The dust is oppressive. Thirsty. Solid. The colour of thunderstorms at dusk. It blankets every surface, blocks every crevice, crucifies every hope. I stare out into the chaos, trying to identify what’s there. Tangled shapes stare back. Everything looks crushed, defeated. I start to diminish with the heat, feel empty and sick, lift my filthy t-shirt to wipe my face, holding it over my mouth. Little by little, the dust penetrates my nostrils. It trickles into my throat, tastes thick and toxic. Rosie stands next to me, coughing. I can’t look at her, but when she starts to pull me back towards the shuttle, I know better than to argue. We both fall through the shuttle door and collapse onto the hot metal floor, coughing uncontrollably.

I look up and see Sophie standing over me. She hands me a cup of water.

‘I told you it was bad, Jessie’

Sophie turns to Rosie.

‘Anything?’

Rosie shakes her head. Tears start to zigzag down her cheeks like tiny streams descending disarrayed mountains. Clean lines on a face saturated with dust. Sophie frowns in disbelief and taps her screen.

‘No. No movement, no life. What year is this anyway? Where are we?’.

My voice is croaky, and my throat is sore. Sophie and Rosie exchange looks. Sophie speaks.

‘It’s 2025. It says our location too. Where we’ve landed’.

‘I want to go home’ I hear myself blurt, as the tears start to flow.

‘Now!’

‘You are home’

Sophie looks up from her screen.

‘This is London’.

Tobecontinued…