“I see you. I hear you. I smell you. I will touch you, then I will taste you,” screamed my bald-headed daughter, dissolving into giggles before turning a disarming blue. She struggled for air. Grabbing her, I rushed underground, cursing my stupidity for keeping Ariel outside for longer than the allotted thirty minutes. Hopefully the toxic air had not damaged my child, I prayed, as I hooked her up to an oxygen tank. But it had not been thirty minutes because no alarms had rung. Did this indicate our safe allotted time outside was becoming less and less? 

The oxygen smelt stale and tasted rancid. Yet another horror of living underground. 

Holding her frail hand, I thought life for her was unfair. She was sickly, hairless owing to radiation, one of the last children born and most likely would not be able to have children of her own. She had no concept of the word “playmate” because she had none. She was bound to a monotonous, monochromatic and meaningless life. It was a life devoid of colour, pleasures and the Great Outdoors. Like naked moles we eked out a pitiful existence with a life that offered fewer and fewer delights. Less and less of a life above ground. 

Outside, poisoned air, toxic vegetation and high radiation imprisoned us.

Where had it all gone wrong?

I had been a well-respected conservationist until my life ripped manically at the seams. The government, I naively thought, hired me to save the world. They did not. Government officials were not interested in cleaning the Great Garbage Patch, purifying the air, refreezing melting glaciers or mending the ozone layers. They wanted to exploit. They wanted to exploit world resources. They wanted money and  profits. Only money and profits. But at whose expense?

I preached the three Rs. I wanted people to respect the environment.  I was against the three Ws. I wanted less waste, wrongdoing to Earth and woeful disrespect.

My punishment was being left on Earth to find a cure. The problem was that there was no cure.

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    Carrie OLeary
    Carrie OLeary(@carrie-oleary)
    1 month ago

    A heart-rending story of a world I hope we will never see. I love dystopian stories and this one is excellent. Well done.

    1 month ago

    Margarida, as mentioned in comments to your “it imploded” story, this chimes with the Wool trilogy by Hugh Howey. I think you would enjoy it given the parallels.

    Lotchie Carmelo
    Lotchie Carmelo(@lotchie-carmelo)
    1 month ago

    A thought-provoking story, Margarida. I feel so sad thinking that the world’s biggest problem had no cure. Well done.

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