A Stellar Flare of Young Adult Writing and Visual Art
In 2022, we were able to find a cure for cancer. Millions of lives were saved, and we were eventually able to wipe it out completely. After that, we became more confident in ourselves and we were able to put other illnesses into extinction, like AIDS, autism, heart attacks, and brain aneurisms. Since we were able to end most of the horrible diseases out there, we decided to work more on improving technology and exploring the unknown territory that is space. After the third time that we put man on Mars, we knew there had to be a faster way of going there and back again. During the next few years, we experimented with creating many different devices and we failed many times, until finally we engineered what we had been hoping to accomplish: a machine that could shorten the amount of time it takes you to travel to any place, and to have it be able to return the passenger back in one piece. In 2030, we attempted the first trip to Mars using a zeitmaschine. Some German engineer named it that because he figured that Intergalactic and Deep Space Transporter was too long to say. Soon after, we were able to improve it where in addition to transporting a human any where quickly, a person could also travel through the universe’s timeline. After the successful journey, the C.H.E.P ,the Center for Human Exploration and Protection, decided that for once, humanity can finally live in peace since there were no known threats against the human race . Unfortunately, that time of peace did not last for too long.
My name is Dr. Leonard Monroe. I worked at the Disease/Illness Department at C.H.E.P, but I was then transferred to the Time Exploration Department. Here at my station, we work on improving the zeitmaschine. Everyone who works there knows how to operate it, and I’ve heard that some people even sneak in and use it. I don’t do that because I can’t risk getting caught.
Once in a while our progress would make the national headlines. These days, all the headlines are about the decreasing population.
Recently, a new infection has started spreading. It’s known as the Black-Eyed Pandemic. We are pretty sure it originated in Southern Africa. It has dispersed very quickly throughout the entire world. Once you are infected, over the course of 72 hours your body becomes thin and emaciated and your eyes turn jet-black, as if someone inserted a syringe filled with pen ink into your eye. After both eyes have darkened completely, it’s only a matter of hours before your body becomes a lifeless corpse and you are just another tally mark in the increasing death toll.
Around 1.2 million lives are consumed by this plague every single day. I have already lost a few members of my family to that horrible disease, and I don’t want to lose anymore. In addition to that, a few of my fellow coworkers have succumbed to the Black-Eyed Pandemic, and as a result of that, I have been promoted to the head of the Time Exploration Department, which in return has given me an enormous task.
The main committee of the C.H.E.P has informed me that a cure needs to be found or else more the human race will vanish. They have decided that if humanity is capable of curing most of the illnesses out there and being able to travel through deep space using a “time machine,” then we must be capable of finding a cure to the Black-Eyed Pandemic because humanity does not give up and will keep fighting no matter what. I have been notified that in a few days, I will use the zeitmaschine and travel twenty-five years into our future and I will inform any person that works at their version of C.H.E.P that we have lost all hope and that they must give us the cure so as to save what people are left on the planet.
As I entered the zeitmaschine, I was greeted by the familiar control panel that I remember working on a few months ago. As I was turning it on and setting up the correct date, I was reminded once again of what my task was. I was asked if I wanted to inform my family of what I was doing and to tell them goodbye. I replied by telling them that they are all nearly dead, and the ones that are still alive are going to die soon anyway, so there was no point.
I stood there listening to the countdown and it made me think about how I was probably going to be known as the person that cured Black-Eyed. People were going to be thanking me for saving their loved ones, and themselves. I wondered if I even deserve to be known as that person.
I thought about how using the machine was going to feel. I had never actually used it before, and I wondered if it hurts, or if it’s painless. I was going to find out soon, though. I shut my eyes and waited for anything to happen. After the countdown had ended, I heard a loud boom. I felt the zeitmaschine shake, and I assumed I was already at that point traveling. My chest tightened and I heard a strident ringing in my ear. Right when I was at the brink of passing out, I felt the machine slowly start to cool down.
The door opened and so did my eyes. I observed my surroundings, and I could tell that I had successfully traveled since I was still at the lab, but it was obviously not the “same” place.
I walked around for four hours throughout all seven of C.H.E.P’s buildings, and I could not find a single person until I finally entered the testing lab. When I walked into the room, I saw a corpse sitting against the wall with a gun in his hand, and his dried up brain matter splattered across the wall behind him. Someone had written the words “God have mercy on our souls” in some kind of paint.
I fell on my knees and held back the urge to vomit. I stood up and ran out of there as quickly as possible up to the roof so that I could get some fresh air.
I reached the top of the stairs and I opened the door. I walked to the balcony and looked over the city, and my heart sank. Obliterated. Destroyed. Absolute chaos. The whole city was in complete ruins. Abandoned cars packed the streets. Massive piles of burnt corpses lined the sidewalks. Nearly everything was covered in ash, and there were small fires burning around the city. I staggered back until I hit a wall and slid down. I started crying and breathing heavily. There never would be a cure. Humanity never would make it, just as everyone at the committee hoped that we would. I had so many questions running through my head. How could everything fall apart like this? Why was nothing done to stop this from happening? What happened to everyone? What am I going to tell them when I return?
I collapsed onto my side and passed out, emotionally drained. I lay there for almost five hours, staring into nothingness, thinking of all the different situations that could have led to this, but none of them made sense. Then I spent five more hours trying to figure out what I was going to do. I decided that the only option left was to go back and tell them what happened. The hard part was deciding whether or not to tell them the truth.
I walked back to the machine and set it up with the correct date so that I could return back to my time period. As I turned it on, I once again shut my eyes and held on tight. I didn’t even notice the effects of travelling, but I did feel my stomach churning with anticipation.
I opened the door, walked out, and looked into the eyes of everyone there. Everyone in that room was going to die soon. I knew that, but they didn’t. The scientists there took me to a small room where I was asked multiple questions about my health, what happened, and what I saw. I lied about everything in order to protect them from the harsh truth. I told them that a cure had indeed been found, but they did not give it to me so that the time line would not get mixed up. I also informed them that a cure will be found within the next three months and that we just have to stay strong and wait for it to come along. It pained me to see how relieved and thrilled they were. I knew that they would be all be in tears if I told them the truth.
After I was done I went to the roof so that I could clear my head. I looked over the railing and watched the city. Everything seemed so flawless. How in the world could this have happened? I blinked again and all I could see were the bodies and cars that had, or should I say, will, fill the streets. How is a person supposed to live knowing all that information, all those images flashing across your eyes every second? There was nothing that I could do, or anyone for that matter. Soon after, I left work and headed home.
It was late when I arrived. I attempted to fall asleep but I could not fall asleep at all. My body was exhausted, but my brain was still active. I laid in bed all night until my alarm startled me. I got up and since I had nothing to do, I went back to work.
As I was walking to the building, I started hallucinating. It had been roughly thirty hours since I had gotten any sleep. I looked at every person in the eyes, resisting the urge to tell anyone the truth because not only would they not believe me, but would see me as an insane person. I got to work, and did the usual. I listened to the news and they were reporting about the death toll, and discussing if there ever would be a cure. After my shift, I groggily walked home, and when I entered my room, I collapsed onto my bed. Even when I closed my eyes, I could still see all the mayhem that would occur in a few years.
I tried to get sleep, but to no avail. I looked for sleeping pills in my medicine cabinet, but I had none. I once again laid there, watching those images flash across my eyes. I don’t know when it started, but both of my hands were trembling on their own. I tried to stop them from shaking, but there was no way I could end the trembling. Once my alarm rang, I got up and walked back to work. I had not gotten any sleep for the past two days, and I could see the effects. As I walked, I could not see the normal city life. My vision had been completely blinded by the images of the destroyed city. I kept bumping into people because I hadn’t even realized they were there. I entered the building and the first place I went to was the roof. I opened the door and looked over the balcony. I could tell that my mind was officially damaged and ruined. There was no way that anyone could help me now. I was done suffering. I stepped over the railing and looked down. I once again saw the damaged buildings and burning cars. I absolutely couldn’t take this pain anymore. Who could? I took a step forward and felt my body go limp as I started the descent of my 120 meter fall. I knew that I wasn’t going to be in pain anymore, and that was quite possibly one of the greatest reliefs I have ever felt.
Michael Lenart is a sixteen year old junior at Jones College Prep, located in Chicago, Illinois. Only a few years ago did he realize that he thoroughly enjoyed writing. He gets to take the silly ideas in his head and bring them to life through his writing. Writing is his way of showing his creativity, and he hopes to do it for the rest of his life.