Jason leans across and hands the guard a thin, grubby piece of plastic. The guard waves it across a scanner, barely paying attention to the tall unkempt man next to him. He briefly looks at the face that flickers up on the tired monitor, activated by the chip inside the card and hands back the card. With a yawn he waves Jason on through the checkpoint, barely even caring if the faces matched up.
‘Honestly’ mutters Jason to himself, ‘No wonder it was so easy for the uprising to start’
Out here in the wastes the guards couldn’t care less about their job, they took bribes and closed their eyes to the barely concealed pirating, black marketing and sometimes outright criminal activity going on in the back alleys and street corners of these forgotten towns. They had a job, that was all that mattered out here, and they would do almost anything to keep it. Food was scare, money was hard to come by, and providing for a family was hard. No one blamed the guards for what they didn’t see, but no one respected them out here either.
The pod hovered through the dirty streets. Rubbish piled up on either side, and here and there a glimpse of wretched street urchins rummaging through to try and find a meal, or something to sell, or wear.
Jason rolls his eyes as he turns away from the sights, so much for the “War for Earth” – more like the “War for a Godforsaken Hell-hole”. Everyone worth anything left Earth for other planets a long time ago, only returning for religious trips, or family gatherings, or political reasons.
They left behind the foolish and the stubborn, those that were too old, or too sick stayed behind as well. The pollution overtook the entire globe, natural resources ran dry centuries ago and after the fourth World War, the nuclear waste grounds stretched thousands of miles, leaving nothing growing. The only thing working anymore was the wind harnessing technologies, as Earth destroyed itself, the climate changed so the winds tore apart buildings, ripped boats from their moorings and thrashed them against shorelines. Sea levels rose and much of the land that was there was changed for good. Once space flight was made secure and the terraforming of other planets hit it’s stride, those that could took no time in abandoning their home planet, leaving a dirty Earth bathed in corruption and war scars.
Now and then the deserts shift, and buildings from a bygone age are uncovered – showing the peak of human civilisation on Earth. Immense glass structures with steel girders and cables. Ostentatious brick buildings, marble floors and huge staircases built with seemingly the sole purpose of showing off the grandeur they could afford back then. There was nothing built like that these days. The vast libraries of cyber chips remained, the books they held unread, the novels of centuries past forgotten, and the journals filled with the hopes of climate warriors faded away. The good intentions of the few uncorrupt politicians and scientists, as the Earth slowly died, dwindled along with it. Fighting a losing battle against vast corporations who ignored the taxes levied on them for the pollution, self serving Presidents who ignored the science because it suited them and the men that bought them; until it was too late.
Wars were fought for the few remaining resources. Constant fighting was all generations knew, until eventually as an act of suicidal destruction a small country, ignored and forgotten in the global playgrounds, sent nuclear bombs into the oil fields of the Northern Continents, destroying all that was left and starting a nuclear winter that lasted decades. The humans who stayed behind these days built for practicality, mostly underground to avoid the nuclear winter. They couldn’t waste resources on attractive buildings or vast houses. Crops were basic and hardy, flavourless but able to withstand the conditions. Animals were bred beyond all recognition, gross exaggerations of muscle and meat solely bred for food and produce.
Jason left the broken down towns and headed towards the city, and his purpose for returning to earth – albeit in disguise. He patted the package next to him on the passenger seat of his borrowed pod. Borrowed of course without permission, but he had every intention of returning it. Probably. It was only when Jason started to enter the increasingly densely populated area’s that the guards began to look a little more awake and a little less flaccid. They studied the card he handed them, squinting at his face. He shrugged and stroked his beard, grown to cover the scars that threaded across his face from the re-constructive surgeries he faced after the war.
“State your purpose here” The guard leaned into his pod and gestured to his package with the gun he took from the counter. “What’s that?”
“Fertiliser, for the scientists at Ohio-Tech, they’re working on a new potato strain. Trying to add some flavour. I guess we can but hope!” Jason smiled and shrugged at the guard, inviting a response, but the guard just looked away and waved him on through.
He made his way through the city streets, thanking whichever God decided to throw small fortune his way that the guards didn’t check. Of course he had taken precautions, but the cyber chips would have been easily discovered buried in the dirt if the package was taken.
He hovered on down into a small industrial area next to the flooded canal. The soft whum-whum of the wind turbine penetrated the air as he left the pod and walked over to an unremarkable, plain metal door in the side of a low brick unit.
He banged on the door and showed his card to the eyes that peered through a slot that opened. After a brief second and a hurried, muffled conversation the door opened and Jason walked through into a dim room. The door shut with a bang behind him, and all was quiet save for the gentle whum-whum from outside.