Natural Selection

“Desdemona is a dangerous planet,” the guide called out to the group, “but only if you don’t respect her ways.”

James rolled his eyes. He hadn’t wanted to come to Desdemona, but human-friendly habitable planets were few and far between, especially now that Sol was trending toward red giant these days.

“Most of what lies beyond the energy barrier could kill a person in a blink,” the guide continued. “This bit of safe haven you’re standing in has been carved out with a lot of sweat, blood, and tears.”

And that was when James spotted the maintenance hatch down the path a little way. Making sure no one was watching, he nonchalantly walked away from the group — they were all distracted, anyway — and opened the hatch, using the adjoining service tunnels to get out beyond the barrier.

Sometime later, James finally stepped into the open air and took a deep breath — and a razor-sharp leaf spiraling from a nearby tree sliced cleanly through his skull.

Desdemona was not kind to invading, incautious species.

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