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Devastation

By , Brunswick, OH
I remember when the Eiffel Tower was still up right and when the Statue of Liberty was still posing in the Hudson. I remember when Africa’s safaris were inhabited by colorful animals and when the Amazon was filled with millions of gallons of water. Those were the good days, when the Earth was crawling with life. Those are the days that I will cherish forever.

I’m Jennifer and my family and I have been living through this disaster of a world for the past seven years. It’s been hard, real hard but somehow we’ve made it this far. We used to be a normal family who did fun things together all the time but now we are a family just trying to stay alive. Ever since that fateful summer we’ve been forced to struggle to live just like every other family who somehow managed to survive such a horrible tragedy.

It all started during the summer of 2012. It had been abnormally warm during that winter and it was definitely taking its toll. The glaciers in the arctic were melting causing the ocean to rise and the shores to disappear. Although it did have some effect on the coastline my family and I went on with our normal lives.

A couple of months passed and the Earth just kept getting hotter, like an egg in a frying pan. Drought was becoming a growing problem and the prices of everything were rising. Gas, food, you name it, it was all so expensive. My father ended up losing his job because of the tough economy. Without that job we had no source of income. Sadly, we were forced to sell our house and move further north.

By the time June was just around the corner the atmosphere had become so hot that entire lakes had completely vanished. Everyone was running out of food and water. People by the thousands were fleeing their towns, desperate to find the important supplies they needed. Their efforts were wasted however. There were too many people moving at the same time and the housing camps couldn’t sustain everyone. That was our downfall. People went crazy and started robbing everyone and everything.

No one was safe including us. We were robbed so many times that I couldn’t keep count. At the time we lived in Michigan, which was beautiful, but because of all the robberies were forced to move again.

We fled up to Ontario, Canada, which was one of the best decisions my family could have made. I guess the provinces in Canada had been preparing for something like this to happen and they were pretty much prepared for everything. The refugee camp to which we fled provided us with water, food, shelter and even entertainment.

Since our last move a dreadful disease broke out and war over needed supplies erupted. Although the conditions weren’t ideal they were much better than what they were in America. I hoped it would stay that way. It didn’t.
My mother’s sweet voice rang as she sang:
Somewhere over the rainbow
Way up high,
There's a land that I heard of
Once in a lullaby.

Somewhere over the rainbow
Skies are blue,
And the dreams that you dare to dream
Really do come true.

Someday I'll wish upon a star
And wake up where the clouds are far
Behind me.
Where troubles melt like lemon drops
Away above the chimney tops
That's where you'll find me.

Somewhere over the rainbow
Bluebirds fly.
Birds fly over the rainbow.
Why then, oh why can't I?

If happy little bluebirds fly
Beyond the rainbow
Why, oh why can't I?
She had been singing this song to my brother and I as long as I could remember. It always comforted me when I was in stress. There is something hidden inside her voice that attracts people to her like bees to honey. I love it when she sings, it’s just so breathtaking.
My mother sang her song while my brother and I collected firewood. Ever since the imports of oil from the Middle East stopped coming we had to use firewood instead of gas. We did chores like that every day and all the while the blazing sun burned our faces bright red. It’s been getting harder to work as the sun shines brighter and more people die. My mother’s song comforts me but I know everything is going to become much worse.

“Mommy, it’s too hot. Can’t we take a break?” My brother whines, interrupting my mother’s beautiful voice.

“I’m sorry sweetheart,” My mother says sincerely, “but we need to keep going. Mommy and Daddy are running out of tickets.”

Tickets are basically what we use for money here. We were given a certain number of tickets when we moved into the camp and we were told that we would not receive any more tickets until a replenish year. That’s when all the basic supplies needed for survival are somehow in abundance. Basically, if you ran out of tickets you were done for.

Anyways, no matter how many members are in your family every group would get the same amount of tickets. Even after seven years of living in Ontario there still has not been a replenish year. Predictably our tickets were running out and fast.

“What happens when we run out, Daddy,” My brother turns and stares at my father.

“Umm,”my father shoots his bloodshot eyes toward my mother looking for an answer, “You know what, you don’t have to worry ‘bout it.”
That’s another thing this move to Canada brought us. We can’t talk about anything too personal. The so called police (I call them the freaks) in the camp are very strict and if they hear anything that could sound like insider information they pounce. They arrest anyone who talks in a low whisper and they bestow cruel punishments upon supposed conspirators. Mom and Dad said they are supposed to keep us safe but I think the Freaks try to do anything but. Whenever we have something to talk about we wait until the night sky is pitch black and when the stars are twinkling like my mother’s eyes.

“Mom, wake up,” I barely whisper as we lay inside our tent, “Mom, wake up! I need to talk to you.”

“Huh, Jennifer what is it? Is it the army?” My mom asks shooting straight up out of her bed.

No, NO! Calm down,” I stress quietly yet forcefully, “I really need you to tell me something and it has to be the truth.”

“What is it?” She asks, this time a little more cautiously.

“I can tell from the way everyone is acting that things are gonna get worse, a lot worse. I heard people talking about how close the rebel’s army is and that the drought is getting worse. I need to know now, are we going to die if we stay here?” I ask as quietly as I could.

Knowing my father is listed on the camps emergency defensive forces list, I know my mother should have some very important information. All I needed to do was get it out of her and all she needed to do was give me a straight answer.

“Sweetheart, please just get some sleep,” my mother pleaded, “You really need your rest since you’re out in the sun all day.”

“SERIOUSLY! I need you for once in your life to give me a straight answer. No one is listening. You can tell me. PLEASE!” I tell her trying to keep the explosion inside me from coming out.

“Fine. From what your father has told me all of Canada is in deep trouble. The rebels are coming in fast on a rampage for supplies. Little do they know that we have about as much as they do. Our lead military commander expects them to arrive in a couple of weeks.” She explains trying not to show how upset she is, “In terms of the drought, I don’t know how to say this but, if the temperatures keep rising the way they are right now then almost the entire human race will die off. Your father and I have been discussing whether to flee or not and we decided that we are going to stick it out here in the camp.”

Shock swept over me like a rushing tidal wave. How could my parents do this to us? How could they just risk our lives like that? Another wave swept over me soon after the first but this time it was filled with rage. My “loving parents” are going to sacrifice me and my brother’s lives by staying and “sticking out” some sort of un-livable conditions. No matter how much I tried I could not get my mouth to say words. It felt like my tongue was as heavy as bricks. All I could do was roll over on my cot and cry silent tears.

“I was going to tell you soon but I didn’t want you to get upset,” my mother cried, “Please don’t be mad. I’m sure you’ll understand sometime in the future that we made the right decision. Now I don’t want to hear anymore. Go to sleep!”

Tears streaked down my eyes as I tried to gain precious sleep. Instead I just kept thinking of what my mother just confided in me. I knew that staying here was suicide and meant certain death. I knew that my brother had no clue what was really going on around here. I knew my brother and I had to get out of this prison like camp. There was no way I could let my brother and I die. No army, no parents and certainly no temperature changes were going to stop me.

The next day I tried my best to act as I would every other normal day. Throughout all my chores I was devising my plan to escape from the camp which now felt like a death trap. I could barely glance at my mother and father without wearing a look of disgust and disappointment on my face. It was hard but every time they talked to me or asked me to do something I would plaster a smile on my face and say “yes Daddy” and “ok Mother”.

When my brother and I were assigned by my father to buy a gallon of water from the Resource Center I figured this was my chance to let my brother know of my plan. As soon as we were out of the hearing range of anyone nearby I took a knee so I was face to face with my 5 year old brother.

“Nathan, can you keep a secret?” I asked, giving my brother a quizzical look.

“Yeah. Of course I can. You’re my biggest sister.” Nathan said.

“Good, I thought so,” I happily state, “Well, tonight you and I are going on a vacation. We’re going into the magical forest that you have always wanted to explore.”

“Hurray, hurray. I’ve always wanted to go into the forest. “Nathan chants,” I can’t wait to tell Mommy and Daddy and Jessica and-“

“Here’s the thing Nathan you can’t tell anyone. “I interrupted, “Only you and I are going. But this doesn’t mean were going to have a boring time. Trust me it’s going to be so much fun. In case you get homesick I’ll sing Mommy’s song.”

After staring at the mud caked ground for a couple of seconds Nathan looked up and gave me a simple nod. Great, that’s all I needed. Now, we can get out of here, away from this messed up world.

Night came and so did the fatigue of the day but I fought my eyes to stay awake. Nathan and I had to leave in the middle of the night, when hopefully no one was awake. I pretended to fall asleep once my head hit the cot. As I listened to the snoring and shifting of my exhausted family, I thought about what the future would bring upon us. I knew that we had to find a source of water as soon as we stepped foot in the woods and that we had to get as far away from any type of civilization as possible.

When the right time finally came I got up from my cot and packed what little possessions my brother and I owned. Once all of our possessions were packed neatly in a water crate I quietly woke up my brother.

“C’mon buddy wake up. It’s time to go on our vacation,” I said sounding as excited as I could.

“Why are we leaving so early? “Nathan grouched.

“The forest is very pretty at this time of night. You will see.” I answer

It took us a bit of time to crawl out of the tent but once our feet touched the dew covered ground we took off. Both of us started to jog out towards the woods, looking anxiously behind our backs as we went. We exited the dreadful camp and entered the safe zone, the forest. Hours passed and we were still hiking deeper into the forest. My brother was very entertained by the plants and animals that lived inside the canopy but I was too distraught with fear. Where would I find water when there was a life threatening drought hanging over my head? What was I thinking?

Sunshine broke through the trees and soaked our cold bodies with warmth. My body ached from the hike and by the look in Nathan’s eyes I could tell he was about to pass out he was so tired. I decided it was time to settle down and take a nap, but the nap had to be short and somewhere hidden in case the rebel army came around. Slowly I unpacked one of my old blankets and laid it on the ground under a thick bush. It should be enough protection, I thought.

The dream I had during my nap was filled with terrifying images. Pictures of fires and war swirled and danced throughout my head. People were running and screaming trying to get away from something they would never out run. Every bit of dirt was as hard as rock and every source of water was dried up. Soon I heard someone screaming my name. It was off in the distance. The voice sounded familiar but I couldn’t quite place it.


That’s when I bolted awake from my dream to find Nathan being dragged away from me by a young, unshaven man. He tugged and pulled on my brother’s shirt as he struggled to get free. I looked around to find myself surrounded by a bunch of rebels holding an assortment of weapons. Suddenly a man grabbed me by the arm and pulled me toward the direction of a clearing in the forest with a large pole sticking out of the middle of the ground. Both my brother and I were bound to the poll facing outward towards the rebels. Behind me my brother was crying hysterically, kicking his feet in the air.



“It’s going to be all right. Just don’t cry and close your eyes. I’ll sing mommy’s song. Are your eyes closed?” I managed to choke out.

“Ye-yeah. They are c-closed,” my brother said between sobs.

I was about to sing my mother’s lovely song when I heard the click of a trigger.

“Just keep your eyes shut, o.k. O.K!” I screamed.

I never got an answer for the first shot rang. I cried out in agony to the horrible people who had just shot my brother. Then I just sat there crying while I waited for my own shot to arrive. I kept my eyes shut but then I heard the second shot and everything around me went black.

When I finally opened my eyes I was eye level with Nathan who smiled radiantly at me. I had no clue why he was so happy at first but once I looked around my face beamed with excitement. Water was everywhere, clear blue water. There were giant pools of blue and tall green trees. Everywhere I looked I saw clear signs of life, something I had not seen in a long time. I then turned to my brother and sang the song that Nathan had been waiting for.
Somewhere over the rainbow
Way up high,
There's a land that I heard of
Once in a lullaby.

Somewhere over the rainbow
Skies are blue,
And the dreams that you dare to dream
Really do come true.

Someday I'll wish upon a star
And wake up where the clouds are far
Behind me.
Where troubles melt like lemon drops
Away above the chimney tops
That's where you'll find me.

Somewhere over the rainbow
Bluebirds fly.
Birds fly over the rainbow.
Why then, oh why can't I?

If happy little bluebirds fly
Beyond the rainbow
Why, oh why can't I?





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