Acid rain drifts skittishly above the skyline like a shroud of evil, or bird of prey, waiting to launch upon its next unsuspected victim, swooping in swirls and eddies about the buildings. The droplets randomly bouncing off the window panes, reflecting colourful images off the sides of the astonishing clean windows of the conciliate of the Republic of United Countries.
Within one of these very buildings members of all the great land masses of the world are united for the first time to sign a pledged agreement on the now much needed project of the U.E.S.E. (United European States of Earth) to build a new land mass, on which handpicked men and women from around the world will be selected for their achievements and contributions to the development of mankind. Once chosen they would be briefed, trained and located on the new land mass, to colonize and help resolve all of Earth’s physical and economical illnesses, in order for the civilized human race to continue it’s existence.
All taking place in a large, plain conference room that has upon its walls selected items from France’s past. Staring down upon anyone who dares to enter, watching like chosen gods, or the jury of a court waiting to pass judgment on a suspected criminal. The room, totally void of light if it were not for the wall to wall window that lies to the left of a large, round, solid marble table at which five of the world’s most influential and powerful men are sat. The lighting, dim but seemingly sufficient for the purpose that its nature now takes.
Smoke from many a cigar now lingers on the air, left to gently float about their heads like silk handkerchiefs tossed into the air, landing softly on the cold slate floor that spans beneath them, creating whisky patterns that milk their way across the floor. Smoke ringlets hover around them like melted halos, as the scratching of an ink pen can be heard etching the future on a single sheet of paper, (Paper itself, now a vastly rare commodity since the complete depletion of the rain forests. The only surviving forests are those protected and closely guarded by the U.E.S.E. as it creates the oxygen supplies for the Earth’s inhabitants to breathe. If destroyed the oxygen levels of the planet would plummet to a level that would mean the end of life as we know it across the entire planet. Electro-sensory pads now take the place of paper-sensor disks for short). Three men, to determine the lives of billions of men, women and children alike. Men that surely carry a tremendous burden upon their brows this day. Strong in will they maybe, righteous in beliefs they most certainly are, but to what cost on their sanity?
Scripting their names on the page, a shadow is cast between the table and the light from the window, as they sign. They, each and every one hope and pray that this will not cast a similar shadow over mankind. So as the last name signed dries upon the page, the fate of mankind is now sealed.
The imminent future has been determined for all of life upon this little globe of existence we call Earth. Filling their glasses, they toast for a better tomorrow. Whilst they only hope that deep down it’s all going to worth the effort that’s being put into the project at global proportions. The location of the new land mass is to be the Atlantic Ocean, directly between the United States of America (Now known as United America, since the Canadian civil uprising in 2010 which lasted for three years of turmoil and devastation till 2113, when the first black president of America declared it an un-winnable war and Canada and America merged together to produce the U.A.) and England, now just a small part of the E.E.C. since a similar merging and land building took place in 2117 resulting in the building over of a large portion of the North Sea.
The new global venture will be self-contained, self-preserving and ultimately the central base for all the worlds biological, defensive, economical and official declarations. What an achievement of mankind this would be, if they could only stay united long enough to get this project completed. First steps to building a brighter future commenced six months after the agreement was signed.
Location: Reconnaissance vessel orbiting Earth
Time; 1.30 a.m. G.M.T.
A grubby, under maintained reconnaissance vessel orbits the Earth, as if it were a small smug moon, with windows and hatches that once collected and dispatched smaller spacecraft serving as an entrance-come-exit for a space walker. Now just sat there watching stars go by. Its original purpose lost over the years, now calculates figures which will give the weathermen back home the readings for tomorrow’s weather forecast. Why it does this no-one really knows as they always get it wrong anyhow, such is the irony of the human thought process.
One lonely astronaut makes his final calculations for the day before hitting the sack after yet another monotonous shift aboard this floating relic. Leaning back against his semi-comfortable seat, he stretches out his arms, resting them behind his head and gazing out of the window-come-view screen. Only with partially focused vision does he see the light now feeding its way across the once dark, cold, blue ocean below. Now a hive of activity as the U.E.S.E. frantically race to finish the foundations for the new land. The sight that lies out there before him, reminding him of a blood shot eye, as the vein like lines etch their way across until they meet the surface of the pupil’s dark nemesis across existence.
Except in the case of the U.S.E. they are not blood lines but aqua-tunnels, and instead of darkness at the center of this eye, are light. A blinding glow of pure brightness, as work commences a hundred miles below, as those five powerful members of humanity strive endlessly to keep pooling their resources into the building of the U.S.E. (United States of Earth) making this necessary dream a reality.
Location: U.S.E. Mainframe HQ
Time: 10.30 a.m.
Now entirely built, the U.S.E. stands to be the biggest investment the world had ever seen, since the building of the pyramids of ancient Egypt. A shining example to any civilization that may lie out there in space. Humanity’s only hope is that it does not end in the same fate as it predecessors. Proving that if all mankind stands together for one good cause, then progress can be made over night, in relationship to the history of the world. Due to the building of the U.S.E. many millions of jobs were created and many nations have profited from the building of this venture. As one national tabloid had stated on the cover of their paper, (I use the word paper loosely, as all tabloids are now printed on cheap re-cycled sensor-disks that can be dumped in the easy to use ‘Sensor Disk Dump Truck’ that collects every third day of the week.) The headline read in large bold print, about three inches high. “IT’S A SURE THING!” and that it was, slowly through integration, selected candidates were interviewed, trained and posted in the U.S.E. and got under way to hopefully succeed in completing what their superiors wanted them to do. This was to vaccinate physical and mental illness from the face of the Earth. In the U.S.E. mainframe H.Q. head conference room nearly sixty years on, a second meeting of the remainder of the great men, (No longer spring chickens with the burning desire for challenge or power.) was taking place.
A meeting to cover a new project brief, which would set the stage for the following chapter in the history of Earth. The project was brought up by the member of the late U.S.S.R. (Which became engulfed by the E.E.C. in 2125 when the people of Russia overthrew their government). He was a man of great wisdom, alas though with that wisdom inherently a great skepticism was never far behind. He gravely pondered about the true intentions of the U.S.E. “May I draw your attention to the virtual reality programme?” The E.E.C. representative questioned, “I feel it’s a pressing point that has reached it’s time of birth.” The U.A. (United Arms) representative agreed.
He gazed around at the faces of all who sat before him, then continued, “Are we not agreed that the company has the ability to expand its’ horizons of research?” Seemingly telling them rather than asking them for their opinion. A man of devious character he was opposed to that of his E.E.C. compatriot who was much more a figure from his countries past, not a million miles away from the likes of Starling or Marx. “That is not the issue. We’re all agreed that psycho-research is an area that needs entering at a deeper level. We must cure all illness, and I do mean all illness gentleman.” he says this with deep commitment, “We have the ability,” Pausing for a moment before continuing, “…and the funds.” Reluctantly all the representatives had to agree to this fact, the U.S.E. had indeed grossed over three times the cost of its original construction already, and that was back in 2154. The U.A. representative continued, “I would like to have a decision on the ‘V.R.’ programme which I’ve already spoken about to you all individually over the tele-visual, (The new mode of communication. A cross between the telephone and the television, but in three dimensions). I think now would be an ideal time to start research into the mental illness mankind has had to fumble with for thousands of years. Wouldn’t you agree?” He paused as he glances down to see a bug crawl along the spine of a file that was sprawled across the desk in-front of him.
Slamming his fist down with such force, that it could quite easily be mistaken for an exclamation of speech. The bug was squished into oblivion. Breathing deep he looks up to finish his sentence, “So please gentleman, give me your decision and let us together put an end to this human suffering once and for all.” looking at his translator as he finishes conferring his message to the other conglomerates, with great concentration, as if trying to read their minds or plant decisions in them at least. After several moments of silence, agreements begin to come forward, until only the E.E.C member still remains silent without a response.
The E.E.C. member sat cross-legged with one elbow perched on each of the arm rest, fingers entwined. As they all look to him, he glares back, each one in turn until his gaze falls to the U.A. representative. A gentle breeze wafting by as to cool the tension builds to a crescendo, increasing with every moment a response is hesitated. Looking deep into his eyes, he slowly, but firmly gives the nodding response that was being waited upon. Doing so, all around him gave an unwitting sigh of relief, as they were lowered from the height of tension.
With that the V.R. programme got under way. By 2162 growing research gave way to tremendous breakthroughs in mental research and psychiatric history. The Virtual Reality programme was a hit. The programme itself was a computer-electro programme which was fueled by magnetic brain wave pulses, which were then fed into the software based in the hardware designed and constructed within the U.S.E. (Based on some fundamental technology that would never have been built if the prior project of the U.S.E. had never come about). The subject would wear a visor that systematically broke down the problem on an electrical level.
The visor had two semi-spheres that lye one on each side of the visor, which in turn lay on the padded flesh of the temples of the patient. Once the visor is on, any movement that is made by the user in the real world also happens in the world of Virtual Reality. Different settings can be obtained courtesy of the U.S.E. Civilian Mentality Corporation (C.M.C.) By 2169 Virtuality programmes were being used by video games companies’ worldwide. Slowly, the cult following as ever fell off, becoming just another item around the office or at home. Mothers would use it for doing their shopping, the kids would use it for playing adventure games on, and father would use it to get his work from office to his home or vise-verse. By 2173 this devise was updated one step further so that you only had to think of the movement and it would do so also in the world of V.R. as finding enough open space to use the previous model complicated the otherwise simple usage. So now you wore visor/spectacles which displayed on the inner surface. Once turned off the visor could be used as normal glasses. The only noticeable difference being the company logo emblazoned down the arm.
LOCATION: New England
TIME: 7:40 a.m
A peaceful morning, the deep golden browns of autumn have already started to show. Parks, fields and gardens were vastly becoming seas of yellows oranges and rusty browns. People were going about their daily business. Housewives dressed their children for school. Others were getting ready for work. Streets were reasonably clean since litter laws were enforced with prison sentences. Nothing major, just enough to make you think twice before you discarded that unwanted candy wrapper or tossing out that finished drink can. This was one of the many new laws that were being introduced since the U.S.E. had cured all the important problems of the world. As many people had been heard to say countless number of times, “You think that they have nothing better to do with their time.” Which was the problem. They did not have anything better to do. Well at least most of them.
There were a series of experiments which were taking shape around the world. A series of experiments which were to move the Earths’ axis just enough to create disruption in the poles, so as to stop the melting of the ice caps, thus secure the world from an entire upheaval of atmospheric conditions. Previous experiments had already taken place on a smaller scale with great success. Now they were setting up the big day, a day that could be counted as being more important than the day the U.S.E. was founded. If this could be pulled off, then there could be nothing that they could not achieve. The bounds of maverick science would make its’ debut. Only a few years ago this would have only have been a dream in a scientists’ mind, a sparkle in a genius’s eye. How totally blind they were to the consequences of this experiment if it went wrong, so many calculations could be off. More frightening was the possibility of the chaos theory.
At seven forty on July twenty second 2181, the collective buttons were pressed and doomsdays’ younger brother was unleashed upon the world. For the experiment to have been a success all the detonations would have had to have gone off simultaneously, if only one detonation failed to blow, it would spell almost certain doom for civilization. So what happened? Two failed to detonate, one was in South Asia, near the Philippian Mountains, the other, had actually detonated but was what they call a backfire, and it had only half exploded. As a result of the deep core detonations misfire, a lava flow from the core back washed through cracks that were produced. This was the first of the Earths problems the waves of lava from the core rocketed out and blanketed New England and smoldered it to dust in seconds, totally re-designing the outline of the continent. The real disasters had begun. The axis began to shift. This day was surely a day for the history books.
The day the Earth truly moved. Electro-magnetic-lightning storms blistered through the air, turning early morning into a dark and dismal place, as blue bolts of electric death spilled out from between the clouds. Earthquakes large enough to swallow entire towns in one snarl of its teeth, whirlwinds, sandstorms the likes of which the Sahara Desert would have never seen, or felt.
You could feel the power in the air, as it vibrated in your ears like a generator. Without pause the poles had started to melt as the Earth’s axis moved. The melting of such large areas caused monstrous tidal waves that were sent pounding against coastlines around the world’s continents, crushing towns, cities, and entire coastlines. This was one disaster that felt no mercy for its victims. The death toll for these seemingly endless disasters was uncountable. It was impossible to try and begin. Where would you begin? It was sure that even if you could a place to start that by the time you calculated the toll for that disaster at least another ten would follow in its wake, and you would be faced with the unwanted and impossible task of counting them also. You could only estimate it would be in the region of thirty-five million deaths in the first two hours. A total that would surely rise disastrously higher before its peak.
This was how it was to be for seven months. People rushing, scattering like an overturned beehive. How many times had this happened in the history of mankind? Had this been how mankind was almost wiped out in the history books of Atlantis? Had Atlantis been anything like the U.S.E? Had it been swallowed up by the tidal waves like so many coastlines of today? If so what was their world like before the end? Before time moved on? What were their worlds like? Or had they all been stories in books of old?
The bustling of everyday life had ceased to exist. More and more people appeared from burnt out homes and crushed buildings. Sad, weary men and women, dressed in no more than rags now, wearing clothes that a tramp would probably wear on his death bed. Children were stumbling out from schools, their faces smeared with dirt, tears and blood that dried hard on the soft faces of the innocent that bore cuts and grazes. Some had very deep cuts and these were but the lucky ones. Some had fatal wounds, some had these wounds but had not died yet, but knew they would, it was just a matter of time. But still they fought against their fate. Destruction was not democratic; it took any life, any class. They all belong to the same group now. Never in recorded history had there been so much suffering. More than eighty million souls began to trek across the globe. Mortals imprisoned in a world of pain. Mentally, physically, morally it was the end of the new beginning.
Lying before them is a land they once knew, before the confusion, before the hysteria, and before man began to distrust fellow man. Once before the awful destruction, children played. They clung to toys for security, whilst men clung to pride and fear, women and the young clung to love and hope. A stench dampens the eyes of the mind, as one scans across the endlessly ruined race, of a once meaningful cause. Previous to the depression, men strived to control people’s lives. Now he struggles to keep his own. Eternal pain seems inevitable, yet a spark of hope still remains but only a few possess the power to rebuild life. A mist as dense as the reapers cloak chokes the life from Mother Nature’s hands, as she tends to her dying flock.
Crops once rich, become no more than dust, desolate and baron as this unforeseen Armageddon sweeps the land leaving nothing untouched or unscaved, these millions of refugees are now creating a train of homeless souls in search of shelter. The only place large enough that can hold them is the U.S.E with its complexes of offices and quarters. But even this will not hold all the victims of science and nature. They will be left on the streets unprotected from the weather and the hell of trying to find warmth, food and a life. Most of these retched bodies will either die or turn to crime and murder to meet their needs. Thus destroying what little is left of what the U.S.E had achieved and maintained.
Traveling through the deserted metropolis of man, the repetitious sounds of life haunt their minds, causing conflictions of sorrow and joy. Buildings once tall and majestic now crouch on bended knee, with their frail heads upon their hands, their strength shattered across the miles of waste lands. At a glance looking like famine victims, not entirely different to those passing through. The wind around them blows erratically. A stale taste lingers in their throats as they breathe coarsely inwards. They have traveled through many towns and this like many others seems, eerie at eye level, the streets look like, a sunken ship residing at the bottom of the ocean. Passing through you get the creepy feeling that you are not alone. The feeling that many secrets have died here in this town along with the people who once lived here.
The sun grows unnaturally shaky, as the ground flickers in the blistering heat. Twenty-eight months have now passed before they reached the edge of the U.S.E and the sight that greets them is not the one they had pictured in their minds over the hard grueling months gone by. What stands before them is not much more than a shell of a once thriving corporation. A corporation the size of old America, But still only a shell remains. Steam vents on nearby factories wheeze a pitiful spray across the air, then resting once more. The steam slowly rising making shapes in the air, giving the look of baby clouds that move around between the buildings like spiritual guardians keeping watch whilst the inhabitants are away. The colony were gravely disappointed, but they were getting used to that, but then it’s amazing what you can get used to when you have no choice. A deserted town, no sounds of rushing traffic or bustling people. No children playing in back yards.
Only the doom ridden creak of a sign as it swings in the night air. A neon sign hangs aloft a building, a building unused in a long time, now a shell, burnt out, smoke filled hallways are all it now consists of. The sign crackles on and off, reflection can be seen in a pool of water that lies directly beneath it. Closing in all around is darkness like in a badly lit room. Above is a cascade of walkways, canter leaver bridges, rope walks and pipes filling the sky between the never ending walls of the star scrapers.
A scream breaks the silence, a scream so high that it could pierce the ear of god. So heart rendering a cluster of birds’ unseen before, panic and cause a storm of wings, flapping and sounding a thousand heartbeats. Rushing to safety like thieves in the night. Perching on anything that would take they weight.
Once more silence is resumed. Loneliness becomes the natural norm again. High above, the walkways were ridden with casualties that had arrived before them, results of the hellish onslaught and pounding from the sea and sky. Burning flesh could be smelt, covered only by the damp stench of moldy floors and fungi ridden walls. Small fires had been built by the survivors to keep them warm throughout the nights, little comfort amidst this world new world pain, fear and desolate wastes.
So build again they must, if they wish to survive, but something they missed, something they did indeed miss.
Over the next fifty years they built, a race once more as opposed to just being alive, but many of these people felt that’s all they were still doing, just living. Civilization had been resumed. But to what cost? Illness had returned, so had food shortage. But still they managed to decide that technological advancements were necessary if they were to rebuild. Once order had been found the damage wasn’t unrepairable. Though it would never be the same again. But then nothing could stay the same after a devastation of such magnitude. Laws were being brought back to cope with the influx of crime. This new U.S.E seemed to be riddled with corruption. Slowly building, achievement after achievement they were able to bring a bearable existence back into play.
Streets were once more bustling with people not as smartly dressed as before the destruction, but acceptable under the circumstances. Since the readjusting of the Earth’s axis, the U.S.E had become more like the tropics. The air was constantly damp with an annoying way of making your clothes stick to your body, as if they were rooted to the skin. Some would call it an acquired taste, others would call it a serious pain in the arse. Whatever it was it caused serious illness in the young and joint problems in the older survivors, as well as many skin disorders. The virtuality programme had been reinstated as a security surveillance system. They were able to go to any chosen location in the U.S.E without actually going. Thus saving time and man power and of course saving money also, and that was what it was all about. Greed had raised its ugly head and was here to stay. Corruption was quickly becoming the biggest problem of all.