Earth II | Teen Ink

Earth II

March 24, 2021
By DGill, Mobile, Alabama
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DGill, Mobile, Alabama
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Author's note:

This piece is largely inspired by The 100 by Kass Morgan and I hope readers will enjoy this story.

Everything about the world changed when the fog came. At first, we all thought we would just stay inside of our houses for a few days and wait for it to pass. The only problem was that the fog would not wait for you, it hunted you. Every day on the TV, we heard about awful accounts of families dying from the fog and after a month, every state in America was dead. Except for Alabama. For some reason when the capital of the Confederate States was Montgomery, the Confederacy built a protective bubble around Montgomery. The technology they used was primitive but it allowed them to turn it on and off when they wanted. Thankfully, the governor knew about this and used the shield to defend us. Our legislature decided to wait out the fog and then slowly repopulate Earth. There was only one problem. The fog was not going anywhere. The fog has been here since before I was born and we are getting low on food. We need to find a way to cut the population without death. I try and think of a clever way while giving my hand a break from writing. Yesterday I decided that I would journal my thoughts since I have nothing better to do in jail. I hear the guards coming down the hallway to my cell and I put up my journal in fear of it being taken from me.

“Mom, what are they doing?” I ask my mother as guards take me from my cell. “Everything will be okay,” she responds, “Everything will be okay.” I am led by the military men to a conference room I had never seen or heard of. Inside I see the President and a bunch of kids. Something is up. Why else would they gather all of the criminals in Montgomery? The military personnel tells everyone to be quiet and the Governor gets ready to speak. “If you look around, you may have already guessed that you are all criminals, and today, we are ready to give you a second chance. We have recently finished the construction of an aircraft that will take you to Earth 2, you will have to test Earth 2 and make sure it is survivable. If you succeed, your crimes will be forgiven, and you will get a second chance to live with the rest of the population. Your ship leaves tomorrow at noon, don’t be late.” As the Governor leaves, he looks at me with contempt and says, “You’re lucky your mom convinced me to let you go, you would be dead if it were not for her.” The next day flies by quickly and is only interrupted by the thoughts of my interaction with the Governor. The Governor never believed me when I told him I did not have anything with the rebellion. At least I can save my reputation and escape jail by going to Earth 2.

At noon the next day, I get on the aircraft and as I board, the President looks at me with contempt and I ignore him, knowing that I am innocent. I sit down on the aircraft next to a girl named Katie. Katie is a tall, fit 16-year old that was in my first-grade class. She still has the same dirty blonde hair and charming personality. She was imprisoned for treating the Governor after he killed her father for stealing supplies. I make small talk with her on the plane, but I am interrupted by the intercom informing us that liftoff is in 2 minutes. I get ready for liftoff and find myself, for the first time in my life, scared. Before this, I had never been outside, never done anything risky, never felt fear. “T minus 10 seconds. 9 8 7 6 5 4 3 2 1. Liftoff!” I scream as I frantically grab Katie’s hand, not thinking about anything but fear. The seatbelt holds me in the seat as the thrusters fire and we go blasting into space. Then gas starts leaking into the ship. Everything is so weird. I can’t keep my eyes from shutting and everything goes black.

I open my eyes and as my blurred vision becomes clear, I realize that our aircraft is not moving. They must have filled the vents with sleeping gas to make sure we would reach Earth 2. “Katie wakes up,” I whisper as I shake her softly. “Where are we?” she asks as she slowly wakes up. “I guess we’re on Earth 2,” I respond. Katie and I slowly wake up the remaining criminals and we gather at the exit of the ship. Friends whisper to each other, wondering what awaits us. “Everybody shut up,” Jason yells as he steps towards the front of the crowd. Jason is a large, muscular, tan 19-year-old with bright blue eyes and a solemn face. He is the reason I am on Earth II. A few years back, he formed a planned break out of jail with some of his friends. After being caught, he claimed that I was helping them and I got thrown in jail. I suppose he accused me because my mom was part of the council that decided to put his dad in jail, where he died, for burglary.  “I am going to open this door and we are going to take the land that’s ours!” Jason moves to open the door. “What if there is radiation?” Katie exclaims. “If there’s radiation we will all die eventually, ” Jason responds. Jason flicks the lever. Light blinds my eyes and a big smile comes upon my face as a hunter his prey. I wonder why everything looks so blurred, the trees that I have seen in drawings look weird and fuzzy. That’s when I pass out for the second time today.

The author's comments:

This chapter name is not final, but the best I could come up with at the moment.

My eyes open up and again everything is fuzzy. I appear to be in some sort of cave. I try and get up only to find my arms shackled to the chair I was in. “LET ME OUT OF HERE,” I yell, but my efforts are futile. These shackles are chained to me and they are staying on me. I wonder how I got here. I try to piece together what happened and come to this conclusion: We aren’t alone on Earth II, the aliens saw our aircraft, decided to investigate, and captured us as prisoners using some sort of gas. I wonder what kind of technology they have, although it must be decently advanced considering the room I am in. There is a TV on the wall, although it’s no where near as big as the one in Montgomery, and there is some nice furniture which would be nice if I wasn’t shackled to the chair. I hear the sound of boots outside my cell and that’s when I see the window. I can’t believe I didn’t see it earlier. On my door, there is a little window, just big enough to see through. The only problem is how to get to it. I try scooting my chair, like in Indiana Jones (a move they played a lot back in Montgomery) and it works. I scoot all the way to the window and see a human shaped body with what appears to be a lab coat on flanked by too men in uniform. They are walking down a long corridor with many other rooms, containing my friends I assume. They see me looking at them and panic, suddenly looking away, but it’s too late. They make a turn towards my room and in my panic, my chair falls over, rending what little movement I had useless. I hear a handle turn and then scientist and military personnel enter my cell. With gloves are dark as coal, the scientist picks up me and my chair, and sets it upright. I still do not know if they speak English, but trying to communicate with them is worth a try. “Hello, do you speak English?” I query slowly to let them understand what I’m saying. “I haven’t heard English in a long time,” the scientist says choppily.

“You understand me!” I exclaim.

“I understand some of what you say, I am not as comfortable using English as opposed to our language.” He replies.

“Why are we here or more importantly how are you here,” I question.

“We took you captive. We saw your ship and thought you were soldiers who might kill us,” he explains, “but now is not the time for explanations, now is the time for sleep.”

The scientist pulls out a long needle and I realize what happens next. I shouldn’t have let my hopes up by thinking they would help us. Right before I pass out I hear a scream. A high pitched scream that would have sent a shiver down my spine, if I wasn’t drugged.

The author's comments:

Again, this chapter name is not final.

For the fourth time today, I wake up with blurred vision and slowly remember what happened. There’s no sign of the men who visited me but I realize that I am no longer chained to the chair. I am free to move around and I sit down on the couch and turn on the TV. Next to the remote is a ham and cheese sandwich which I devour while trying to find the news. It turns out, there is no signal on Earth II, surprise surprise, so I turn on some cheesy sitcom that I find. An hour later, I hear a banging in the cell across from mine. I get up and walk to the little window on the door. Through it, I see Max with look of horror on his face, and then I see his body go slack and fall onto the floor. “MAX! WHAT ARE THEY DOING TO DO?” I scream, but the only response I get one of the military personnel picking him up and putting him on the bed. They then exit the cell and walk towards mine. I wonder if they will do the same to me, and then I remembered they already had. I prepare myself for the worst and the guards open my door.

“You have been cleared for leave and are now free to roam our sanctuary after we transport you outside,” the guard informs me.

“What did you do to Max,” I demand.

“What we did to you,” he responds coolly.

“And what did you do to me?” I ask.

“We made you fall asleep so we could check your medical system to make sure you were okay and didn’t have an viruses that could be spread throughout the city,” the guard explains.

What he says sounds logical, but for some reason, I don’t believe it. Why would they even take us in the first place? If they didn’t see any weapons on us or in the aircraft, why would they take us. It just doesn’t make sense. Nonetheless, I get up and walk towards the door. The guard leads me down the long corridor and most of the cells are empty. “Your friends have already been taken to the city, they are fine,” the soldier says. We keep on walking until we reach a staircase that leads upwards. After the climb up the stairs, one final doors stands in between me and the land. The guard pushes it open and sunlight bursts into the cellar and onto my face. Towering trees reach into the sky but fall short. The glistening sun reflects onto the smooth, clear surface of a magnificent pond, something that I have only seen in my dreams. And then I see the most beautiful thing, Katie. Katie is walking throughout the city and I spot her in the crowd. She is walking between the white buildings that look as if they were new 50 years ago. I run up to Katie and as we embrace, a military man walks up. “Your house is this way Mr. Johnson,” he tells me. He starts walking and I follow him and signal for Katie to come. After 5 minutes of walking we reach a house with a sign on the door that says “Kyle”. The guard leads me up the stairs and pulls out a key to unlock the door. He then gives the key to me and leads me inside. From the outside, the house is white and windowed everywhere. It is two stories and everything is rectangular. Immediately inside is a living room, and an adjacent kitchen. Up the stairs are two bedrooms, each with a bathroom. The odd thing is the security measures. There is an alarm on the door (to protect to me or to stop me from escaping, I do not know) and there are locks on the windows.

Days, weeks, months go by. It’s hard to keep track of time in what seems like a perfect world, but if living on Earth has taught me one thing, it is that nothing is perfect. I search and search for flaws while my friends have fun and party. I am waiting for them to strike and capture us, but maybe it will never come. Katie in particular tries to convince me to loosen up and have fun, but I know something is wrong. Then one day, I come upon something horrible, something so messed up even the person who released the radiation would not condone.

"What I found, was how the immigrants had survived. They had come to this planet to run tests on the rocks and see if it was habitable 50 years ago, right when the radiation started. They had faked a crash but secretly survived. They set up their houses using material and a style that was fashionable during their time, I believe they called it modern. After they set up camp, they set up agricultural farms and filtered water through the pond and a nearby lake for reliable food and water. The Leader told me all of this during the first weekly meeting. Everything in this story added up, I remember my mom telling me about scientists going to Earth II, except one thing. There were no farms. No fields of crops, and no animals. So how did they get food? Cannibalism. What may have started out as means of survival, turned into a grim, despicable money making system. I am sure all of you guys have heard of Hiro Corporation, I mean they basically sell everything. Well if you go to one of their supermarkets and look at the meat, you will notice that the meat they sell looks strangely like that of a human. I went down a passageway in their store and what I saw confirmed my fears. I saw hundreds of dead bodies, waiting to be processed. You guys know about our mutation. The radiation on Earth almost took all of the meat off of our ancestor's bones and we had to adapt. We had to create a gene that would give us regenerating meat like Prometheus. They will easily find this gene when they run blood tests on us after our first year here. We cannot stay here at this human slaughterhouse, we need to leave NOW and start our own civilization, one not built off of cannibalism. If you have a problem with leaving, you can stay to be eventually eaten. When will they figure out that our bodies can regenerate our meat as long as we are alive? They will keep you locked up and harvest your meat every day. Do you really want that? If you do, the by all means stay here. If not, then meet me here tomorrow at 7 am."

It looks like my speech grabbed the attention of everyone. Everyone from yesterday is here including Jason who I thought would take my speech as a joke. As he walks in, I notice he is holding hands with Katie, but I push the thought aside: love cannot interfere with this, this is a life or death situation. As everyone sits down, I prepare myself for the questions. Last night, I had specifically said no questions, but today they would ask.

“How do you know all of this,” one kid queries.

“I’ve told you a billion times, I saw the room where they kept the dead and when we go to their doctor, they will run blood tests, and they will find out about our mutation,” I respond.

“Why should we trust you?” Jason asks.

“You don’t have to, but if you do, you will eventually be harvested for your meat,” I reply grimly, “Look, I’m not here to argue or debate what they will do to us. I’m here to start an evacuation, if you’re coming, meet me at The Gate at 10pm and bring whatever you want to take.”

“And if we don’t come?” Jason asks.

“Then you sentence yourself to something worse than death,” I shoot back.

Around 9pm, I starting packing my little belongings into a bag. I sit down for the couch and ponder my decision. It is going to be a rough journey and some of us will probably die, but if we don’t go, we get harvested and die a painful death. I’m startled as I hear the alarm start blaring. “Attempted breach of The Gate, I repeat, an attempted breach of The Gate.” I sprint to the door to find out what is causing this chaos but find the door to be locked from the outside. I was right. The scientists knew there was something special about us, so they had put security on our houses to prevent us from escaping. This also confirmed another one of my beliefs. Jason attempted to escape. He must have gotten his group of friends and convinced the others to escape without me and they got caught. I punch the couch, full of anger and wonder why Jason would do such a thing. Just to spite me I guess. Now they would know that we know something they don’t. They are bound to run some tests on us and figure out about the mutation.

One hour later, the guards come. They come rushing up my stairs and unlock my door using their security key. “Sir, you’re going to have to come with me,” the captain tells me. “Looks like you finally figured out,” I say mocking them. They lead me underground into a holding cell where I find all of my “friends.”

“Why the hell did you leave, sorry try to leave, before the specified time?” I ask angrily.

“We thought you were trying to save yourself and turn us in to them,” Jason responds coolly.

I walk off sighing and in my anger, kick the wall.

“Calm down, look this is a minor detour in the plan, but we will get out of here,” Jason tells me.

“Just like how you escaped from the city, just like how you left me to die,” I yell back.

Jason starts to respond but I cut him off, telling him that I don’t want to hear it. His face shows regret and that gives me a little happiness. At least he is feeling remorse for his actions. I sit down in the corner and just think about what is about to happen. After a few minutes, Katie comes to sit down with me.

“Please don’t tell me you were with him,” I say.

“I can’t tell you that,” she says with tears in her eyes.

“Get away from me, I respond with contempt.

“He told me it was a time change, that you were informed of it as well,” she pleads.

“Well tell him that his informant never reached me,” I respond.

I walk away from Katie and go sit down somewhere else. In a few hours, none of this will matter. All that will matter is a break from being harvested, from having the meat torn out of your body so they can eat. I hear the sound of boots on the floor and realize what time it is. The men come in with tasers. They unlock the door and walk towards Max. Too late, I realize what they are doing. They restrain Max and as he is screaming, they take him out of the room.

“I told you they would do this too us. I know you are scared but if we fight together, we have a chance. Next time they come, we have to fight back! We can’t let them take another one of our friends. They can’t kill us so what is the risk of fighting back? If we fight together, maybe we can take one hostage and use their weapons. If anyone *cough* Jason *cough* has any objections or wants to commence this plan a little earlier than what I suggested speak now.”

Everyone looks at Jason and his face burns red with embarrassment.

“Look guys I’m sorry. Kyle is right. If we want a chance at escaping, we need to fight together,” Jason says.

“Thank you,” I respond, “now, let’s get ready for war.”

We find every possible weapon (not much) including a leg of a chair, a hammer in a left behind tool set and some loose brick. We prepare for the inevitable and for a second, I wonder what happens if we lose. No. We won’t lose. We can’t lose. Click click click. The sound of shoes on the floor. “Get ready,” I tell everyone. We hide our weapons behind our backs. The guards unlock the door and as they walk in, lock it back. “CHARGE!” Everyone rushes forward to attack the guards. Many are tazed and their limp bodies litter the floor, but there are a good amount of guard’s bodies on the floor too. After 1 minute, half of our forces are down but we have all 10 of the guards down. We use their clothes to tie them up and restrain them to a chair. We then wake them up (after taking their weapons) and interrogate them. “What are you doing to our people?” I demand. “You know what we are doing,” he responds, “and there’s nothing you can do to stop it. Don’t worry, you’ll get used to the pain.” I let out all of my anger and punch him in the face. He goes unconscious and I leave him to talk to the others. “They will come back, with more men most likely, but we have to win again,” I tell them

We reset our fortifications and prepare for round two. Once again, the sound of the boots on the floor gives away their position. We ready ourselves and when they open the door, we find ourselves staring at 40 soldiers. They calmly walk in, and take Katie. She screams as they carry her off and I bombard them with rocks. They feel nothing. The rest liberate their comrades and don’t even bother us. There’s nothing we can do. I’ve never felt so helpless before. The world around us is crumbling and there’s nothing I can do. I think about my mom and all of my friends back home. They are probably getting ready to come here after we told them we were safe. They will likely have the same fate as us. My eyes droop sleepily and my consciousness protests but I drift off for likely the last rest I get. I am awaken by once again, the sound of boots on the floor. The man comes in and walks towards me. This can’t be happening I think to myself, it’s too soon. “You’re coming with me,” he says and he takes me away. We leave the cell and start down the long hallway. Bam! The man’s arm goes limp and when I look back at him blood is gushing down his face from a hole in his head. He falls down to the ground and reveals the shooter.

“Mom?” I say with tears in my eyes.

“Kyle!” she screams, sprinting towards me.

She embraces me in a gigantic hug and after I tell her what is going on, she sneaks me out of the underground complex. She leads me towards the Gate and we sneak under it. After 10 minutes of walking, we come upon a base. “You guys made it!” I say. “We sure did,” she replies. After being questioned from the children’s parents, I talk to the President.

“Why did you bring him?” the President asks.

“He was being captured by the people in the nearby city,” my mom answers.

“Yes, but he is the most dangerous criminal on this planet.” the President says.

"I've told you a hundred times, I didn’t plot with the criminals to start the rebellion, that was Jason.,” I say.

“He's telling the truth,” Jason's mom says, “After the plots were uncovered Jason told me everything that happened. I didn’t tell you because I thought that you would kill him.”

“We can worry about this later. We need to form some sort of rescue force that can go in and fight their way through,” the President suggests.

“It won’t work. They have android guards. They can do everything a human can, except feel pain. Guns won’t work on these guards,” I inform him.

“Do they have some sort of switch so we can power them down?” the President asks.

“Not that a know of,” I respond, “but that gives me an idea.”

Back in Chicago, I learned computer science from the digital engineer, Mr. Williams, I exceled at coding and by age 11, knew my way into any mainframe. At age 12, I hacked into the central Montgomery computer just to prove I could and got in trouble. They were worried that I would take down the shield and let the gas in. I had no malicious intent, but my crime was severe. They let me off with only one punishment: no more computer science classes. It’s been almost 5 years since, but I remember most of it. If I can get into the computer room, I can shut down the robots from the inside. After telling my mom and the President this plan they both agree, although reluctantly to get me inside. The plan is for our spies to take some cleaning clothing for me so I can go “clean” the computer room. A strike team will be waiting outside the Gate for me to open it up and shut down the robots. We will then fight our way in and take back our people. We are scheduled to commence tonight. We cannot waste any time.

The time comes, and I am ready to save my friends. We pack up and I slip on my cleaning clothes. My mom sneaks me inside the city and I head for the computer room with the map the spies gave us. After a little walk, I come upon the cleaning room. I take a deep breath and open the door. “This room is in need of a routine cleaning,” I say, only to find that I am alone. I go to the computer and get ready. I try and remember what Mr. Williams taught me and start hacking. 20 minutes later, I am close but not quite there. I can’t help but think that I am taking too much time, but I push that thought aside and focus. “Robot shutdown in 1 minute,” the computer tells me. I did it. Now, as long as the plan goes well, our friends will be back less than 4 hours. I inform the soldiers that the robots have been shut down and get ready to exit. Right outside of the door is a man dressed in a military uniform.

“Why were you in there?” he asks me.

“Just a routine cleaning,” I coolly respond.

“That’s funny he said, because we don’t have cleaners, we have robots that clean for us,” the man responds, with a nefarious smile on his face.

The spies. They must have exchanged their information for their lives. They told them our plan and gave us clothes that the guards could look for.

“I think it’s a time for a reunion ceremony,” the guard says now laughing.

He leads me back down the hallway and into the dreaded room. Inside, I find all of the kids and some more. The soldiers have been captured and their guns taken away. They will find the camp soon and then everyone will be gone. All sentenced to the same punishment.

They’re back. The guards have come again to select another person. The guards attempt to open the doors but they can’t. They have been locked from the outside. Then the alarm starts. What sounds like a fire alarm starts blaring over the speakers and the guards run away, back down the hallway. The sprinkler system also appears to be in use but something looks different. The liquid it is squirting out doesn’t look like water. A security guard running by is hit by one of the drops and immediately falls to the ground. The drop appears to be melting his skin. It must be some sort of acid that miraculously got caught in the sprinkler system. We all fearfully look up at the sprinklers in our cell, but they do not go off. We all look out the window, and see robots and men alike dying from the acid. I have to turn away but can’t help feeling happy. Once the emergency lockdown turns off, we will be free to leave and start a civilization. I stare out the window, thinking about the future, when I see my worst nightmare. My mother is standing there with multiple burns holding a sign that says “The door will unlock in 10 minutes, the fate of our people lay in your hands. Lead them to safety and start a new civilization, a good one.”

10 years later… “We are here to not only celebrate freedom, but to mourn losses. Ever since the Exodus, our population has grown but not without cost. Today we mourn our losses, tomorrow we celebrate our freedom.” The man reads a long list of people’s names, people whose sacrifices, are why we are a thriving society. After we finish mourning, we have 2 minutes of silence for the one who gave us freedom, Jessica Williams. I squeeze Katie’s hand and we remember the horrors of our first year on Earth II. As we walk away, we try to forgot our pains, until another year.

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