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

miércoles, 26 de agosto de 2015

The death of the world

   My breathing was really heavy and I almost couldn’t move after pulling myself out of that lake full of tar or petroleum. I had no idea what it was and I wasn’t going to find out by staying there. The people that had dropped me there to kill me had already gone and the night was very dark in this part of the world. I wasn’t in the city anymore, I was somewhere where water was very highly contaminated and the birds didn’t even sing. As I cleaned myself with my hand and some big leaves of a tree, I realized the substance was very oily so it had to be petroleum.  Walking was the worst as I couldn’t move properly but I made the effort any way because I didn’t want to stay there through the night. I walked for an hour until I saw some lights and ran towards them.

 The lights became brighter and there were so many I couldn’t even count them all. They lit a huge factory with chimneys on top and suddenly I realized that place was the source of all the pollution. That was the place I had tried to shut down but many people were not at all interested in that. Money flowed from that factory and all because of the oil the tankers brought from the sea. I had been there and I had seen the platforms, horrible places were people that had nothing to lose decided to win their living. Those were not factories but prisons filled with heavy warmth and an awful smell. Needless to say, you couldn’t see a bird or any other animal near those places. Even they knew those places meant death.

 Instead of asking for help in the factory, I went the other way, following the road the trucks used to gain access to it. In no time, I was in the main road and a nice old lady picked me up. But there was more to her than what met the eye. I hadn’t called her and I would never use auto-stop, as the country was too dangerous for that sort of thing. I hopped into the backseat and we didn’t say a word until she left me in front of my home, an hour later. I just said “Thank you” and she just nodded. She was called Delilah and had been my friend for a long while but we never really spoke about our lives or anything like that. She had saved my life once and that was enough for us to become friends.

 Delilah had been married and had too sons and a daughter but they lived far away and she didn’t really care about them coming into her life again. She had raised them well, done her job and that’s all she was interested in. When I went up to my apartment, I wasn’t very shocked to see that every single object in my home was on the floor. Broken, torn apart or just laying there, all my life was on the floor. They had come here, maybe as they drugged me and dumped me in that thick lake, and destroyed everything. My backup files, all stores in hard drives, had been stolen and my computer was just a bunch of metal on my desk. But I had more backups so I didn’t really care about the state of things.

 I went through my ripped clothes and destroyed drawers. I grabbed some things that no one would care to take away like my mother’s wedding ring or my parent’s picture I kept in a book. They were my link to them because I wasn’t the type of person that was into graveyards or however you want to call them. I just liked to talk to their picture and tell them what I was up to then. I had always been the rebellious kind of kid and I knew they would be so worried about me. My mother would asked me if I had a way to clean myself and brush my teeth and my dad would remind me to check my body for bruises in the shower. Somehow, he said, the body bumps into things and you never realize it until it’s too late.

 They were the only two people in the world I cared about. They had died years before and now I was all alone, fighting against something that was bigger than me and that any other human being. I was trying to bring a corporation down and, although I had some friends like Delilah, none would be so much into this cause as I was. I had invested my life in investigating; taking advantage of my position in society to bring everyone involved in this down and now my life had an expiration date. What I couldn’t understand was why they had dropped me in that pond and not shot me or something. Were they cowards or was that their style? I don’t know and, honestly, I have no idea if I want to know.

 Proof. That’s what, supposedly, justice wants from me in order to apprehend the people that have cause so much misery and despair around the world. Because this city is just a piece of the whole puzzle. I have traveled the world and seen children drown in similar ponds to the one they wanted to use to kill me. Huge factories built just next to all the little and rattled houses that people have built with their effort and suffering. There’s nothing quite like misery because it’s brutal and forces you into the real world. It makes you see how more than half of the world lives their lives and that has the capacity to shock anyone that has feelings or even just a pair of good old eyes.

 I was the kind of person you would find in high society events, whether they happened in a club or in a yacht, in the Riviera or a penthouse in Paris. I was always there and I had been educated to know what to do, how to talk and who to be “friends” with. Because even then, I was friends with no one. My family knew that I hated all of it but that I did it for them because they were all too important in society. Every man and woman wanted to have my attention because they knew who I was. But they weren’t interested in knowing anything more than the amount of money I could give them or what I could show off to them. It was very pathetic.

 It was the day my parents died when I knew how vicious that society I had been feeding could be. The day of their burial, no one was there but me and a couple of people that were too afraid the ghosts of my parents would pull their legs as they slept. Cowards. They never moved a finger when I was being dragged through the mud, laughed at for everything I did to help people that had no way of helping themselves. None of those high and mighty people had any heart or soul. They only cared about profit and making their wallets and bank account even more filled with money. They cut every single link to my parents company and I had to save what I could before they tore it apart completely. My parents weren’t being stupid: they had left me enough for me to keep on living in peace for many years.

 I moved fro my former neighborhood, which helped me exterminate many bad feelings I had for all those people. I didn’t want to hate them so I just disappeared from their lives and asked them to disappear from mine. They heard me, at least that time, and I have to say I lived a very good year after that. I was teaching and I was helping the people I had met so many years before. But nothing can be as perfect forever. Life has a way to even out and that’s exactly what happened. I discovered the contamination of several national parks both in the sea and the land as well as contracts between oil companies and banks in order to make the economic system fall to their feet. That wasn’t a difficult thing to do.

 This world, after all, is not built on solid ground. Our society was built by greedy men that only thought of their profit in that moment of time but had no interest, or very little, in the future. People were not aware of how easy it was to influence the stock market in order to benefit a certain country or a certain type of company. I have to confess that when I discovered it all, I felt sick to my stomach and I felt guilty because I was part of the problem. I was the kind of person that complains but never does anything. I was the kind of person that things their ideas should be implemented and then I would go and have cocktails with my friends.

 I’m not saying people shouldn’t have fun. I only think we should all be more aware of what happens around us. How people in power use us to get there and never recall what the promises that were made were all about. Politicians are rotten because the whole system is in decay. I thought this to my students: the economic and political system of our western society cannot last for a thousand years. In one moment, everything will stumble because that’s what nature does. It has to keep changing in order to stay alive and nowadays, nature is slowly dying and we cannot do anything anymore. It’s too late for the world and now we have to pay the consequences of our ignorance.

 I help because I need to. Because I still feel guilty. Because I don’t have anything else to do. When I went back home, I put everything that hadn’t been torned apart into a suitcase. I grabbed it all and left for the place where I hid part of my archives. Those were not all but I didn’t need them all, not all the copies. I needed even more copies until the world decided to wake up and listen to what the planet had to say. After I picked up the information, Delilah came for me and took me to a city four hours away. It was the first time we actually chatted. And it felt good.

jueves, 23 de julio de 2015

Our nature

   Alex had come to the lake before many times. His dad brought him and the rest of the family for fishing or camping or long walks to breath fresh air. His father had always loved the outdoors and it was one of the most important things he passed on to his son. Alex loved to be outside, not really getting why so many people stayed inside with their computers and other machines. He also had a computer and a cellphone but he could disconnect easily in order to enjoy the world outside. Normally, his day would include a visit to the park; at least a shot one, to feel less stressed and just relax for a while. But a park in the city still had pollution around and filth and he decided one day that his next holiday would be spent in the lake of his memories.

 He told his family he would go, hoping they would go with him but that didn’t work out as he planned: his mother did not like to leave home and she had never really been the kind to love dirt, so she passed but asked him to take many pictures. His siblings had similar answers, only less precise about why they denied his request. Something about the children, their jobs, a meeting… He decided it wasn’t his business and that, if they decided to come, he would be there. Alex planned to stay a three-day weekend, in order to really explore and live again those days where his father and him would walk for hours in order to photograph rare animals or find “new” places in the forest.

 The weekend began and he arrived very early on Saturday, leaving his car in the small parking lot that the national park had available for campers. There, Alex saw the first thing that had changed since the days of his father-son trips: the parking lot had been expanded and a lot of people were already there, mainly from the neighboring towns. Apparently they had all thought, like him, that camping was a nice plan for the weekend. He grabbed all of his equipment and was about to begin walking when a ranger stopped him and asked him if he was going to camp. That was a very stupid question, seeing what Alex was carrying but he decided to just nod. Apparently, spots were now assigned.

 He began walking, now with a map provided by the ranger, in which he could see the exact spot where he had been authorized to camp. His father would have been furious, as he had always liked to camp wherever he wanted, sometimes by the lake, other times by the river. But Alex decided not to complain and just thought of visiting his father’s camping spots later that day. When he arrived to his spot, he found out that at least five other tents were already up in that area. It was outrageous as in the past there were never more than two tents next to each other, and not only because of attendance but because of safety issues. But there was no one to complain to and going back to the entrance would be lost time so he just dealt with it.

 Putting on the tent was no easy task. He had forgotten that, back when he came with his family, his parents were the ones to do all the chores previous to the proper camping experience. Alex and his siblings would just play around the area until it was all magically done and they never really asked if they could help or how it was done. Alex tried for a whole hour to put up his tent but all the little sticks and the stakes and the proper tent were too complicated for him. He didn’t get the diagram that was in the instructions, that at least existed, and had no idea what to do next. But suddenly an older man from a neighboring tent helped him out without saying a word. In a few minutes the tent was up and the old man gone.

 He waited there, extending his sleeping bag in the ground, but the older man did not come out of his tent again. In the silence, Alex could hear the sound of a radio and realized his noise putting up the tent must have distracted the man from some game and that’s why he had gotten that much needed hand. When everything was in order, he decided to go back to the entrance and ask for another spot but he realized the number of cars in the parking lot had doubled and that would mean there were no good spots left. At least his was near the lake. He decided to go there next and hoped it hadn’t changed as much as the rest of the park. He even felt the trees were different, if not fewer.

 His jaw dropped the moment he reached the edge of the lake. Back in the day, only a handful of people enjoyed fishing and swimming there. The water was very cold so it wasn’t like many people cared for a swim. But now, somehow, everyone was in the mood. There were at least a hundred, if not more, people in the water. They were playing with beach balls and squirt guns, laughing loudly and eating all kinds of fast foods along the shore. Alex was surprised he didn’t see any vendors around, with the amount of people eating. Something he noticed was the absence of boats so he decided to ask a couple that was close about it. According to them, fishing had been banned in the park.

 So now, that was gone. He had brought his old fishing rod but now it was useless, as well as his binoculars in order to find birds. He had noticed no chirping or any kind of bird noises in the whole area he had walked through. He decided to go to the edge of the park and hope for a better perspective on things. He couldn’t get off the smell of ketchup and mustard and the images of fat kids crying and playing in the lake. That must be discriminative in some way but he didn’t mind. He was just hurt to see that a very dear memory of his childhood was being destroyed slowly by what was supposedly called progress.

 He reached the area that his father and him had explored so many times and he was happy to see it just like he had seen it all those years ago. No yelling and crying of children and adults here. Not the sound of music or cars. This place was the real forest, the thing for which he had come to this place. He walked around, taking some pictures with a small camera he had recently bought. He was even able to spot a couple of birds and was certain he had seen a deer but maybe it had been his imagination. Suddenly, he remembered a day with his dad in which, after a particularly long walk, they had discovered a small cave by a cliff. The place was beautiful, having a great view over the forest and a cooler environment in the summer. So Alex tried to locate it.

 He walked for hours, just like back then, trying to remember the trail from his childhood. After a couple of hours, he realized he was probably lost. He had found the cliff but not the cave and realized that it would soon be night. He decided to look for the cave one more hour and if he didn’t find it he would come back later. Then, he heard something. At first he thought it was the wind but then he realized they were human voices. Maybe someone was in danger; maybe they had an accident and needed care. He tried to follow the noises and only realized what was happening when he stumbled to the ground, twisting his ankle and looking at the entrance of the cave he had known as a child.

 But they were no children or parents there, only a couple of teenagers having sex. They stopped right when they saw his face on the ground. They screamed as they pulled up their pants and, from nowhere, the same ranger that had assigned him his spot appeared running. He told them to stay still and to walk in front of him back to the entrance. They took a while but they finally got there just as the sun was setting. The ranger and the others entered his small office and he asked what had been going on in the cave. The teenagers said Alex was a pervert that was watching as they kissed and Alex said that was bullshit, because they had been fucking and not kissing. The guard asked him if he had been looking at them for long.

 Alex realized the ranger was on their side, as he looked at him with disgust. He told the truth, stating that he had been looking for he cave because his father and him had discovered it many years ago and that he had stumbled to the ground because of a rock. His ankle was hurting very bad. But the ranger did not appear to believe what he was saying. He told the teenagers to leave and never to go back to the cave again as it was off limits. As they left, he stood up and went for a nurse’s kit, and tried to fix Alex’s ankle but it was already swollen and hurting more. As he tried to do anything, he talked, implying that he did believe Alex had fallen because of a rock but also because he had been too busy nosing around the cave.

 Alex stood up, inflicting a lot of pain onto himself. He told the park ranger the park had gone to hell as no one even respected nature, every single fragment been taken for tents and a lake full of fast food. The place had been a natural beauty and now it was just a shame, as it was his conclusion of blaming it all on a guy wit ha swollen ankle and not on the two kids that had taken the cave as a brothel. Alex forced his foot out of the office and, fortunately, he had his car keys with him. He just drove off, leaving his tent and other things behind. They were just a memory he wanted to erase and never go back to again.

viernes, 24 de octubre de 2014

Lake Akhizgraz

When you go to Batong, you'll only hear one story over and over: the legend of Lake Akhizgraz. In the shops, coffee houses, department stores, the market, by the pier or on the hillside, everyone single person in the region knows the tale of the lake that rests near them

According to many, Lake Akhizgraz came to exist when a meteorite fell to Earth and transformed the region. Some scientists agreed and other did not. However, one could argue that hills surrounded the lake on every side except one, were Batong had been founded.

Legend also said that there used to be an island in the middle of the lake, long before the city existed. Everyone said the island was not attached to the bottom of the lake and so it moved around slowly over the water. Now, some stories differ: some say the island was not an actual island but a gigantic animal that roamed the waters. Others say the island had always been there and that it still was but sunk to the bottom.

Anyhow, they all agreed the island had been the home of the first settlers that, enchanted by the lake, sailed to the island and built a house there. It was a couple, man and woman. She was pregnant and they stayed as she was unable to walk anymore.

The baby's name was no other than Akhizgraz. They say is a name in an ancient language meaning beautiful lake, but that too hasn't been proven. The truth was that they lived happy for about ten years, until something happened.

One night, after supper, the family heard a voice calling them from the water. They came out of the house to find a wolf walking on the water. Yes, that is what they say. He was silver and from his eyes came a white light, piercing and impossible to stand for long. The wolf told the family that they had been good to this holy place but that danger was imminent and that they should leave the lake immediately.

Father, mother and son discussed it all night long, each giving reasons for staying and for leaving. But in the end they decided to remain in their house as it was the only home they had. The couple had gotten there after getting lost in the desert and escaping poverty and they had no desire of going back to that.

So they lived there one more year and then a storm came. An awful storm, black and twisted, carrying sand from the desert. Their house was almost destroy by a fire started by a lighting that hit the tallest part of a nearby tree. It lasted for hours and the family just begged for it to stop, as they held each other.

And it ended, as fast as it had started. The wolf appeared again that night and told them the storm preceded the arrival of a stronger evil. He said the spirits now considered them part of the lake so they would protect them as long as they could.

Only a week passed until Akhizgraz, chopping wood with his father, saw something on the plain side of the lake. He thought the ground was shaking and told his parents the storm was back but then they realized it wasn't the storm. It was an army.

They had covered the house with leaves and grass days before and now just watched what happened. The leader of the army walked along the shore slowly and the kneeled and put one ear against the ground. He then sent three groups, one to each cardinal point in the lake, so to cover all its extension.

And then the family heard the explosions. Brutal and overwhelming. The ground was lifted and so they created three more entries to the lake. The family hid for days as more men arrived. The yhad brought machines and rapidly installed them. They were mining and drilling and taking the water to feed their industry.

The lake begin to die, slowly. The wolf appeared once again and told them they could only save the lake if they destroyed the machines so they planned an attack on the army. They all feared death but their life was one of many that would be destroyed. So they went on to sabotage machines and causing malfunctions.

But their leader was smart and one day caught Akhizgraz when he was about to sabotage one more drilling machine. As he knew a boy this young couldn't be in the forest alone, the cruel man stood in the know cleared beach and called for them. Mother and father watched their son but knew that revealing themselves would mean no one would be left to save the lake. And their son indicated to them, by single blink of an eye, not to come out.

The evil man killed Akhizgraz with a knife and threw his body to the lake. This action was decisive: the forest and its spirits revealed themselves and fought along the now grieving parents, destroying everything that the lake wanted out. With superhuman strength, everything was thrown away and the men were swallowed by the ground.

Only the leader was left and it was the mother, now enraged, that killed him with her own hands.

Knowing the sacrifice of Akhizgraz, the lake and its spirits decided to honor the family for ever. On each of the new entrances to the lake created by the army, the spirits created new mountains, taller and more beautiful than any in the vicinity. And they created them using the body of the son and of his parents, that decided to part the world as the pain of loosing a child was too great.
Soon after that, the spirits used the island to carry the souls of the family to the afterlife.

Nowadays, people say the tallest mountain around the lake, just across from where Batong stands, is the one built from the body of Akhizgraz.

Once every year the city celebrates the sacrifice done by the first family to settle in the lake and thanked them for their strength and courage.

There is a temple by the lake too and they say that if you go there in a foggy day, you may be able the see the wolf spirit that took the family to their final resting places.