Aisha looked westward across the top of a thousand houses, all alike as they curved away toward the horizon. It was a night just like the ninety-nine that had come before it, except that she felt a little warmer in a breeze that had swung around towards the north. Just like the other nights, she had crept out of her bedroom and climbed up onto the roof after her parents had gone to bed. Just like the other nights, she waited with bated breath for a yellow orb to drift slowly into the sky, and to see if she fancied that it was a little larger than before.
This was the last night, the news broadcast had said. Tomorrow night’s would be the same size as tonight’s, and barring catastrophic asteroid impacts, that was the size it would stay until one day the sun burned out in the sky.
And there it was, slipping from between distant buildings out into the night. The yellow orb that would grow no more; the planet’s saviour, its companion for ever and a day. The tides would settle, they said, and the storms abate. Peace would come to their world, thanks to its people and their engineering prowess, thanks to the greatest project humankind had ever undertaken. Thanks to the honey-coloured moon.
As it rose higher she saw flashes of light darting to and fro, toward the moon and away again. Aisha fancied them to be like shooting stars, beautiful and serene, something to wish on. Her mother had explained them of course, in her matter-of-fact tone. They were Satellite Bees; monstrous machines the size of cities that ripped planets apart for their ‘pollen’, returning billions of tons of rock to their honey-coloured hive.
But from down on the surface, where a little girl looked up from her world to the clear skies above, they were twinkling lights full of wonder that flitted about the heavenly jewel that was their home.