Cover Story Vol 53: What Happened to Earth?




It’s the 3024 and a couple rats floating around in outer space are telling the people of Earth how their society met its ultimate demise. And, yes, you’re right, Justin Bieber is one of the reasons.

Hey, there you are! It’s me. You know, the rat in a spacesuit on the front of this here magazine. You probably have a lot of questions, not the least of which is how a couple of rats got those fly spacesuits? How else you think? Amazon Prime. Free two-day shipping anywhere in the galaxy.

OK, so that probably wasn’t your first question, but hey, I’m proud of being on the cover of a magazine and wanted to make sure you were checking me out.

To be honest, I’m just glad you’re reading this. I wasn’t sure this whole writing-a-letter-to-people-a-thousand-years-in-the-past thing was going to work. ERB Magazine is obviously very good at that magazine life.

So here’s what you really want to know: Why are rats floating around in outer space like astronauts instead of living on Earth? Yeah, that’s a good question. You know how us rats are fine living in just about any ol’ dirty, muggy, uncomfortable place? Well, that should tell you how bad it got on Earth.

It’s 3024 right now, and we left that place a good 200 years ago, which is about 500 years after the last of the humans. Don’t let anybody tell you our survival skills aren’t on point. We were the last holdouts on that once-great planet, but it got so gross and inhabitable that even we’re up here among the stars thumbing our nose at Earth.

The decay and destruction got to be too much — even for us and we’re not the most discerning lifeforms out there. The humans either died trying to fix the planet or took off long ago in those space pods Elon Musk developed to travel to planet Tesla. (For the record: It’s all right there, but not quite good as the Yelp reviews would have you believe).

Here’s another question you might have right now: Why are we even bothering to write you? Yeah, that’s another good one. You ERB Magazine readers are a smart bunch. We have two main reasons for sending his transmission:

  1. We just got these new Google devices that dictate your thoughts. They were pretty standard for humans for a while now, but over on Planet Google, they’ve made them so the humans can communicate with the animals. My cousin Otto lives there and got us a couple of them. I wanted to try them out.
  1. We’re nice. And even after you humans spent generations killing our ancestors!

So here’s the deal. We’re going to tell you some of the things you guys messed up to give Earth the fate you did. We’re not going to sugar coat things; you guys messed up bad. We’re writing to you people in 2017, because back then, things weren’t a total mess. Maybe you’ll be able to change some things if you pay attention.

So without any further ado:

It’s pretty amazing how, all these years later, those iPhones everyone adored for so long actually set Earth on the planet to destruction. The first 35 or so iPhones and iPads were fine, but geez, eventually everybody only paid attention to things that happened on their screens.


You stopped talking to each other. You stopped taking in the world around you. Heck, some of the humans who left Earth probably didn’t even realize they were on another planet. All those A.I. bots just told them where to go and they followed along.

It wasn’t just that you listened to Siri and Alexa too much, it’s that you stopped paying attention to what was happening around you — the things the machines couldn’t fix, like the air and the water and, oh boy, when gravity got knocked out of whack. It seemed like that would be the point at which people started to pay attention, but nope.



Since you’re living this right now, here’s something you should know: The Americans electing that Donald Trump character wasn’t as bad as everyone was making it out to be at the time, at least not in the way they were thinking.

But, boy, did that open up a Pandora’s Box of questionable of elected officials. You know how rich people and celebrities are: One person gets a new toy, everybody has to have one.

On Earth, things really got bad when Saint Kardashian-West became the dictator of France and beefed with CEO of America Blue Ivy Carter. Old rap beefs die hard, apparently.

Soon enough, everybody who was rich enough, wanted to be either a president, royalty or the CEO of a country. Second- and third-generation “Real Housewives” took over countries in South America and ended up bombing each other to death.

Between all those bombs and all the hair product, the air quality in the Southern Hemisphere never recovered.


Don’t get us wrong, we love a good meme. The latest ones floating around the atmosphere about Mars are fantastic, but somewhere along the line, the people of Earth replaced original thought with memes.

Knowledge and opinions took a backseat to words on a picture that someone else made. People would pick them out for any situation they saw fit — like they were a pair of shoes or something.

Soon enough, people grew dependent on the meme creators to form all their thoughts. If there wasn’t a meme for a particular situation, they became mentally paralyzed. Gone was individuality, gone was thinking, gone was processing a situation and coming to a conclusion.

And you know what happened next: There was no meme to fix things when Earth went haywire. No amount of Twitter posts with the “Y U No Guy” was going to improve things.



Ugh, this guy. So, The Biebs didn’t really do anything specifically to really mess up the planet. He just sucked a lot. And somehow, people kept liking him. He transformed from a teeny-bopper singer to a young-adult R&B dude into a guy with a rock band into a smooth jazz saxophonist and even a country singer. And he sucked at all of them.

Nobody ever made him stop. They just kept being brainwashed. Sure, he didn’t blow up countries or enable global warming or waste natural resources, but damn, humans, how passive and lethargic could you be? Some of you just needed to step up and shut this fool up.


It sort of made sense when everybody turned to artificial intelligence and devices, because frankly, nobody could agree on anything after about 2029 or so. Everybody on Earth became so obsessed with being more right than everybody else, that it was easier to sink into a mental hibernation.


It could be the sunniest day with the brightest blue sky and you could say, “The sky is so blue today” and people would fall over themselves to say “Well, actually” than rattle why the sky wasn’t actually blue but a specific shade of blue that you were too stupid to know about.

When days consisted of those types of human interactions, over and over again, life became insufferable. Even for us rats. At least when the humans left, we didn’t have to hear “well, actually” anymore.

Oh, hey, it looks like I need to wrap up this letter. I need to go find my charger. It’s 3024, you’d think these devices could stay charged more than a few hours by now. But nope.

Look, we gave you some great advice here. So save Earth and repay us by making better chargers. Then we’ll call it even.

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