Serial Killers: On the Origin of the Species (Part 1) by Avital Malenky

Serial Killers are part of our Trembling With Fear line and are serialized stories which we’ll be publishing on an ongoing basis.

Once upon a time, many years ago, Hannah traveled to a brand new and far away World.

A humid jungle planet that was empty of alien life, it was nonetheless bursting with exotic kinds of vegetation. Having visible water on its surface it presented an alluring target for brave young colonists.

The human race was in the middle of what later will be known as The Great Migration. They had no hope but to leave and start again somewhere else so the human race planted their seeds all over the galaxy in a desperate act of survival and called the action Great.

Just a mere few decades before the Great Migration was conceived the Earth was changing in a way that could not support human life as it was descending into perpetual winter. Chain reactions resulting from human actions started centuries ago had caused an exponential and unstoppable change on the surface of The Earth.

The temperature inside the atmosphere that has been rising slowly since the 1900s was causing the permafrost along the globes once permanently frozen edges to melt a little bit more every year.

Unknown to anyone, the permafrost in the north and south of the planet held beneath it a million years’ worth of rotting pools and their vapors. This gruesome mass was made up of dead animals and plants buried in vast fields of death over the eons.

The gasses this mass grave omitted were luckily trapped under the permanent ice for all these years, but no more. Once five percent of all the permafrost on Earth melted one too warm a summer, it released to the atmosphere a huge amount of greenhouse gasses. Their levels in the earth’s atmosphere hit a crucial point and a few short years of never before seen climate disasters were the prologue to a permanent change in The Earth’s climate.

The countries that suffered the most, mainly the Northern Hemisphere ones, gave everything they had for the construction of the first Migration Fleet. Their sacrifice saved the human race. Even though some would say, it was the actions of the very same countries that caused the climate change in the first place.

The deal was simple and thousands took it. Hannah and Itzhak, newlyweds and desperate, went along for the ride.

Each migrant committed to working through the first tough ten years of the settlement unpaid, and if and how they survived, they were to be rewarded by receiving a share of the produce and a piece of the land.

Tiny satellites that were deployed prior to any colonists’ drop-offs supplied ample information from above for years in some cases. Later on, they will provide a means of communication for the new settlements, but first, they brought new data on each possible location and this one looked unbelievably good.

LV-420 was enveloped in comforting signs of life; it had lush hills and valleys that were cut only by enormous rivers along its landscape and the temperatures read 30º-50ºC, not very comfortable but still extremely livable. There was no movement seen by the satellites in the thick green below, orbiting the planet for a decade before the actual colonization began, strengthening the suggestion that this Planet had no life forms but plants on it.

A great find, an amazing location if it was true and Hannah and Itzhak pulled more than a few strings to get on this particular Colony. The planet known only as LV-420 was a perfect destination and was to be their new home, that is, if their colony survived.

Every migrant had a real chance of survival. Everyone who left on The Migration believed it to some degree, or they never would have left.

The odds of survival on the colonies, unfortunately, were not very high and by the time Hannah was getting ready to ship out the rates stood at a sixty percent total destruction rate. A huge improvement after the first year of the Great Migration, the one no one survived.

The first wave of colonists were sent to the dwarf planets inside the Earth’s Solar System and died out completely within a few short months. Their deaths asserted the fact that it was impossible to inhabit a planet with no presence of water in its atmosphere. Means of making, storing or reclaiming water from waste all eventually failed, and the entirety of the first wave died from thirst. The earth watched them perish in horror and desperation from above.

For the second wave of The Migration, the search widened through the galaxy to much further away Solar Systems, further than ever before thought possible, but specifically to planets with visible water on their surface.

A Planet with no animals or plants was preferable, exotic life proved fatal to the colonists almost every time. Unfortunately, alien life could not be avoided on most plants selected for colonization because water usually meant life. It turns out that life pops up almost everywhere where liquid water was found, alien life that was inhospitable and almost always fatal to the newly arrived settlers. 

Avital Malenky

I grew up in an ultra-orthodox community in Israel but left that life very young. Having traveled all over the world after my Military service in Army Intelligence, I settled with my husband and son in England. I battle PTSD daily and am caring for my son, recently diagnosed with autism.

Stephanie Ellis

Stephanie Ellis is a member of the HWA and writes dark speculative prose and poetry which has been published in a variety of magazines and anthologies, including Flame Tree Press' A Dying Planet and Nosetouch Press' Fiends in the Furrows. She is the author of gothic novella, Bottled, from Silver Shamrock Publishing and the novelette, Asylum of Shadows from Demain Publishing. Her first novel, The Way of the Mother, is due out in October, via Silver Shamrock. She can be found at https://stephanieellis.org/ and on twitter @el_Stevie.

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