Who Takes Charge?, by Hannah Harvey

The sun was dimmer here. It felt cold like the first day of winter. I looked out of our grey metal spaceship and saw something different to what Earth’s media had taught us. I’d expected the planet to lo look like a ball with the texture and colour of an orange. I’d expected millions of stars like never-ending eyes.

We’d moved further away from the sun – the comforting warmth and daily light that streamed through the windows as my natural alarm clock, just a faint trickle of light now. This had the potential to be the greatest sociological study. So many differences in the people aboard the metal container that had been our home for 213.66 million km.

A steady melody of noise began to erupt amongst us. Talking, gasping, fidgeting. Some chattered nervously now that we were there at last, and others pointed with the greatest excitement.

How long before someone took charge? And who would that be? What if it was one of a new species we would meet?

Our new home, it was just so…bare. I wondered how long our survival packs would last us and where we would find water. Would there be any animals we could eat or get milk from? Would this new home take the seeds we had brought and nourish them into food? It didn’t seem at all likely now the sun was so faintly shining.

When we could finally step off, would it be cold?

I looked back to the diary I had kept before the life we’d all known had gone. A dream that, when I awoke, was happening:


I wondered what had woken me up with a start. Could it have been the dream of the storm thrashing? Surely not, as usually I enjoyed a good storm. It was like dramatic music along the sky, lightning dancing and the melody of thunder cracking through. But the storm of the dream had been different. It was violent. It turned into a tornado, swallowing everything greedily into its mouth. It whipped up houses and picked up humans as if they were fruit in a field. The lightening was like teeth, biting into flesh.

There was an almighty crash, and I knew that the lightning, the thunder and the rain were consuming the street like a hungry wolf. The roof tiles were crashing to the ground and the next-door neighbor’s door was whipped off its hinges. The rain slapped against the walls and the lightning burned whatever came its way.

What was worse was that it simply kept going on and on…


As we came closer to touch down something was moving. As fast as blobs of jelly sliding off a plate, several people made a quick retreat from the window.

Our spaceship rattled as something, greatly frustrated, banged against it. The crashes grew louder as more things joined in. Someone or something was boring holes into the metal.  

I looked out the window and saw – something so covered in pus filled boils that I could barely make out its many eyes. Blood dripped from its face.

“Ladies and gentlemen, and those who identify as gender fluid,” came a voice from the captain’s quarters. Only it wasn’t the captain’s friendly but commanding tones.

“ As aliens, we must begin by saying, we don’t take kindly to strangers here. You are however, very useful as guinea pigs to solve our latest epidemic.”

Critical reflection:

This piece takes inspiration from the beginning of my sc-fi story which explores gender on a new planet. I want my readers to know that new worlds aren’t necessarily a good thing – who knows what these ‘aliens’ and their new disease will do to these humans? Maybe it would have been better to have faced destruction on earth? These humans won’t be able to prepare for EVERY eventuality that might happen in their new home.

This piece was also inspired by the different dystopian societies I read about for the creation of one of my MA stories, including The Road and The Power. I think the first question these surviving humans would have, would be who will take charge now? – hence the title Who takes charge?

Hannah is currently in her second year of an MA in Creative Writing, after completing a joint honours degree in Creative Writing and History. She loves exploring different genres, especially books answering social questions, which can be seen in her ‘library’ of 252 books (and counting.)