It has happened: The volcano at Yellowstone Park has erupted. Luckily enough, the surrounding area was evacuated after the scientist, who had been carefully monitoring the caldera, noticed an increase in temperature and pressure. The pressure was so great that it was beginning to push up the earth to form tendrils of searing steam. Understandably, people are in panic and the media is not helping any. I wasn’t really expecting them to, but I expected them to be useful, but they, too, seem to be in a frenzy. They speak of how quickly the volcanic ash will spread due to the unstable airstream. It seems odd to me that one problem exacerbates another. They say that the ash will reach where I live sometime tomorrow, so I’m preparing today. As you probably have already guessed, our stores will be packed with people, so I’m using a more…unconventional approach: I’m shoveling up dirt by the shovelful and pouring it into trash bags. There’s no point in buying dirt when you have some in your own backyard. Since the dirt already has, shall we say, “natural” fertilizer thanks to our two dogs and stray animals all that is left is to aerate the dirt when the time comes to use it. I won’t get into detail how it will be done, but it’s not too difficult of a process... Water will be a bit more difficult, but I learned how to filtrate water using pebbles and then boiling the water after that so that is basically sterilized. I can’t say that I am fully prepared for this, but I can safely say I am at a start. The government has already sent a solider to our door with gas masks so we can breathe and not inhale the glass-laced ash. They even gave us some for our animals. I don’t know what to make of all this, but I know that it will change life forever. I believe that is all for now, I have a lot of work to do, lots of work.
June 7, 2017
It is dark and cool, the ash resembles dirty snow as it drifts around in the seemingly tranquil wind. Normally, today would be an ideal day to go outside, but I fear for my life as my once quiet neighborhood has turned into a mass of hysterical people going door to door, asking for basic supplies, since the stores were all sold out. It creeps me out, looking at a mask, unable to read their eyes or their facial expressions; the terror in their voices is almost visible, though, it seems to make the ash vibrate and jiggle. They’re shaking, too, which is definitely not a good sign, that means that their nerves are shot, meaning that they are already toeing the line of insanity; constant panic attacks frequently end in insanity, I know that all too well. A few minutes ago, a little girl, couldn’t have been more than seven, was out, alone, asking for water. I gave her a gallon of my sterilized water and she thanked me in the most peculiar way: “You can live.” were here simple words as she walked to the next house. I was stunned and a bit scared. What did she mean by that? I can live? What if I gave her nothing? I now feared for my family so I picked up my cell phone to call them, only to get a “No signal” notice. Cursing inwardly, I remembered the ash was also interfering with some electrical apparatuses, particularly ones that relied on satellites, which meant cell phones and Wi-Fi. Although our internet is broadband and not satellite, I still have latency issues from time to time, I warrant that to human folly; I think that there are a lot of people spending time with their family opposed to going to work and a handful of people can only do so much when it comes to trouble shooting.
My husband, being the trooper that he is, donned his mask and went to work, leaving me alone…with no way to get ahold of him. What if more like her come? I have bottled quite a bit of the sterilized water, but I cannot supply the whole town! The process takes me several hours, how could I possibly supply water for thousands of people? Then it occurs to me: I can teach them how to do it themselves! I would be contributing something to society. So, mustering up all the courage I had, I strapped the gas mask to my head and walked out, regretting it instantly. I saw the same girl that had asked for water, standing across the street, her masked face facing my direction and I knew, I just knew, that she was staring at me. Swallowing hard, my gas mask all of the sudden feeling more suffocating than usual, I managed to squeak out a trembling “Hello.” The little girl did not move, did not react to what I said. Maybe she was afraid? I gathered up my courage and continued. “Listen, I’m not going to hurt you, I just want to help you out.” The little girls mask tilted to the side, but she remained silent.
“I can teach you how to make your water drinkable, it’s lengthy but…” I was stopped when I saw droves of masked people walking out of their houses and converging towards my location. I started to hyper-ventilate and I felt the overwhelming urge to yank off my mask, but I endured and calmed down when they stopped a good 10 yards from me.
“Water?” One asked, his voice grainy and harsh, as if he hadn’t drank in years.
“How can we get water? Our water supply is tainted!” Demanded a woman, fidgeting at her gas mask and then at her long sleeve shirt.
“It-it is quite simple. Collect a gallon or so of pebbles, put them in boiling water for about 10 minutes, take them out, get a sieve or something similar to put the pebbles on, and then turn on the tap, the pebbles remove a lot of the impurities, but to be safe, boil your water after the filtration process. The main pollutant that is most worrisome is the small particles of glass in the ash, but the pebbles will catch that.”
“That seems kind of fishy to me! How do I know you’re not trying to kill us all?” asked a man from my left, who immediately started to cough.
“It works! I’ve been using it and I’m not dead, yet.”
“What about the actual ash?”
“The water treatment plant is still operational, they’re still purifying it the best they can, but I’m playing it safe. And the pebbles would filter out the ash, even if there were trace amounts left behind. The only downside is, is that this process takes a few hours…”
I felt a sea of masks staring at me and suddenly I threw caution to the wind and removed my mask, causing everyone to gasp.
“Look me in the eye and tell me that I’m trying to kill you!” I yelled, all of the sudden very angry. There was a pause and then little by little applause rippled amongst the sea of clothed faces. All except one: The little girl. She continued to stare at me, I couldn’t see it, but I could feel it and it terrified me. I put my mask on before my face could register the terror.
“What about food?” demanded an elderly lady, from the sound of it, as she shifted her weight from one foot to the other.
“I have no answer to that, I’m struggling with that myself.”
“You can go to the store and buy food.” Said the little girl, her voice startling me for two reasons: First it was monotone, completely devoid of emotion, secondly, it sounded incredibly clear, as if it were being amplified opposed to being muffled as one would expect for a masked voice to be. Had she always spoke so clearly? I tried to recall, but I just couldn’t. There was a bit of a commotion and suddenly the little girl walked to my side and held my hand, it was freezing. I squeezed it a little bit and a masked face looked up at me. God, how I wished she would just take off her mask for only a second so I could read her.
“You ask much of this woman, yet she has already provided you with what you need the most. Why can you not accept that she does not have all the answers? She is not god, she cannot provide everything for you. Go to the store, stop your panicking, and let things work itself out.” Her voice was rife with anger and annoyance, a far cry from what it was a few moments ago. She let go of my hand and held it out, I watched as tiny particles of ash feel upon her pale hand.
“It has only just begun, it will get worse. Prepare yourselves accordingly.” She said, dropping her hand and walking past two stunned men. The fear was almost palpable, hell, I could almost smell it.
“What if the food is tainted?”
“I-I already said I didn’t know…” My stuttering gave away my terror. That was when the people started to converge on me, yelling questions at me. My fight or flight instinct took hold, then, and I fled into my house, locking the door behind me. Shortly thereafter I heard the sharp knocks of several people pounding on my door.
“Give us food! Tell us what to do!” begged a woman, her voice sounding as if it were on the verge of tears.
“Give us water!” Demanded another voice, this one male, and decidedly more vicious and demanding. I backed away from my door and grabbed a knife, I didn’t know what else to do. Then I heard them: Gunshots, loud, thunderous, gunshots that ceased the knocking almost immediately. Then a very loud voice pierced the void of silence that the gunshot had caused.
“If you do not desist, you all will be shot. Back away from the house.” There was an outcry and then more gunshots. It was then I started to cry: What had I done? I peeked outside and watched in terror as a swat team mowed down the mob that was trying to steal their weapons. I quickly closed the blinds, ran to my room, and vomited into the toilet. I was responsible for these people’s death.
I was just trying to help and now they’re dead. They’re dead and it’s all my fault. They’re dead.
I continued to dry heave until I managed to get myself under control. I took 4 Xanax, I knew it was risky, but I was afraid…My Xanax…my medicine…when I ran out of them, what then? The world was going mad, and I knew that my insanity would soon follow if I didn’t have my medicine. Maybe I could endure. Maybe I would go insane. I’m not quite sure, all I know is that right now I feel sick and guilty.
Their fault for trying to get weapons…All their fault, not yours. All your fault, not theirs. Check outside, my dear, there are bodies littering the streets. Streets littering the bodies. Blood running down the gutters. The ash is falling, my dear. The world is dying and you’re helping. No, not my fault. The ashes are falling, my dear. All your fault.
Dear god, I’m losing my mind. I just have to write this down. Please save me, I’m losing my mind.
June 12, 2017
I saw the little girl, again, when I let my dog out. She was in my back yard. My dog, however, didn’t seem to mind and went about his business as he tried desperately to smell through his mask.
“H-how did you get in here?”
“Through the gate.” She answered, simply, as if explaining her being there to a young child.
“I mean, why are you here?” The little girl laughed and I shuddered. The darkness, which had only deepened from yesterday, seemed to make the little girl’s figure look superimposed. As if she were a photo shopped ghost and that unsettled me even more. But what unsettled me the most, and it didn’t occur to me until just now, she was always wearing a black dress and there was something that stained her dress darker near her collarbones.
“The answer to that is simple, I am here to collect you. You see, it seems to me that you have not yet lost your mind like so many have, in fact, despite your fear, you acted quite rationally. I admire that, we need more people like you.” She pulled out a gun and I started to shake.
“Why do you need a gun?” I asked, although I knew the answer.
“Death is the only way we can “deliver” you.” Before I could react, she pulled the trigger and I cried out in agony as I felt the bullet grind through my skull and into my brain. I blacked out and ended up here. Where’s here? I’m not quite sure. All I know is that it has internet access and is completely monitored, so I must watch what I put down here. This has been the longest day of my whole life. I miss my husband, I miss my dog, and I miss my boring life.
I woke up today in a cold sweat, surrounded by darkness. A darkness that seemed to move and shift every few seconds. The darkness had eyes, white eyes with black pupils, all staring at me.
“Why? Why?” the darkness chants and I have no answer. The darkness encroaches me, the eyes move closer. I feel their hands, cold, rigid, stroking my face and body. Their chant continues. I cannot block it out. Why is it so dark? Who are these people?
Why? Why? Why?
It is still dark, but the darkness is different and they are not in it. It appears they moved me to a common area, as there are people surrounding me, eating and chatting. I notice none of them are wearing masks. I reach up and discover that I, too, am without a mask. That’s when I see her: The little girl that “collected” me. Funny, now that I look closer at her, I notice how light her hair is, almost white, and how black her dress is and…white her eyes are. Is she one of them? I look around, trying to spot other white eye people, but spot only normal looking people. Can they even see her? She’s not hard to miss. Have I gone insane? Is she an illusion? She is much more terrifying without her mask. How I wish she would put it back on. She walked over to me and sat down across from me, a warm smile crossing her pale face.
“There’s no need to fear me. I may not be of your planet, but now, neither are you. You are an Ascended, now. From here on out you will be working with other Ascended to collect both people and data so that we may expand this Utopia.”
“B-but how? You killed me! You shot me in the head!” I said, my voice getting louder with each word, she pressed a small finger against my lips and I felt suddenly numb.
“You are not dead, merely…reconfigured. You are to go out and do as you are told. You are free to write whatever you wish, no one will believe you.” Her smile suddenly grew sinister. “People on Earth, they are no longer people, merely animals…but…”Her smile dipped into a frown. “That does not necessarily mean that there aren’t still logical people in the world. Your job is simple: Find the logical people, collect their data, and then collect them.” She stood up and gave me a piece of steel. I gave her a strange look.
“What the hell am I supposed to do with this?” My fist tightened around it and I felt it buckle. Startled, I let it go, watching it hit the floor with a loud clang.
“You just answered your own question. You see, your emotions affect your abilities. Anger leads to strength, kindness leads to irresistible charisma and charm, and so on. You will use these abilities to collect data and future Ascenders. “
“So this, all of this, isn’t the government? Is this even Earth?” I stuttered, hardly able to cohere words together. The little girl shook her head to both questions.
“This isn’t Earth and we are not in any way associated with government, we are above that. We are currently in the Ether, the very essence of creation. As you know, your world is pretty much dead when it comes to humans and animals, if we don’t “collect” more people like you, we will be unable to rebuild the new world when the time comes. It is not your body that we wanted, but your mind. Your actual body is in the ground, buried six feet under back on Earth. If it makes you feel any better, your husband grieved for you, unfortunately for you, you will have to collect him as he has the potential to become one of the ascended.
I slumped in my chair. So I was nothing but data to them? And what of my body? What was I currently inhabiting? Was I a robot?
“So, I’m no longer human…Hell, I don’t even have a name.”
“You are right on both counts, but today you receive your name. Your new name is “Espoir”. Also, I suggest you look in the mirror some time, I think you’ll like your new look.”
I didn’t like the way she said that, but, tonight, after my shower, I shall take a look myself.
I am confused, I look nothing like I did before. I was once short, slightly chubby, and had brown hair and eyes, I now have eyes that are so light green they border on yellow and my hair is crimson and falls down my body in wet rivets. I used to have darker skin, now I am pale and am slender. I can’t say that I am displeased, merely that I am surprised and confused. Did all of the Ascended go through this change? If so, why did they look so ordinary? At any rate, I was given a mission, and I move out tomorrow. For anyone that is still sane and reading this, I am sorry.