Devastation. That’s the only word she could think about. Tally Green had been taught, throughout her life, that science was inherently good in its intentions and only very devious men, often on the side of the scientific path, would used it for dark purposes. But now, seeing what she had helped create, Tally was not very sure of that any more.
She saw herself as a good person. She always helped various organizations during Christmas time, she gave money to non-profit groups that helped women and children around the world and she had never been particularly nasty against anyone. She didn’t liked violence, to the degree of never having seen a real fight between two people. Tally thought herself innocent even, of some of the things that human life had to offer.
But that was the past. Wearing her light gray uniform, checking every camera in the field to check if what she was looking at was real, Tally realized her so-called innocent days were over.
Applause came from her side, from the politicians and high-ranking military people that had attended the demonstration. They were all please and she could see in their faces that they were not innocent. Actually, it was rather easy to see they loved everything that had to do with destruction, with war and the capacity that someone had to destroy every single thread of decency left in this universe.
The machine was identified as XLIU897 but the team that had created it called it The Fireman. It was a term of endearment for a weapon able to destroy entire acres of vegetation. It had been created so it would destroy all organic life but leave all the rest intact. They said it would come in handy if an army needed to liberate a city or if some townspeople needed to begin again with their crops. The weapon would destroy it all and then new crops could be put in place, as life could grow again on site.
That was actually the only thing those men in ties didn’t like about the Fireman. They said they didn’t see the use of a weapon that destroyed and then left the land untouched. It was clear that the military uses for the weapon were a priority and that no government would really let farmers use it in their lands. All they wanted to do was to create hell on Earth and they had already done so.
Just minutes ago, when everything disappeared under a red light and a hot wind, those awful men were smiling and apparently felt exceedingly happy with themselves. They were awful people, Tally knew that, but she felt she was an even worst person because she had helped create what those men were enjoying and were going to use to destroy.
When she went back home that night, she was not only exhausted but the weight on her back felt much heavier than usual. Tally thought of the various books she had read about science and instantly remembered of Oppenheimer and all the other men and women involved in the creation of the first atom bomb. She thought that they were even guiltier than she was because an atom bomb had no possibility of being used as any other thing than as a weapon. The Fireman, on the other hand, had real possibilities as a helper to regenerate the land on places were it was needed. Tally had always wanted to help people and thought she was going to do it with that creation.
But now, opening a can of beer in the kitchen and taking a sip, she realized she couldn’t just let things be. She left the can alone on the counter and grabbed her phone. Without thinking much about it, she called a friend that worked for the ethics committed of the department of defense. Tally told him about her case (she knew he was aware of the weapon) and asked him if was possible to stop the use of such a weapon in the world. After all, it had been created in an independent laboratory.
The answer was somewhat disappointed, as he told her that if the army decided to acquire the weapon, the government would just block everyone trying to talk or know more about the subject. He said that they could even make her loose her job, just to make her look desperate and use her in public as a case of anti-patriotism.
When Tally hung up, she had another idea in her mind. She knew her friend was honest and that the army was practically taking over the project. As she walked out of the laboratory, she saw some more military men arriving. That wasn’t normal and it was very likely the department of defense was already enabling the purchase of the weapon, even if the army wanted it to be changed and target also the ground itself.
In her bedroom, Tally put some clothes on a backpack and also some food. She carried that to her car and drove back to work. As she was one of the main people on the project, she had every key possible. She entered the building, smiling to the security man and hoping she wouldn’t find any military men inside. But there were none. So she entered her lab and almost ran to the main computers. The idea was simple: to erase everything and make it disappear or simply take some vital piece on a portable device and just vanish with it.
But she was too late. There was nothing on the computers. It had already been taken and people hired by the government were already monitoring the project. She had acted too slowly against them and the world would pay.
Tally found a job in a pharmaceutical company, not a big one like those in movies but a smaller company that produced cheaper versions of very expensive drugs used to treat HIV and many virus related diseases. The company was controversial because it gave a chance to people suffering the AIDS pandemic to survive and live a happy and healthy life. She loved it there and loved to see reporters and protesters every morning. That way she knew she was finally doing some good in the world.
She was not really involved in the creation of the drugs but rather on something even more interesting: the development of an effective cure. And they felt they were closer and closer and she felt proud of herself everyday because of that.
That was until it happened. Half of the whole woke up to the news, the other half saw it begin live. Something was happening in Eastern Europe, some kind of wave was burning every single piece of land, meter by meter. People could see how everything died, slowly. Some ran away from the wave, others stayed and were burned alive by the invisible wall that advanced toward the east. Entire countries were burned alive and survivors were very scattered and not many.
Then, out of nowhere, a huge army appeared and started invading the devastated lands. It was the first time in History that Moscow fell into foreign hands, half of its population killed slowly by burning. The men that had taken the city proclaimed the end of the failed Russia and announced the annexation of the country to their own new empire.
All work at her company was stopped that day. Outside, there were no protesters or really anyone. People were too scared to go out to the street. What if one of those invisible walls advanced towards them and turned them into ashes in a matter of seconds?
It was announced the next day that it had been, as Tally knew, a move by the most powerful country in the world. She had left that place years ago and it haunted her that her work was killing millions somewhere else. What she had been working on now just didn’t cover the evil she had helped create, the enormous guilt she felt for what she had done with her so-called innocence.
The next day, as more and more troops, more and more bombs, and another wall advanced to the west, Tally decided she just couldn’t keep on living. She hung herself in her living room and was only found weeks after, when the invading army entered the city and saw her charred bones.