TIME: YEAR 3024..
“In the year 2030, the bees went extinct and in the year 2040, the forest’s disappeared. By the year 2045, the oceans dried up, and in the year 3000, asteroids rained down on Earth every day for a year.”
I subconsciously let out a big yawn. We hear these same stories every year. Every holiday. Every celebration of how far the human race has come.
“Ms. Krullen, is my class too boring for you?”
“These stories aren’t anything new. We’ve heard the same stories ever since we were kids. Why don’t we ever talk about why the bees and forests disappeared? Or how the oceans dried up?”
“Ms. Krullen, this is a history class. I simply teach what I’m told.”
I couldn’t take it anymore. I needed answers, I pushed my chair back, stood up, and quickly walked out of the classroom. I needed to calm down. I couldn’t hear Mrs. Smilten drone on about how marvelous it was that the human race had adapted and invented the advanced technology needed to manufacture all that we need to live. The robots who pollinate, the factories producing clean air, or the large spaceships which import water from throughout the galaxy. I needed to escape. But there was no escape. I ran outside into the dry, barren desert, and just kept running. Past large cracks and craters, the red dirt, dry under my pale sneakers. I ran until I couldn’t run anymore. Until I was sweating and out of breath. Then I slowly turned around and started walking back home. The doctors would blame the grief for my outburst. They always did. But it wasn’t the grief that pushed me over the edge. It was the silence and ignorance of everyone around me.
When I finally reached the large concrete bunker I lived in I quickly walked into my family’s apartment, thankful my parents were working and not home. I slammed my bedroom door and collapsed onto my bed. Then I fell asleep, exhausted from my spontaneous run. When I finally woke up it was dark out. The clock on my bedside table read ‘12:04 am’. A cold bowl of soup sat on the table next to my clock. I slipped on a pale, white jacket and opened my bedroom door as quietly as I could, heading towards the answers I so deeply desired.
I stepped outside into the cool night air. The moon shone bright overhead as I walked along a worn path towards the Officials building. Tonight I had finally built up the courage to collect my brother’s old things. It had been five years since he died but my parents refused to take them. It was too hard on them and would force them to finally accept their only son was gone. But I wanted closure. I needed it. So here I was, walking towards the looming building ahead of me in the middle of the night. I picked up my pace in anticipation and finally reached the dimly lit building. I grabbed the handle to the door, the metal cold on my bare skin, and pushed it open, stepping through into a large reception area. I was well acquainted with those in this building because my Mother and Father worked here as well, organizing bunkers and new families, hence why I had to come in the dark of night to pick up my brother’s old things. I brushed the stray hairs from my face as I walked up to the woman sitting at the desk.
“Hello Maurice,” I said in a cheery tone.
“Hello Dear, what are you doing here so late?”
“I came to pick up my brother’s things. If.. that’s alright.”
She gave me a sad, knowing smile, “Of course. I’ll have them right out. Just wait here for a bit,” she responded waving her hand toward the gray chairs along the walls.
I nodded and took a seat in the nearest one. Exhaling as I lay my head against the wall and closed my eyes. In just a couple moments I would finally see his old things. I felt like I was gonna throw up, I was so nervous. But I also knew I couldn’t wait any longer. Suddenly the door opened, interrupting my thoughts. I jumped up thinking Maurice had returned with his things and was surprised to see a young boy looking at me oddly.
“Sorry, I thought you were someone else,” I said awkwardly, returning to my seat.
“Oh..,” he responded, glancing around, “Hey, do you know where the receptionist is?”
“Yeah, she’s just grabbing some things for me.”
“Oh alright,” he nodded, walking towards me and sitting down in the empty seat beside me.
I shifted uncomfortably, scratching my head and wishing Maurice would hurry up.
“I’m-,” I was interrupted as Maurice walked through the backdoor holding a large metal box.
“It’s quite heavy, do you think you can manage Lena?”
“Yeah I’ve got it thanks,” I replied jogging towards her.
She handed me the heavy box and I turned towards the door, when Basili appeared in front of me.
“Want any help?” he asked.
“No, I’m fine..”
“It really is heavy, dear,” Maurice interrupted.
I sighed and reluctantly nodded, “Sure, but didn’t you need something from Maurice?”
“It can wait,” he shrugged, taking the box from my hands.
“Thanks,” I mumbled, annoyed at his insistence to help.
“Where are we taking this?” Basili asked, turning his head towards me.
I hadn’t thought of that.. I definitely couldn’t take it home. My parents would find it and get rid of it immediately. I had nowhere else I could think of.
“Did you not plan this far?..” he joked, abruptly putting a stop to my thought process.
“Well yeah, I can’t really bring this home cause my parents would just get rid of it and I don’t really know where else to go. But I don’t wanna waste your time so maybe you can just leave it here,” I rambled.
“Here?” he asked, looking around us, “ In the middle of this desert?”
“Everywheres a desert,” I laughed, “It’s not that strange.”
“It kind of is.. May I ask what’s in this heavy box I’m carrying for you?”
“Um,” I said hesitantly.
“Nevermind, sorry. I didn’t mean to pry,” he said quickly.
“You’re fine. It’s just my brother’s old things. He uh- we lost him five years ago on a military mission.”
“Oh, I’m so sorry,” Basili said quietly, “Do you wanna go through this at my bunker? Then you’re away from your parents and it’s not too far.”
I thought this over before responding.
“Sure,” I sighed, “Lead the way.”
We reached a large bunker, identical to the one I lived in but located in a different sector of the city. When we walked through the front doors Basili turned right and led me through to a cool cement staircase. He set down the box under the stairs and let out a sigh.
“Here should work. I’ll sit over there so you have some privacy,” he said gesturing towards the opposite corner of the small room.
“Oh okay. Thank you,” I replied slowly, walking towards the large box. I sank onto my knees and pulled off the cover. I was immediately greeted by some old clothes with the name Krullen stitched on the sleeve. I set those beside me and continued pulling random things out of the box. There was a box of letters, a military pack, and some fancy pieces of tech that I didn’t know how to work. What really caught my eye was a small leather notebook. It was about the size of my hand and as I flipped through the pages I saw every single page was filled with small writing. I stopped on one page and a bolded section caught my eye. I quickly read the passage again.
“What the heck?!” I gasped.
“Are you alright?” Basili asked, studying my expression.
I read the passage once again, out loud this time:
“The government isn’t clueless. In fact, there’s other planets full of humans. Living in lush green forests with dark blue oceans. It’s all an experiment to see how we’ll adapt. They’re the ones killing off our Earth little by little. They’re the ones killing us.”
“Can I see that?” he asked, rushing over to my side.
I tilted the notebook towards him. His eyes followed the small handwritten words.
“You said he was in the military?” he muttered.
“This is crazy. What does it mean for us though?” he asked, locking eyes with me.
“It means we have to tell everyone.”
“Are you crazy?” he exclaimed, “Two kids against the government?!”
“Two kids against the world,” I corrected with a grin.
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