“In the desert, there is no time,” said Cily’s father. “There’s no time for life. No time for enjoyment.”
The year is 2096 and the earth is dying. Most of the planet is uninhabitable, completely, except for a small portion of land located at the interior of the former United States. Called Moraldia, this is the land that is overflowing with milk and honey. The last bastion of civilization and the last place for humanity to thrive.
The old folks tell stories about Moraldia as they skin their desert cactus and collect their fees in the hot sun. They say that in Moraldia, the water is so clear that it can be blinding. They say that the animals are healthy and tasty, that everywhere the grass is green and full. They say that there is no death in this place. They say that it’s a place of everlasting beauty and peace and love. No one can live without Moraldia, they would say.
Cily and his father had traveled hundreds of miles, through deserts and dying forests, just to find this beautiful place. The walls were made of titanium and stretched up into the heavens. On the tops of the walls were laser turrets with telescopic sights. They could spot a human from up to a thousand miles away, literally, and any man caught trying to climb over would be cut down immediately. It was a desperate way to survive, but they had to protect themselves from being overrun.
“Did you finish your IQ test?” said Cily’s father.
Cily wasn’t sure what to make of it. The people of Moraldia had a code of living, that only the most intelligent should be allowed into paradise. They sent out a decree that one would need to have at least a 200 IQ to join their ranks. As a result of this requirement and fueled by the desire of the people to be free, people from all around started testing their IQs, trying desperately to increase their scores. Most were unsuccessful in increasing their score even a single point. But it was still a great attraction. They set out a special office just outside of Moraldia’s gates, specifically for people who wanted to take the test.
Later that day, Cily was at the Broadbank Institute, taking his test. It was a hard, difficulty, unrelenting exam. He was not allowed to carry scratch paper or write any notes. Everything had to be done mentally. There was long division, derivatives, and a host of other problems to be taken in. With all this difficulty and not being able to track his progress, Cily already felt like he had failed. After the test was over, Cily was standing outside the Broadbank Institute, waiting for his results to be processed.
He hadn’t brought any food, as the store shelves on the way were bare, but he had brought some water. He sat there, his stomach growling, thinking about his family. His parents had sacrificed everything for his wellbeing. They had done everything that they could to ensure that he had a good life, but this was the end of the road.
“Mr. Cily?” said a voice from the doors of the Broadbank institute.
There was a buzz all around. People were already beginning to gossip that he may be the one. They seemed to gossip about everyone who got their scores, whether they won or not.
The man walked up to him, wearing the modern, stilted garb of Moraldia’s administrative corps. There was armed security all around, vectoring in on everyone’s location, trying to prevent an overthrow. Cily stood up from his perch and looked around. He didn’t want to mess this up, not when he was so close. He reached in his pocket and pulled out a locket that was plated in gold. Rubbing the closed lid with his thumb, he put it back in his pocket and walked up to the administrator.
“Mister Cily,” said the administrator. “Congratulations.”
Cily’s whole world ceased at that moment. He’d studied the IQ tests for years, trying his best to learn the ropes. What he didn’t know was that the learning would transform his life from top to bottom. He had studied history, philosophy, math, science, art, all of the subjects that one could master. And it had all culminated in this. His future.
“Are you ready to go in?”
“Yes. What about…”
“Your family cannot come. There isn’t enough room.”
A tear fell from Cily’s eye as he followed the man into the secure building, covered in several feet of reinforced concrete and enough alarms to wake up a bison. They fingerprinted Cily and took a blood test. If he was going to make it in, he would have to be perfect. Just as planned, he passed all the tests.
A few minutes later, they took him to a giant vault door that had pipes and pistons coming out of it. An air-tight seal. As the door slowly opened, Cily saw the wonderful city of Moraldia. Everything was green and beautiful. He walked in and immediately started dancing and singing. On the outskirts near the door was a thick prairie full of grass. Cily entered the interior, leaving the protective outer wall behind. When one was inside, he almost didn’t think about the walls and laser guns.
He walked for a few minutes when he saw his firs Moraldian. Actually, it was a group of them. And they were running. Towards him.
“I’m supposed to be here,” said Cily, waving his arms. But they kept running. One was wearing a hazmat suit, and the other three were wearing regular clothes. Casual dress. As they got closer, Cily thought the worst. What kind of trap was this?
When they got to him, they immediately tacked him to the ground, held him down, and shoved a hose into his mouth. He struggled mightily, but he could not resist their power. After holding the hose into his mouth, they turned on a machine that had a pump and a generator attached. It pumped this slimy liquid down his through. It tastes like fertilizer.
“I’m sorry,” said one of his capturers. “You’re dirty on the inside. This will cleanse you.”
Cily fought some more. Some of the liquid could not be swallowed and came back up.
“I’m sorry. We must force it back down. We cannot allow any of the chemicals to be wasted.”
Cily reached up and punched the man in the hazmat suit as they were holding him down.
“Oh, a violent one,” said another. “First day in and already a felon? We’ll forgive that one. Come on. Keep swallowing.”
The chemicals burned his throat and make him sick to his stomach, but all he could think about was that he had arrived. This was paradise to him.
“Do not worry,” he thought to himself. “This is your ticket into paradise. This is your heaven. These are your wings. With them, you will surely fly away. Go on, gentle bird. Fly. Don’t forget to touch heaven and dine with the gods while you’re there.”
He was sick for two days after. They brought him to a special tent out in the rain in which new arrivals were processed into the system. They put a tracking chip into his right hand and through his tongue. They also printed a QR code on the back of his neck, just for safety.
“Why are they doing this?” Cily said to one of his compatriots. “Where are we going?”
“Oh, this is just the beginning, I’m sure,” said his compatriot. “I heard they’re re-educating us tomorrow.”
The next morning, they were all taken to the central city, Moraldia, where Cily was given some clean clothes, some shoes, and a duffel bag full of essentials. They were then taken to a row of dorms near the city’s center.
Cily slept like a baby that night. It might have been that his dream, his life’s greatest dream, had finally been fulfilled – or it was a sleep chemical being blasted through the air.
The next morning, Cily was taken to a large auditorium for what was unofficially considered “Uniform Reeducation.”
They sat everyone the auditorium, this white auditorium with black seats, and had them repeat a phrase over 3,000 times. The phrase went:
“I am a good person. I am a great person. I am a loving person. I am a kind person.”
After the exercise, Cily’s voice box hurt. He was worried about his parents. They had given him so much. They had sacrificed everything for him. He was unfortunately not able to return their loving gift with an entry for them into paradise.
Suddenly, Cily had an idea. He decided to leave all of his compatriots behind and go out on an unofficial tour of the city. He went ton foot, leaving everyone behind and not knowing how he would get back. It was simple navigating downtown as he was already in the city center. The streets were clean and spotless. The houses were all boxy and white.
As he walked, he thought about his future. Would he finally be a father? Would his children go to college? Would he make friends? Would he become a magnate of magnificent maleficence? These were the main questions the flew through his mind.
A bright flash flowed through the sky. A missile. A nuke? It was as big as a small building and heading straight for the center of the city. Just his luck. Cily had entered an earthly paradise on the day of Armageddon.