Authors: Dayton Grey
“That’s amazing! I never really thought of that, but the very medium that which we thought was the most dangerous is actually the safest.”
“Exactly, Allea. Yet another reason why you would never consider people living here. CARE moved us here for our own protection. The same reason all CARE members live here. CARE is very controlling about their members and their safety. They are too controlling…”
“What do you mean?” Sabien asked.
“Well, I would be in very serious trouble if anyone ever found out that I brought you here and told you all this. But, it’s just…”
Geon could see that she was suddenly nervous and hesitant. “Go on, please. We won’t tell a soul about you.”
She looked up at him and nodded and smiled. “Well. It’s just that I realized that I can’t live like this anymore. It looks nice down here, and at first, it
We have much better food than you guys, and we live in a much safer environment. We never really have to worry about surviving. But it’s not just about me. There is much more going on here. Strange things. Mysterious things. And really
things. There are so many of us down here living under the reigns of CARE. They control everything. We can’t leave, and we are even schooled virtually from our homes. And it isn’t fair that all of you live in Ancia under their rules and that so many of you are hurt and dying and we are here, safe and content. I know what it’s like there because I grew up there. And the truth is, we
content. Even my father…”
She suddenly became more quiet, speaking softly.
“Even my father has expressed some dissatisfaction with CARE. But he is scared. I can see it. He won’t say anything for fear that they will take him away… take him to Narakai.”
“Oh no!” Kumuki quietly gasped, his eyes wide.
“It’s a horrible place. Do you know what goes on there?”
Allea and the others nodded and Sabien said, “You stay there for life, don’t you?”
Aurora’s eyes widened and glistened with tears. “No, Sabien. You go there, for
“What?” Geon asked, suddenly feeling cold as his hairs stood up. “What do you mean?”
“Narakai is an island. The top of a once-large mountain. But it is only just slightly above sea level now. They send people to the island to fend for themselves. And each time there is a heavy rain, tidal event, or any other water level increase… it, they… they…”
Geon could see that Aurora was now shaking and tears were streaming down her cheeks.
“What happens?” Allea loudly asked, tears coming down her own cheeks as well.
“When the water level rises. It…
everyone away. They
Oh my God. It can’t be. Oh my God.
Geon was overcome with sadness at the thought of people being sentenced to Narakai to die, and then overcome with anger at CARE for being responsible for it.
Sabien put his hands up on the sides of his head and sat there staring at the ground, shaking his head from side to side. “How can they do that? How can they get away with that? I can’t believe this.”
Geon could see that Kumuki’s lips were trembling and that his skin had turned pale white. “All those people…” Geon said. “All of them sent to the island to die. And then what? Once they’re washed away, CARE just keeps on sending people there?”
Aurora nodded, wiping away her tears. “It’s horrible. When I found out I vowed to never be a CARE member and to do something about it. We are forbidden to ever leave Enkia, so I just didn’t know what to do. Until I received the message from Allea. That’s when I realized that maybe I couldn’t go anywhere, but maybe you could come to me!”
Geon and the others nodded at her. He felt truly grateful that they were able to figure out a way to get to this mysterious world.
“So, I want to say that coming here was so brave of you. I know that you know what you were risking. Perhaps you didn’t know how much you were risking, but I know that it was so courageous of you and that you too must have felt that it was worth the risk to find out the truth. Tell me everything. How did you get past the red zone? How did you get here and where did you find that old watercraft?”
The four of them took turns telling Aurora about the events from the beginning. They told her about the duplicator device and showed her the key, and told her about the harrowing ordeal at the MOOH. When they talked about the Dissenters living underground, Aurora’s eyes widened and her jaw dropped.
“Oh my. I have heard rumors and stories about the people underground but did not know if it was true! How many people are down there?”
“We don’t know for sure,” Allea said. “It could be hundreds, thousands, or even more.”
Aurora shook her head in amazement. “CARE calls them ‘grubs.’ I have heard them use this demeaning term before. They also call you, the citizens of Ancia, ‘roaches’.”
The four of them shook their heads, none of them ever hearing that term before.
“What does that make you?” Kumuki questioned.
“Well, Kumuki, I have heard that some of the higher level CARE members refer to us as ‘squid.’ But I am not sure. Personally, I think all of those names are just offensive.”
“Why would CARE not acknowledge or help those people? The…
,” Geon asked.
Aurora sighed and replied, “‘The truth is, CARE doesn’t care about them. Just like the people they sentence to Narakai, the less people they have to feed and help, the easier it is for them to survive. And they don’t care about you either. I know this is hard to hear for the first time. It has taken me years to realize this and come to terms with it, but I now know that CARE only cares about putting on a facade of government and concern, but their only goal is the survival and preservation of their members. And that is something that I cannot live with.”
Geon couldn’t believe what he was hearing. He had known something was off since he woke up. He had
it. But to hear it from the daughter of actual CARE members was shocking and appalling. It was more than he could process all at once.
“There is more than that going on, some of which even I do not know the details of. For example, that fish paste that you eat every day on Ancia? Do you know what it is?”
The four shook their heads and Geon could almost taste the terrible flavor in his mouth.
“Well, CARE has these giant secret facilities on Ancia. They are usually disguised as abandoned warehouses and are usually close to the Open. If the people on Ancia knew about them, they would likely overrun them to get to the food, so they stay a secret. They are fish processing factories. They harvest and grow cloned fish there. CARE found a way to engineer fish that can survive on their manufactured food and grow without the aid of direct sunlight. They use artificial ultraviolet lighting and feed them a mix of vitamins and our waste products until they are ready to be butchered.”
,” Sabien said, a scowl on his face.
“It does, I know. But it’s all we have, and to be honest, it’s infinitely better than what you have. That’s not the worst part though. They butcher the fish and send the best part of the fish meat to CARE members, like my family. They then take the residual carcasses and put them through a machine that pulverizes the scales, fat, guts, bones, and other inedible parts into a semi-liquid, sludge. Then they add some synthetic fillers and a minimal amount of essential nutrients into it and create that paste. It’s then flash-heated to kill the bacteria and then dumped into tubs and sent to the residents of Ancia for your enjoyment. They call it SFISH. It’s despicable.”
SFISH. That sounds about right.
“Unbelievable,” Allea said. “I thought that… that all of Earth’s residents were the same. I thought we were all eating the same food and trying to survive.”
Sabien agreed and nodded. “It seemed so much easier to force it down when we knew, or we
we knew, that it was the only food source and that everyone had to deal with it. This is just infuriating, though. Aside from Kumuki, no one else can stand the stuff!”
Kumuki looked down, sheepishly and mumbled, “It’s not that bad.”
The selfishness of CARE is unbelievable
To feed the residents of Ancia those scraps like we were animals… it’s wrong.
“And on top of that, I have heard from my parents’ conversations that the conditions of the workers at these factories is deplorable. They have to live onsite at the factories, work non-stop every day, and eat the same fish sludge that you eat. They are never allowed to talk about their work to an outsider. They are taken away from their families and controlled by CARE as if they were prisoners. If they try to leave, or escape, they… they…”
“Are sent away,” Geon finished for her, seeing that she was visibly affected by the conversation. She nodded and feigned a small smile.
“So, the question is, what can we do about all this? Now that we know the truth, it’s hard to live with it as a secret,” Sabien said angrily.
“Yes, Sabien,” Aurora said. “It is the big question for which I do not have an answer. We know something must be done, but we must carefully think and plan it out, else we too will be caught. CARE is everywhere. Their branches control every human in all parts of the globe, with exception to those living in isolation, like the Dissenters. But the local branch in this city is the heart of CARE. And at the top, is Lasenter… the
of CARE. They are a powerful organization and they prey on our weakness and dependency on them to help us survive. If only we
knew we could survive without them. And if only we
knew the truth about them.”
“We have to be careful,” Allea said, nodding at Aurora. “We need to spend some time thinking about how this all affects us and see if there is anything we can do. But I agree.
must be done.”
“I agree,” Geon said. “How can we possibly sit and do nothing after learning about this? Together we’re stronger,” he said, looking at Aurora and smiling.
Aurora nodded and checked the time on her cuff. “Oh my, I had no idea it was this late. We need to get you back to the mainland and get you home safe. But there is one more thing I want to mention to you. Something I have not told anybody and I am not sure if it’s even true.”
Geon felt his anticipation rising but felt nervous to hear what she was about to say.
“A few weeks ago, my father was speaking over his LifeCuff to another CARE member. He thought I was asleep but I had come into the kitchen to get a drink. He was quietly talking to a man who sounded like one of his superiors. My father is only a level three CARE member, which is the lowest in the hierarchy. He sounded strange on the phone… nervous… threatened. And I heard him say something about the honorable Lasentar Grilagan living in a place called
“What in the galaxy is that?” Sabien asked.
?” Geon added.
“Well, I am not sure,” Aurora said. “But I don’t think it is here in Enkia. And he did say something to the effect of, ‘He lives there in comfort, high above us, while we are stuck down here’.”
“Oh my God!” Geon said. “Do you think it’s possible there’s another world like this one? Is it possible?”
“It’s too much to process!” Kumuki squeaked.
“Honestly, I don’t know. That’s all I heard and like I said, I haven’t mentioned it to anyone else.”
“Well,” Allea said while shaking her head. “Let’s think about it. Is it possible that there is another place like Enkia? A place where only high-level CARE member live? It seems plausible.”
Sabien nodded in agreement. “Actually it makes sense. CARE wants to control everything but they aren’t foolish enough to put everything in one place. The high-level CARE members and Lasentar are probably in this other place you speak of… Zenith.”
“You might be right,” Aurora said, smiling from the spirited interaction. “It
make sense. And it wouldn’t be a huge place because there are only ten level one CARE members in this region. And then Lasentar Grilagan of course makes eleven. But can you imagine? They probably control
Those eleven CARE members are sitting there and controlling the lives and fate of millions of people. It needs to be stopped.
“But what did he mean when he said they live there, ‘high above us’,” Sabien asked. “On the ground level? Higher? The only thing up there are the remains of destroyed buildings.”
“And the permamist,” Allea added. “It doesn’t make sense. Is it possible you misheard, Aurora?”
“Yes, it is possible. But I think I heard it correctly. But in the meantime, I can try to find out more about it. But it is late now. You must be going.”
They got up and prepared their things to leave, giving Aurora warm hugs and thanking her for opening her home to them and sharing so much.
“It is I that thanks all of you,” she said with a smile. “You have no idea how good it feels to connect again… to converse. I miss it.”
It’s amazing the little things we take for granted,
She lives in luxury here but is a prisoner in many ways, also.
“Allea, please keep in contact with me and let me know what is happening in Ancia and I will do the same for you as well. Also, I want to give you all a small snack for your journey home. It’s a bag of fish chews… dehydrated fish meat. It will give you energy.”
More fishy food,
They climbed out of the wet-chamber and back into their boat. Aurora asked them if they had encountered any of the luminescent synth eels on their way in and they said they had not.
“Ah, I think I know why,” Aurora said. “Your watercraft is purely mechanical. The synth eels are robotic eels that patrol these waters, but they are only attracted to electronics. If you see one, do your best to avoid it, because they will report anything unusual to CARE. And if you see a pirate craft, then head full speed to land and don’t look back! Thank you again for coming and good luck getting back safe!”