The Future in Flames

Submitted for Contest #62 in response to: Write about a character putting something into a time capsule.... view prompt

0 comments

Oct 09, 2020

Fiction Friendship

“The word ‘future’ is a strange one. We rely on it so much yet have no idea what our world holds in store for us. Now, we have faced an obstacle that may seem impossible to get past. But, we will rise up to the challenge. You have already heard of the prophecy. While my administration and I  have no way of confirming or denying this threat as of yet, we will do all we can to prepare ourselves for any events, good or bad. However, we can also give the generations to come the supplies they need to survive and thrive in the future. And that is exactly what I, Maya Rose, your president, plan to do with this time capsule.”

 I pulled the red velvet cover off of the capsule next to me. The crowd gasped when they saw it. It was about the size and shape of an oval bathtub. The capsule itself was made of a tinted emerald glass. I stood in the Rose Garden with an assembled group of around 60 journalists and reporters. Cameras flashed brightly, making me blink, as they took pictures of myself as well as the capsule.

“You may be confused as to exactly what we are doing here,” a few scattered laughs came from the group, “The prophecy that has already been discussed so thoroughly stated that the world will go up in scarlet flames. However, my faith in the American people is stronger than any fire. And it is because of that that I know we will not light this match. We will stand tall and face our fears together with grace rather than violence. That being said, I also recognize that some of you are scared and I can not allow that fear to go unnoticed and untreated. My leading scientific advisor has helped a team to develop a device that, if needed, will stop fire from consuming us. She is here to tell you all about it.”

I joined Claire on the side of the stage and gestured for Alexandra to step forward. 

“How was I?” I whispered to the Vice President, Claire.

 “Positively presidential,” she said with a smile.

“Thank you,” I responded quietly. You could always count on Claire to be supportive. But, if there was one thing I knew about her, it was that, despite her sweet appearance, you did not want to defy her. That was one of the reasons I picked her to be my VP a year ago. She could get what needed to be done and give orders, but with a smile on her face. 

I directed my attention back to Alexandra as she reached the podium. She glanced over to me and I nodded with encouragement. This was the first time she had ever made a statement in front of the press and I could tell she was a little nervous. So was I when I began to run for office.

“I am Alexandra Ambroise and today I am here to tell you that the future is now possible. My team and I have made a device that will cool the Earth and put out all fires. I could tell you about the specifics of this machine but I know you would all much rather see what the president is going to do next.”

Alex backed up towards a small table and picked up a small object. I estimated it to be about the size of a rectangular alarm clock. It was covered in  metal plates with writing covering the sides and a large red switch protected by glass on top. I strood over to meet her and she handed it to me. When I took the object, I was surprised to find that it was about as light as a small plushie.                         

“We will survive this America. Because we will not simply stand by and let this happen, we will stand together,” I finished, placing the precious device in the time capsule. 

***

After thirty minutes of answering questions and posing for pictures I was finally able to get some time to breathe. Or so I had hoped. But, for a president, there was never really any time to breathe.

“Madame president, we need to talk,” I heard a voice say from behind me as we left the Rose Garden. I almost did not recognize it. I turned around to find who sought my attention and saw Alexandra. Her voice had been so series and far from the polished women who had just spoken.

“Yes?”

“We need to talk.”

“What is it Alex?”

“No. Not here. It’s too public.”

“Follow me.”

I led her through the white house and into the oval office. She glanced around the beautiful room, obviously trying to hide her excitement. I remembered Alex had never been in this historic room before. I could see the sparkle in her eyes and it made me smile. The office itself was in the shape that was described in the name. The walls were covered with a beige wallpaper covered in vertical stripes. Behind my desk were large windows framed by carolina blue drapes. The floor was a light cream color with the symbol of an eagle in the center. The couches were comfortable and white with a maple coffee table in the middle. There were built in bookshelves with hundreds of books and a few green plants and flowers scattered about them.

“What was it you wanted to talk to me about?” I asked, sitting down on one of the couches and gestured for her to sit on the other. 

I began to pour myself some tea out of the blue china teapot that sat on the table. I could see she was tempted to do the same as she looked at the tea sandwiches and cookies. But, Alex kept her upright posture and serious demeanor. I started to become more curious as to what she wanted to ask me. This behaviour was very odd for Alex. Usually she was the most cheerful and bubbly person in the room, but now she was quite the opposite. 

“Do you believe in this prophecy?” she asked simply.

“I believe that the people do. And that is enough for me to make it so they feel safe again.”

“That’s not what I asked,” Alex said, her expression unchanging. 

“Why did you want to talk to me Alex?” I asked.

“I do. Believe in the prophecy that is. The woman that foresaw it was a friend of mine. She said that the world would go up in flames because what we were doing to Earth was vile. She claimed that she heard ‘The only way to silence the peoples’ greed is to make the world unable to breathe.’”

“Thats-”

“True.”

“I was going to say barbaric.”

“What is really barbaric is the fact that she was found stabbed to death in her apartment only a week later.”

“I’m so sorry,” I said truthfully, now realizing that her seriousness came from anger and sadness. But how it connected with whatever it was she wanted to discuss with me, I was not sure.

“Everyones sorry. But the truth is, she was right. This world has and always will be full of unending greed, anger, and violence.”

“We can show them a better way. But it is impossible to do that if the Earth burns to the ground.”

“Madame president, respectfully, it is your job to see the best in the people you lead. And for your profession that is perfect. But I can’t afford to see our nation through that colorful lense. People will always be full of hate and there is nothing we can do to change that. I’m not saying that I want this prophecy to come to life. What I am saying is that you need to focus on making sure the people you serve don’t light the match.”

“I will. Alex, what did you really want to talk to me about?” 

“The woman, Pearl, that dreamed of our future, I was supposed to marry her.”

“Alex, I had no idea. I’m so sorry-”

“Don’t,” she stopped me, holding up a hand. “Pearl was killed out of fear and hate, the person that murdered her was consumed by it. That can never happen to the rest of the world. Especially because…” Alex began to look uncomfortable, as if she had said something she wasn’t supposed to.

“Because?”

“The device my team and I made… we’re not 100% sure it is going to work,” Alex looked up at me, not sure what my reaction would be.

I got up from the sofa and started pacing in front of my desk, unsure of what to say. Questions swirled around in my head. Are the American people in more danger now? 

“How sure are you?”

“Ms. Rose-”

“How sure?” I demanded, my fear beginning to turn into anger.

“80%.”

I only sighed.

“That is why now more than ever you need to encourage the American people to be better!” Alex exclaimed, standing up and walking over to me.

“You lied to me.”

“Maya-”

“And as a result you forced me to lie to our entire country! They are counting on me to save them. Now, I find out that I may not even be able to do that,” I took a deep breath and leaned up against my desk. Alex tentatively walked over to me and did the same.

“You’re wrong Maya,” she said simply. I looked at her in curiosity. “You can save them. And you have a larger chance of doing that than anyone else in the world. You inspire people Maya. That’s what makes you such a good leader. You make people want to be better. You are why I know we will not light this match and the reason I believe in America. That is all you Maya, not some device.”

“Thank you Alex, truly. That means more to me that you can ever know.”

“Of course.”

“With you by my side, we will save the future.”

You must sign up or log in to submit a comment.

0 comments