1. The world is changing
The sun begins to set beyond the horizon and the evening is coming. It´s the most beautiful and my favorite daytime. I´m sitting on the porch of our house and slowly sway on the swing. Today was an awful day, like any other day. I´m finishing my well-deserved glass of wine. I haven´t been a big fan of alcohol, but the world has changed and so have I. At the end of every day is it the only thing that will allow me to forget about my miserable life for a while.
The air is heavy, humid, and suffocating. After a hot day, the rain will come. I think there will be thunderstorms too. All planned, of course. I ´m making a toast mentally to our government, thank you for that precious gift. Many years ago was approaching rain always a big surprise for everyone, and usually get wet a lot of people on their journey. But today is every weather all over the world controlled by a weather generator. A precious gift from the Aliens. Just the thought about them leaving in my mouth bitter taste. They are the reasons why my life sucks. They want to take my freedom, my family, and my job, I loved it so much. I studied for 6 years to be a doctor. I wanted to save lives, but now everyone relies on the Health Recoverer. A device that heals you in minutes. No matter if you have tooth decay, a heart attack, or any kind of infection, it will cure you perfectly. When I was just a medic, it took me several hours before I was able to make a diagnosis and determine treatment. Today, you´re leaving the hospital in a few minutes, just because of one machine and one operator. And I could only stand there and begin to cry. So many years in university, sleepless nights, so much stress with all tests and examines. And for what? Now my main job is to maintain vital signs before the patient enters the device and is healed. Thanks to the devices, everyone is healthy and full of life, hospitals are no longer disturbing places full of patients waiting to be healed. Large hospitals are getting closing, beds for patients are no longer necessary, rooms for physical examination too. All everyone needs now is just one machine. And doctors? We are useless, no one needs us anymore.
When I think of my work, I frown and feel like throwing a glass on the floor. I haven’t felt so much anger in my whole life. My life mission, the base of all basis, which I have always clung to, is gone.
„Earth is calling Dr. Evans.“ I turn to the earning source and see Luke, my neighbor, standing on the porch steps. „Are you drowning in self-pity again? I’ve been trying to talk to you at least for a minute.“
Yes, my best friend since childhood, he knows me very well. He knows I’ve lost the meaning of my life. I have no goal I could reach anymore. He always comes at the right time to lift my spirits. I calm down a little in his presence, but anger doesn’t leave me. He takes a seat next to me and I make a smirk. „This is my first glass when I finish a whole bottle, you can start preaching.“ I take another glass hidden under the swing and give it to Luke and fill it with wine. He accepts it without any resistance. We clink to health and everything great that awaits for us. When did I want to be so ironic?
„How was your day?“ Luke begins his interrogation without hesitation.
„It was worthless. I just stared form the window all day and waited for the patient. This is how I never imagined my work at all.“ I can no longer hold my sadness and rest my forehead on his shoulder, I can no longer keep my tears. With a sigh, he hugs me tightly and begins to comfort me.
„You’re not that old, you can change profession. Or I can hire you to my company immediately, you will be busy all day without any chance to take a break.“ Even though I can’t see his face, I know he’s smirking. Luke is the owner of a demolition company. I can´t imagine myself as a destructor, and Luke too, that manipulative instigator.
The population of the planet is declining and there is more than enough real estate that no one cares about. Just a few years ago was most of our planet covered with concrete and asphalt. Houses, skyscrapers, blocks, and flats were everywhere as far as the eye could see. Even though most of the people had a problem to get realty or rent to live in. But today, a lot of houses are falling into disrepair, no one can live in them anymore. The old one is tear down and replaced by greenery. I don´t understand why we have to plant so many trees currently. Why do we have to change every empty place in the jungle? I think our planet is green more than enough. Green color should be meant to calm down, but there are so many greens, that I feel like I´m trapped in and surrounding is devouring me into its clutches.
„Or you can have a home and family with someone who is deeply love in you.“
After these words, Luke gives me a gentle kiss in my hair. I immediately stiffen and pull away from him. When I look into his eyes I can see only pain from rejection. I like him, maybe more than he thinks. But I can’t expose my feelings, not now. We are not allowed to make any relationships with the opposite gender, except when we reach the right age and you were attended in all seven hunting expeditions.
„Don’t do this to me, Luke. You know I can’t be with you right now.“ He must hear the pain in my voice. He takes a deep breath and wants to say something, but I immediately put my palm over his mouth. I know what he wants to tell me, but I don’t want to hear it, not now. I don’t want to make any hopes.
„I want to say yes, but we both could regret it. There is a high possibility that I won´t come back after h…., After that thing, I have to go through. And if you won´t find me hereafter, it could break you. It could break me too. Because I will always knew, that I lost you and everything nice regarding you. Never feel your touch, kiss, comfort, jokes, or hug. You will be so far away and I will always care about you. Even if my memories of you will be faded with the years and I won´t be able to remember the color of your eyes, that feeling of you will last forever.“ My voice drops down at my last words, I can’t stand the intensity of his gaze and I have to look down. Luke is so gorgeous, black raven hair, blue piercing eyes, tall, strong body shaped by physical work, he is just perfect. I can imagine our lives next to each other. We would be a great couple with a life full of love, passion, and understanding. I want to spend the rest of my life with him. But I can’t be distracted by my feelings and dreams. I have to concentrate. When I became a potential target I have to run, fight, and win. I don’t want to leave my family, friends, Luke, and Earth.
„Do you think I would go for a beer with friends after your disappearance, forget about you and live my life happily ever after? I would be broken anyway. We’ve known each other all our lives. I will always protect you and ...” His voice breaks at the end. I know he loves me. Now, I know I love him too, but we are not allowed to make any physical contact, even if I want that so much. If I could, I would have lived with him for a long time and already had a family. But we are being watched, and any violation of the rules is severely punished. The blame falls on both the lovers and the whole family. The perfect system to keep everyone in place. Scatter the uprising resistance in the beginning. To make us obedient sheep.
„When it will begin, you can´t protect me. Those bastards, I don´t want to speak about, could kill you instead. This is a fight I have to win on my own. I have managed it for six years in a row and I´m going to return this year as well. And when I come back“… I look at him straight in the eyes. I want him to know that I mean seriously every word I say ... “I’m going to go straight to you, rip all your clothes off and do every naughty thing that has ever been described in the books or played in movies.“
We both laugh immediately. That image makes me blush. And Luke a little too. He did not expect such a confession from me, nor did I think that I was capable of such a thing too.
„Well, I hope we won’t be out in public at the moment. People around us probably wouldn’t enjoy our naughty games so much.“ We both laugh with tears in our eyes. So he succeeded, for a moment I forgot about my misery. I take his hand and enjoy the feeling of peace. The setting sun illuminates our faces. I’d like to keep this moment forever, but Luke’s watch suddenly beeps.
It’s eight o’clock, and exactly at this time is planned an eight-hour heavy rain. Clouds immediately begin to form in the sky. First a fine white, which begins to thicken and turn dark gray. The sun disappears, the wind rises and the sky is illuminated by the first lightning. It starts to rain heavily, the thunder thunders with an incredible intensity that I jump like scare cat. It all happens in one minute. Under normal circumstances, I would be amazed, but sometimes I wonder if that gift from the aliens is more of a curse and our doom.
„Are you going to run again?“ Luke tears me out of my thoughts.
I am still indebted to my father that I can still be called the inhabitant of the planet Earth. He was a former elite soldier with the best combat training, he can survive in the toughest conditions and it doesn’t matter if he is in a desert, a jungle, or a city. He is a tough and uncompromising man. Most fathers went to ice cream or the playground with their children. My father used to take me camping in the woods and teach me to survive in the wilderness. As a child, I hated it. I was able to appreciate his effort and patience around my puberty.
„Yes, I have to. The hunt could begin anytime. My father wants me to make more training and exercises.“ I look at the heavy rain and shudder. In the distance, I see lightning striking the ground, I hear the crackling of a tree. Another victim of a precious gift from the aliens falls to the ground. The strength of rain and wind increases. I know this is just the beginning.
„I don’t think it’s a good idea. This looks like a scary storm, something could happen to you. I’m going to change and join you.” I immediately look at Luke and squeeze his hand. I know his work is quite demanding and he returns home in the evening exhausted. And take him for a few more miles will kill him completely. Unlike me, he has to work physically tomorrow. I don’t need that much strength to look out of the window.
„When they come, they won’t care about the weather. Dad says that in nice weather anyone can shine, but in extreme conditions, only a few can survive. The worse it gets during training, the better I will do in the hunt.“ Even though I’m a little drunk, I’ll sober up perfectly after a few miles. I wink at him and get up, pulling my hood over my head. I’m going to start running to the north.
But at the last moment, I stop and turn to him. „Thanks for everything and have a good night. I hope you will come tomorrow to lift my spirits again.“ I smile once again and start running. After the first few steps, I’m wet to the bone. From a distance, I can hear Luke creaming something to me, but I can’t hear him anymore. The rain is heavy and loud, I can´t even hear any sounds around me. I know he’s the reason I’m not worried about this weather. Why I´m not going to slow down and do everything I can do. Just because when the time will come I want to come back to him and never leave again. I’m running faster. Rain mercilessly whipped my face with large drops, my lungs begin to burn. But I keep running faster and faster and with every exhalation, I´m thinking about the one, ´Luke´...