Emily learns to accept herself right before learning something else: the world is on a timer, and hiding could very well result in the death of everything and everyone she's ever loved. Show Less
Josh wasn’t there, of course. Emily wondered where he was now. Was he listening to Kendra? Had she done the right thing?
Her room looked exactly as she had left it. The bed was unmade, dirty laundry in the hamper, and her school tablet was gathering dust on her desk. Nothing had changed.
“It feels weird being back,” Emily said, kneeling down. Her collection of news articles, pamphlets, and books were still there.
“It’s only been a day,” Artemis said.
Emily rolled her eyes. Leave it to Artemis to be literal.
It had only been a day. A day and a few hours. But it felt like years and years since she had stepped foot in her room, much less slept in her own bed. It felt weird for everything to be the same.
Emily pulled the stack of papers from underneath her bed and blew.
“Wait, what am I thinking?” Emily asked as Artemis laughed. She took Artemis off and placed her on the desk with the papers. Emily tossed her gloves onto the desk, then knelt down to retrieve her unused journal. A red maple leaf embellished the cover.
She sat at her desk and reached for the lamp.
Emily stopped, hesitating only for a second, and put one glove back on to turn on the lamp.
“4 April 2037,” Emily read.
“BBC reporters recently caught up with current WHO leader, Sandy Miles, about the controversial building under construction in New Cali, Nevada. The 50-storey building will be home to ReproTech Industries in an expansion to the United States, whose recent legislation has been directed to try to block the company from gaining a foothold in the country.
“When asked why the building was so controversial, Miles replied, ‘It’s not about the money or the resources. America doesn’t care about those. What we’re seeing is a very strong ideological difference between America and UN countries, and this is merely a symptom of that.’
“Just last year, President Pastor Michaelson was quoted saying, ‘It’s un-Godly, and it’s un-American. There is no need for a European company to come overseas to try to impose laws on a sovereign nation.’
"His response came after the UN threatened sanctions on the United States after the WHO released a 75-page report on infant mortality rate, mother mortality rate, necessary incubation versus natural pregnancy rate, and poverty rate among single mothers in the United States.
A high-ranking official of the United Territories of Korea commented, saying, ‘If the UN imposes sanctions, we will be ready with guns.’”
Emily sighed and placed the article on the desk, then moved onto the next one. This article was more aged, almost twenty years old and brown throughout. The light glared off of its plastic sheet as Emily read.
“13 June 2019
“World leaders met today to sign a peace treaty in the still smoking ruins of the former US capital, Washington, DC. The move comes after increased hostilities between the United States and Canada, resulting in skirmishes along the demilitarized zone between the two countries.
“After the US condemned the actions of Canadian soldiers during the war, President Pastor released a statement demanding reparations for the loss of many national buildings such as the White House and the Library of Congress. In addition, the US has threatened more violence if Canada refuses.
“The UN-approved treaty will end formal hostilities between the two nations, disallowing the United States, China, the UTK, and Russia from trading, buying, or selling military equipment. Whether or not the United States' UN membership is dissolved remains to be voted on by other UN member-states.”
Emily placed it beside the first article and moved on.
She placed multiple other sheets of paper on her desk, including copies of the Declaration of Independence and the pre-2020 Bill of Rights. On top of the unrevised Bill of Rights, she placed the revised one. On top of that one, she placed yet another article.
“20 February 2020
“Riots have broken out across the United States of America in protestation of Congress’ revisal of the Bill of Rights. Including removing other fundamental aspects of the bill, Congress has rescinded voting rights of citizens in debt to the government. From the market crash of 2016, 85% of Americans are considered ‘debtors.’
“In what some have dubbed the American Spring, citizens from all across the US are demanding the immediate impeachment of President Pastor Michaelson. Countless videos have been uploaded showing police brutality, and over a million tweets use the “American Spring” hashtag.
“One such user tweeted, ‘How long before they take away our first amendment, too? #AmericanSpring #Hindsightis2020’
“Multiple tech giants, among them Google, Apple, and Microsoft, have moved their headquarters overseas to protest the growing number of court-orders for cloud data confiscation.
“President Pastor Michaelson has refused to comment.”
Just one article was left. Emily placed it on the pile.
“August 25, 2021
“Pastor addressed the nation today in a groundbreaking State of the Union address. In the speech, Pastor declared the national firewall complete, citing it as a victory against the nation’s enemies.
“”For far too long, we have suffered under the UN,” Pastor said amidst raucous cheers. “Today, we are finally secure against countries who would abuse us, who would take our free will and turn it against us. The cyber armies of Canada and Britain can no longer hurt an innocent American citizen.”
“Our comrades in the East sent a formal congratulation to Pastor, and the Chinese Minister of Technology advised Pastor on how best to discourage naysayers.”
Emily was out of articles. She felt like she needed more, like she needed to bring libraries of articles with her. She hoped that whoever found her journal, whoever took the time to rifle through her collection of paper history, would understand.
Opening her journal, she brought an old-fashioned ink ballpoint pen to the paper and paused. Emily leaned back and stared at the ceiling. She knew she was wasting precious time, but couldn’t think of anything to say. She didn’t even know who she was writing to.
“What do you say to someone you don’t know?” Emily asked.
Artemis, the helmet, didn’t respond.
Emily sighed. She put the pen to the paper again, writing, “I don’t know who you are.”