Shreds of smoke from small campfires climb a sky tortured with raging forest fires unchecked. Skeletons of once great structures stand as jagged sentinels of a forgotten people. A breeze bites from the north; hints of the ice and snow that it will soon bring tell me I must soon find better shelter if I am to survive another winter.
It is 2080, and the seeds sown by early 21st century corruption have taken root…
I wake up to the feel of rain tattering against my nose and hunger rushing through my belly. Muscles stiff and aching, I lethargically roll out of dreams into reality while simultaneously tripping over a branch. I wearily stared into the night sky, my gaze fixed upon a full moon; based on it’s position I guessed it was approximately 3 AM. Struggling for as comfortable a position as the crotch in my tree would allow, I lay back down to try and get some more rest. As I faded out of consciousness thoughts of technology-lost buzzed around my throbbing skull. I recalled the days of evil, when I was just a wee lad. I remember seeing the automobiles and airplanes and power generators, the casual tools of our so-called “progress” that were gradually but surely so cruelly destroying our environment. The mere thought of gasoline made me want to explode with anger. My dreams were of those demons from the age of evil, destroying great and ancient forests with their grotesque machines – simply to provide shelter for our earth’s miserable inhabitants. I dreamt the earth a barren place where even my own home tree had been cut down, only to be used in some person’s home. I saw where once endless oceans ebbed and flowed now only stinking and fetid waters oozed between my toes.
I woke for good with a cringe around 5 AM. As I scrounged for food – perhaps an acorn left by some squirrel – I plotted in my mind the ten-mile hike to school. The hike usually took around two hours – perfect – as school didn’t start until 8 o’clock. But time was only relative anyway, as no one was bound by the hated clocks that governed the comings and goings of our misguided ancestors. And I was a lucky one – my tree was located close to school, while others of my pack lived 15 to 20 miles away. I had finally found enough acorns to suffice for breakfast. Just last year the vegetable rights activists outlawed the use of vegetables for consumption. Some savages to the south – naively unaware of plant sensitivities and pain – were still harvesting crops and filling their bellies on the pain of our green co-inhabitants. With the last of my acorns finished, I set off to school.
As I began to walk, I was pensive. I couldn’t take my mind off thinking what life was like for our ancestors. I pictured a fat, lazy face sitting behind the wheel of car driving a mere ten miles only to reach school. Just as my anger began to climax one of the many blisters on my feet exploded. Immediately, I sat down to clean the stinging wound. As I scrubbed away I envisioned the repulsive barbarians to the south wearing leather and rubber shoes. A dark feeling of indignation came over me as I conceived people killing trees and animals for something as selfish as shoes. Leaves and vines wrapped around my broken blister, I got up and continued my hike. Around 2 miles in I realized I should begin searching for a new location to dwell during the winter; my tree was still far too young and agile to withstand the snow and wind of winter. Off in the distance I spotted a small cave – really nothing more than a cleft in the granite face. Upon reaching the cave epiphany struck; the cave would do perfectly for a lodge during the winter. I climbed inside the narrow entrance to find a desolate and virgin cave, seemingly unmoved by time its self. I stood in shock as I starred at the blank and perfect wall. As I began to speculate how such a perfect cave could go untouched a great roar took a hold of me. I heard a rumble that I had never heard before; the strident noise nearly made my ringing ears bleed. I crawled outside the cave as fast as I could and looked to the sky to recognize what seemed to be a jet flying overhead. I could take no more anger this day. Rather than anger, I felt pity as I pondered how people could use savage machines outlawed decades ago. People’s minds seemed blunt as they ignorantly destroyed out world.
I started towards school again after this great disruption made me forget about the biting pain in my foot. At last a thought of bliss reached my exasperated mind. This week was environmental love week at school. We will be learning about the evils of our ancestors and the wonders of our planet. This exciting thought forced me to walk on despite my anger, hunger, and pain. After every step I pictured lazy humans driving in their cars and boats, destroying our environment, and polluting our air. While our air was indeed polluted today, choked with smoke and ash from wild fires out of control, I thought, “that’s good pollution – clearing the brush would have destroyed the wonderful undergrowth of our Mother Earth!” These thoughts caused the adrenaline to flow through my veins as fast an eagle diving out of the sky to capture his prey. On blistered and bleeding feet, I began to sprint as the school loomed a few miles distant.
The posters hung and glitter wrapped around trees made school a glorious place. And in the direct center of the courtyard an old car from perhaps the 1980’s was aflame. It was the most fantastic environmental love week in all of history. A nurse came over to me and commanded me to see her in her tree due to my damaged feet. She checked over my bloodied feet and gave me some herbal remedies to keep them from getting infected, yet it only seemed to make it hurt more. Alas, the school leader called for all of us to get to our first class. It felt as if a light from the sun shone upon and the moment of truth was finally at hand.
My history teacher began to lecture us about an ancient practice none as domestication. Apparently animals like dogs and cats were trained to become house animals. Pet owners often fed and gave shelter to their pets, which took away the animal’s natural instinct. This seemed far worse to me than actually eating animals, which these pet owners did too. In my following class, science, I learned about the demonic evils of global warming. Our teachers gave us astonishing facts. For example, from 1900 to 2000 the earth’s average temperature rose one degree! What kind of satanic creature could possibly do such a crime to our planet? We were also told that although the earth’s average temperature is still rising, it is due to irresponsibility of monkeys in the southern hemisphere who breath too much.
As my stirring day at school came to an end I began to plan my trek home. With a small supply of acorns strapped to my side I set out. After about a mile of eventless walking the wind eerily disappeared. I stopped to catch my breath for a moment – eating acorns, while not in violation of any of our natural laws – provided scant nourishment, and saw a lone mosquito fly slowly across my face. After some time passed I noticed the mosquitoes buzzing around in greater numbers. I then recalled over hearing a teacher talking about the animal rights activists protecting the safety of the world’s mosquitoes. It made perfect sense because if the mosquitoes died out then so would all of the bats, and then the gnats would over populated causing everything to fall out of balance. Without the ability to see ten feet in front because of the density of the mosquitoes, I continued to march on, slapping bugs off the skin hanging from my emaciated frame, to my newfound cave.
I woke up the next morning with a splitting headache. I apathetically forced my self to stand up but upon doing so I vomited countless times. As I repositioned my hand to brace my head I noticed an abnormal thing. My skin had a yellow quality to it. The sight of this nearly made me faint. As quickly as I could (which wasn’t exactly fast due to my situation) I made my way to the nearest doctor. Fortunately, in the cool of the morning, the mosquitoes were gone.
The doctor’s diagnosis confirmed my worst fear: malaria, carried by those petulant but well-meaning mosquitoes. The first thought that entered my mind was a thought of grief; I didn’t want to be missing environmental love week at school. Following this thought
I asked the doctor, “there is a cure, right?” A strange look of disappointment appeared on the doctor’s face. He stated, not without compassion, “Well, you know son, I would love to give you the vaccine made of quinine bark, but the use of that tree for medicine was made illegal about a year ago – it would harm a tree, you know.”
I walked – stumbled, really, barely able to stand – back home and lay down in my cave. My fever raged like an angry tiger and I sensed delirium rearing its strange – but strangely comforting – face again. Alien thoughts began taking over – just the fever, perhaps. But in my final hour, fading in and out of consciousness, I couldn’t help but think that maybe, just maybe, one less human polluting the planet wasn’t such a great thing after all…