Betty was flying high over a big body of water. Soaring like a bird in the sky was exhilarating. It was a refreshing change from all that she had experienced.
‘Where am I now? Is this an ocean, sea or lake? I don’t see any land yet.’
Up ahead, she saw the edge of a white, grayish mound under the water. ‘What’s that? It looks kind of solid. Maybe it is from an underwater volcano eruption? But that wouldn't be white. It would be black, or even red in tone. Maybe it’s a salt pile. It’s huge, what ever it is. Looks like it’s a few hundred miles wide. OK, I’m on a future quest, so I know it has something to do with what man has done to the Earth.’
Betty had been flying in a due south direction. Her flight was halted, and she was rotated to face north. Up ahead, she saw a bean-shaped land mass.
“That’s Australia!” She exclaimed. The future quest turned her back to face south. She realized what the giant white mass was in the water. It was coral from the Great Barrier Reef. Its color had been bleached by the acidification of the ocean’s water.
She was stunned. ‘Oh my God! We actually got around to killing the largest living organism on the planet. It’s been here for millions of years, and we’ve killed it in a twinkling of an eye. Damn it! Damn it!’
Betty’s heart was mournful over the demise of the flowers of the ocean. She began to shout. “God made you beautiful, vibrant and in perfect order. All you wanted to do was to live and let the sparkle of the sunlight, rippling on the waves magnify your beauty. But what did we do? Man’s hideous carbon footprint stomped the life out of you. Now, you’re lying there like the excrement scraped off the bottom of our shoe, and you’ll decay and crumble away as one of man’s dysfunctional shipwrecks heaped at the bottom of the ocean. I never got to visit you when you were alive and full of color. Nor will my children or the generations to come . . .if they come. This future quest makes me wonder if there will be anything left in this world that is viable.”
She began to weep and called to Indigo. “Indigo! Indigo! I’ve had enough of this future quest. I get the point. I knew the environmental problems existed before this future quest. Take me out of here. I don’t want to see any more.”
You can endure it. The future quest is a very harsh reality check, I know. But, it is necessary to complete the full view of the truth to what is occurring in the world. That is the only way the world will be motivated to collectively work together to resolve and prevent the future quest experiences from happening. Again, that is why the Intergalactic Visitors are doing this intervention. There is a sliver of time left where these experiences can be erased and avoided. Remember, Betty, it’s not just you experiencing this; the entire world over the age of thirteen are also experiencing the same scenarios. This future quest equalizes everyone to be on the same page so that each corner of the world can have a plan of action. For the horse of the Apocalypse has already arrived at man’s doorstep, yet man is the one who wears the horse’s blinders. Ironically, via a dream, the Intergalactic Visitors are here to wake you all up. You are nearing the point of no return where all unimaginable hell will break loose. This future quest is your destiny in twenty years if man continues on the same environmentally disastrous course.
We do have one more scenario to witness, so let’s move on.”
With dread for what could be around the next corner, Betty had no choice but to continue with the quest.
Indigo informed Betty what to expect in the final future quest. This future quest won’t be from the first person perspective. This is more of a peering into the future as if you were watching a movie. It takes you thirty years into the future. This is the last future quest on our journey.
In the Amazon jungle, at a chemically contaminated site, toxic compounds that were left in the soil provided the incubation conditions to spawn a lethal apocalyptic pandemic plant virus. The plant world also has a toxic saturation tolerance and a tipping point at which it becomes vulnerable to disease and viruses. In this case, a rapidly spreading plant virus infected all plant mitochondria, causing plant cells to cease normal metabolism and photosynthesis, which killed the plants. The virus spread through the air and in the shared moisture of root systems. It was not specialized to just one plant species, but infected all plant life; trees, grass, flowers, fruits, vegetables and water based plants. The disease spread rapidly around the world and wiped out all plants everywhere. In the absence of plants, the oxygen levels declined. All of the CO2 and manufactured toxic gases that lingered, dominated the atmosphere. Insects and animals, including humans, died by the billions. What you’ll see in this future quest is a pocket of surviving humans trying to make it in a barren, desolate world.
The future quest revealed to Betty the vision of Chicago’s lakefront and Grant Park. The once lush Parisian-inspired landscaped gardens were all dull patches of straw and stems nestled in brown crunchy grass. Everywhere Betty looked, she saw the remains of humans, animals and insects. Oxygen tank delivery masks were still strapped to the deceased faces, and occasionally a dead pet sported a muzzle shaped mask attached to a doggie oxygen backpack cylinder. If one was caught with an empty tank and it was not replaced within 4-5 minutes that was it. Game over. No second chances. The need for artificially supplied oxygen was unnatural and very unforgiving when caught without. So, the majority of people in the world did not survive and dropped dead on the spot once their oxygen tanks were exhausted. The depleted oxygen levels also affected marine life. Lake Michigan had a solid layer of dead fish floating with the ebbs and waves of the water.
The atmospheric oxygen level was so depleted that not even the microscopic organisms responsible for decomposing the dead survived. Most bodies lay intact as organic statues of a once prolific planet. There was no one left in the world except for a small group of children who were saddled with the deep sobering responsibility to fend for themselves in a lifeless world.
The surviving children chose to live inside a bank in the downtown area of Chicago. The reinforced construction of the institution loaned a sense of safety. Several months back, a handful of wandering bandits had appeared and tried to steal the children’s oxygen supplies. They were able to close themselves in the bank vaults and the would-be thieves left.
Having a bank as a home, some of the older kids thought it was funny to make their beds out of the big piles of money that remained in the vaults. The cash was now useless for any other purpose. The younger children opted to sleep on mattresses.
Fifteen children in all had survived. They were of varying ages and ethnic backgrounds. The eldest was sixteen years old and the youngest was three. These lucky few managed to maintain a source of oxygen supply to stay alive.
Even though the older kids would frequently go out for oxygen tank replacement runs, they still had the wisdom to understand the need to be conservative with what they had. The oxygen was rationed, and the normal childhood activities of play had to be halted as moving muscles required more oxygen to function. The younger children who were not able to contribute to the gathering of needed items from the outside world were required to assume quiet resting postures for most of the day. The youngest lay still in almost catatonic states so as not to draw too heavily on the oxygen supply. One five year old boy, spent his day rolling a small matchbox car back and forth so frequently in the same spot that a groove formed in the wooden floor. Those few inches encompassed his play area. If he expended more energy to play by using his larger muscle groups, as kids normally do, his oxygen tank would be depleted faster. It was an imposed confinement, complements of an environmentally collapsed world. His other pastime was crying for his mother and father who no longer existed in his world.
The teenagers knew that it was unnatural and difficult for the younger ones to just sit all day even though they had lived in an era where kids would voluntarily sit for hours on end to watch TV and play video games. But the consequence of stillness and inactivity could weaken the child’s physical maturation process. So, on Sundays, the younger ones had a chance to be kids, by freely running around and playing. The teens put extra oxygen tanks aside weekly for this purpose. Play, the childhood rite of passage, matured the brain, nervous system and muscles. For all any of them knew, they were the last remnants of man, and the extra oxygen for playtime was an investment into the future. They were the final chance for man’s continuance, so they had to be strong for the survival of the human species.
All of the children tried to make Sundays special. The children knew that they needed God, their Supreme parent’s help to get them through their ordeal, so they organized their own makeshift church services at the bank. They had originally wanted to hold their services at the various churches that represented each child's faith. But when the people of the world began dying off, and they knew that their oxygen tanks were nearly empty, they would go sit in their respective churches to die in the house of the Lord. All places of worship were filled with corpses, and the children did not want to go anywhere near the now morbid structures.
The search for oxygen was a dreaded chore. It meant that the older ones would have to leave their compound and be exposed to all of the thousands of dead bodies that remained everywhere they went. Before the general population died, it had gotten to the point where there were more people dead than alive. The ones who were alive conserved their energy and oxygen and did nothing to clear away the fallen bodies. Streets, homes, offices, parks, stores and everywhere imaginable were all littered with human, animal and insect remains. The teens had taken sheets and blankets from several medical facilities and used them to cover as many dead bodies as they could along their oxygen gathering routes.
It was always a crapshoot to find a partially filled tank or a remnant of the life-giving gas in hospital liquid oxygen towers. Their oxygen gathering runs had depleted the majority of the already very limited oxygen supplies from the nearby hospitals. They now had to journey into a territory new to them. This meant that they would have to go inside of the hospital to release an oxygen security valve that was installed by most facilities to keep vandals from illegally refilling their tanks when the majority of people were still alive. Since the children were in survival mode, they quickly learned how to find the security valves in most facilities that they searched.
The teens drove an electric truck that they had found from a failed Army convoy. Apparently the drivers of the trucks had been ambushed, and an exchange of crossfire killed all involved. The youth were lucky to find in those trucks thousands of oxygen pellets, which contained four hours worth of concentrated oxygen stored in a small hand-held cylinder. It was manna from heaven. For the first eight months of their now two-year survival ordeal, the pellets had been their exclusive source of oxygen. Now they relied on refillable tanks. They carefully placed and secured the empty oxygen cylinders on the truck’s bed and proceeded to the hospital.
Four of the older teens, Seth, Ramon, Leah and Mica embarked on the journey to the hospital. They parked the truck near the liquid oxygen towers that were located on the outside. Someone had to go into the hospital to release the security valve so that they could drain any possible oxygen leftovers into their portable tanks. In the hospital’s security office, the teens found a map that gave the location to the valve. The four played a game of rock, paper, scissors to determine who would be the one to go open the security valve near the maternity ward. Leah lost the game and had to make the run. She was terrified to go into the desolate hospital where she knew that she would encounter hundreds of dead bodies.
She used the map to find her way to the maternity ward. As she walked through the ward, she passed the nurse’s station. A few nurses and a doctor were dead on the floor with their oxygen masks still attached to their faces. Their oxygen tubes were fixed to the wall oxygen delivery system. Leah knew that was a bad sign and that this hospital’s oxygen was probably tapped out. She cringed at the site. Medical personnel represented the quintessential helpers in times of crises, but without oxygen, even they were taken out of commission.
Leah was trembling as she tried to use the building’s map to find her way to the room that had the valve. She interpreted that she should turn right and enter a room to the left of a broom closet. She entered the room and was stunned to see a dead woman who had been in the process of giving birth with her legs elevated in stirrups and a dead partially delivered baby still in her body. The baby had a mask strapped to its face as it was making its way into the world. The nurse and doctor who had been attending the birth were dead on the floor.
She ran out screaming and went to where the others were waiting outside near the oxygen towers. “I can’t do it! I can’t! I won’t go back in there! It’s too horrible!”
The eldest of the surviving teens, Seth, volunteered to complete the task. “Give me the map, and I’ll release the valve.”
He went into the building and made his way to the maternity ward. He found a short cut to get to the room with the valve and was able to open it. He chucked the map away as they never wanted to come back in the building ever again. As he made his way to the stairs, he passed by the nursery-viewing window. In the window were the deceased bodies of newborns still swaddled in pink and blue blankets laying on display in hospital bassinets. Infant-sized oxygen masks were affixed to their faces.
Their parents had made all of the usual plans for their arrival. Cute little baby booties and clothing were neatly laid out in their nursery’s dressers and closets at home. There was a nice safe car seat securely attached to the backseat of their parents’ SUV for baby’s planned homecoming. Some of the babies even had college funds already established for their educational future. What the parents neglected to prepare for was a viable, clean and sustainable Earth for the essential breaths of life. Now, the posterity of man lay as mummified testaments of an environmentally dysfunctional human family. The ecological details were chronically ignored by mainstream society, and the little ones futures ended as a once oxygen rich world no longer supported life.
Seth ran away and joined the others at the oxygen towers. He too was shaken by the unfathomable reality of man’s extinction. The four donned their rubber gloves to protect their hand from getting frost burns from the frigid liquid oxygen. When they turned on the outside valve, nothing happened. The tanks were depleted. The teens then had to go search other hospitals for remnants of oxygen to fill their tanks.
After several hours of searching, they were able to partially fill their oxygen supplies. Before the teens returned to their makeshift home, they scrounged around a few grocery stores looking for bottled water, canned goods and even a few new toys and books for the younger children’s Sunday play.
The children used one of the vaults in the bank to try and grow a few plants. The plant virus had wiped out all of the plants on the outside so; the kids thought that the vault would protect potted plants from any viruses that might still be surviving in the anaerobic atmosphere. The children routinely gathered seeds, large planters, soil and plant food from a home improvement store. They used lamps to provide continuous light to encourage the plants to grow. The teens had the foresight to gather solar panel kits from the home improvement store to run the lamps and other electrical devices that they needed. This was their nursery, and their hope for a natural supply of oxygen and perhaps even one day some fresh food. Every time a little bud would spring up, the children would beg the plant to stay. The exhaled kiss of the children's breath onto the plant was their silent prayer for survival. The problem was, the tiny newborn plants would always die and never grew to maturity. It happened dozens of times, and the cycle felt hopeless, but there was no option to give up. They had to keep planting and trying for the ability to save themselves.
It was Saturday, and Seth was reading the Torah as part of his personal worship time while he was on guard duty on the outside of the bank. It was their routine to keep watch after experiencing their horrifying ordeal with the bandits. They had not seen anyone since that time, and they were not sure if they were indeed the only humans alive on the planet. However, they weren't going to take any chances.
Here was Seth, a 16-year-old who may have been the oldest living person on Earth for all he knew. Instead of oxygen stealing bandits, he wished that perhaps more responsible adults would come by and relieve him from his tremendous duty of keeping the last of the human species alive. He felt cheated. He no longer had any parents, a government or a civilization left to help him and the children. At the moment, he was it. He should have been dealing with the normal routines of a teenager . . .taking a girl to the movies, playing baseball, skate boarding and going to school to get an education to plan for his future. Instead, he was forced into survival mode by a society that chronically ignored the deteriorating conditions of a polluted world. As he looked down the streets to the right and left, for as many blocks as he could see, there was no sign of life. The downtown that once thrived with the hustle and bustle of thousands of people, now only had the movement of thousands of papers blowing along the street. It was a cringing reminder to him of what adult preoccupations were truly focused on which was chasing after the dollar. Now, the bells at the Stock Exchange a few blocks away were just as silent as the rest of the deserted Earth. Out of all the thousands of commodities traded daily, next to none of them were products related to turning the world green. For whom did the ultimate bell toll? The bank vault that once held all of man’s most treasured possessions was now a cradle to the orphaned children of a man-made environmental apocalypse.
Seth’s anger grew. He had thought that it was a novel idea to make his bed out of money, but now he realized its symbolic meaning to his current situation. He stormed into the bank and piled the contents of his money mattress onto an office mail cart, wheeled and dumped the money outside. It blew and scattered in the wind. It totally hit rock bottom to have no value at all. For all of the greenbacks could not bring the green back. No one paid it forward. Who was in charge of looking after the overall health and well being of the Earth? Why was there not a worldwide governing organization established to be responsible for the sustainability of the environment? It was the most important issue of the world.
Betty indicated to Indigo that she had seen enough of this future quest.
“That’s all it takes is an anomaly, a mutation of normalcy to turn into an out of hand plant virus and wipe out every living thing on the planet?!”
Indigo responded. By man’s habits, just about everything on your planet has been chemically altered. Toxic substances can stimulate conditions for pandemic disasters to happen. Earth has experienced global mass extinction before. Your planet is now entering into the sixth mass extinction period by mans own doing. In time, the Earth will recover and renew itself. New plants and animals will eventually re-emerge.
“Do the children survive in the end? Will the events of the future quests really happen?”
That is up to the readers of this book.
Betty and Sean had awakened from their future quests. Even though it was decided that teenagers could probably handle the future quest experience, the reality was that it was very rough on them.
Sean was extremely upset at having seen the possibility of how the world would progress if an immediate environmental intervention were not made.
“Mom, please tell me that the stuff in the future quest won’t happen. What will I do when I get older?”
The younger children began to wake up from their induced naps, and they observed Sean’s angst.
“Sean why are you so sad? Mom, you don’t look too happy either. What’s going on?” Eric asked.
Betty tried to put the words together to relax Sean. “Listen, the future quest was showing what could happen if our environmental conditions don’t improve. We have the opportunity to change what is pending. Hopefully, the world will realize what we are doing to the Earth, and we can all pull together to prevent the events from occurring. I think that was the whole point of the future quest.”
Eric came to tug on her arm. “Mom, what did you and Sean dream about?”
Betty peered down at her youngest son and had to keep her eyes clear from tears so as not to upset him. But her heart was very heavy because she believed that people still would not change their habits to bring about a cleaner world. In her mind, all of the children of the world were doomed to an environmentally turbulent future. They would inherit the dirty results of decades of poor environmental practices.
“Ahhhh, Eric, we dreamed about how we are going to recycle more, eat less meat, ride our bikes.”
Eric interrupted. “Oh, that was a good dream. I’d like to ride my bike more.”
“Yeah, I’m sure you would honey. We just have to reexamine how we’re living and find some new things to try so that you, Sean and Birdie can have a world waiting to give you a good future when you get to my age. Can you guys excuse me for a moment? Mommy has to use the bathroom.”
Betty went into the bathroom and as soon as the door was shut she began to cry uncontrollably. She knew the full reality was that the current habits of the world would not change. Mostly everyone already knew about recycling and its benefits, but would not hesitate to throw a one hundred paged newspaper into the garbage can instead of a recycling bin. People were more concerned about looking good in a big SUV regardless of the fact that it contributed heavily to the rapidly declining climate. Mindsets and comforts were not going to yield to create an environment that would sustain the bee population. It wouldn’t be until it was too late when the “developed” world began to starve to death that the general population would wake up and realize that the polluted air killed off all of the bees. She felt that no one gave a damn about anything anymore and that it was hopeless that the world could be saved. Her children and all of the other children of the world were screwed. This was probably the last living generation of man.
As Betty grappled with her reaction to the future quest so did the rest of the world. Reporters were in Times Square getting responses from people who began to emerge from their homes.
“That future quest was so, so real! Man, I could not breathe. That was so very scary to not have air outside. What do you do? Oh my God, what would happen if the pollution did overtake our oxygen? I can’t . . . I just can’t even think about that.”
“How can we evolve under these circumstances? How can we survive if the pollution continues and gets worse? I’m glad that the whole world got a chance to experience this future quest because it gives us a clear picture of what we’ve been doing to ourselves and the consequences that we will face if we don’t get this world cleaned up. We absolutely can’t keep going on like we have and not do anything.”
One lady explained. “I’m moving out of the city. I’ll go live in Oregon in some forest so that I can have a constant supply of oxygen and fresh air.”
A guy next to her overheard what she had just said, and commented.
“Yeah, they will come up with tree house condos or something. People are going to get scared and want to go back to nature. But you know what will happen? When everyone starts heading for the hills, it will be too many people and that will get ruined too.”
“Those aliens are duping us. There’s no climate crisis. They just want to come take over our planet.”
“Come on! I don’t buy it. I see green everywhere. My lawn is greener than ever. I hike in thick rich forests and see picture perfect streams. The sky looks blue to me. We have beautiful sunny days and these chicken littles are telling us that the sky is falling. I believe what I see, not what these aliens and scientists are trying to tell me.”
A passerby heard the last comment and stood toe-to-toe with the man to enlighten him on the issue.
“All of our greenhouse gases don’t just magically leave Earth’s atmosphere. The gases are trapped between the sky and the ground. If you look at the horizon of any major city in the world, you can see the line of pollution that has sunk down to our level that we are actually living in and breathing every minute of everyday. Asthma and other lung diseases are on the rise, not the decline. Doesn't that tell you something? Things may look normal on the surface, but the devil is in the minute details of the gradual destruction of everything that we can see. The plant virus could definitely happen. We are susceptible to environmentally triggered diseases. Plants may not hold up to all of the chemicals and stressors that we expose them to. How do we know what the tipping point is when too much is too much? It’s people like you who bury your heads in the sand and don’t see that we do have serious environmental problems that are affecting our world. That’s why things are so out of hand now because no one is doing anything to correct it because they don’t believe that there is a legitimate problem.”
The doubting Thomas retorted. “I don’t give a damn what you say. The Earth will always be here with people living on it just fine. We don’t have to change nothing right now. Everything is alright.” He wanted the last word and was done with the confrontation. He walked away.
His verbal sparring partner just shook his head in disbelief and whispered, “We’re not going to make it.”