by J. Speer, USA
The sun was dying. The scientists predicted there would be 15 more years of light. According to the astrophysics calculations, it would be 15 more years if we were lucky. Then, there would be nothing, just darkness. It would be a black hole. The galaxy and everything in it would be swallowed within seconds into an ominous black void never to return.
As a result of the dying light, our world was ceasing to thrive. But it had problems long, long before that. In the 21st century, the planet was ravaged by extreme climate change. First, it was the searing hot temperatures that people noted but went about their daily business anyway. Then, there were the melting ice caps, the rising oceans that threatened the world’s best and brightest capitals near the shores, and the strange and deadly wildfires that swept across whole nations. These began the rumblings of discontent among the world’s populace and calls to action were prompted but debated and delayed.
The world’s animal populations too, both large and small, faced the climate disasters and some neared the brink of extinction. The climate veered wildly between flooding and drought from one region to the next. There were more violent tornadoes that tore across the Great Plains.
Meanwhile, underneath the land, the ancient aquifers that irrigated the food supplies were being drained. Within 30-40 years, the people of the Earth began to do mass climate migration. Many, here in what was once known as the United States of America, moved from the Great Plains to the Upper Lakes Region to be near vital fresh water.
As climate change worsened, the sunlight lessened. The world was a vision of grey. The sky and clouds no longer bore their blue and white brilliance. In time, the trees grew more unhealthy and smaller until finally, they were nearly all gone. The only plants that grew in this dystopia were created and maintained artificially. They were precious and few. They were devoted to the harvest to feed dwindling humanity. No parks existed, no gardens, nothing but concrete and clustered apartment buildings in this portion of old Chicago.
The year was 3049.
The United States had long since divided into tribal regions. Chicago resided in the Upper Lakes quadrant and was the capital of this area. Chicago was one of the oldest and most productive capitals that remained.
Much of the American West Coast had fallen into the Pacific Ocean after the great rumblings and massive super-volcanic eruption of Yellowstone. Wyoming, Utah, Colorado and much more of the Midwest were obliterated instantaneously. What was not destroyed by the massive lava flows was devastated by the ash fallout. Chicago sat on the new edge of humanity. It was the farthest city to the west.
This Upper Lakes sector was run by a Council rather than a Congress and House of Representatives. The government was strict and adhered to rules with imprisonment enforcement. Certain activities were not permitted following the great climate devastations and eruption. One of these activities was the practice of any type of religion, even meditation.
Chen Li knew this. He also knew the consequences of his actions in Apartment 502 of the fifth floor of 1417 E Centennial Drive in Southside Chicago. Chen Li lived in what was popularly referred to as the slums. All the housing was low-income and each apartment was heavily populated.
Chen Li often looked out from his balcony at the despairingly bleak grey of the sky, the polluted smog, the grey apartment buildings as far as the eye could see, and the other tenants as they engaged in their daily activities of work and play. Everything was grey. The clothes were grey. The rooms of the apartments were grey. It was an entire landscape of grey.
Chen Li worked as a book collector and book shop owner in the basement of a downtown Chicago building. It was an older rummage shop full of musty worn books and other items that time had long since forgotten. In the digital present, these artifacts of the past were considered undesirable or unnecessary. So, Chen Li generally had very few customers. Folks occasionally came into the shop out of curiosity and left quickly. Others who shared Chen Li’s fascination with literature would, from time to time, stop in for a particular find. But, otherwise, Chen Li was left alone. He actually preferred this. It gave him time to delve into the books with great enthusiasm.
He had acquired a particular book through the underground market several years ago. He read it in secret at the shop before and after work to avoid getting caught. Then, one day, he hid it in a leather briefcase and took it home. It lay at the very back of the bookcase behind four other books on architecture. These were big and bulky books that were quite tedious reads but the hidden book…. that was the real treasure. He had memorized parts of the book completely and begun to put it into practice.
The door was locked. Chen Li could hear occupants of the building run up and down the stairwell from time to time. But he focused on clearing his mind, emptying out his thoughts and his being until there was nothing but the rhythm, the sound of the vibration emanating from his soul. He went deeper and deeper into the sound until his third eye slowly opened.
He began to travel in his mind through doorways and walls, through apartments and windows, searching and searching as he had done often lately. He had stumbled upon this ability recently and was still mastering the art of this meditative state. He wanted to expand his vibrations out to others, those who would be receptive to the call. He had been surprised to learn that the most receptive were young children, aged 2 to 6. So that day, Chen Li used his third eye to find the children that were alone in their grey dull rooms playing with their grey dull toys and dressed in their grey dull clothes.
Chen Li first found a little 4-year-old girl who was sitting on her bed and reading. She had a very light blue aura surrounding her. Chen Li raised his vibration to permeate the walls of the little room until the girl stopped reading. She sat very still at first. She could hear the ringing first in her right ear. This had happened to her before. She sat very, very still then because she knew if she listened harder and sat very still the ringing would increase and take over her body in vibration. She did not understand it, but she knew that it made her very happy. It felt like home. She would sit still and let the vibration increase until her aura turned from light blue to blue, to purple, to pink, to rainbow. The little girl felt the vibration for a good three minutes, holding it inside in a state of bliss, until it slowly faded away and then was gone. Whatever it was, it made her feel better and she continued to do her reading reluctantly, wishing the sound would come back. But she was happier. That was all that mattered.
Chen Li searched for more children. He liked to do this for them, to give them a moment of happiness in an otherwise bleak existence. Throughout that evening, he searched the neighborhood raising the vibrations of 16 little children until they each glowed with a rainbow aura.
Chen Li had been doing this in secret, in fact, every Saturday evening for several months. It was not until he encountered the little boy in Apartment 133 of building 1419 that evening, that Chen Li questioned whether it was right or wrong. He felt, however, in his gut that it was a noble thing to reach out to the little ones giving them happiness, that someday this would prove its merit. He had no idea how important this would turn out to be.
This little one had no family except his mother from what Chen Li could gather. His bedroom was even more depressing than the others with barely any possessions at all. The boy with curly brown locks sat coloring at a little table. His aura was different from the others. Chen Li noticed that it was even darker, almost getting on to black. Chen Li watched the despondent boy for a good five minutes before reaching out with his vibrations. It took thirty minutes for Chen Li to break the barrier of the dark aura. The boy finally heard the distant sound. He lifted his head and stopped coloring. The vibrating sound entered his left ear. He held the sound in his mind. The vibration filled his whole body. He felt a strong tingling sensation extending from head to toe and traveling up his spine. The dark aura slowly changed to light blue, and purple, and pink and… that is when the boy started reacting differently.
He closed his eyes in bliss and began to hum to the sound within him and all around him that enveloped him in happiness. His humming grew louder and louder, and Chen Li watched in surprise as his aura field expanded further and further out from the room, from the apartment, and from the building itself. The pink aura changed to rainbow and then as the humming vibration increased dramatically, the color changed once more… a final time… to gold. From that point, the aura field exploded into the sky.
Chen Li’s third eye closed tightly. He was thrown off balance and backwards. In shock, he stood up and hurried to the balcony. All the power in the city was out. There was only darkness and the surprised and somewhat terrified voices of the other tenants. Chen Li tried to look towards building 1419 but could not see much in the darkness. He wanted to get a flashlight but was in darkness himself. He stumbled around the apartment until he found an old candle and managed to light it. He went back to the balcony with the light but could see very little.
He was worried that he would be found out. The penalty of religious studies was imprisonment. He stepped back cautiously into the apartment and decided it would be best to wait until the morning.
The next morning, at sunrise, Chen Li woke to the biggest surprise of his life. He stumbled out of his bedroom and into the side kitchen for some coffee and was startled to see a flash of green from the window. He paused to go back to the window and re-examine more closely what he saw. Outside the window was a small haven of green.
Chen Li rushed to the balcony and looked down below into the street. Many other tenants were out looking in shock at what Chen Li was seeing. Trees. There were trees everywhere in the little neighborhood for at least three blocks. Trees and grass and more plants dotted the grey landscape. He opened the door to the stairwell and ran as fast as he could down to the apartment building entrance. Near the entrance, he stood in awe under the shade of one very large tree that had busted through the concrete.
From a distance in another part of Southside Chicago, Chen Li could hear the sound of sirens blaring. They were coming. Chen Li looked to building 1419 and then began running towards it. All around him the other neighbors were out looking at the sudden growth of nature. He bumped into one person by accident on his way to building 1419. He apologized as he kept running.
The little boy with the strange aura was standing on the steps to building 1419. He was holding the hand of his mother who could not believe what was happening. Chen Li had been rushing forward, but when he saw the both of them, he stopped suddenly. He did not know what to say or what to do. The sirens were getting closer. He had to do something. He could not run. Neither could the boy.
Chen Li sat down on the new grass and broken concrete. He tried to calm himself again, to clear his mind and empty himself. He took up the sound again, the low vibration, and gradually his third eye opened.
The little boy was standing in front of him. He was smiling and began slightly humming too. He sat down across from Chen Li and the two reached out hands to each other. Their palms touched in the air, the little ones resting lightly on the big hands. The vibration began to take them both over. The little boy’s eyes were closed but he was smiling and humming. The vibration was all around them and both their auras expanded while changing colors. Meanwhile, from nearby, the other 16 children were gathering from various homes throughout the neighborhood. They gathered around the two bodies in a circle and raised their vibrations too. A bright rainbow aura expanded out from all of them. The adults looked at them all with amazement but not truly understanding what was going on. They could not see the auras.
The humming from the little boy was getting stronger again. His whole body glowed and suddenly both Chen Li and the little boy lifted into the air, levitating just above the ground together. Chen Li opened his eyes in surprise and the little boy smiled mischievously back at him. Then the little boy laughed slightly as if completely happy. He then hummed much louder, and the vibration once again exploded out of the beautiful golden aura. There was again a massive explosion of light and a giant phoenix of light and gold rose out of the little boy and twirled three times up into the air above them. Then it shot right into the sky, through the atmosphere and hurdled directly towards the sun. When it connected with the sun, there was a big bang of light. The sun burst into enormous energy again.
It was no longer dying.
On Earth, suddenly, the grey was fading away as brilliant hues of blue and purple and yellow and orange burst into the sky. All across the Earth, green was expanding out across the continents.
Chen Li looked in wonder at the little boy who just smiled back at him.
“Let there be light,” said the little boy. He smiled at Chen Li. Chen Li smiled back at him. Everyone was looking at them with amazement. Again, they heard the sirens in the surrounding city.
“We must go,” said the boy. “We can’t stay here anymore.” He stood up now and gave his little hand to Chen Li, who, likewise, stood up. Chen Li took the little boy’s hand in his own.
The little boy led him to his mother. They exchanged smiles. Then the three walked hand in hand, the little boy in the middle between the woman and man. They walked down the street amid the broken concrete and trees and disappeared into the beautiful and colorful distance beyond.