mouths shut, reducing Justi's screams to a barely audible mumble.
Eventually the bandages cover their mouths, noises and reach the eyes. You've only seen a few of these burials before, but this is always the hardest part. The eyes are always the last things to be covered and wrapped, and it's the last you ever see of the human trapped within those gruesome cocoons. The cameras broadcasting the scene to the entire ship give you a very clear look at Justi and Ted's eyes as they are covered. Here, more then any other stage of the procedure, the terror of their situation can be seen as their eyes widen, trying to take in as much as possible, for both know that the last things they will ever see is the embalming room, and the cameras recording their mummification.
Then their eyes, so full of fear, are covered. Wrapped over. Sealed away forever.
They are no longer people. They are now sealed inside silver cocoons, turned into helpless mummies. But there are signs of the people inside those wrappings, movement, struggles, wiggling. That's why the embalmers wrap them up inside another layer. And then another…and another. You watch the screen as ten more layers of silver bandages are wound around the mummies of Ted and Justi, sealing them in even tighter. When it's done, neither mummy moves, wiggles, or squirms.
The punishment is almost complete. But there is still more to come.
The mummies are held up as an extra large casket is rolled into the room. Normally the dead are simply pushed out of the ship's airlock, but these two will, ironically, be given a privilege. They will have the honor of a casket burial.
They are picked up and lowered into the casket, lying side by side. The camera changes angles so that it's right above the casket looking down. You look closely, but you can't see any movement from the glistening silver mummies inside. Perhaps one ever-so faint wiggle from Justi, but even that you can't be sure of. In any case, the guards come over and strap the two down, immobilizing them. Needles and punched in through the wrappings, tubes hooked up and controls set. Then the lid is placed onto the casket and sealed, a faint hiss of gas coming out of the casket as it is made airtight.
The final settings are made. Airflow is turned on, along with nutrients and a special solution to stop solid and liquid waste. An air recycler is activated. With all preparations complete, all that is left is the burial itself.
As the stainless steel casket is wheeled out of the room and down the corridors, the screen displays information about the punishment the two will now endure. You've read it before, for everyone was briefed when this trip began and this part in particular was stressed more so then anything else.
The punishment of space burial is harsh, draconian even. You've never agreed with it because it just seems too harsh. But, earth's leaders said, with the survival of the human race at stake, sometimes desperate measures are needed to ensure that it will continue…including very, very harsh punishments.
Justi and Ted will be taken to the airlock and their casket will be ejected into space. There, they will be left to drift through space, life support systems keeping them alive, ensuring that they will have time to ponder their horrifying fate as they drift through space for eternity, mummified and with no hope of escape or rescue. With the vastness of space it is very likely that they will never, ever be seen again by humans or any other species that inhabits the cosmos. Perhaps by some random chance they will crash into a planet, plunge into a black hole, or fall into a sun. If so, then they'll be very, very lucky. Otherwise, they'll live for decades…perhaps even centuries, sustained by the life support system.
Either way, this is their punishment. An eternity spent mummified and alone in space…a harsh example to others not to jeopardize the future of their species.
The camera switches angles again, now inside the airlock. Justi and Ted's casket lies inside. A few moments pass, then the door is opened. All air is sucked out, taking the casket with it. Switching angles again, the camera tracks the casket as it spins head over heels, spinning out into the void of space. At first the casket is easily seen, but as it drifts further and further away it becomes harder and harder to keep track of. Then it's little more then a tiny silver speck.
And then…it's gone.
The screen fades to black. The sentence has been carried out. For you and everyone else on the ship, the journey to Quaxon twenty six continues. For Justi and Ted, their punishment has begun.
You walk away from the screen, shaking your head at the stupidity of the two. A few minutes of lust and sex and now they're gone, buried alive in space. But perhaps they deserve to be remembered with pity. After all, they were just like everyone else here. Human…fallible. Capable of making mistakes and learning from them. Perhaps they do deserve to be remembered with pity.
You hope so…because you hope that when the authorities find out that your girlfriend is illegally pregnant, they'll take pity on you both.