Silent world. Chemical world. My world. They mean the same thing. Before, there used to be life, plants, animals, society. Not anymore. I write this as the chemicals slowly ravage my body, the same ones that killed this world. Maybe, if our world can heal, you will find this and know our mistakes, but let me start when I began to understand our wrongs.
It was blue today, the picture on my wall. The ultimate expanse, the sky, arching over the glittering ocean. Yesterday it was the grandeur of the redwoods, nothing like the small trees that line the streets here. The pictures make some people mad at those who took these wonders from us.
We are the lucky ones, the teachers at school say, the only ones who didn’t try to destroy the world. Yet no one listened to Ersatz, the company who sponsored Eden, so they all had to suffer in their hell as we lived in paradise.
But that’s all over now. We are the only ones left and today we have a Gathering, to decide who gets the new position in the lab. I contemplate getting chosen as I pull on my coat and head into the sunshine. If I get it, there could be a potential social benefit, but the work would be hard.
As I arrive in the amphitheater the head-scientist Thomas flashes a sparkling grin at me, his dark hair artfully shaped. Then again, social benefits didn’t sound so bad. People listened to those who worked at the lab, especially at Gatherings when big decisions are made. I will probably be picked. There are only a few others with the qualifications to take the job.
Thinking about it, I really want that job.
Nine and a half hours later the debate is still going on and Thomas, who is advocating for me, is losing. His Secondary, Robert, is working with Kelsie who also wants the job. She is blond and her blue eyes are vibrant against her black eyeliner. It is no mystery why Robert is fighting oh-so valiantly for her, seeing as he is an unattractive and unmarried man. If she gets the job due to him it is expected that she will be more open to him.
Thomas is getting tired and a few more men had joined in with Robert, probably to get “in” with Kelsie. Finally, when it reaches 10:00 p.m., Thomas gives up, Kelsie gets the job and I am stuck back at University. Feeling fed up because I am extremely qualified while she had barely passed exams, I stomp out.
On the way back to my apartment I pass Thomas, who tries to say something to me, but I just push passed him, too upset to talk.
When I get home I see that the picture had changed, it is now a lightning storm over a cliff. It is strange, how the picture makes me feel. Like I am filled up, so full that I could burst. I have never been this angry before. I always succeed, I am top of the class, I deserve that job.
Before I realize what I am doing, I shatter the screen that holds the pictures. A hot stinging sensation shoots up my arm, I look down to see my own blood that now decorates the glass. It hurts, but part of me likes it. Part of me says to keep on hurting because it will never go away. After all of my work, all my running, I will still hurt because I have lost them, I have lost the job, I have lost Thomas. Red descends on my vision, lulling me into a state of comforting rage. Finally being able to let out how I feel.
I awake hours later, feeling tired and empty. That full feeling, having hope and anger swirling through my head is gone. I am left feeling adrift in the world. What is left for me? That was the only job opening and I don’t think I could bear working in the lower levels. Processing numbers all day, coming home and drinking the night away, only to do it again the next day.
Maybe letting my license expire would be worth it. I mean, the rest of the world might hate Eden, but they could accept me. All I would have to do is wait and then I could leave. The rest of the world and I certainly had something in common; both of us had our lives fall to ashes.
Just one more week and then I could go see the ocean and redwoods from the shattered screen. I smile gently as I pull the covers over shoulders. No longer feeling empty I slip back to sleep.
Two days later, I find myself next to Thomas in one of the many decorative gardens.
“I’m going to let my license expire,” I tell him when the conversation comes to a lull, my voice barely louder than the singing fountain. I was expecting sadness, a little betrayal maybe, but not the sheer horror that covered his face like plaster.
“What? You — you’ll be dismissed! You can’t go, how will you survive?” he splutters. Survive? The world may not be as easy outside of Eden, but it certainly isn’t lethal.
“How do you mean? It might not be entirely accepted but it certainly isn’t dangerous!” My voice is rising by the word. His face falls blank for a moment, then he grabs my face between his palms.
“Listen to me. Whatever they have told you is a lie. I can’t let you go, I can’t let you throw your life away not before I — ” He stops, his mouth slightly agape, his eyes wild with something I couldn’t recognize. An insanity, a protective desperation, a need for something.
“What, Thomas?” I whisper. My voice is shaky and scared.
“Nothing. Nothing at all.” He resumes his seamless, professional appearance that I recognize from when he gives lectures at University. Even though he’s only a year older than me, he is already the Second Scientist at the lab, I mean, what else would a Presidential descendant expect?
And the way he looks at me, like he is terrified of the thought of me in the outside, away from him. He looks insane, mad enough to kill.
I awake to a knock at the door. Thomas is leaning against the door jamb and looking like he hasn’t slept at all last night.
“I got you the job,” he gasps out, his face hopeful, but there is a shadow of something much darker. But that doesn’t matter right now, I got the job! For a moment I stand frozen, then I throw my arms around his neck, crying.
Taken by surprise, Thomas raises his arms slowly to hug me back. After a moment, I land on my feet and release him, saying, “What would I do without you?” At my compliment his whole face darkens for an instant, not even long enough for me to be sure that it actually happened.
“Come on, let’s get you set up,” he says, and all my worries wash away.
The lab is big and bright, full of stainless steel and glass. All sorts of instruments occupy the large rooms that are connected by long fluorescent-lit hallways. As I settle into my desk and stare out the massive window at the city below me I wonder for the first time how Thomas got me this job, and why.