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We All Do
I think it began at dawn, but I can’t remember exactly the time the sirens started screeching. My memories of the evacuation were failing, but there's nothing I can do to stop it. I remember of feeling confused and stunned when my father entered my room quickly, told me to get dressed and go downstairs as fast as I could, and so I did. When I got downstairs, I told my father that I needed some time to take a bath if we were leaving the house, because I needed to look and smell nice. Well, that was the last time I cared for beauty and that stuff. "YOU ARE NOT TAKING A BATH RIGHT NOW, COME HERE, WE NEED TO LEAVE. NOW!" he barked on my face after my request. "What is happening, dad? Why are you so angry? Why are those sirens screaming?" I asked back, ignoring his rudeness, and he answered, rude once again "there's no time for explanations, get in the car. NOW!" After this educational horror show I got into the car swiftly, and my father did the same a few moments later, with a gun in his hands. "What the hell is happening dad? Why are you carrying a gun on a plain monday?" I asked, stupidly, "does really a monday morning with sirens look plain to you? Now, shut up".
That's basically how the evacuation morning went up and after several hours driving (thanks, traffic) we finally got to the Novae Terrae ship (what a name to a spacecraft) that was parked in New York City. "I have never seen so many people at the same place! Dad, can you tell me what's happening now?" I asked for the millionth time, and my father answered the same thing "I'll explain when we reach the line." After thirty minutes in which our car didn't move a meter, my father ordered: "Get out of the car, we'll go walking." I didn't enjoy walking, so I protested "can't we just wait? Probably this will..." I started to argue, but my father interrupted with a big loud "NO!", And I got out of the car as quickly as I could. We walked a lot, and there were people everywhere, in the cars, in motorcycles, buses, vans, but after a certain point, everyone started walking, and we seemed like a very awkward procession. Families were careful of where they walked, and almost every group I saw was in possession of a gun. My father looked serious, and he spoke no word until we arrived at the Cadman Plaza, a park located near the Brooklyn Bridge to New York.
"Ok so, Matt, listen up," My father finally started explaining "today is the evacuation day. 'And dad, what's the evacuation day?'" he asked himself, mocking my voice "well. Basically, Earth is doomed, and all the nations have been working on leaving the planet until some government guys achieve to heal it, so meanwhile, we will live on a spacecraft, or maybe on Mars." I was speechless and stunned and I started being overcome by a surge of feelings of such a magnitude that I couldn't even think properly. The last time this happened was on the day my mother died, and it didn't end up well. "HOW DIDN'T YOU TELL ME? JUST BECAUSE YOU'RE OLDER IT DOESN'T MEAN YOU CAN HIDE THIS SORT OF STUFF FROM ME! I HATE YOU!". I freaked out on the middle of a humongous line in front of the temporary military facility of the evacuation (I still regret of doing such a shameful thing, and a lot of people do remember it). It didn't bother my father that much, and it seemed like he already expected this response coming from me. I was so pissed off that I didn't even notice the ship. It was occupying the whole Manhattan island. It is so pathetically humongous that it becomes hard to describe. It was of a steel-grey colour, and it had solar panels everywhere. Some places of the ship seemed covered by glass, and it had hatches EVERYWHERE. Everyone in the line was looking at it. "How many people are going in the ship dad?" I asked, with my curiosity overcoming my anger, "The whole population of the United States, Canada and Mexico are going, Matt. That's why it is that big." And it seemed like all these countries were coming, because damn there was a lot of people in the line.
Hours and hours had passed and slowly our turn arrived. The military weren't as mean as I thought they'd be. "Please hand over your documents, we will process them and sign you in, then you'll receive your new documents and money to be used on the ship (that was a brilliant idea that the Australian government had, they suggested to implement an equal currency in the ship, rewarded by doing some tasks, that could be spent to have more comfort).
After we had our documents and money in hands we were given a room number and a pass to get inside the ship, and the military suggested us to take pictures of the bare land before going in, but I didn't. I don't know why I didn't.
When we entered the ship we found ourselves in a huge hallway that went as deep as my vision could reach. Countless doors resided in both sides of the hallways, I figured we were in the residential area. Our room was in block C, and it was very simple. It had steel floor, walls and ceiling, a small window on the back and four beds. The bathroom was shared with the remaining rooms of the block, and it was crystal clean. After we had accommodated our belongings my father left the room to speak with the manager of block C, and when he came back he told me, with quite an insecure tone in his voice "Matt, we are actually sharing our room with two ladies. They shall arrive in the next few days..." and I instantly got excited by the perspective of maybe having a new friend in this upcoming journey "REALLY? Oh my goodness, you know their age?", "It will be a mother and a daughter." he answered sharply. Why was him so harsh in since we got in the ship? He had achieved his goal. He had everything. And then I realized that we didn't have mom with us, and that we would be sharing room with a woman. He hadn't had any contact with a woman in the last two years. "I'll give him time to set his thoughts in place, and meanwhile, I shall explore this gigantic ship" I thought. As I walked, I could see people from all North America settling in their new homes (if it is even possible to call those small rooms homes), and what got me by surprise is that there was no wide area. Only hallways, and a whole lot of them. After quite some time walking (in hallways) I tumbled into a lady in a uniform. "Sorry, I didn't see you..." I told her immediately, but I also asked just as fast "By the way, do you know if there is any common area or anything like it? I have seen only hallways in the last hour." She smirked at me and answered an almost pre made sentence: "All the evacuated shall remain in their blocks and wait for further information about the evacuation." After this awkward response, I kept thinking about how awful it would be to stay in a hallway-room environment, but that couldn't be the whole thing. People would rebel in these circumstances, and rebellion in a spaceship is terrible. I got back to my room, and there were only two beds, and no roommates, only my father. "Aren't the ladies coming?" I asked him, and he replied, with some relief "They were reassigned to another block. This room is too small to have four beds." That caught me off guard, but it would be for the best after all.
Later that day I remember that there was a voice speaking to the entire ship. The captain told us that "Novae Terrae was only a small part of the whole space station, Vitae. All the nations have been working together to construct this space station to save the human race and the planet."
Some days passed, and when everyone was settled and the ship was ready, we took of Earth for good. "97% of the population of the northern hemisphere boarded the ship, and it shall take us two full days to arrive the space station. Meanwhile, block managers will be asking for you task intentions in Vitae, and a reminder: every person above the age of 16 must be working on a job. No exceptions allowed" Many groans were heard after that speech, and I bet they were all teenagers, like me. "Why we need to work dad?" "Because there will be a lot to do in the space station. And for the teens the tasks will be simple, just for them to get used to the assignments they will receive later on." That calmed me down. I. Don't. Want. To. Work.
Days passed, the transition was over, and we arrived at the space station. It was huge, and it looked a lot like the death star from Star Wars. Novae Terrae was a residential station, and we would only sleep on this ship. Vitae was for the living stuff (walking, reading, talking, normal day-to-day things we don't give that much value until we're locked inside a space station. All the other nations had their own ships, and Vitae was built to support 10 billion people, because the UN calculated human population would grow over the course of earth's mending. Heh, idiots.
As I was a teenager, I was assigned to study about complex functions that I would manage in the future, and they were very interesting, like solar panels maintenance, engine maintenance, pretty much everything's maintenance.
I spent two years studying the maintenance of the ships and Vitae, and after long years of working on tasks, I finally got promoted to Master Keeper of Life (a great name for the head-chief of maintenance and security, because Vitae means Life in Latin). That title granted my father and me a lot of prestige and comfort. We acquired many board games (to have those meant that you were pretty fancy back then), and we even got to have our private bathroom, but no further than that.
It was only last year that I gave away my title to the next hard working evacuated (that's how we call the younger generations born on the ship).
"After 45 long years on Vitae, I have constructed a family. I met my wife while wandering around the observatory right after the death of my father in the space flu epidemy (an awful happening, a virus survived inside of one of the evacuate's body, and it had evolved to be both resistant to treatment and lethal, 20% of Vitaes population perished in a matter of weeks). Ellen has helped me to keep Vitae 'alive' for 20 years now, and our newborn Kelly is just amazing. Thanks for your presence on 'About Life' conference, and I see you around." After I finished my speech, the crowd went crazy, and I quickly left the stage. In the backstage, Ellen waited for me, excited "honey, that speech was amazing! I envy your memory! I can't even remember my first block anymore!" she then grabbed me on her grasp and kissed my lips, and I kissed back. After a few moments I said "and so hon, only five more years on Vitae huh... Then we will go back to earth. What do you think?" I asked, confused and curious. "I don't know what to think. I've been on this ship since I was 10. I don't know how it will feel when we get back there, but it gotta be good, right?" She answered, even more curious than me. "I hope so. I didn't know you were so young when the evacuation happened. You probably didn't even know earth's problems that needed to be fixed. I just hope that we don't destroy our planet once again..."
Well, we all do.