Chapter 2: Getting Real – the beginning
September 23, 2081
I mentioned that I had ignored this project for a few months, knowing deep down I wasn’t telling it like it really was. Re-reading it now, yeah, it’s good info, but it all sounds like I’m still 17, and while I may only look 20, I’m pushing 50, so screw it, I’m not going to try to make it sound official or scientific, I’m going to admit something, not just to the world, but to myself. I’ve been lying to everyone including myself for decades. I’ve tried to convince everyone, me included, that it wasn’t about me, but in truth it can’t help but be at least partly about me now can it? First, I spent a lot of time misleading a lot of people. They were mostly lies of omission, but that doesn’t really change anything, and honestly, I’m not really sorry. I know pretty well what would have happened to me had I been honest about it. Second, I’m writing this, so it stands to reason that the perceptions are mine. And third, and most important, this is all my fault, so this is my opportunity to come clean. I don’t really give a flying fuck how you feel about me afterward, because my guess is that if you are reading this, I’m worm food, so it’s going to be painfully honest.
I heard somewhere once that stories shouldn’t be written from a first person perspective. English class, I guess. The teacher said that people had a hard time relating to stories being told that way, so if you wanted to engage your reader, you should write from a third-person perspective. Well, that is all well and good, and may be 100% true, though I’m not convinced myself, but guess what – I’m ignoring that rule in its totality. This is a story that is literally torn from the pages of my life – all 5 feet 3 inches of blonde-haired, green eyed averageness of me. It’s me, on paper, black and white, in printed words, so just suck it up and deal. If you go forward reading this story you will see a lot of “I” and “We” and “My” and “Our”, those pesky pronouns that some long ago English teacher told me were anathema to storytelling. Tough. I can’t tell the story any other way, so if you don’t like it, here’s an idea…don’t read it. Nertz to you, and all that. If you’re still interested despite the clearly ego-centric writer, please continue, but no bitching about pronouns allowed.
So, I’m going to fill in a little about the event itself, hell that’s been done to death, but not from our side, OK, my side, so here it is. The stuff no one knows about the actual Facility, the Event, and the aftermath, but I guess I should give you the whole picture, right? Warts and all. And boy howdy were there ever warts.
It was a normal day at the facility, and technically, I wasn’t even supposed to be there since I was under 18. I wasn’t even supposed to be in the zone, but I’d been coming in and out since I was a kid and everyone knew me. I had come with my mother to bring my dad his lunch. He was excited that day because he was convinced he had proven his elemental energy hypothesis. The data on his latest experiment showed that thoughts had actual power, that words, when believed unequivocally could actually affect reality in measurable ways. I have no idea what his proof was, but if he said he had it, then you can rest assured he did. My dad was a damned good scientist, but an even better man.
The Facility was actually a pretty amazing place. It was this nondescript, uninteresting concrete building on the outside. It would have sort of reminded you of the Pentagon, but only square instead of, well, a pentagon. The basic corporate landscaping, slightly wilted plants and flowers and the occasional palm tree, and a really ugly, seemingly pointless fountain. If not for the electrified fence and armed guards, you could have mistaken it for just about any lame-assed corporate office in existence.
It got a little more interesting once you got inside. The structure, though only 2 stories above ground was 3 stories underground, and about 4x the footprint of the surface building. There were concrete bunkers, steel vaults, huge Faraday cages, massive water tanks, enormous rooms full of grow lights and fertilizer smells, and moving walkways, high tech sealed elevator systems, laboratories that would have been the envy of any Pharma company in the world. That sad-looking fountain turned out to be an excellent air exchange system, along with a few unobtrusive looking tree stumps that allowed the scrubbing system to work efficiently.
There were scientists of all different disciplines working together, and given virtual carte blanche. They had been brought together to had been home discover anything and everything, and as long as they had the ability to study it, dissect it, grow it, build it, invent it, or just about anything else, they could do it here. They had come from all over the world, so there were lots of unique personalities and ideas.
The Facility had been home to some pretty wild things over the years. My dad had jokingly called it The Working Man’s Area 51 because it was well known that some pretty far-out technologies were being tested there. I remember once when they tried to genetically alter mice to produce chlorophyll to see if it would be possible for mammals to be able to produce internal energy from the sun. While the slightly green tinged mice were quite adorable, the study was an abject failure. Those little mice were the first creatures I liberated from their cages, but not the last. I had a feeling that in other parts of the building there were things going on that I would have had strong moral objections to…Dr. Moreau sorts of things. I had met a couple people over the years that definitely gave off a really fucking creepy genetic experimenting sort of vibe. I could never prove it though.
On the other end of that spectrum, the study of dark matter, black holes, etc. had been the deep dark secret of this place for decades. They hadn’t fully succeeded, and that was one of the reasons my dad had been recruited; to add a little something extra to the mix in the early part of 2002. He called it the study of elemental magic, though I think the term was mostly for my benefit since I loved stories of pixies and fairies when I was a kid. He wanted to prove that there was a connectedness to everything and every person, a Universal Energy…Magic. The consensus was that if he could truly find it, that it would be a very powerful force, and there was hope that it would do what CERN had not really been able to.
Just to clarify for history, there was nothing “alien”, that’s all bullshit you know – that fake spacecraft landing, etc. All to hide the stuff that was actually going on – no one would take it seriously if you convinced people it was little green fucking men, but you all need to know that if you thought your government was being a responsible steward of information and technology, boy have I got news for you. There was shit going on there that would have made the CERN supercollider look like the Dumbo ride at Disneyland.
Even though I wasn’t really allowed to be anywhere near the place, I spent a lot of time there, and was way more involved with my dad’s work than would have been permitted if security hadn’t gotten so lax over the years. I know the sheer power that was being created in that place on a daily basis, fucking unbelievable. Frankly, the place was an Event waiting to happen. I never would have imagined it as it actually happened, but the only thing I’m surprised about is that I stood in the middle of it and walked out. Never would have thought that.
I loved my father’s work. He was proving scientifically that “magic” was real – how cool was that? OK, yes, I knew it wasn’t magic in the “Penn & Teller” sense of the term, but more in the wide-eyed wonder at things we didn’t understand sort of way. We knew visitors weren’t allowed in the actual experiment chamber, or hell, anywhere else in the Facility, but I wanted to see it, and he wanted to show it to me. Funny, you’d think a top-secret government facility would be more circumspect about who they let wander, but I guess after a while even top-secret gets lazy. You see a face often enough and you don’t question it anymore. The guards knew me and just looked the other way a lot.
The actual experiment chamber sort of reminded me of the “soundproof booth” they used to have in all the old gameshows. The exterior chamber was about 12 ft x 12 ft, windowless, sterile white walls, old-fashioned vinyl floors, a sink on one side and a countertop with under and over storage. There wasn’t much in them. I had, on occasion hid in the lower cabinets and played video games on my phone, which I also wasn’t allowed to have in the building. Standing in the center of the room was a glass chamber, about 3x3, just barely room for one person to stand, but it wasn’t really built for that. The glass walls and floor and ceiling were covered with an energy reactive medium that would change based on the types of energy applied. I should have waited for my dad to meet me so he could explain what the fuck I was looking at, but patience was never my strong suit. I have always hoped that it was just dumb luck and not some weird cosmic karma that it was at the very second I opened that door and stepped into the chamber that everything went to hell in a hurry.
I can’t even begin to describe how it felt to stand there, in that concentrated wave of energy. I was fucking omniscient! I was a part of every single person and every single thing on the planet and at that split second I knew everything my father had postulated was real. I felt their minds blink out of existence, they never saw it coming. I felt the birth of a million souls, and the death of dreams, the bloom of a flower, the scream of a butterfly caught in a spider web, the pure predator of the great white shark as it struggled with the seal pup, the little girl’s joy at dancing with her father for the first time, the terror of the gazelle as the lion drained it’s life and the curiosity of the vulture flying overhead, the awe of a mother at the sight of her newborn son – imagine all of that a million fold - everything- Every single piece of existence in the cosmos converged in my mind in that instant. More than I could begin to fathom let alone truly explain. It was soul ripping and orgasmic at the same time. Everything good and everything bad, all blended into one flash. Somehow all the grief had blended with all the joy, all the love and the hate, and the pain, and the pleasure and life and death, time and agelessness had all come together in one pinpoint millisecond in my mind and the universe had processed it and threw it all back out there – changed. Altered in an indescribable way.
When I opened my eyes and I was standing in the middle of a forest somehow I knew that I had created it. I didn’t see it happen, but I remembered it vividly as one of my most cherished memories, travelling through the jungles of Costa Rica with my father as a child. And here it was, a little more…well, just more, but so much the same that it was instantly recognizable. I should have been terrified, but I wasn’t. I felt…full. I felt whole, in a way.
When I thought about going home, I was there, or at least where it had been before I buried it in old-growth rain forest. Just standing in the place where my family’s home once stood. No idea how I got there, though I’d figure it out later. I know there was a ton of speculation about what happened to the buildings, but I have a feeling someday they’ll find them buried in Costa Rica like some kind of weird Aztec ruin or something. I would give anything to see the faces of the people who do. And when I heard about the Island on the news, I knew exactly what it was, it was my memory of travelling the Galapagos with my parents. I don’t really know how I knew, I just did. It was simply information that was available to me. Something in the back of my head spoke it, and then somehow reacted like it had been caught with its hand in the cookie jar. It was disconcerting, to say the least, and really my first inkling that something wasn’t quite right in my brain. So be honest, if you had been raised your entire life to keep information close to the vest, and not trust anyone, would you have shared? Nope, didn’t think so. Me neither
About 1000 of us survived, a fairly even mix of men and women, well, boys and girls really all between the ages of 18 of 21, except for me, of course. Most were family members of the scientists, or cleaning crew, food service workers, and a few young geniuses that were actually working on projects at the Facility. The effects on us didn’t appear immediately, except for one person. Me. I knew immediately that I was different than all the other survivors. I was the youngest, and had literally been standing at the apex of the Event itself, and somehow I was still standing, and frankly, I knew at that moment that I was fucked. Well and truly fucked.
The US Government made short work of the survivors. They never gave us a moment to breathe, to sort out what had happened. We were herded like animals into groups by age, sex and location during the Event. The building they gathered us in looked like an old storage warehouse, or even a sort of hangar in a way, but sturdier. It was reinforced concrete, with concrete floors, mesh embedded in the glass on the windows, and re-bar grates over the windows as well. The space was cavernous, no dividers, nothing concrete and steel. There were a couple doors, which we later discovered lead to bathrooms.
When they gathered us all together I did my best to avoid letting anyone know what had happened. Some of them didn’t even know that all the adults were gone, their families, friends, co-workers. They were asking to see their families, and no one was telling them the truth. I knew. I had felt it happen. Deep down, I knew that somehow I had caused it.
I remember wondering what was going to happen to this room when everyone found out about their friends and family. That if they were anywhere near the Event, they were gone; that there wouldn’t even be bodies to bury. The room erupted and at first it puzzled me as to what was going on. There were loud sobs, shouts of disbelief and whimpers throughout the building. After a moment, I realized that my thought, the question I had asked in my own head, had spread to every one of those who had been affected. Not the outsiders, but all those who had been in the zone. Not good. We were connected. One more thing I needed to keep to myself. That list was going to be pretty fucking long before too much time had passed.
The result was an intense, mind-altering grief that is impossible to describe. I can only even remotely try by suggesting you picture a huge, gaping, bleeding open wound, the flesh exposed by some enormous eruption of the muscle and sinew through skin – then imagine an industrial vat of rubbing alcohol and salt poured into it. I have always considered it surprising that no one died of it that day, even as short as it was, it was so deep, and so profound that it had to have broken, or at least hollowed out a few hearts. That intensity of that moment was followed inexplicably quickly by a disturbing, deep calm. As if all the pain had been taken by the group and spread, shared among them, absorbed and put to rest in only a few moments. It all resonated through my body. I literally vibrated with it.
Within seconds all the survivors were gathering in the center of the big concrete bunker where they were keeping us. There was no discussion, but somehow we were all drawn there, forming near perfect concentric circles shoulder to shoulder. When the joining happened I made sure to stay at the outskirts. I couldn’t risk letting them know that it was my thoughts they were hearing. Within moments of that gathering everyone started to notice the energy build-up around us. It felt like a when you wear that really fuzzy sweater when the air is really dry. Arcs of what appeared to be lightning, but not controlled, crossed between us for several minutes before we started noticing some significant changes. The Gathering had somehow coalesced it all – the outpouring of emotion, the physical proximity, you could literally see the energy in the air surrounding us. It was like visible static electricity that bounced from person to person. The connective energy my father had dreamt of was being played out right in front of me. The changes had not been overtly visible at first, and our military “protectors” had just stood back and watched warily. But when the first person began to fade right in front of them, there was a minor freak-out. Within moments, it was almost as if the whole group was flickering, fading out and back in like when a fluorescent bulb is going bad. It didn’t last long, but the guns had been drawn and the generals had been called. We had just become test subjects.
It’s hard to describe the exact effect that the Event and the gathering had on all of us since each person’s experience was a little different, but it would seem that the elemental connection my father had discovered – the “magic” - was unleashed in some way, and it infused each of us at different levels. The older you were, the less you were affected, the same with the further you were from the Event itself. Strike two for me. Apparently the fading and flickering we experienced were the first manifestations of the diffusion we would all experience at some level. It was a pretty amazing thing, to be able to actually alter your physical structure to a point where you could allow solid objects to pass right through you. It kind of tickled.
I knew everyone could hear my thoughts, so I made a point of planting the idea of non-cooperation with the authorities. I wanted the fuck out of here, and if no one cooperated, then they’d eventually have to leave us alone, at least that was the theory. I also made a conscious effort at avoiding the interviews. I found out that I could convince them they had already talked to me, already tested me. I still remember thinking back to my Dad’s favorite movie… “These are not the droids you want…” To this day that makes me smile. I mean, come on. How can it not be funny to be standing in front of a bunch of lame-ass scientist wanna-be’s thinking “help me Obi-wan Kenobi, you’re my only hope.”
Eventually they settled on the ones they were most interested in. In that regard I was lucky. They wanted those that seemed most affected during the Gathering, and since I’d been on the outside, at least that’s where the found me, luckily, I was apparently an unlikely candidate. The suggestion I had put out about not cooperating with all the testing had been pretty effective. None of the survivors were really allowing them to perform their tests. It seemed the most inappropriate time for laughter, but I couldn’t help it when I saw the technician trying to draw blood from a man he could not touch, who faded in front of him. Or take blood pressure from a woman and the cuff would slide right through her arm. They were accustomed to working with soldiers, not teenagers. They were ill-equipped to handle this situation, and man was it funny to watch!
I found myself instigating bits of information gathering. I needed…ok wanted…to know how everyone else had been affected, what sort of things were happening to the others. I’d drop hints at some of the things I had discovered about myself to see if they could do them too. And it was good to know they could, at least to some degree. Several started testing the extent of their new talents and it was interesting to see how they had all sorted out. Those with natural tendencies in certain areas had them greatly enhanced, while others had developed completely new abilities.
Over the years as I went over the list, I realized that most of the talents that came out of the event were based on my memories. I know how that sounds, and I hope you understand it doesn’t come from ego, but guilt. I watched and stayed on the outside because I knew I had done this to them. I made them freaks whose families were gone and who would never be allowed to live in the real world again. There’s no pride in that.
The diffusion you can thank the original Star Trek for – I always loved the transporters. I could only attribute the plant thing to the many hours spent gardening in the greenhouse with my mom, the “push” was clearly from Star Wars, and you can probably guess what came from one of my favorite bedtime stories – Dr. Doolittle, and then the night I lost my virginity to Mark Davis after watching Poltergeist and being terrified of the TV for days afterward. I can’t specifically place the healing thing, but I had planned to be a doctor someday, so I guess that’s possible. Oh, and the lack of spiders – yeah, that was me too. I hate spiders. Passionately. But bottom line, I can find explanations for virtually all of it somewhere in my head.
That’s what really verified for me the reality of my culpability in all this. It’s how I knew I was really the catalyst for everything. Even though the knowledge had always been in my head, the ability to catalog all of it just sort of cemented my horror. The black hole in my heart that would never go away in knowing how much pain and loss and fear I had caused for unsuspecting people who were undeserving of having their lives ended or ruined at my hand. I committed mass murder, in a way. It was unintentional, and if I could do it all over again a different way there is no doubt I would choose anything, even my own death, over what occurred. But I can’t. Damn it, I can’t.
By the time the first week had passed there had been a coming to terms for most of the survivors. We knew our families were gone, but we also knew nothing like this had ever happened before, and we were all trying to do our best to deal with it. The gathering had diminished the feelings of grief, and what was left was confusion, fear, and most of all, anger. The grumbling had started as well. To them we were lab rats, but we were still people, still human then. At least we still felt like it t that point. The demands for our freedom were coming more frequently and at higher pitch every day.
A few of us had been talking about our experiences. It seems that none of us remembered the actual event itself (except me, and I never told until now!). There was probably a full 5 minutes that was unaccounted for. No one remembered seeing the forestation, even me, or the disappearance of the buildings. No one could explain how the building could be consumed, but the people in them had been left standing. There were millions of questions and zero answers.
It was about that time that our “rescuers” decided it would be OK for us to have information from the outside world. Probably mostly just to shut us up and keep us occupied. Mass media therapy, I guess. They brought us TV’s and newspapers, redacted, of course, but no internet. For the first time we heard the official accounts of what had happened, and it was the first time we had heard it called “The Event”. It would seem that everyone blamed my father for the Event in its entirety, putting full responsibility on his shoulders. Because my father had always used the term “elemental magic” in his work I guess they decided to take it literally, and we were labeled “The Enchanted”. It always amazed me how the human race needed labels. Of course we weren’t “Enchanted.” We hadn’t been hexed by some evil witch, or troll… Idiots.
Anyway, I can’t say that I was surprised. My father’s work had always been ridiculed as nonsense. Was it possible he was completely responsible? Not likely. The energy he was working with had the potential to be powerful, but not explosive, so there had to be something else in the system that blew. I often wonder what would have happened had I just had time to close the door behind me. Would the energy wave have been contained? Would thousands of lives, some of the greatest scientific minds in the world, have been saved? Or would it have mattered at all? The cause of the initial blast was never determined, at least not that we were ever told, but it did not stop me from feeling the weight of every single life on my shoulders. I watched my father and mother die, no more like evaporate, in front of me. I stood in a wave of energy that destroyed virtually everything around me, yet there I stood. At the very center, as if all the destruction had come directly from me. Who knows, maybe it did. I never stopped questioning.
Luckily, the survivors didn’t seem to hold it against me. I don’t know why, but they actually seemed to want to protect me. Maybe I was pushing, maybe it was the universe covering my ass, I guess I’ll never really know, but since I blamed myself enough for all of us, I was certainly relieved that I wasn’t going to have to run for my life from the only people on the planet who could understand, even a little bit, what I was going through.
The US Government tried their damndest to explain the whole thing away. Every other interview was with some talking head from Washington with some new idea, some new attempt at an answer, but it wasn’t going to work. There were the top minds from all over the world working in that facility, so top secret or not, practically every government in the world knew it existed and could put 2 and 2 together. Nukes went on alert in countries we didn’t know had them. It all got very bad, very fast, and it was terrifying to watch. That was what eventually led to the creation of the WSGF (the World Scientific Governing Federation), which turned out to the bane of our existence, and if I’m right, the spark that will eventually set the world on fire.
There were stories about us as well. The survivors were being quarantined for “their own safety.” There wasn’t a lot of information other than ages, and a call for any relatives of people who had lived inside the zone to call the hotline. They did talk about the horrific loss of life, but nothing about the forestation, though they couldn’t really hide the island. This was the first we were hearing of that tidbit. A fucking island? Really? At first we thought it was some sort of weird joke. We’d find out later that wasn’t the case. In a big way! I have to admit to being a bit confused as to why the island was such a surprise to me when everything else wasn’t, especially since as soon as I heard about it I knew exactly what it was meant to be, but honestly that’s such a non-priority when you look at everything else I’ve decided I’m not going to dwell.
It was amazing how fast that first year went by. There wasn’t really much to tell, they cajoled, we avoided. Even the most hard-core sciency types among us didn’t want to be the subject of their experiments. Everytime the bigwigs came into the building I made sure to plant the thought that we weren’t really the least bit dangerous, and really not terribly interesting or useful. I didn’t do it all in one big push, since I thought that might bring about more questions than we wanted asked, but I believe it did work to some degree because the visits became fewer and further between.
Eventually, we started making enough noise that they realized they needed to do something with us other than warehousing. Since one of our other abilities seemed to be able to affect plant life, one of the generals suggested they offload us to the new Island. Their logic was that since it was created at the same time we were, we might be able to tame it. Apparently the island had rejected all attempts to explore it with some pretty exotic plants and bugs. It was an idiotic, hare-brained idea, so of course, was met with great enthusiasm. Fucking Military Intelligence. So much of the former, so little of the latter.
There were a few families that had been outside the Event Zone who the government offered the opportunity to reside with us. I was shocked at how many parents and family members disowned someone because they were one of us. It was painful to see, almost more so than those who had been lost in the Event. Those were not conscious decisions of abandonment, but when your family walked away from you, thinking of you as some sort of monster they wanted nothing to do with, I can’t imagine anything more demoralizing. I think watching that made it OK for some of us that they no longer considered us human. None of us wanted to be like them.
The island really was quite beautiful, and we discovered that it was a great haven from the outside world. You might find it interesting that it really did actually respond to us. Somehow it knew us, and it was like our own private paradise. It was amazing how fast our compound was built. We lived in tents for a couple of months, nice tents, but tents nonetheless. FEMA had nothing on the bunch of lovely pre-fab buildings that followed. Steel structures that had absolutely no visual appeal. Luckily, we had a budget that said ‘we will give you whatever you want, just stay away from us because you are all fucking freaks’ and we used it to make for quick work of a new home.
We couldn’t get workmen to stay on the Island long. It was tough to get guys out to build things, even with an almost blank check. It took us a while to figure out why. Apparently they were uncomfortable with the “aliveness” of the island. That’s the exact word the guy used. The plants were pretty reactive, they seemed to sense the moods and desires of the survivors and behaved accordingly. It freaked out the Normals, so they never stayed beyond a few days.
We had quite a few electronics, including a movie theatre, and a game room. We did spent a good bit of time seeking distractions. You know how sometimes you have to take a break and look away from something or risk missing something big. We used Xbox and Wii to help with that. We never got current movies, but a lot of low-budget and indie stuff. But for the most part we tried to focus on answers. We all had laptops, most of us more than one. We used that great budget to get some satellite dishes and internet. Even the non-scientific among us read whatever we could get our hands on about the Event. Our search engines almost knew before we even typed anything in that it would be Event related. We made it our goal to figure out what happened. Most of us anyway. There were some who preferred to step away from everything to do with the Event. It was just too much for them. It was OK though, no one judged. We got it.
In general, people chose their work however they saw fit – if they wanted to spend their days on the beaches, it was their call. There was zero crime on the island, and the only real disagreements were scientific or between individuals. Money was a non-issue because we didn’t need it. They pretty much handed us whatever we needed, so material possessions were very rarely at issue. But, we were a large group of relatively diverse individuals who had differering ideas and opinions, and to top it off, we were a bunch of teens and young adults. We were horny. That all being said, most of our problems stemmed from communication, differences in scientific opinion, relationships, and of course, by extension, sex.
We cultivated the island for those few Normals who lived with us, which consisted mostly of some family members. The last time I bothered to count there were only 9 people on the Island who weren’t Enchanted. There were a few die-hard scientific types who wanted to study us in-depth. We mostly just ignored them. We had settled into our lives and read and re-read reports, watched news stories portraying us as the bane of society, a danger to all normal people everywhere.
I remember thinking, shit, there are thousands of people in the US alone who had committed actual violent, indescribable crimes and were walking the streets, but for some reason the world had rallied against us – a bunch of junior science geeks and barely post-pubescent nobodies who had survived one of the most horrific things imaginable by some twist of fate and just wanted to get back to their lives as pizza delivery boys or botanists, or teenaged girls getting ready for prom. We had done nothing wrong at all, yet we were the bogeyman who needed to be kept away from polite society while child molesters were allowed to live within a few hundred feet of schools, rapists were required to be released into the communities from which they came, meaning the ones where the found and abused their victims, violent street gangs killed each other as well as innocent bystanders indiscriminately, but heck, this bunch of randy, super-smart, confused teenagers were the ones that the world had to be protected from. I’ve had a few decades to think about that, and frankly, it still boggles the mind.
We spent the next 20 or so years living solitary lives on our Island. Cultivating crops, starting our own brewery, and distilling a few spirits from plants the folks on the mainland did not even have. We did discover, though, that over time we had become legend in the outside world. Like some alien creatures, there were even outlandish stories of Enchanted breaking into homes, doing crazy things like kidnapping children, stealing pets, and causing general mayhem. My favorite though was the guy who got busted for possession of large amounts of cocaine and black-tar heroin and claimed that he saw someone sneak into his house and plant those things, and he was pretty sure it was this guy he saw on TV in one of those documentary shows. We all laughed at that one for days.
There were occasional calls for our eradication, that we were evil, or demons or some other ridiculous bullshit. There were even a few reports that we were the harbingers of the zombie apocalypse. That was big back then. I’m betting that the sales of all the doomsday prep shit was popular for a while. The Event had certainly spooked a lot of people – Science had gotten out of control once, who was to say it wouldn’t again. If we had bothered with Halloween on the Island it would have been the perfect costume.
We didn’t give the bullshit much credence, though history proves that was a rather colossal mistake. By not fighting back, or for that matter just creating our own positive PR, we allowed negative press to become more and more prevalent. I look back now and one of my greatest regrets is how cut-off and complacent we allowed ourselves to become, so quickly. But our island was our protection. It was pretty rare that anyone ventured over, and when they did, if the guards didn’t catch them, the island did. It turns out that Jessie, the young botanist who had actually been working at the Facility the day of the Event had an affinity for our home. It listened to her. If we had a legitimate visitor, Jessie would show the island a mental picture and ask for safe passage. It was pretty wild. To be honest, it listened to me, too. In fact mostly me. I had to take extra precautions when I was out with anyone else since the plants physically moved out of my way. It knew me, it knew I created it. I have a feeling the few missing random “normals” who tried to sneak on to the island for whatever their reasons, were now part of our Island. Unfortunately, their unexplained disappearances just gave fodder to those that thought we were some sort of threat.
Just as an aside – hey I’m writing this, I can do what I want, right? How is it that humanity got so stupid? How is it that you allow yourselves, as a race, to be ruled by your baser instincts? How do morons, assholes, thieves, grifters and ignorant idiots rise to power? You elect perverts like Clinton and Larry Craig, criminals like Nixon and Jackson, simpletons and posers like Obama and Carter to positions of power, and visionaries like Nelson Mandela and Ghandi – both of them! - you throw in prison? You elevate professional athletes and actors to pedestals in spite of their self-destructive and often criminal behavior but relegate scientists, educators and the truly altruistic to the bottom of the food chain. You people need to get a grip before everything you know and love is destroyed by a sheer mass of stupid…ok, that being said, back to the story…
The first couple years were frustrating. The government was withholding information on the Event, and everyone was apparently making zero progress in determining the cause and it didn’t look like we were ever going to have answers. I think there was an overall belief that without access to the site, to the research, and to the scientists themselves, it would simply never be possible to determine the true cause. And the WSGF had solidified its presence in the world and there was no way those pricks were ever letting us off this island. I’m pretty much convinced that was when the rest gave up. They had managed to make pseudo lives for themselves, and didn’t really see a need to do anything more.
It also didn’t look like we were aging. Five years went by and I didn’t look much more than pretty much looked 18 or 19. 10 years and there wasn’t much difference. It ranged a little based on age and distance, as everything did, but for the most part it seemed like a year was more like a month to us. We got bored…I guess it sort of explains what happened next, but it doesn’t make it OK.
I know I’m sort of repeating myself, but in spite of all my bravado and posturing, in my deepest heart I’ve never come to terms with all this – I mean hell, how do you do that? How do you ever accept that because you were a sci-fi geek that all these people are now subjected to never being normal again? That even if I can accept that I wasn’t responsible for the deaths (which I can’t, not really), I am responsible for the kind of life that got left behind. For the families that walked away, for the fact that there are hundreds of young people out there who will never have careers, families; who are trapped on an island, both literally and figuratively. Nope, can’t manage that.
Don’t get me wrong, this isn’t a pity party…not really. It’s just background. Information in attempt to explain some of the stupid shit I did later. When I say it was all my fault, I don’t just mean that stuff, I mean, well, with the exception of the Event itself, all of it. Our problems with the government, the animosity with the surrounding communities, all of it. There was something so overpowering in it all that I couldn’t manage to get it under control. Too much power, too little life experience. I was a giant fuck-up waiting to happen. I’m not going to deny that the Enchanted had their issues, especially after the attacks started, but at least we never went after anyone who didn’t earn it. Crass, but true.
Don’t worry, the details follow. I should tell you now that one of the major effects I experienced was memory. I remember every detail, right down to the weather every day of my life. I remember every word that has ever been spoken to me. I remember every step I have ever taken, every breath, every blink, every thought. It’s a lot, most definitely, to take in and process. And if you weren’t there, or depending on when you are reading this, you may have no direct recollection of any of this, and believe me, I understand how bizarre it sounds. How very sci-fi of me, right? But it’s not like that. It’s scary how much of this I’m physically reliving as I write. How deeply it tears at my soul to seek out and document these memories. How difficult it is to keep my mind in the here and now as I can feel the meltdown coming. I’ll hold it off as long as I can. Now that I’ve started I don’t really want to stop. Not until it’s truly done.