“Commander Warren, this is NORAD. We are picking up heavier than usual Unidentified Submergible Object (USO) activity on our radar around the northeast coast of Puerto Rico. We need a couple of fighters to investigate that location to take a closer look.”
“Roger that, NORAD. Our ETA is five minutes.”
Two fighter jets were rapidly launched from a carrier one hundred miles east of the Lesser Antilles. It did not take long for the pilots to observe dozens of various spacecraft diving into the water ahead of them. The pilots reported their observations.
“There are saucers, orbs, cylinders, chevrons and cone shaped USOs plunging into the water near the Puerto Rico Trench. They must be having one hell of a party down there. We will hold our position to keep an eye on them. I can also see some people out on the beach watching this,” one jet pilot reported.
“We won’t worry about the witnesses now. We’ll debunk it later. Just keep your eye on our targets, and let us know if they vary from their usual patterns,” Commander Warren replied.
The pilots held their flight patterns.
The ship Lily was on had just entered Earth’s atmosphere and was rapidly heading towards the Caribbean. Just like the niterider, she could not feel the motion or velocity of the spaceship, which landed on the water and floated for a few moments as it was pressurizing. In submarine-like fashion, it began to sink into the Atlantic Ocean. When it got to a depth of twenty thousand feet, it laterally moved under a rocky ledge and entered an underwater cavern. The transport passed through a half-mile-thick membrane that was a barrier created to keep the ocean water out. The ship docked and the passengers disembarked into the underwater wonder.
Lily was totally amazed at the transformed environment. ‘All of this is under the ocean, and there are more bases like this throughout the world,’ she thought.
Lily and her group were escorted into one of the domed transparent buildings. They joined other groups that also had just arrived. The room contained a few hundred beings, the majority of whom were humans brought to the base for the Intergalactic Visitor’s meeting. The remaining attendees were beings from an alien hospitality crew who were humans that had colonized on Azibo. The crew had converted the dome to accommodate the humans’ needs. There were sleeping chambers, bathing and toileting areas and dining halls. At the top of the dome was a huge holographic monitor giving pictorial directions to where the human creature comforts could be found. The place was a beehive of excitement and activity.
Lily moved among the crowd and saw many familiar faces. Some were experts on the environment she’d seen on the news and in documentaries. Also present were well-known UFOlogists, astrophysicists, experts on quantum physics, spiritual leaders, people from hunter-gathering communities and more. People from all corners of the world were represented.
Lily thought about her place in the mix. ‘I’m the owner of a solar panel and wind turbine distribution and installation company, and they picked me to be here. Maybe they will need me to provide the world with non-polluting energy sources.’
Lily, that and your consciousness, a telepathic thought pushed into her head. The energy was familiar. Lily turned and there was Tuwa behind her. Lily was happy to see her, and the two embraced.
“I’m so glad you’re here, Tuwa! I’m overwhelmed by all of this.”
“This is one of the biggest underwater bases on Earth. This is my first time here too. It’s very impressive,” Tuwa said.
Tuwa gently grabbed Lily around the shoulder. “Come, Lily, I have someone very special for you to see.”
The two wove their way through the crowd. In the distance, Lily saw Sam and Stony. Sam’s telepathy was developing, and he could feel Lily’s presence in the room. He turned and saw her coming towards him. They both smiled widely and reached out to hug.
“Hey Sam, it’s so good to see you.”
“And you too, Lily.” The four greeted one another.
Lily could not curb her excitement. “Can you believe all of this is here under the ocean? It’s been here for centuries.”
“Yes, it’s quite an engineering endeavor, and man did not make it. It boggles the mind,” Sam said.
The two held hands. “Oh, Sam, I’m so glad you’re here. You know, I had the damnedest time trying to tell my parents what had happened about my abduction and Azibo.”
“I know. I tried to explain my disappearance to the hospital staff, and I know they now think I’m crazy. It had me wondering about my own sanity.”
Tuwa gently interrupted the couple. “The meeting is about to begin.”
All of the human attendees were seated together in the center of the dome. Their alien mentor counterparts settled around the perimeter. This was a human challenge, and the mentors wanted humankind to brainstorm solutions on their own. The meeting was unified telepathically so that all present could understand and participate in what was being communicated by each speaker.
“Willkommen! I am Alarik Müller, an environmental physicist from Berlin.”
Müller was in his mid-fifties, stocky, with a ruddy complexion. He was well respected for his extensive research into the effects that greenhouse gases had on the climate.
“Thank you, my peers, for electing me to conduct this meeting. Isn’t this fantastic? It’s amazing to me that we have help from other worlds. There have been UFO sightings since the dawn of man, and now contact has been made. You aren’t the proverbial Martians waiting to annihilate us either. You have been around for a long time watching us evolve. I personally appreciate the Intergalactic Visitors for being here. At the same time, I’m also ashamed and embarrassed that man’s lifestyles have rapidly destroyed the planet to the point that you have felt the need to bring this to our collective attention.
I’m also very honored that I’m here with some of the most brilliant and caring beings on the planet. We are part of the solution, and we have to act fast. It’s been a little over a hundred years since the invention of the combustible gas engine. In this short period of time, we’ve gone from cars traveling in streets to space probing craft that reach out beyond our solar system. We’ve also erected skyscrapers; have come into the computer age and…” he took a long heavy sigh. “We have managed to muck up our planet in the blink of an eye. Our planet is dying! So, that is the main focus of our meeting today. How can we come up with solutions to offer to the world to correct our environmental problems?”
Indigo appeared and intervened. The Intergalactic Visitors feel that you need to see the full vision of what ecological troubles are coming your way. We are able to interface with the dream centers of your brain and induce what is called a future quest. This is a very intense, realistic dreamlike state. We “download” a scenario, and your brain interprets it to your level of understanding. Just as no one dreams the same dream, each future quest will be different, but on the same subject. The quest will involve all of your senses, and you will see, taste, smell, feel and hear everything very sharply. It will be difficult to determine whether what is happening to you is reality or a dream. The future quest won’t harm you, and you will remember all that has happened when you wake up. That is the point of the quest, to see into the future for what man has set into motion for himself. The quest that you will experience today will be a vision of Earth twenty-five years from now. I’ll warn you, it won’t be pleasant. But this is what will come to pass if the greenhouse gases continue on their upward climb. So get comfortable, and we will induce the future quest.
All of the humans prepared themselves for the induction of the future quest. Lily and Sam sat together and held hands. One by one, each attendee began to fall asleep. Lily could feel herself getting drowsy, and then she was out. Her future quest took place near her home. It was very quiet; there was no sound of cars moving on any streets, no children outside playing nor any neighbors gathered on front porches conversing and sipping lemonade. The only thing that filled her ears was dead silence and her heavy breathing as she was trying to gasp for air.
‘What in the hell happened to the neighborhood?’ she thought. There was a thick haze of smog in the air. Lily’s nasal passages twitched, and she began to sneeze uncontrollably. Her eyes began to burn and tear. The vapor’s assault caused her to breathe more deeply in an attempt to gain more oxygen, which this hazy air lacked. She could feel the strain on her blood vessels in her head as they throbbed in protest to the toxic fumes. She felt like a person caught in a smoky fire, but she was standing outside in front of her parent’s home.
It was very warm outside, so she figured that it was summertime, yet the trees presented in their winter posture; no buds or leaves were visible. Rotten branches were decaying in the street and on the sidewalk. It looked like they had been there for a few years slowly decomposing. The huge evergreen tree that towered over her home was now just a skeleton of wiry branches with a pile of needles clumped around the base of the tree.
Lily still was having trouble breathing. She was gasping for air like a dying person taking her last breath. Her heart was pounding. Because of the haze and her lack of quality air to breath, panic began to set in. She thought that she could die on the spot from suffocation. Lily’s attention turned towards getting inside the house. She thought if she were inside, maybe she could breathe better. She tried to open the door, but it was locked. She pounded on the door weakly calling to her parents to open it. No one answered. It was eerie to hear her voice as the only sound for miles around, and she began to feel alone and scared. She got a branch from the ground and used it to break a window to the basement and crawled into the house.
Lily was relieved to see that the inside of the home was less hazy by about 50%. It had only a hint of the mysterious haze. She walked toward the stairs to go up to see if anyone was home. At the base of the stairs stood the hot water heater and furnace. She was used to seeing these objects in the house, but near where they stood, there was another machine that she had never seen before. It was four feet tall and three feet wide. There were five small one-inch pipes that stuck out of the top of the machine with connections that branched off to the ceiling, appearing to feed into the rooms of the main level of the house. Lily looked at the label on this unfamiliar machine; it read “Home Air 2000.” She opened a square door marked “filter.” Inside was a huge cube-shaped filter that was full of ashy flakes. The odor was musty with the hint of a gasoline smell. ‘Is this some kind of allergen filter?’ Lily wondered. She proceeded up the stairs to the first floor of the home. “Is anyone here? Mom! Dad!” No response was heard. She searched each room to see if they could be located. As she raced through the hallway, she tripped on a cord and fell. The cord was a thin plastic tube similar to the kind used to administer oxygen to patients in a hospital. There were two tubes, one florescent orange and the other green.
Lily got up from the floor and followed the tubes into the living room. In the corner next to the couch where her parents watched TV was a big six-foot-tall oxygen compressor tank with the florescent tubes attached.
‘Oh my God!’ Lily thought. ‘My mom and dad needed to be on oxygen.’ It made sense because of the toxic haze outside. She looked in a magazine rack and saw newspapers that were several years old. There was a thick layer of dust on every surface. She flicked off the dust to read the headline on a magazine. “The Earth is in Her Final Hour.” Below the headline was a satellite picture of Earth. This haze was not just over Illinois, but had circumferenced the world. The normal blueness of the oceans was now a muted grey. The lively green-patched continents were now all brown. The southern delta of the United States was as tan as the Nevada desert. The long green valley in the center of California resembled a big sand dune.
A big caption preceding the article read: “Earth’s Oxygen Volume is Near Extinction Level.”
“Noooooo!!!!” Lily cried out holding her head and collapsing to the floor. “No! No! No! No!”
A bomb had gone off in her psyche that shuddered through her entire being. She was in total shock.
That was why everything was so still and quiet. “What happened? How could they let this happen?” She shouted to the void stillness. She picked up a local newspaper. In the top right corner where the weather had always been displayed were new sections: “Drought Report” and “Oxygen Level Update.” The top headline of the day: “Cave Dwellers!”
Lily had to know the details of what happened. Through tearful eyes, she began to read the article.
“Carlsbad, New Mexico
Tens of thousands of U.S. citizens have gathered to try and gain entry into the shelter caves at Carlsbad Caverns. The scene is the same at cave systems throughout the world. Military troops guard the entrance to the caverns to keep people out; they are filled to capacity. The troops donned special government-issued gas masks with oxygen pellets. Special units have been designated to take away citizens who died as a result of their oxygen tanks being exhausted while trying to gain entry into the caverns. There is widespread panic, fear and loss of hope.
One citizen commented, “We did not listen to the scientists who kept telling the world this was going to come upon us…our air being so contaminated that we can’t breathe anymore. All of my family is gone! I’m the last one living because as they died their oxygen tanks were freed up for me to use. But I only have two more portable tanks left, then that’s it for me. It’s not fair that only the very rich can afford to buy oxygen refills. And you know what? I don’t care because I have nothing else to live for anyway. Everyone I love is gone, and this world is dead. I just don’t care anymore.”
Lily could read no more. Now humans were right back where they started, living in caves, at least, those who could get in.
Because she was inside the house, Lily had gotten some reprieve from gasping for air, but the air’s lack of integrity was beginning to make her head and heart tight and her thoughts were getting fuzzy.
There were two more tubes that were attached to the tank. It had dawned upon Lily to follow the cords to see where they lead. She was troubled about what she would find at the end. She knew now that probably there were no survivors, but she still wondered what happened to her parents? Because she was on a future quest and seeing several years into the future, she knew her parents would be elderly and hoped they had passed away peacefully before all of this happened. Yet, wishful thinking aside, the evidence of the newspaper and oxygen compressor suggested a different story.
Lily picked up the dusty cords in her hand. She advanced her feet on a step-by-step dreaded pilgrimage across the creaky wood floor. As she walked, the dust kicked up, and she began to sneeze. The cords lead her down the hallway and into the kitchen. She could see the florescent tubes running under the back door. Lily’s heart swelled with grief. What was going to be behind that door? She didn’t want to face the situation, but she realized that she was on a future quest and that what she would see had not yet happened. But the horror of even seeing her parents deceased was wrenching her gut.
Lily placed her hand on the brass doorknob, turned and pulled the door back. The plume of haze hit her immediately, and her breath once again became more labored. On the porch, were empty planters that once so long ago housed a rainbow of artfully arranged flowers. A copper honeybee stake that used to hold the plants up was green and corroded. A thick layer of dust coated the boards of the porch. As Lily looked behind her, she saw her foot tracks in the dust as if she were walking in snow. ‘What an accumulation of filth that has fallen from the sky,’ she thought.
She approached the stairs leading to the back yard. She knew that once she got to the bottom, she would see beyond the corner of the house and into the full yard. The foul air wouldn’t even allow her to take a deep cleansing breath to calm herself. In fact, each breath was bogging her body down more and more as her muscles had no oxygen in which to work, and her head was getting tighter by the second from the fear of what she was about to face. She had to press forward; otherwise, she would collapse and not make it to the yard. Lily held on tightly to the rotting banisters to steady her balance. At the bottom of the steps, she saw a circle of chairs with corpses in them.
“Oh my God!” She exclaimed. The tears coming down her cheeks burned as the salty liquid mixed with the air’s contaminants. She slowly stepped forward to investigate. Lily’s fingers were still holding the tubes as she continued the path to where they terminated. Sitting side by side in lawn chairs were two decayed, withered bodies attached to the ends of the green and orange oxygen tubes. She figured that they were her mom and dad.
Lily did not think that she could feel any worse than she already felt. She collapsed, and the thud of her body hitting the ground kicked up a plume of dust that coated her body. She landed in the ashes to ashes and dust to dust remains of her parents and thousands of dead flies and bugs that must have continued their natural duty to help decompose Earth’s dead.
“What a horrible way to go!” She shouted. “You didn’t deserve to have this happen to you.” Lily was deeply grieved, but could tell that her own demise was upon her because she could not get any quality air into her lungs. Indeed she felt like a fish out of water slowly suffocating. She looked at the circle of skeletons and thought, ‘why were they here together? Who were they?’ There was a corpse in the middle that had on dark clothes like those of a priest or minister. Beneath the morbid, putrid dust, she saw the shape of a book and a box.
Lily had to know what the circle was all about. She hardly had the energy to get onto all fours to crawl five feet to look at what was in the box. She was deathly weak. She wanted the future quest to be over as the experience was too graphically real. Lily’s trembling hand reached for the book. She wiped the dust off and could see tiny gold letters, The Holy Bible. ‘He or she must have been reading the last rites to this circle of people,’ she thought. Lily continued to gasp for breath as her chest was burning from the caustic fumes interacting with her moist lungs. However, she had to see what was inside the box. Lily grasped the box and opened it. Inside was a folded piece of paper. She began to read it.
“Earth as we have known it passed away long ago. The air has been thick and toxic, and we have spent years being tethered to oxygen tanks. Oxygen became only affordable to the extremely wealthy. Who would have thought the air that has been free since the dawn of time would one day become more expensive than diamonds and gold?
“We are gathered here in what is called an empty-tank ceremony. When you are on your last oxygen tank, you gather with family, neighbors and friends to die together. This may be a foreign sounding event to you, but it is necessary as people have died by the millions with no room left in cemeteries or anyone to bury the dead en masse. We’ve come to sit in a circle of a life long community of neighbors, family and friends to pray together and say our goodbyes to each other and our home. We know each person in our circle will die, one by one. Our bones and remains will rest right where we are gathered in our funeral circle.
If you are reading this as a healthy person and somehow the Earth has recovered from this deadly haze, we have some flower seeds in this box. Please plant them so that the Earth can be alive and beautiful again. This is the only legacy we have left to offer. We pray that one day God can forgive man for the way he lived by destroying this great gift of a beautiful planet.
May God be your strength as you begin the rebuilding process. Please learn from our mistakes and work with the Earth and not against her.
Marion Williams, Ricky Jones, Joyce King, Earl King, Julian Brooks, and Rev. Richards.”
Lily was still heaving for breath. She peered into the box and saw the packets of flower seeds. That was all her parents and neighbors could give. She looked into the yards of homes adjacent to hers. In each yard was the same grim vision of bodies in chairs; infants dead in their mother’s arms and pet remains on the ground as families gathered for final goodbyes. Her whole neighborhood was deceased. It was so horrifically unimaginable, but that was the final result of a planet consumed by toxins.
Lily came out of her future quest experience and was conscious of being in the dome at the USO base. Her spirit sank at the thought that this was the fate waiting for the world and that society as she knew it would collapse to the point of mass do-it-yourself funerals. ‘That can’t happen!’ She rehearsed in her head over and over. ‘ I won’t let that happen to my loved ones. I want to have children, and I want my children to have children as it’s always been. I don’t want to see Earth’s demise happen in the next few years.’
Lily looked around and could tell that the rest of her fellow humans also were very disturbed by their own individual future quests on the same scenario. They intellectually and statistically knew where the world was headed with global warming and climate collapse, but the future quest gave them a look at the human factor. They began to discuss a more in depth plan to reduce the deadly emissions that were choking the life out of the planet. They would need a more convincing way to announce their plan to the world.
Mr. Myers abruptly burst into Waverly’s office and urgently commanded, “Waverly, you’re going to Darfur right now! The secretary is punching up your e-tickets. Your flight leaves in two hours!”
Wave was stunned and taken back by his boss’ behavior. “What’s going on? You have never sent me on assignment outside of the United States.”
“Well, I hope your passport is up to date. This just came from the A.P.” Myers handed the press release for Wave to read.
Wave’s eyes enlarged, and his jaw dropped. “This can’t be serious! Come on! A hacker must have planted this story.”
“It’s confirmed by reliable sources,” Myers said firmly. “We have to get in there right away and cover this story.”
Charlie, an office assistant, rushed in the office with Wave’s airline confirmations. “You fly out of JFK to Heathrow in London; you’ll then transfer for a flight to Khartoum, Sudan. There, a motorcade at the airport will take you to the refugee camps in Darfur and Chad. I contacted your wife, and she is packing a few of your belongings and your passport.”
Charlie turned his wrist to look at his watch. “A messenger should have picked those items up from your house by now, and will deliver your luggage to you at the first entrance in terminal one. He’ll have a sign with your name on it. You have to leave now to catch your flight. The doorman is holding a cab for you downstairs.”
Wave stood there in disbelief waiting for the pair to yell, “Got ya!”
Myers grew impatient with Wave’s inaction. “Come on! Time is ticking. You can’t miss that flight. We have to be one of the first to cover this story,” Myers shouted.
Wave grabbed his briefcase. “OK, I’m going,” he said annoyed. He boarded the elevator, made it to the cab, and he was off to the airport.
Wave was used to fleeing the office to cover breaking news stories; however, he was used to covering domestic news. Many of his colleagues had been back and forth to Iraq and the Middle East. The JanJaweed rebels made Darfur a very dangerous territory, as the area was full of hidden snipers. Wave’s first thought was for his safety, on top of that, this bazaar story.
He pulled out his cell phone and called home to his wife. “Betty, I’m in a cab heading to the airport. Are the kids in from school yet?”
“No, not yet. They should be here in about fifteen minutes.”
“Keep them in the house from today on! Don’t let them out of your sight! Keep them home from school…and maybe you should stay close to home, too.”
“Wave, you are scaring me! What is going on? Charlie didn’t say much as to where you were going, and you’ve never needed your passport before.”
“Baby, I don’t want to alarm you until I can investigate for myself. I’m going to Darfur in Africa.”
“What! You’re going to Darfur? Are they ending the genocide there? Is that the story you’re covering? That’s great news!”
“We got the most craziest A.P. report I’ve ever seen in my ten of years being an anchor. I’m still trying to wrap my head around it.”
Wave was a few yards from the Queens-Midtown Tunnel. He knew he’d loose the cell phone connection.
“Listen, honey, I’m about to go into the tunnel. I’ll call you after I get checked into the airport. I love you.”
“I love you, too. Please call me back, Wave. I want to know what is going on,” Betty pleaded.
Wave flipped his phone closed. “God help us!”
Wave arrived at JFK and gathered his items from the messenger. As he got his bearings in the terminal, he saw dozens and dozens of reporters.
“Wave! Wave!” He heard a couple of voices call to him. Running up behind him with camera equipment in tow were Chang and Bob.
Chang was a twelve-year veteran cameraman. He was Asian-American of Japanese decent, clean cut and reserved. Bob on the other hand was almost the total opposite. He was a twenty eight year old surfer dude from California complete with the cheeky beach lingo. He had long stingy blond hair, and his usual attire was a rock star’s T-shirt and a pair of blue jeans. Even though his personality was a bit gnarly, his five-year cameraman experience in Hollywood qualified him to work for a top notch New York broadcasting company.
“We’re over at gate ten in the international terminal,” Chang said, pointing. “Bob and I just got here. Look ahead. There is a special check-in for media and government officials going to Darfur. See where the National Guard troops are standing? They are clearing everyone, and I even heard that if you don’t have a ticket to board and have the right credentials, you can go. They are just packing the planes to get to Africa.”
“This is serious. I don’t remember this type of clearance ever happening before,” Wave said.
Wave and the cameramen were herded through the special clearance line. Passengers in the terminal traveling to other destinations stood at the side perplexed murmuring among themselves about what was going on. Once cleared, the Africa bound passengers were escorted in groups of twenty by the National Guard to the departure gates and onto the planes. There were no seat assignments. The airline just wanted to load the plane as quickly as possible. Wave and his two co-workers sat together.
“Can you believe this? This is one hell of an adventure!” Bob said.
Wave had been shuffled through the airport so fast that he didn’t get a chance to call his wife back. Now the plane was taxiing and about to take off.
“Ah, man,” he sighed. “I hope I get to see Betty and the kids again.”
The plane had been in flight for several hours. It had about an hour before it would land in London. The entire cabin had been a buzz with conversations about the events and destination before them. Wave was very angry about the genocide situation in Darfur. In this day and age, it just should not be happening. He felt as though he was about to walk into a lion’s den.
Bob came over to where Wave was sitting in the lounge section of the 747.
“Hey man, ahhh, I’ve been hearing bits and pieces of people talking about Darfur here on the plane. I don’t mean to sound like a yahoo, but what is it all about? I hate to admit it, but I just don’t know much about what’s going on there.”
Wave took a moment to collect his thoughts and was very patient in his response to Bob.
“You know, Bob, most people don’t know about what has gone on in Darfur. It’s one of those unpleasant subjects that folks don’t want to talk about. I think it’s been for the past fifteen years or so that there has been a civil war between different religious sects in the Sudan region. Also drought and dry wells have been an environmental nightmare in that area. Lake Chad one of the biggest lakes in Africa has dried up.
“Back in the early 1980s, the Sudanese army had orders to kill all of the male children. It was a modern-day slaughter of the innocent in biblical proportions. Thousands were killed and tens of thousands of young boys fled their homes and villages to wonder alone in the desert. They were known as the Lost Boys of Sudan. They walked aimlessly for a couple of years trying to find food, water and shelter. The older boys became instant surrogate fathers to the younger ones, and they all did their best to care for each other under the circumstances. The boys died by the thousands in the desert. Most starved to death, and some were eaten by wild animals. Their government offered no assistance to them. Eventually, they found some shelter in refugee camps that private international organizations had set up. Many of those Lost Boys are still in camps today.”
Bob shook his head in disbelief. “How on Earth can that happen? Who lets thousands of children roam around for years without any kind of help? If that happened in the States, it would be nipped in the bud.”
“I’m not too sure about that, Bob. There are a lot of runaways out there who get snatched up into the sex-slave trade, and nobody seems to be doing much about that. American kids may be homeless for different reasons, but the “lostness” is the same. And in Sudan, it’s not just the boys who have been unfairly persecuted, but Sudan’s government and rogue military have destroyed entire villages. The displacement and slaughter of the innocent has been intensely brutal. Whole villages are burned. Husbands and fathers are killed in front of their families. Five-year-old girls are gang raped by armies; the adult women are brutalized, too. People were crammed into huts, and the huts were set on fire.”
Bob was shocked and outraged. “I never ever knew such a thing was going on. It makes me feel sick to my stomach. How come no one has ever stopped this from happening? It’s horrific! This is Hitler kind of shit.”
Wave felt the graveness and heaviness of the situation too. “Well, people all over the world have been outraged for years. There are many international organizations that have set up refugee camps to feed, clothe, educate, provide medical care and some resemblance of security. Even the helpers there are sometimes brutalized.”
“What’s the point? I know you’re saying it’s a religious issue, but to go on for so long and so inhumanely on such a grand scale, there’s got to be more to it than that.”
“Oil. Sudan has oil and some of the villages were in the way of the government’s full access to the oil. China and Russia, in particular, want that oil for their developing industries. So, I guess the movers and shakers of the world, which could affect a rescue of the Darfuri people, have backed off. The U.S. owes China a lot of money, so you know…politics. People all over the world protested the 2008 Olympics in Beijing because China has been a big supplier of weapons to the Sudanese government that keeps the bondage of the Darfuri people going. Two million people have been displaced from their homes and are crammed into refugee camps. Oil and money prevent their rescue from being slaughtered.”
Bob was torn up inside. “We have morphed into some really sadistically sick people. Here is another situation of blood for oil. God bless those who are trying to help the people of Darfur. There is some humanity left in the world. I thought we said “never again” to genocide when two millions Jews were killed. I mean, the Nazi concentration camps happened within my granddad’s lifetime, and now this has been happening all along under my nose. I don’t believe it. I feel so damn ashamed that I didn't know about Darfur. People know more about the lives of celebrities, which is neither here nor there, than something so much more important like genocide. The priorities of this world are so damn ass-backwards. Now that I know about Darfur, I’m going to do whatever I can to lend myself and my voice to stop what’s going on. It’s unreal. I just can’t believe genocide is happening today. We will be there in several hours. I’ll try to do what I can to help them.”
Bob was disturbed by his newfound knowledge. He just wanted to go be by himself to digest the heinous facts. He gave Wave a quick nod and abruptly stood and walked away.
Wave still had on his business suit. He grabbed his carry-on and went into the phone-booth-sized bathroom to try and change into something more breathable and casual.
Wave was a fair-skinned and very good-looking African American with wavy salt-and-pepper colored hair. He stood six feet tall and with his long legs and arms it was a struggle to try and have room to put on his pants and to stretch his arms to don his shirt. He splashed some water on his face. His mood perked a little.
“Passengers please return to your seats and fasten your seat belts. Flight attendants prepare for landing.”
The plane landed. Wave, Bob, Chang and a good portion of their flight deplaned and connected to the next flight that was to take them to the Khartoum International Airport in Darfur. Once they landed in Khartoum, they joined a frenzy of people in the airport that were from all around the world. The crowd of people took up every inch of space in the airport. It was shoulder-to-shoulder and very uncomfortable as the hordes of people were trying to make their way out of the terminals.
“I was told there would be transportation to take us to the refugee camps,” Wave said to his two companions.
Normally, when travelers who were reaching out to aid Darfuris, would go through the Khartoum Airport, they would be harassed, detained or detoured by the Khartoum officials who didn’t want interference from outsiders. But with the flood of the world community at their doorstep, the officials took a stand-down position to allow the overwhelming international visitors in.
Chang put his camera up on his shoulder to record the sea of people and to capture audio of the many different languages being excitedly spoken.
“Wow! This is really a world event!” he exclaimed.
“This is history in the making, my man, and we’re part of it!” Bob said proudly.
The crowd was barely moving to get through the exit doors. They could not see that outside thousands of local residents had also gathered at the airport to try to board transportation to get to the refugee camps. Most of the native residents, however, were turned away. Every city bus, school bus, tow truck, anything with wheels that moved was at the airport to bring the international visitors to the Darfur refugee camps. It was so chaotic that passports and visas weren’t checked after deplaning. There were troops from the African United Military who also helped to transport people and were standing guard to keep controlled chaos from turning into mayhem.
It took two hours for the trio to board a full-length school bus. The seats were to be for passengers only, so all of the luggage was piled-up on top of the bus’ roof and expertly tied down by the bus driver. The photographers on the bus refused to have the cameras put on top, and they held the heavy equipment on their laps.
It would be a two hundred mile drive to get to the first refugee camp. Most of the roads were unpaved, dusty and bumpy, and there was no air conditioning on the bus. The adrenaline-filled bodies generated an interior heat wave. Perspiration was already soaking the passengers’ clothing.
“Oh, it’s going to be a rough ride,” Bob blurted.
The bus took off with the engine making a loud grinding sound. The school bus was part of the endless caravan of travelers going to the camps. Wave looked out of the window at the African landscape. Earth, shrubs, huts, colorful markets, dried riverbeds and an occasional sighting of indigenous animals all passed his view. Along the way were villages with people waving excitedly to the vehicles passing by. Wave was truly transplanted into another world and was enjoying seeing the birthplace of his ancestors.
The long flights, the heat, the constant hum of the engine and the rocking of the bus lulled most of the passengers to sleep, including the trio. It would be a few more hours yet before they would arrive at the camps.