Suck It Up

By Claire McNerney In Proton Reader One

Everything was fine until they moved the oceans to the moon. Sure, fires raged across both hemispheres. Yes, chemical accidents left most humans more mutant than not. And okay, fine, all the animals were dead, but it wasn’t that bad! Everything could have been fixed back when we still had oceans on Earth. 

But that’s not what the folks on the moon said, especially not the Lunar President. Member of five lunar golfing resorts and a frequent diner at the highest-end steak restaurants in the Mare Vaporum, he was the one to authorize the quadrillion-dollar project. He and the other Lunarites decided that we down on Earth were doing a horrible job of keeping our oceans nice (never mind that their garbage was dumped down here) and that we no longer deserved it. Besides, they found it awfully inconvenient to have to travel however many interplanetary miles just to surf or lay on a smoggy beachside. They had the time and resources to use the oceans better than we ever did. 

So they moved them all up. Zapped the water through these big straw things. They sent it to the moon, and when they’d had enough there, onto Mars and the Asteroids. Even the wealthy space stations got a little bit of ocean delivered to their storage units. I’m no scientist, I don’t quite understand how it worked. But I still watched the coastline recede, revealing old, barnacle-encrusted houses and failed levies. When the ocean was sucked away, it left behind crabs and starfish, gritty little animals that gripped too hard to the floor of the sea they were about to lose. As it went further, it revealed long-dead coral reefs and dramatic cliffs. Some lucky scavenger even found lost treasure in an old pirate ship—million’s worth of non-synthetic gold and jewels. 

I spent my day off trying to get the same success by climbing down into the cliffside caves of a former drop-off zone near my home. But I never found any money, just rotting eels and sand and so much plastic. Maybe I wasn’t looking close enough. Or maybe those were the treasures, as those old documentaries would say. The eels and the fish and all that. 

When they sucked up the last water from the deepest part of the ocean, they started construction the next day on Luxury Condos for that trench. Construction didn’t last long, though, because then the heat came. It was more intense than anything from before, and it got worse day after day as even the most resilient gene-edited plants started to die. 

I used to be a proud resident of Earth, but even I started daydreaming about the hundred-thousand-dollar tickets to the moon, which stared down at us, bluer and greener than ever. I got a job loading cargo for the last ship up, and when I saw my opportunity to sneak in, I took it. 

I’m sorry that you never got to see Earth, kid. I don’t think there’s much of it left. But, hey! The dark side of the moon isn’t so bad. From the roof of my apartment I can almost see the ocean. 

Claire McNerney is an actor, student, and writer from California, where she currently attends UCSD. She enjoys, among other things, walking on the hard sand near the edge of the ocean. Follow her on Twitter @claire_mcnerney or Instagram @o.h.c.l.a.i.r.e to say hello and see what she does next!

Proton Reader One

Welcome to Proton Reader
A foreword by Sami Lawson

Suck It Up
Flash fiction by Claire McNerney

A Mari Ad Astra
A short story by dave ring

Of Infinite Ends
A short story by Emily M. Dietrich

The End of Forever
A novelette by Amanda Cecelia Lang