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The Last Chapter This work has been published in the Teen Ink monthly print magazine.

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   Erika always woke up early for school. Not because she wanted to but because she had to. She needed time to prepare for her day ahead, yes, but mostly for her journey to school. It wasn't a long trip but a dangerous one.

Every morning, Erika awoke three hours before she left for school. The routine stuff like dressing and showering only took about an hour, but then came the protection. Protection against what? These days it seemed like everything - the sun, the air, even the soil was harmful in some areas.

So every morning, without fail, a layer of radiation protectant had to be slathered onto her face. At first, the compound had only come in odd, bright metallic colors and every face in the crowd was either gold or silver. Now they came in skin tone and you could match it to your face like foundation.

On top of this, Erika pulled on a wide brimmed hat and dark eye shields to block the sun's cancer causing rays. Thick boots separated her feet from the radioactive soil and an air filter was strapped over her nose and mouth. This was used to screen out the larger particles or dust and smog.

While protecting herself, Erika flipped on the radio and listened to the latest song by the Rolling Stones (80 years and still going strong). A news broadcast interrupted the song.

" ... and in world news today, another meeting is taking place to discuss the reconstruction of the ozone layer. Scientists from the East, West and Australian continents have congregated in the Southwest continent and will begin discussions today ..."

Hastily shutting off the radio, Erika grabbed her books and headed for her car. The ride to the school took maybe 20 minutes, but it gave her time to think. Think about what? Mostly she wondered about how the people of the world could have been careless enough to destroy their world for future generations.

Erika vaguely remembered when she was very young the day that it had been announced to the world that water that had not gone through the purification plants was not safe to drink. Similar news briefs about the other elements soon followed. Panic ensued throughout the world. Groups attempted to purify the water and the soil, but the air and radiation could not be helped. Citizens of all nations begged their governments for help. Soon, all disputes between nations over land and resources began to seem unimportant when the leaders or those nations began to realize that there might be none left and no one to use them.

Countries began to join together on solving the problems that faced their people. Soon, all nations had dissolved from the political units of today. North and South America had combined to form the West Continent. Europe, Asia, and Africa formed the East Continent, and Australia remained separate of these two.

Relations between all three were good and the peoples within their borders did not dispute each other. Finally, all shared a common goal and the people of the earth had at last found peace and unity.

Erika sighed as she gathered her books and prepared to enter the domed school. For now, she focused her mind on her first class of the day, science. At present they were studying the recent discovery of how to speed up the process of making fossil fuels. ^


This work has been published in the Teen Ink monthly print magazine. This piece has been published in Teen Ink’s monthly print magazine.






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