Authors: Dayton Grey
“Coalition Against the Reduction of Earth!” Kumuki exclaimed. “CARE!”
“Right,” Allea agreed. “It’s our official governing organization, G. Toward the end of the EarthShift, when so much of our planet was destroyed and so many people killed, we had no one to turn to and no one to help us. CARE was formed to offer medical need and placement for those who had nowhere to go. It was originally a temporary medical solution, but over time, has become the governing body of the entire remaining human race. Everything around us is controlled and distributed by them, from the clothes you are wearing, to this food, to this home we live in. This is going to be hard to hear, G, but this planet lost the majority of its human population. There has been a major global correction.”
Geon was shocked and saddened by the news, and didn’t know what to say or how to react. It was too much for him to comprehend. Allea, noticing his reaction, continued on.
, our planet is in a better, healthier state, beginning to repair itself from all the damage. But we still have a lot to be wary of and survival is our main objective now.”
“So, CARE is still around, even though the planet is recovering now?”
“HAH!” Sabien loudly cackled at first but then immediately looked grim and began speaking in quiet tones. “It’s more than just
, G. Haven’t you been listening to me? They’re
They aren’t what you think they are. They say the planet is recovering but I don’t see it. You have no idea how…
Unscrupulous. Nefarious. Even
“Sabe, give it a rest. Geon just woke up a day ago,” Allea interrupted, shaking her head in dismay. “…and yes, CARE is still here and is the only way we can ensure the survival of the existing human population.”
“It’s not the only way, Allea,” Sabien muttered as he took his first bite of his breakfast ration and wrinkled his face in disgust.
Geon wondered about CARE and what they were doing to upset Sabien so much.
Perhaps Sabien was exaggerating,
he thought to himself.
He does seem to have a flare for the dramatic. Even still, something doesn’t feel right.
“Let’s hurry up and eat so we can show Geon the city.”
“Yeah, what’s left of it,” Sabien muttered, looking back at Allea.
Kumuki dropped his spork in his bowl with a clank and looked to the others with smile. “Anyone wanna share some of their food? I’m still hungry!”
Sabien slid his bowl across the table to Kumuki as Geon tried his first bite.
Yep, they were right,
It’s absolutely putrid.
It had the consistency of wet sand, and the flavor of spoiled vegetables and rotten fruit. And then at the tail end of the bite, as Geon worked it around his mouth, trying to push it down but having a hard time opening his throat, there it was… the subtle, spoiled taste of…
. It was unlike anything he had ever tasted or could remember. It didn’t taste so much like fish as it tasted like bad fish
. He forced down a few more bites before pushing the bowl away. Kumuki grabbed what was left of his as well and wolfed it down.
“All right group, let’s zip,” Sabien said as he tossed Geon a grey jacket and some shoes and they filed one by one out of the house and into the city.
As Geon walked out of the sliding door, he didn’t know what to expect. He knew the world would look different than his only memory of it, but he couldn’t imagine how.
Was there still destruction? Was there still war? How many people were left? How many people were hurt?
He looked down at his left hand, feeling anxious and worried…
… than everyone else. As he stepped outside and down a small set of stairs he pulled his left jacket sleeve down to cover as much of his Biolimb as possible.
“Welcome, Geon, to the Earth as we now know it,” Sabien said with a dramatic waive of his hand.
The sky was overcast and dark, even though it was early in the day. Geon looked up and tried to pinpoint exactly where the sun was but couldn’t seem to locate it. He rubbed his eyes in disbelief as the world came into focus in front of him. Everything was so… grey. Destroyed remains of buildings and rubble were everywhere around him, as far as he could see. There were no trees or grass in sight. The air was cool, thick and slightly moist. The faint smell of mildew lingered in the air. It reminded Geon of the seaside boardwalk he and Allea used to walk on with their parents when they were young. Everything was so quiet. The only sound was the soft blowing of the wind around them. The ground around Geon was torn and rocky, with huge slabs of concrete and twisted metal littered everywhere. There was no one in sight. Geon felt his stomach drop and tighten and his throat clench and go dry. Growing up near the coast with nature all around him was a stark difference from the world he saw now. It was worse than he imagined.
The others stood in silence as Geon looked slowly around, standing in one place and gathering his bearings. In the distance, waterways snaked in and out of the streets ahead, between the remainders of buildings and other structures. He turned further and looked back at their home. It stood elevated off the ground by six large heavy concrete blocks, one on each corner and two in the middles of the long sides, about five or six feet off the ground. In the distance, other identical homes lay scattered around.
Allea noticed him staring and stepped close to him. “All the new structures have to be placed off the ground for safety. We still have elevated water levels from time to time and still stand the risk of more tsunamis hitting us. At least this way we have some room if one does hit us.”
“What if it’s not enough room? I mean, what if the water is too high?” Geon questioned, wide-eyed, his voice wavering.
Sabien jumped in, “Well in that case we have to initiate emergency protocols. Let’s just say this house is supposed to float. In theory anyways.”
“Like a hydroid?” Kumuki said, with a perplexed look on his face.
Sabien replied as he put his hand on Kumuki’s shoulder, “Something like that, Kuki. Something like that. Come on, G. Let’s walk around a bit.”
As they proceeded down the street, Geon noticed more similar prefab structures scattered around them. There was no order to anything. They looked as if they were just dropped from the sky in random locations. Geon shook his head in disbelief at what he was seeing. “Why is it so dark?” he questioned, looking at the others and then up at the sky.
“It’s called the permamist,” said Allea, looking up as well. “The sky is filled
with a thick layer of smog, debris, dust and remnants from years of destruction and disaster. We’re told that the mist should diminish in a few years, but for now, you should get used to it. We get very little sun, and as a result, have had to evolve to live without it. Our food and water are supplemented with the necessary nutrients and vitamins to survive. Everything comes from CARE. We don’t have any way to grow anything anymore. Not the way it was in the world you remember. So, CARE makes and distributes the food rations to each home each month. That’s why each serving quantity is regulated. It’s barely enough to go around.”
Kumuki looked embarrassed as Sabien glanced at him. “It’s all right, Kuki. You can have my food anytime you want. Especially when it’s that slop we eat for breakfast.”
“Thanks, Sabien! I like that slop!”
As they continued on, they approached another home on the right and Sabien motioned upward. “Hello, Mr. Dauphine! How’re you today? How’s the weather up there?”
An elderly stout man sat in a small folding chair on the roof of his home, leaned back and staring at the sky. He had a black and white speckled beard and dark tan skin. He looked up and waved back at them. “Same as always, Sabien! How’s my favorite neighbor doi—wait a minute! Who’s this with you?”
“This is Geon… Allea’s brother. If you can believe it, he finally woke up from his coma! Geon, this is our friend and neighbor, Mr. Dauphine. He’s a self-proclaimed weatherman around these parts.”
Geon shyly raised his right hand and waved hello. Mr. Dauphine nodded his head and smiled and went back to staring at the sky. “Oh, by the way,” he said, without taking his eyes off the sky. “I would stay clear of sector four today. Supposed to be some serious flooding again.”
“Yes, sir,” Sabien responded as he turned to look at Geon. With a hushed whisper he put his hand on Geon’s shoulder and said, “Sector four it is, then.”
“I don’t know, Sabien,” Kumuki nervously whispered. “Mama V would be upset with us!”
Allea tapped some buttons in her LifeCuff and it sprung to life in front of her with a soft
sound, projecting a hologram directly above it. Geon stared in awe at the colors and life-like floating buttons and object.
“Weather condition, sector four,” she stated.
The hologram rapidly shifted and showed a report of the conditions in that area. She gestured with her fingers left and right, changing the digital image with each motion, the life cuff softly beeping and booping all the while. “Hmmm… I don’t see any reports of flooding. Maybe Mr. Dauphine got the sector wrong?”
“He never gets it wrong, Allea. Let’s head over and see for ourselves. G, stretch those legs out,” Sabien said with a mischievous smile.
As they continued walking, Geon noticed there were no animals to be seen. No birds in the sky. No flies around them.
. He looked at the devastated building and ruins and realized there were no businesses around them either. No signs of an office, a restaurant, or any stores. He was overwhelmed with this feeling of desolation and hopelessness.
“Where is everyone?” Geon said, his voice quivering. “Where are the people? The animals? The stores and… and places to eat. And… businesses? What do people do now? Where is EVERYONE?”
“Geon, take it easy,” Allea said as she grabbed Geon’s hand. “I know this is a lot to take in at once. It’s hard for any of us to handle, and we can’t imagine what it’s like for you, knowing that you’ve missed out on so much of it. But take my word, you wouldn’t have wanted to see it…
. Most of the human population has been eradicated. Global warming has been getting progressively worse, since before you were born, but after you went into the coma, it became much worse at an accelerated speed. As a result of the extensive global warming and erosion, the water levels rose so high, so rapidly, that people never even saw it coming. There was nowhere to go… nowhere to run to. It happened so fast. Our only option to survive was to flee to higher ground. The planet is now ninety-nine percent covered in water. Our dry land is at a critical one percent and another severe disaster could endanger that as well. What’s left of our population still carries on and tries to survive. We all support the efforts to keep the human population alive. The more we know and learn about this planet, the more we can help each other. Just remember we’re always here for you. You’re not alone.”
Geon saw that her eyes were glassy with tears. He felt calmed by her words but still confused and overcome with feelings of sadness and despair for all the people who must have lost their families and loved ones.
Sabien put his hands up, palms facing Geon and said, “And to answer your other question, yes we do have places to eat, and we’ll take you to one today. Most of the places are closer to the center of the city. We live sort of on the outskirts.”
“We have sushi! Can we take him for sushi, Sabe?”
Sabe smiled and patted Kumuki’s shoulder again. “Sure, Kuki. Whatever you like.”
As they continued walking down the fragmented road, Geon noticed a strange glow ahead of them. As they got closer, he saw that it was some sort of round street light, fixed onto a pole about ten feet off the ground. He stopped just under it and stared up. The light glowed a faint yellow, and faded in and out slowly.
“That, my friend, is the ORB,” said Sabien. “The Optical Report Beacon. You’ll see them all over. The colors are a guide for any potential dangers in the immediate area. Green means all is safe. Yellow means Level 1 potential dangers… your basic run-of-the-mill disasters, if you will. Light flooding, torrential downpours, slight ground tremors, light hail or ice storms, et cetera. Orange is a Level 2 alert. Heavy storms and blizzards, large hail, flash floods, medium quake tremors, and so on. Level 3 is, of course, red. Tornadoes, hurricanes, severe earthquakes, tsunamis, et cetera. If you see red, you run for your life to a safe house.”
Geon shivered at the thought of these disasters, staring still at the yellow bulb glowing above them. “Uhmm it’s yellow…
“Hahahahaha!” Laughed Sabien, tilting his head back in delight.
“It’s always yellow, G,” Allea said.
“Unless it’s orange or red, of course,” Sabien replied with sarcastic assurance.
“Yup I’ve never even seen green!” blurted Kumuki.
Geon did not feel at all assured by their comments. He had so many questions about the world but was scared to ask them, or rather, scared to hear the answers.