Tuesday, August 31, 2010

The Prisoner

Cell 306 is a narrow slab of sunlight. Silently, I look out and watch the swift, ruthless evacuation happening. Files of people are marching in tandem with each other, the guards marching ahead. The whole operation is supremely efficient. I know the order. The people will file into trucks – men first, women next, children last. They will be driven to the space station, and they will get into a spaceship. And then they will all leave this barren place, and go on a long journey. They will, after a while, find themselves in Gaia – those who survive the journey, that is. I know it because I planned this fifteen years ago. The Emergency Evacuation Plan, the absolute last resort, the worst case scenario. The one that I passively, then actively resisted for all of the time the Central Commission employed me.
The Amazon was the last to go. We were already creating an Official Documentary about how the Coral Reef was still intact, and that the Down Underners were actually being lied to by some renegade scientists in the area. The scientists are always the first to be blamed, which is what they did to me after the Amazon was lost. That was my last hope, and I fought with all my might. Of course, the Central Commission does not tolerate fights. But I was too valuable to lose, so they seduced me with promises of Borneo and the thick jungles of India. I knew they were lying, but I wanted so desperately to believe them that I went along for a while.
Even the Central Commission lost patience with me when I started pushing for population control, and sent report after report against the slaughtering of the last of the animals. They made another Official Documentary, and then the Public condemned me. I was stripped of my title, but by then I didn't want to be one of their Doctors anyway.
This cell has thin walls. They know I won't try to escape even in my wildest dreams, because they call me insane, but this building is the only piece of sanity left on the whole planet. We talk to each other at breakfast, and through the walls, and at night. The guards laugh at us. They're all leaving soon. It's finished, and now they're following my plan. Gaia is dangerous and unknown, but reports of lush and gorgeous vegetation have been tantalizing the minds of everyone who owns a TV – as everyone must.
The last of them must be leaving now. The whole operation took less than a week. They're abandoning us, the Unwanteds, on the planet. We would only be a burden and a nuisance on the spaceship.
I look up at the humongous metal cage in the sky. The man who designed it lives in the cell next door. I can hear him walking in now, slowly, with the others. We all smile broadly at the little green tendrils in one corner of my cell only we, out of the millions, could have had the skill to grow and nurture.


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