Where I live, the temperature is almost always very hot. Our homes are equipped with expensive and complicated technology, as well as thick, insulated walls. It’s the best we can do to keep out the weather that has already killed so many of us.
Before The Thaw, the rich people used resources excessively, wasting so much of what they had, while the poor starved in other countries. The people wasted so much, always taking more than they needed, with no regard for how their luxuries were destroying the earth.
About 300 years ago, people started to realize that the climate, the earth, was changing. Temperatures all over the world were rising with increasing speed. When the weather was cold, it was a chilling, bone-deep, freezing cold that killed thousands. The severity of the situation was finally registering to the leaders of the countries.
World leaders met in a city that was once called Paris. It’s underwater now, of course. The goal of the meeting was to figure out a way to slow, and eventually stop, what they called Climate Change. The meetings did very little to help the situation. The people had been so intent on their technology and comfort that they had forgotten the most important thing.
They met 20 years later New York City, which is also long gone. About 10 years after that, in a desperate attempt to save themselves, another meeting was held in London. Unfortunately, by then it was too late.
Coastline cities disappeared under the quickly rising water. Millions of people were killed, and even more were displaced. The earth did not contain enough resources to support everyone, so the human race began to die off. Billions of people died of starvation, dehydration, and exposure. The remaining people were forced to cannibalize to survive.
Almost the entire human race was wiped out in just a few centuries. Those of us who remain live in an obscure desert in North America. Pretty much everywhere is desert now. The kids go to school every day except holidays. We learn about how and why the world ended, and we learn new technology. I guess maybe the adults have some ridiculous hope that someday we can fix the world.
Privately, after all we’ve learned, I can’t help but think that maybe the world was better off before it had humans, and it will probably heal itself after we are gone.
Mostly, I think that the human race will struggle along for a few centuries and then die out completely. There are those few people who still have hope that we can survive and thrive again someday, but even more rare are the people who think that there are already people out there. Those people believe that there were other survivors, that there are people in other parts of the world living the way we do.
We have advanced technology, so if there actually are people somewhere else, we could contact them. The problem is that we can’t contact people that simply aren’t there.
I walk silently home from school. My younger brother, Xander, follows close behind me, stepping in the little dimples my feet make in the sand. Xander talked a bit as we were leaving, but he quickly realized I wasn’t listening. My older sister, Victoria, is still in school; the high school ends almost an hour after the middle and elementary schools.
I can’t stop thinking about what happened at lunch today. The school lunch food was disgusting as usual, so Hunter and I had brought our own lunches. I was unwrapping a sandwich and hunter was opening a bag of chips when another kid ran into the lunch room, shouting. He was claiming that he had just seen an airplane.
This is a huge thing, if it’s true. The people around here don’t use airplanes. We all live close enough together that if we need to go anywhere, we can take the train. Although, we mostly get everything we need right where we are. The government delivers packages of food each week, so we don’t go to grocery stores or anything.
The kid who said he’d seen the airplane wasn’t necessarily a solid source. He came from one of those families that thinks that there are other people out there, so a lot of us were speculating that he could have imagined it out of sheer desperation.
Hunter and I talked about that for the rest of the lunch period. We both think that he saw one of those little desert birds and mistook it for an airplane, or that he was just lying. We don’t think that this event will change anything. I mean, it was just a stupid kid.
The house is empty when we arrive. My parents both work for the government, so they are usually gone in the morning before we wake and get home late. This may come as a shock, but we don’t get homework these days. We do in elementary school, but after that we are expected to work after school. My shift starts at four and goes until eight pm.
I work in a factory that makes clothing. It sucks, but everyone is expected to work. If you don’t work, you get thrown out, and nobody wants to live in the desert alone. Not that anyone would last very long out there.
“Savannah, can you help me?” Xander says from the kitchen table. He’s working on tech homework, and he usually needs my help. Tech is a class we take at school- we basically learn about electricity and forms of energy, how they function in modern technology.
“Sure, Xander, what do you need help with?” I say, but I don’t leave my bedroom yet. I’m looking for my factory uniform.
“Well, I can’t figure out how-” Xander is interrupted by the sound of the front door opening.
“We’re home!” It’s my dad. Why are my parents home so early? They usually don’t get get here until much later.
“Why are you guys home already?” I ask as I leave my bedroom.
“There has been an… interesting development at work. Only the top officials are qualified to make decisions about it, so they sent the rest of us home,” My mom explains. She is pretending to look happy, but I can tell she’s worried. She tucks a lock of platinum blonde hair behind her ear.
“Okay so are you gonna tell us what happened or what?” Xander is bouncing up and down in his seat.
“We’ll wait until Tory gets home before we tell you,” My dad is a little harder to read than my mom. His gray eyes reveal almost nothing.
I have a sudden thought.
“Does this have anything to do with that idiot who-”
“We’ll tell you when your sister gets back from school,” My dad repeats, and this time his tone is harder, leaving no room for argument.
When Victoria finally gets back, we are playing a game with our standard issue deck of cards. She stops as she closes the door, clearly surprised to find our parents at home.
“What’s going on here?” She asks warily.
“Mom and Dad had some weird thing at work,” Xander explains as he lays a card on the table.
“Which the haven’t said anything about yet because they’re waiting for you to get home,” I cut in.
“What happened?” Tory asks immediately. The three of us turn expectantly to our parents.
“There have been several reports today of an airplane,” My mom begins. “The office sent a team to investigate the sightings, and they found them to be accurate. Some officials want to send a group to find the origin of the plane. Other people would rather keep everyone here, safe and sound. They were considering a vote, but in the end they decided to send everyone home early so that the higher officials can figure out what to do.”
I exchange a glance with my sister. Her blue eyes are wide and worried. A beam of sunlight shines through the window, making her brunette hair shine. Tory is tall and thin, with long, dark eyelashes and and delicate features.
Xander has the same blue eyes and blonde hair as my mom. We look almost nothing alike; I have my dad’s dark hair and gray eyes, his bold face.
Later, after everyone has gone to bed, I lie awake in my bed, thinking. If what my mom told us is true, then they might actually send people on the mission to find other civilization. The more I think about it, the more it sounds like a good idea. If we can find other people…. I decide that I want to go. I want to go on this mission to find the rest of the world.
It takes me a long time to fall asleep, and after I do I awake almost immediately to the sirens. Every building in our town is equipped with a government controlled alarm system. The alarms emit piercing screeches at regular intervals. They are rarely activated, but everyone knows what to do when they are.
The hall is packed with people when my family arrives. Hundreds of people wait outside the building, but we made it in because of my parents’ jobs.
“What’s happening? Why are there so many people?” Xander’s small voice is confused and scared. He clutches my mom’s hand tightly. My parents exchange a glance.
“I think they’ve figured out what to do about that plane,” My dad says. He has a faraway look in his eyes and he keeps running his hands through his hair. Tory opens her mouth, probably to ask a question, but she is interrupted by a deep voice speaking into a microphone.
“We have called you here tonight to inform you of the day’s events. There were several sightings of a plane today, and the government has decided to send a team to find the origin of it.” He goes on to talk about how the team must conduct themselves, and how carefully the members were chosen, and he sure takes a long time to explain everything. I’m beginning to wonder why they think this is so important, why they need to tell everyone, why they need to tell us in the middle of the night.
At some point I fall asleep, and I wake up as everyone begins to leave the building. My parents and Tory have managed to stay awake, and all three look like some kind of mixture of worried and excited. Instead of going out the main doors with everyone else, my family heads through a side door that opens into an office. Several people are already waiting there.
I know better than to say anything, so I just kind of sit in a chair and try to figure out what’s happening. It doesn’t take long for me to realize that they are making plans and going over procedures. The more I listen, I realize that they are talking about the mission. I wonder if we are only here because my parents work here. Are they involved more than they told us?
“Do you wish to take the children?” the fat man who was talking in the hall says as he straightens his tie. He is talking to my parents. They exchange a glance.
“Yes,” my dad replies. “We will take them. When are we leaving?”
“Now. Bags are already packed in the next room. There is a train leaving in an hour for the outskirts of this town, heading east. Walk to the station and board the train.”
Everyone in the room stands and we walk to the next room, where there are several large bags, each with a name on it. I find the bag that says “Savannah” in the middle of a clump with the rest of my family’s bags.
“Where are we going?” I whisper to my mom.
“We are going to find civilization.”