Accepting the Worst is usually for the Best John W. Sexton
The third attempt to land waterbears on Phobos, the largest of the two moons of Mars, went without a hitch on February the 3rd 2026. The event made the Other News sections of most media. Threatened with a stilling core at the centre of the Earth, nobody cared much about what a cute thing a tardigrade looked like under the microscope.
The Earth finally came to a standstill on June the 17th 2027. The annihilation of the Earth had taken far longer than anticipated, and by the time it had occurred there was a general lack of interest from all about to die.
The three astronauts stranded on the International Space Station went walkabout and let themselves free of their retaining cords for a game of chicken with the universe. Their final moments were not recorded. Meanwhile, on Phobos, the waterbears were industrious in their induced hibernation. They could probably sleep for a century.
After a century it was fully expected that their sleep would evolve quite naturally into the process generally known as death. They were Humanity’s greatest legacy to the solar system. Their placement on Phobos was Humanity’s last genuinely positive idea.
Sometimes a good sleep is the best you can hope for.
John W. Sexton lives in the Republic of Ireland and is the author of five poetry collections, the most recent being The Offspring of the Moon (Salmon Poetry, 2013). His sixth collection, Futures Pass, is forthcoming from Salmon.