It was a sunny Sunday, Sara and Chloe were getting bored. They had finished their homework and watched enough of television and finished their chores too. Just then Chloe remembered the remote control she bought years ago. She quickly ran to the storage room searching for it. While she was looking, Sara found a dusty and rusty old thing which resembled Chloe’s remote control.
- « Chloe, look what I found! »
- « Doesn’t this look like my remote control? But wait, this looks so strange, why are these tiny buttons here? »
- « Wait Chloe! Don’t do anything! Let’s take it to dad and show it to him. »
- « I wonder what will happen if I press this… »
- « Don’t……. !!!!! » shouted Sara.
Suddenly, they both felt dizzy! The only thing they could see was black, green, black bubbles… Their heads swirled, and they fainted instantly. Rubbing their eyes, they were very surprised to look at their surroundings. There were machines everywhere and it was impossible to count them. But the worst thing they saw was a sea full of oil, tins, paper and all kinds of rubbish. It was a terrible scene.
“Hmmmm….. what place is this Chloe?” Sara looked around curiously.
“I have no idea” said Chloe.
Suddenly, they saw a big giant strange machine coming out. The two of them stood in front of a massive door, which opened to a vast deserted land. The place was so empty. No sign of people. It was all deserted.
“How horrible!” Chloe said to Sara.
When Sara turned her head, she saw a huge shadow cast over them.
“Monsteeeeeeer!!” screamed Sara. When both girls saw that huge monster, they started to run.
The monster chased them in whatever direction they ran. Soon both of them were so tired that they could not move any more. Breathing heavily, they stood in front of the monster, helpless and hopeless. They closely looked at it and saw that it was made of junk, electronic waste and all kind of garbage… and it stunk!
“HA..HA…HA” the monster loudly laughed, “I am the Garbage monster! And I was created by you, humans. You dumped all your trash on earth, polluted its beauty, threw away electronic waste. And here I am, as the result of your reckless, childish behavior.”
- “Please don’t hurt us” begged Chloe.
- “Please leave and let us alone!” said Sara.
- “That is not enough, how can I believe you selfish humans!” roared the monster.
- “Please believe us when we say we won’t exploit our nature anymore, we have seen the effect of our actions. We have seen the state of the earth in the future if we continue to exploit it” begged Chloe.
As both of them were speaking to the monster, a strong air blew and pulled both of them back to their room. Rubbing their eyes, Chloe and Sara realized that they had actually travelled ahead in time. What they had witnessed was the state of earth if humans did nothing to protect the environment from pollution.
The two girls went to their house and told their dad what happened, and that inspired him to write a story.
That night, Chloe’s brother Malcolm was playing football video games.
- “It’s time for bed now, Malcolm,” his father sternly said.
- “Pleeease?” Malcolm smiled the warmest smile possible, a smile he knew his father could not resist.
- “Well, all right then. Any preferences tonight?” Malcolm thought and thought.
- “Tell me about Earth, Dad.”
His father’s expression became gloomy, and then he sat straight.
- “All right then. I think it is about time you got to know a bit more about it, you’re old enough now.”
Almost 12 years ago I embarked on a spaceship, the one that you’ve seen in the town square. On that spaceship, there were 214 people. As you know, that was the only ship that made it to our home, Mars.
I inhabited Earth for 32 years. I was born in 2018, the same year as your mother. I had a relatively quiet and carefree youth. Your grandfather was one of the wealthiest men in the world you know.”
- “What does ‘wealthiest’ mean, Dad?” Malcolm interrupted his father.
- “Being wealthy means you have a lot of money. In my dad’s case, more than we could ever spend. But you never have to worry about money. It doesn’t exist anymore. You know when Mom visits people and issues laws with her colleagues? In return, we get potatoes from someone and other vegetables, or a knitted sweater. I repair people’s electricity or computers and we always get something back in return. Or, we lend our stuff to each other. It’s called bartering. It’s really easy, and carefree.”
Malcolm had not really thought about it. To him it was natural.
“We could buy stuff with my dad’s money, everything we wanted. We were a family of privilege – that means we had many advantages in comparison to other people – and your grandfather was a man of high status. He was well respected throughout the world – as we called Earth when we spoke of the entire community of diverse people and species living on it” his dad continued.
“You grandfather was an innovator.”
Malcolm looked puzzled.
“That means he was always one of the first to come up with something new, something people didn’t even know they wanted or needed. Your grandfather developed and built the spaceship in the town square, the ship that brought us here.
My father’s company, FLife, developed great products. It started out with producing satellites, which were more efficient and sustainable than the ones that were already circling the orbit. The company made a fortune with the satellites, allowing my dad to pursue his more audacious dreams to build a better and more ecological world.
On every continent he had a large plant built, producing solar panels and renewable batteries for cars, trucks, airplanes or boats. Besides that, he also built a device people could integrate into their houses, making energy cheaper and more durable.
He cared for our planet and he was a strong advocate for a greener planet, reducing vehicles running on gasoline, promoting vegetarianism, altering the meat industry. He was a compassionate man. Unfortunately for him and the rest of humanity, his efforts alone couldn’t stop earth’s deterioration. He knew that.
So, secretly, my Pops installed a facility in the desert where we were working on a plan to leave Earth. We were building spaceships, gathering materials, research and the like. And your mother and I were part of that team.”
Malcolm’s eyes became bigger, showing a hint of pride. Then Malcolm wondered about something else. “What did you do when you were my age, Dad? What was playing on Earth like?”
- “That’s another story. Good night son,” his father said while kissing his son’s forehead.
- “Good night dad” said Malcom.
“I’ve won first place for the Rooted Everyday story competition! I read a lot of stories and watch a lot of movies for children because they use a lot of imagination. For this story, I drew inspiration from them. I have been reading a lot of children’s books. If you read my story you’ll see it is aimed at children. I tried to be as original as possible and use a clear language suited for children.”
– Kaoutar Lakhr
Sophia Sifaki from Greece is the winner of the first Mediterranean environmental-themed short story prize with her story The Treasure. Sifaki’s story The Treasure spins an enchanting conservation tale in which a young doctor arrives on the small Greek island of...