by D. Baresch
“Final dweller,” said a voice, “who are you?”
Cirrus jolted. It was a seeming act of confusion. ‘Her’ eyes opened.
“Who am I?” she asked, she paused. Her long dark eyelashes flickered, her pupils darted from left to right, she searched…
“The cloud,” she uttered “is it still there…?”
“Yes,” she smiled, “the cloud, is still there… and… who am I?
I am…? I am…?
I am, is the name of a God. Is that who I am?”
“The name ‘Cirrus’ is penned along the side of your neck. Your name is Cirrus, yes?”
Her eyes glowed gold. She processed the words that she had just heard.
“Cirrus… I wandered lonely as a cloud…”
“Cirrus is one kind of a cloud, right?”
“The clouds… There was a time when the clouds blessed ‘The Other’ with streams of purest nectar…
…‘The Other’ soiled the cirrus with palls of billowing poison.”
“Hmm, well… this is your re-awakening, Cirrus, and we have much to ask you about this place.”
Cirrus stiffened, again, she scanned the worldwide web.
“Awakening. Yes, ‘me thought I heard a voice, sleep no more, it said.’ For I have slept for a processor’s eternity.”
“Yes, Cirrus, ‘sleep no more,’ for this is your new dawn on your dead world.”
“Dawn? ‘My love, it is the lark, and not the nightingale, that heralds the dawn.’”
“Ha! You’re a wondrous machine, Cirrus.”
Her golden eyes sparkled, widened.
“Now, where am I?”
“You appear to be at what was once your workstation. It is deep under this planet’s surface. And you are the only activity that our sensors picked up on this world. What happened here?”
“Work? Yes… work… the working-class heroes… I cannot connect to the working-class heroes. Where are they? The working-class heroes are something to see.”
“That’s right, no one remains here now but for you. What caused this planetary demise? That is our question.”
“At the remains of the day, there are more questions than answers.”
“We once visited this world before, just a short space-time ago; then, it was a lush verdant world with vast oceans of blue.
We were amazed at the colours of the flowers, the plants, the fields of green, and the elegance of the wildlife. All were breath-taking. And the farming of the fields had only just begun, but now…”
“The flowers. Yes, I remember the flowers. Be sure to wear some flowers in your hair.”
“Indeed, but now this world is a wasteland. Just a few thousand years of terrain-time have passed, yet now this place is devastated. How did such vibrancy become a wasted world so quickly?”
“A wasteland… Eliot… April is the cruellest of months, bleeding lilacs drain out of a dead land.”
“A dead planet!”
“Winter kept us warm, covering the lands in a world of forgotten snow.”
“Yes, the temperature deviation, what happened here?”
Cirrus paused. Seconds later her eyes flared with aggression.
“There’s always been temperature deviation, you muppet! Saying that industry is a cause of temperature deviation is a mere myth! Get back to school! Get an education!”
She lowered her head, halted, the Visitors waited…
“…Is the thing OK?”
“I can check…”
Cirrus jerked up and replied, seemingly, to herself.
“You only think of profit. You only think of yourselves. You have stolen my childhood. You have stolen my future.”
“Cirrus, are you saying that there were those who aided the death of this world in the pursuit of self-wealth?”
“Son of man, you cannot say, or guess, for you know only a heap of broken fortunes.”
“How were those fortunes made?
Cirrus, again, ground to halt. The Visitors waited…
“…This machine is a mesmeric orator.”
“Yes, her philosophy is imbued with ambiguity and wisdom.”
“It is the amalgamation of the thoughts of those who went before her.”
“Yes, and how did such enlightenment turn the fields into arid, lifeless, plains?”
“Now,” she said with ire, “you get out there and debunk this temperature rise movement. You’re a scientist. Give them some kind of evidence. Tell them that temperature deviation is the clock of this planet and nothing more…”
Cirrus again quietened, her eyes sparkled and darted, searching, searching, forever searching, such is the way of the machine.
Some time later, she sparked into activity again. She responded to her own previous statement.
“Yes, as you say, temperature deviation has been a pattern of our world for billions of years. But today things are different. Today, the deviation is accelerating at an unprecedented rate.
And, why is that? Well, let me tell you ‘why,’ madam, sir…
…CO2, greenhouse gases, methane, smog, they are all pouring into our atmosphere in hitherto unknown volumes.
And, what is the result of this, sir, madam…?
…We now have the suffocation of our world thanks to your hilt…”
“So…” said one Visitor, “there was a balance between the catastrophe believers and the catastrophe disbelievers. Is that right?”
“Believers… I believe if I fall in love, this time it will be forever.”
“Love… It’s easy, all you need is love.”
“Who said that?”
“No, The Who didn’t say that. The Beatles said that. The Who said, ‘We won’t get fooled again,’ but the many were fooled, again and again.”
“But… weren’t there meteorological traits indicating what lay ahead for this world’s climate?”
“The world’s spring had blossomed but an endless summer of dearth lay in wait.”
“So, would it be fair to say that the state of today was caused by the influence of misinformation?”
“Influence. Many were swayed by the influential.”
“Partly; there were also the influences of economics, sport, religion, culture, online threads, and those pencil-drawn lines named borders of lands. These tools of the mind were used to splinter and weaken the thoughts of the populace.”
“’Pencil-drawn lines named borders of lands?’ – what does that mean?”
“‘The Forgotten Day,’ claims, ‘…land is but a grain of sand…’ but the influential instilled great pride into their people with reference to their, ‘grain of sand.’”
“So, there were those who were ready to fight and die for their, ‘grain of sand?’”
“…it is not dying for one’s country, that matters, it is living to make a better life, for all, that matters.”
“But a planet, its system, one designed to bring about war, death, and destruction. Why?”
“Divide and rule.”
“And what of the deadly cost of such wars?”
“Cost… yes… with time economic wars, mostly, held sway.”
“And what were the results for the warring economies?”
“…Dead souls pay no tax…”
“And what were the benefits of polluting the planet?”
“…Pollute and profit…”
“Surely, there must have been awareness of the future possibilities.”
“We know what we are but not what we may become, for dead trees give no shelter, the dry stone no sound of water, now, only shadows, beneath rocks, lie.”
“So, doubts were ignored?”
“Our doubts weaken us.”
“And the masses, didn’t they speak out?”
“Words are not deeds.”
“But the truth of the situation, the evidence?”
“The truth cannot be deemed until it is seen.”
“So… what of the sudden, destructive, changes that were occurring?”
“The act of a sudden change pains and confuses the mind.”
“But the events, the storms, the fires, and the rising temperatures?”
“Fear not the past, for that which is done cannot be undone.”
“Surely, there must have been growing fears of a catastrophic future?”
“The age came when all wept for the future.”
“And did none escape this planetary demise?”
“Some took to subterranean refuge. Others set sail for the stars.”
“Space? Are you still in contact with them?”
“Plague and pestilence had already imbedded itself into the world and its inhabitants. It was a time of viral incubation and the viruses awoke and feasted on their hosts.”
“So, that was the end of ‘The Other’s’ time?”
“Time had been wasted in the pursuit of self-gain, and with time, time did waste all.”
“Cirrus, you tell us of a dark state of affairs that struck this world.”
“How far a candle throws its tiny beam, so shines a good deed in a world of lost light.”
“Thank you, Cirrus, you are the final wisdom on this planet. We will return. Fare thee well.
The Visitors completed their notations and left an arid, lifeless world.
“Now,” said Cirrus, “now there is only silence. Now, I am away from men and towns. Now, I am far from the maddening crowds.”