Tidal Lock

Life in Trappist-1: A World of Twilight and Danger. What would life be like in Trappist-1? Here is just one possibility!

Flash (Science) Fiction

The world shook as rock fell. Screams over the radio beckoned for attention, but attention no one could give, for all were simply trying to survive. A hurricane once again formed, even though the colony just barely survived the last weeks before. There was no escaping the storm, for it consumed all of the planet in the system of Trappist-1.

Linda ran through the darkened halls. She had to find him. He had to be okay. These are the phrases that endlessly looped inside of her mind. After all they been through, after the eternity they spent together in suspended animation as the automated ship sailed through the solar seas to the new world, he could not die on her now. She would not allow it. She must not allow it.

The world shook ever more violently as the surface above became ever more violent. This brave new world was tidally locked to its host star – meaning that one side of it was a molten hellscape of perpetual light and the other a frozen gulag of permanent night. The twilight zones were quite alright, but only when the weather was agreeable. With the heat creating a bubble of high pressure and the frozen wasteland creating pockets of extreme low pressure as the temperatures fall low enough to even freeze nitrogen, this creates tremendous global winds. On a good day, they are manageable. Yet on a bad day, the world barely maintains its composure. This day was one of those bad days.

Linda ran through the darkened hall, searching among the rubble for Lester. Her heart raced as the darkest parts of her mind imaged the worst. They screamed that it was too late, that she had failed and he is already dead, but she refused to give in. No matter how much she searched, each bloodied face was not who she hoped it to be.

She reached the edge of the rock tunnel, before her stood the vertical farms within the colony’s protective dome. The dome, normally transparent, was scorched black from the superheated winds. Cracks spider throughout the dome. Her heart fell further than she thought possible. If the dome fails, then their farms fail. If those fail, survival goes from merely unlikely to near impossible.

“Linda!” yelled a voice.

Before her, standing some thirty meters away, was Lester. He was beaten and bruised, but alive. His eyes were a reflection of hers, a reflection of fear. They rush toward each other. The world around them blurred as all they could focus on was each other. Each step was an eternity, each breath everlasting. Alas, they embraced. All of existence was each other. This, however, was not to last.

Whistles echoed within the dome. The cracks grow wider with each gust of the monstrous fury just beyond the arched walls. Linda and Lester looked to the blackened sky. The whistles told them everything they needed to know. They did not wish it to be, but they accepted their fate as long as they were in each other’s arms. With one final gust, the cracks went from hairlines to valleys, thus bringing the end to Roanoke Colony.

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Image Credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech

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