Mostrando las entradas con la etiqueta government. Mostrar todas las entradas
Mostrando las entradas con la etiqueta government. Mostrar todas las entradas

sábado, 29 de octubre de 2016

The phoenix

   The majestic bird rose above the tea plantation and flew very high into the sky. The people that had been working in the cave where it had been sleeping for thousands of years, ran towards the exit in the hope of catching a glimpse of the animal flying free in the sky. No one really understood why or how the creature had survived living in a cave, apparently, for so long. It wasn’t common for a bird to live in such a place but, then again, it wasn’t no ordinary bird. According to the legend, that red feathered animal was the mythical phoenix.

 As the bird appeared to defy all laws of gravity by flying as fast as a supersonic airplane and as high as a weather balloon, the people below began considering the options: they could try to capture the creature but they had no real way of doing so. If the legend was true, such a fantastic bird would have the strong of a thousand oxen and its screeching sounds could tear down the roughest wood. At least that’s what it said on the many manuscripts kept by the monks in several temples of the region. But should such ancient scriptures be taken into account?

 It was well known that people exaggerated their fear when they felt threatened. They wrote tales of the most horrible things in order to surprise others by saying, “we endured this” or “we vanquished this”. Maybe the phoenix that was now hovering over the plantation was just like any other bird, just much more beautiful and graceful, and also very big and beautifully garnished by nature. In any case, most people agreed that capturing it would not be good at all for anyone. Their gods may punish them for those actions.

 Most of the population of the region consisted of peasants. They grew tea and rice and some other valuable goods that they tried to trade with other regions. But the economy all over was very hard for everyone and competition was rough from places that were much more advances, being able to produce tons more of tea leafs and rice grains. They were too far from any modern science and too close to ancient traditions that prevented them from going too far into the future. It was a very complicated situation indeed.

 The bird descended and landed on top of one of the tea bushes. The workers, who had been there all day, watched the creature with expectation, finding it very odd that such a big bird could pose itself on such a small bush and not fall to the ground. They believed it to be the magic of the phoenix and many of them started praying to it. As the sun sunk in the horizon, the bird’s feathers started glowing with a reddish hue that made look as if it was on fire. No… It was on fire. It became engulfed in it and suddenly it became a pile of ashes on the dark doil.

 The wind carried away the ashes and no one in the vicinity was able to say a word for some time after that. They had been witnessed of something beautiful and also very confusing. The people that had been digging in the nearby cave arrived just as a gust of wind cleaned the soil from any residue of the bird and when they asked what happened, no one could really explained what they had seen. It was only the next day that a young boy told them they had seen the bird burn, as the legend said it could happen at any moment.

 The problem with the people of the cave was that they were not from those parts. They came from the capital, saying they wanted to investigate the cage, which they thought was filled with uranium which they need to build a power plant not very far from there. At least that was what they said once and again, every time someone dared to ask why they had a arrived out of the blue and not years before, when the energy crisis was in its peek. They never really answered in a very straightforward way. There was always something elusive about them.

 After the bird burned, most of them left for the capital. Only one remained behind. He sealed the cave and stood guard there every single day. He lived in a small tent built by the entrance of the cavernous place. Apparently, they wanted no one to go there because they thought it was a place worth protecting but who knew why? Maybe they thought the phoenix had laid eggs or maybe they assumed the bird would be reborn in the same place it had been living for, apparently, a very long period of time. Their reasons were unclear.

 The people of the mountains went back to work as normal, grabbing tea leafs and cultivating their rice in the old fashioned way they had always done it. Some of them had begun to resent the government: it had never made any presence to help them in the past and out of nowhere it had send those people and now they couldn’t even get into their own cave, where they sometimes mined for precious stones that could give a family some more food to feed their children and the elders. Sadly, being farmers didn’t mean they could live at their heart’s content.

 Many of them had not eaten the meat of any animal in a good while and the children had no idea of what a sweet fruit tasted like. The only thing growing around them that could be similar were wild berries but they were always really tangy and many species were poisonous. So their diet was based on rice and tea, accompanied by a handful of vegetables each farmer grew in their private orchard. They were very careful with them because it wasn’t much.

 A year passed when the government, finally, decided to retire the man they had left in front of the cave. They claimed to have been unable to find uranium there so the decision was to let the cave in the hands of the people that had taken care of it for so long. It was a bunch of nice words but they all knew the truth: they had given up on the phoenix making its appearance once again, just as the farmers. No one thought it would come back again but everyone believed the bird still lived somewhere in the vicinity or maybe far in to the higher mountains.

 Children did many drawings of the bird and people started talking more freely about what they had felt when they has seen the bird flying over them. They now could do it because they didn’t feel the pressure of the government on their backs. They could say whatever they wanted, just as they had thought, without any restriction. That was the good thing of living ins such a remote area: those people were actually free, at least in a way most people would find alluring. Besides, they were happy despite everything.

 The celebration of the tea harvest that year was simply over the top. Artists from other regions were invited over and they showed everyone how elegant and hilarious they could be. There were also dances and music and many people wore costumes. The most magnificent thing was the construction of a huge phoenix made out of wood. It had been painted red by the children and built patiently by farmers after the working hours were over. They wanted to thank the creature for such a great year for their crops. They truly believed it was because if it.

 The happiness was contagious. Everyone laughed that night, celebrating with simple joy. They were glad to be who they were and the truth was that they didn’t want to become anything else. Most of the people day would never accept a trip to the capital or changing in any way the lifestyle they had enjoyed for the last hundred years. They respected each other, they took care of one another and they believed in the same core principles that ruled over most aspects of their lives. One of those was the belief that everything was possible.

 Late, when the party was about to end and dawn approached; they saw the bird flying over their crops and above the party, released what seemed like sparks. Everyone saw the bird with delight, thanking it for everything good that year. They would have another great year after that and for many more because they had been blessed by the phoenix, which had finally found the perfect spot on Earth to live in peace and learn from the good things humans had to offer.

sábado, 22 de octubre de 2016

Hurricane Eliza

   There were pieces of wood and tiles all over the place. No house was left standing. The only big structures close to the big were a couple of buildings, which were about seven floors before the hurricane hit the area. Now, they were also a big pile of rubble that was very difficult to put apart from the rest of the rubble from all the other structures likes house and small business buildings and commerce. Everything had been destroyed in only one night and now people were trying to define what they were going to do after such a tragic event.

Anne had always lived in the area. Her parents had moved when she wasn’t even in their plans and the city was only beginning to flourish. Back then; they had some powerful hurricanes too but nothing like Eliza, the storm that had destroyed every single house. Anne had evacuated early the day before, leaving for a shelter inland. That move had saved her life. Many other people were not as fortunate. They had been afraid of leaving their things, their home, so they had been taken away by the storm along with everything else.

 The death toll rose every hour, as more and more bodies were found beneath what remained of the houses. The ones closest to the beach had been the most affected but destruction had reached every single part of town, even those not so nice houses that were inland. Poor people who lived away form the beach and all of the beautiful things also died or were left to live in a pile of what used to be their home. The storm didn’t care who had money or who hadn’t. She just arrived at peak intensity and took everything with her.

It was true, however, that people had been warned long before the actual hurricane hit the city. But every prediction said it would turn north because of the warmer waters up there. Everyone was convinced that was going to happen. And the turn happened but it was too close to the shoe line. Actually, when all the data was compiles, the hurricane’s eye had never touched the ground. It had been away from the coast for only a couple of kilometers. The destruction was maximal that way. Not even something planned would have been so evil.

 Anne spent all of the first calm day trying to find things in the remains of her house that she could use. Contrary to popular belief, people were not helpful or nice. All the opposite: they were vicious and didn’t want anyone to even step on one of the rocks they thought belonged to their house. People got really scared and believed everyone was out to get them and that their pile of garbage was somehow much more important or valuable than the other piles of garbage in the area. Some people even got weapons to protect their stuff.

 Anne decided to explore her space and try to take as many things as she could salvage from the rubble. Of course, there wasn’t a whole lot to take with her, but she did found some valuables like kitchenware and jewelry and other stuff that she could use to sell and survive for some time. Anne was a widow and had never had any children so she was alone in the task of trying to make something out of her life after such a tragedy. She was always almost at the breaking point but somehow always pulled herself together and moved on.

 When the sunset of that first day after the storm approached, she realized she couldn’t save anything else. The lot was still hers but it would take a while for the city to clean the neighborhood. She had to do something else that wasn’t camping there like a lunatic. She decided to pay a cheap hotel for a night and decide the next day what it was that she was going to with her life. As she drove to the hotel, she realized all of what was happening would have been a lot easier to handle with her husband on her side. But he wasn’t there.

 Walter had died almost a year earlier from a strange disease that had almost annihilated his body in a matter of months. They never told her exactly what it was but the quality of his life quickly diminished: by the end of it he wasn’t able to stand on his own, speak fluently or properly use her hands. When he began to drown because of his problems one day, she had no idea she would lose him. And she also didn’t know he had signed a paper that said he shouldn’t be revived in case something like that happened. He had taken that decision in order or her no to make it.

 Walter had been the love of her life, having met him in college. They used to do everything together. They planned and went on great trips and loved to try new things as a couple like dancing unknown rhythms or trying to learn a new language. It was hard for Anne to admit, but it was because of Walter that she had evolved and become a stronger and more loving person. Before she met him, she as a bit too rough and didn’t really care for romance or love or any of that. It was Walter, which showed her how beautiful love could really be.

 Now she was by herself, sleeping in a small bed that smelled like old people. It was pitch black outside her room but even like that she couldn’t sleep. First, her husband had been taken away from her. Then, the hurricane destroyed everything. And now she felt extremely lost and lonely. It had o be said that she had no more family than Walter as she had lived her full childhood in an orphanage. That was what had made her tough in the first place.

 The following day, she returned to her former house and tried to get some more stuff out but it was a very dangerous thing to do as the rubble could fall on her feet or hurt her somehow. It was a really difficult thing to do, to try and remember he things that had any value in order to sell them. She had also saved many things from him and now she couldn’t find any of it and it was making her desperate. She wanted those things to feel a little bit safer, as if someone was actually protecting her. Being alone was too hard after such a thing.

 Suddenly, a group of people from the mayor’s office and the government appeared on a car with a sound device to reach everyone. They were saying that the rubble would be cleared off in the following weeks, as the machines needed for the job weren’t even en route to help yet. They said the disaster had touched many different towns along the coast and that they were trying to make the best job possible for everyone to feel safe and to be able to rebuild if they want that or to sell their lots if they decided that was the better option.

 Anne was the first one to walk up to the car and make them stop by standing just in front of it. She had an impulse to do so and she did. She yelled at the people on the car, saying that they were talking as if it was something they did out of a routine or something, as if town along the coast got destroyed every day. And she also told them that she new for a fact that machines like the ones needed to clear the rubble were available to mayor’s office because of an article she had remembered reading to Walter when he was in the hospital.

 Other neighbors came closer and agreed with Anne. They also thought the government had come to tell lies and to make them feel safe and calm when there was no reason to be either of those. They needed to get mad and to demand what was right, which was the removal of all the rubble as soon as possible in order for them to properly look for their belongings and then decide if they wanted to leave or not. Many people, most of the neighbors actually, came closer to Anne and surrounded her, in order to support her stand.

 She then declared that they wouldn’t move until at least two machines came to clear the neighborhood. They would stand there and not let the vehicle leave. The people in it could walk away but the car stayed with them. One by one, the officials had to step out of the vehicle and walk away, afraid for their safety and humiliated because their corruption had been uncovered. Now, the neighbors hoped for the machines to arrive soon and Anne realized something she had in herself she didn’t even know about.

martes, 23 de febrero de 2016


   For us, life changed the day we saw the sky on fire. Or, more precisely, we saw fire falling off the sky. I remember waking up by the noise outside, as I always left my window open when I slept, because of the heat at nights. My parents and the neighbors were talking very loud for so early in the morning and my brother, who slept in bed next to mine, was not there but standing by the door, hearing everything. Then, not even having the chance of asking what was going on, I heard mom walking towards our room. Brother ran to bed and pretended he was asleep but he did a really awful job at it.

 She told us in a hushed voice, for some reason, to get out of bed and put on some slippers. She rushed us and we went with her. When we went out of the house, dad was already there looking up. We all looked up too and we saw it: a big ball of fire was crossing the sky. It didn’t look like something that nature would do but, then again, I had never really seen a real meteorite so maybe that was it. I then remembered the many shows I had seen about the extinction of the dinosaurs and thought that maybe it was our turn and that’s why we were all outside.

 I thought it was a little bit weird to go out and then look at the thing that was going to destroy us, our homes and our planet, but when we started moving towards the beach, I found it even stranger. Dad held mom’s hand and she held mine and I held my brother’s. I honestly thought our time on Earth had come so I had no problem walking with everyone side by side and in a strange harmony, crossing the few blocks that separated us from the ocean. When we got there, a crowd had already settled down, many families and old people and kids and lonely folks. They were all looking up.

 The ball of fire was getting considerably larger and it came with a weird sound, like the one a string gust of wind would do but much more annoying. It wasn’t the nicest thing to hear just before dying but I guessed I couldn’t really complain. I was on the beach, which I loved, I had my parents and… Shit, they had left Captain back in the house! I told mom but she wouldn’t pay attention, not pulling her eyes away from the fireball. I wanted my dog with me if I was going to die so I released myself from my family’s grip and ran to the house.

 As old as he was, he was sleeping, not minding a bit about the fireball or the scandal people had created for hours. I grabbed him by the collar and, at first; he was not very willing to come. But after some petting and food, he came peacefully. As we walked to the beach, I felt suddenly very hot and realized it was the fireball, cruising the sky exactly above me. Captain barked at it and then it happened all so fast, as if someone (maybe God) had pushed the “fast forward” button. When I got to the beach, the ball of fire had already fell.

 But it did not destroy us. Actually, my last thought before it fell was that it wasn’t a ball at all. As close as it was, it didn’t have a real shape, not one that I could pinpoint. People on the beach had pulled back as some waves came in but didn’t do much damage. There, on the horizon, fire could still be seen but it was dying. I imagined a monster, burning and dying in the middle of the ocean. It really looked like one, due to the shape of the object. I realized that’s what it was because nature would not do something like that, which such and odd shape.

 Captain barked and growled. That snapped my family out, my dad telling us that it was better to go back home, as nothing more would happen tonight. He was wrong but we went anyway. I slept with Captain in my bed and he didn’t mind. He was a strange dog, preferring sometimes to be away from humans, especially young kids. But that night, somehow, he didn’t mind the attention and care and I was showing him. I even kissed his forehead before going to sleep and he didn’t even budge.

 The next morning, I was woken up again by the sound of my parents’ voices. I asked myself if they weren’t able to shut up, as I really wanted to keep on sleeping. I felt tired and my body ached, as I needed to sleep some more. Again, my mother came to our room to get us to have some breakfast. After all it was a school day. It was too early so I ate my cereal not even realizing I was spilling milk all over the place. I showered afterwards and got my uniform ready. Walking with brother on my side, I was still sleepy but we managed to find the way to school.

 Yet, we noticed something was wrong. Policemen, or at least they looked like policemen, were everywhere. They were in the corner of the street checking lampposts, or asking people questions in front of their houses or running somewhere. Our small town did not have a police department. We depended on the next town for that. So who were those men and women? They were dressed in black and had a small logo on their shoulder but I couldn’t see what it was.

 In school, teachers seemed as distracted and sleepy as the rest of us. They all tried to do what they had to do but it was almost impossible. Kids were not listening and teachers were obviously not interested in speaking about mathematics or chemistry or history. Some yawned several times and others just looked at the window as if they were hoping for it to get shattered into a thousand pieces. It was the first time I saw kids actually sleeping on their desks and the teacher not saying anything to them. I would have liked to do that but when I decided to one of the men came in the school and said the classes were suspended.

 At home, mom explained those men were from the government and that they needed everyone’s help to salvage whatever it was that had fallen from the sky. They needed experienced swimmers and divers in order to help them, as only people from the area would know about the depth and characteristics of the water close to town. Dad had offered to help them, as he was a fisherman, and that’s why he wasn’t there to greet us from school. Normally he would come back early from fishing but he wasn’t there then. We joined mom in order to look the work he was doing from afar but got bored soon because there were no hills from which we could actually see something.

 The rest of that week was all the same. Dad started to get paid for his help but he had to leave early in the morning and would return late in the afternoon. He was always so tired he would eat half-asleep and then just fall into bed like a rock. Mom seemed worried for him but as my brother and I were deemed to young to ask anything, we simply didn’t. But we were worried too. Dad had always been such a joker and he loved to play around after dinner but during that weak he was practically a zombie.

 The third day after the “fireball” had fallen from the sky, a rumor ran across town. Apparently, some said that the thing that had fallen in the ocean was actually a spaceship and that the government was using us to get to them, them of course being the aliens. I found this a little stupid of them because if we helped them many people would know, so how would they cover up that? Killing everyone? No, too many questions would come up. I would make drawings in class of the aliens and the ship. I would also imagine talking to one of them and him telling me were he came from and how sorry he was to have crashed on Earth.

 My brother had nightmares about it, obviously he had been told awful stories about aliens by his friends. After all, most books about them it the library was about how evil they were and how they loved to destroy humanity ever single time they were able to. In some old movie magazine, they were even very similar to insects and I guess that was the image my brother had in his mind because he went insane when, walking to school, we saw a butterfly.

 The men in black left town after exactly seven days. They had taken out all they could from the ship and dad explained they could come back to take the ship, part by part as it was huge. As he seemed a little bit more rested we asked him about the aliens and their technology. But he only laughed and told us that he saw no aliens. Then his expression turned grim and said no more.

 Mother would explain that night that the object in the ocean was a space station, made by men, and that it had failed somehow and just fell off the sky. People had died on it and the men from the government had come for their bodies, to give them to their families. I couldn’t sleep that night. Somehow, I couldn’t stop thinking about those astronauts and how we saw them die.

martes, 21 de julio de 2015

Men as monsters

   Inoctium was the name of the compound that they had invented in the lab. It had many properties that a normal human would have deemed incredible and many of those who had been involved in the project thought exactly that. Many had wanted to leave the project before it was finalized but that wasn’t possible, as no one wanted any leaks or stolen information. It was obvious that any foreign power, anyone to be honest, would love to have their hands on such a potentially disastrous little element. So very few knew about its existence and another handful thought it was just an urban legend and that no one would be so stupid to create something so incredibly dangerous, although good in every way too.

  Only a small amount had been created but what had amazed the creators was what that small quantity could do. It was an alchemist’s dream as it had the capacity of transforming anything into platinum, one of the most expensive metals in the world. It could also be used to manipulate magnetic fields so many objects had been created around it to transform the world, as we know it. But of course, all of those objects, like flying devices and many military weapons, had not come out to the world yet. The committee that had approved tests to create the compound, finally decided to cancel the whole thing altogether and ordered the inoctium to be destroyed in the act and not a single thread of evidence to be left around. The reactions were varied but it wasn’t like they could say anything to prevent it.

 Nevertheless, the destruction never took place. And that was simply because the inoctium behave almost as if it was a living creature, a very strong and resilient creature. It couldn’t be destroyed. They tried every single corrosive agent, viruses, alloys, even small bombs but nothing seemed to do anything to it. The only real difference they detected was that the amount of inoctium had somehow grown larger. The committee, after hearing the results of the attempts to kill the thing, decided to keep it away from every single human forever. It was sent to a nuclear waste disposal facility, where the deepest chamber had been redesigned to contain even the largest explosion. The inoctium was placed there, under several locks, security and around several amounts of nuclear waste.

 Its creators never forgot about it. They felt it was their baby, their proudest moment as scientists. But they knew it was dangerous so they never spoke about the inoctium, ever again. The files that had been created around it had all been destroyed and their lab was dismantled. Thirty years passed and no one dared to go back to those dark times. That was until the day Yucca mountain, the place were the inoctium rested, exploded in a massive way. A whole was opened in the desert and some small towns were in the way; the earthquake that was generated wiped them out. It was the biggest disaster involving anything nuclear and scientists couldn’t explain what happened.

But the creators of the inoctium, a group of only six people, knew exactly what had happened. They had warned the government against burying the compound in a place were other chemicals and elements were kept but no one heard then and no heard after the explosion, mainly because only a handful of government officials knew about inoctium and they were all close to retirement. The president didn’t believe a word that he heard, thinking that if such a powerful thing existed, the past governments would have used to finally impose the country on the world. Maybe that was what he would have done but it wasn’t what had happened. The team knew that the explosion had a cause but no one would believe them.

 Two of them, who had married and had children, decided to try and recreate the process that had created the inoctium but they failed horribly, dying in another explosion, less massive but also a tragedy. Only the two of them died, so the other four members of the team knew what had happened. They insisted on talking to the president, they wanted to explain to him how it all worked for him to understand but he just wouldn’t listen. Word had it that he was trying to blame the explosion on some terrorist group or another country, so he could get a hand on their resources. This president was not like the other who hid their intentions; he didn’t care for those who were ashamed of what had to be done, according to him.

  The team reunited with other experts and tried for them to understand what was going on and how they should prevent anyone from mishandling what was left of the compound on the site of the explosion. If the wrong person got there first or if someone mishandled the inoctium, something even more awful could happen. The scientific community was much more receptive than the government, mainly because the four remaining members of the team had time to explain how they had created the compound and what were its properties. By doing so they were going against the law and against every single paper they had to sign the day the inoctium project was shut down. But lives had been lost and they couldn’t afford to allow more to happen.

 Nevertheless, the scientific community was very divided. Some, like the government, thought the four scientists were insane old people that needed to be in a retirement home and not talking to anyone about science. Others believe some parts but the properties of the inoctium were the thing that put them in high doubt. And other believed them, mainly because they had worked on similar projects before that had ended in failure. Despite that, they felt it was possible to do what they had tried to do back then. So the team got some support and tried again to contact the government, with no more success than before. It was announced, a few days after, that the country had concluded the explosion to be a terrorist attack.

  For the members of the team, it was a tragedy when they saw the images of tanks and planes attacking some country on the other side of the world. The government had declared them guilty of harboring terrorists and claimed that they should be brought to justice. What was obvious after a few days though, was the fact that every suspect they found was killed. No one was apprehended. In a few days that nation had fallen and occupation began, like it had happened before elsewhere. Of course, every single company prepared their luggage and landed in the destroyed country to set up business, weather it was security related or minerals related. Anyway, the world had lost another piece and scientists weren’t closer to prove anything.

So they decided to disobey in the most visible way possible: they would get the proper equipment and then travel to Nevada, were the explosion had taken place, to illegally enter the site and see for themselves if the inoctium had been destroyed or not. Many fellow scientists helped them prepare and get the equipment and it took them only a week to be prepared and leave for the desert. They had brought weapons too because this time they weren’t going to be just scientist but also madmen, even if there was a women among them. When they got to Nevada, they started doing vigilance on the site, which was very heavily guarded. Fortunately, they were able to get a military drone from one of its makers and used it.

 The drone discovered that the site was not only a whole on the ground as it had been portrayed in the media. The truth was that they had built several building around the explosion site and the crater created had been covered by a white fabric, which looked like plastic, or something like it. They didn’t get to see or know more as the drone was shot down and by the military, who were the ones guarding the place. The scientists had controlled it remotely so no one knew it had been them watching but they decided to head for Las Vegas, to think about their next step. The news had changed their headlines from “Patriotic war” to “Our heroes triumphed” showing military man “guarding” the streets of a ravaged town.

 The team knew they just couldn’t get into the site as no one would allow them to and another drone would be even more dangerous, because then they would really be in the eye of the storm. They didn’t know what to do, what to think of it all. Because of them, because of what they had done so many years ago, people were dying every day. That fake war and the explosion were a symptoms of a cancer that had to be taken out. And although the government was also another disease, it was preferable to deal with the inoctium first. They planned to seek help from the opposition to the president and to the war and try to get international help from scientists around the world, willing to speak on their behalf.

   But when the war on the other side of the world expanded and spilled onto other countries, the scientists were rendered mute. Because on one morning in august, people around the world got to see the most incredible and most horrible thing in the world: the military had used the inoctium against other. They had seized it and created weaponry with it. Easily, the world started to crumble and people, for the first few seconds, were all without a voice. They couldn’t believe they were seeing the end of their world on their TV and computer screens. And many wouldn’t get to see the real end, further ahead.