Luciana, the representative from Columbia, describes her life before the end of the world
"Why are we doing this again?" I asked.
"It's for posterity," Gloria answered, as she balanced her phone on a few books, then positioned another phone, my phone to be exact, next to it to prop it up.
The phone's camera was aimed at Luciana, the representative from Columbia who was sitting on a chair Gloria had taken from the cafeteria, in order to set up this make shift TV studio in an empty room.
It was a spare bedroom in the residence section of the Ark. It was totally empty and un-decorated. I wondered what it was for, was there supposed to be more countries represented here or were they just spare in case for some reason another room became unliveable?
Gloria had however found a purpose for it. She had decided that it was necessary to record the personal stories of all the Arkonauts, so here we were filming the first documentary since the earths destruction. I guess I understood why she was doing this but the idea that someone decades from now would be watching this was a concept I couldn't get my head around.
"Whose posterior?" Luciana said, with a cheeky smile.
Gloria missed the obvious taunt and thought Luciana was being serious.
"No I said posterity," she repeated, "you know our descendants are going to want to know about our..." she started until she saw Luciana look at me and wink.
"Ok, Ok, come on guys this is important," Gloria said, "plus I think everyone is interested in these stories, remember Illarion's, everybody was riveted," Gloria explained.
I thought back to his story about life before coming onto the Ark. How is sister had killed to keep him safe as the Kremlin was invaded. I wasn't particularly keen to tell mine. It was dull by comparison. Yes it was emotional and gut wrenching for me, however I was safe in a military based when I was teleported onto the Ark. Not exciting in any way.
Luciana sighed in her chair, she was sitting crossed legged and crossed armed. "Fine, where do I start?" she asked.
"Start at the point where you were chosen to be an Arkonaut," Gloria suggested and she started the camera on her phone, which beeped, focused on Luciana then started recording.
Luciana stared off into space for a moment as she recalled the memories.
"So me and my family lived in the Bogota slums. Dr Ghost didn't send a convoy of black sedans to get me, everything was still trying to be kept a secret. Instead the local police arrested my dad on a frivolous charge, although to be honest probably not frivolous, my father was a violent man, he probably did what they accused him of."
"What did..." I began and Gloria hushed me up and pointed at the the camera.
"The whole family had to go down to the police headquarters to see him, then when we got there, essentially lured, we were told the real reason," Luciana continued. "The entire station was taken over by people who weren't Columbian and in a tiny interrogation room I met Dr Ghost, who was there with my dad, who was not in cuffs as he should have been. There the Dr explained everything and I got my first nanite injection."
At her mention of the injection, me and Gloria absentmindedly scratched the crook of out arms where we had received a similar injection.
"For the next few months I was given various orientation meetings with Columbian and Dr Ghost's people. I got more injections and the chip in my arm that would allow the teleport to track me. She tapped her arm just below her wrist, where all our tracker chips were.
"Things sort of deteriorated at home after that. My father's drinking became worse, probably because he knew the world was going to end. He treated me differently, perhaps not liking the the fact that he wouldn't be saved. My mum pushed everyone else in the family away, I think she was scared that people would find out and get jealous of me."
"Did anyone find out?" I asked.
Luciana didn't reply she just stared into the middle distance for a moment, then continued.
"When all the orientation stuff was finished my family was told to retrieve all the stuff from our house and return to a government building, where I would be sequestered. My immediate family could come too and live a life of relative comfort.
"Because our house was in the slums a couple of bodyguards went with us. They were soldiers dressed as civilians. They did a good job of fitting in and pretending to be distant relatives. The neighbourhood was very interested in our move. Considering what was happening to the world they wondered where we could possibly be moving to, they asked us if we knew something they didn't. This was several weeks before the Destroyer would leave and we would all be teleported. Bogota was nearly half empty of people, the ones left were getting more and more violent, more agitated with the government that had failed to stockpile and distribute water. There was even a massive public backlash against the drug cartels in our country. Drug lords aren't stupid, when they realized rainfall was going to suffer, what with the Destroyer upsetting the weather patterns, they switched from growing their favourite crops to getting, hoarding and then selling water. They didn't know the world was going to end, so it was good business. However water is more of a necessity than drugs. In Columbia people don't care that someone is growing drugs because they don't partake, the crop was for rich westerners. However when it became apparent that drug lords had water, the people, more desperate for water than they had ever been for drugs started to revolt against them. So there was a lot of unrest.
"Me and my mum returned from the last orientation meeting, dad was not at home but he stumbled in an hour later and he was very drunk. He screamed at my mum and me, totally mad, telling me that I was ungrateful for going alone and leaving him and my mum behind. The bodyguards reacted more harshly than I expected. They slammed him into a chair and restrained him. They then told me and my mum that he was going to be left here and only me and her would go with them. My mum was fine with this, she had had enough of him. And so we finished packing."
"What were you feeling at that time?" Gloria asked.
"I was mentally ready to go on the Ark, in some ways I thought that it would be a relief to go."
"A relief?" Gloria asked.
"I didn't have a good life in those slums, when you think about all the death and destruction happening worldwide, knowing you will survive and not only that escape your wretched life, you come to see it as blessing," Luciana said. She uncrossed her legs and arms then lent down holding her hands together as if in prayer. She then hung her head and her long black hair fell over her face.
She breathed deeply for a moment then swept her hair back and continued.
"We were ready to go, then suddenly my dad, having sobered up a little, started laughing, he said that I was a terrible daughter and he was glad the town hated me.
"My mum asked what that meant and he said that while out drinking in the local bar he had told everyone what was going to happen to me, that I was going to survive, that I was special.
"My guards immediately rushed me outside, but it was to late to flee. People were outside our house not doing anything, but clearly angry, jealous and resentful.
"The car was surrounded. We couldn't get to it.
"The bodyguards pushed my mum and me back into the house and called for backup. People started knocking on the door cursing us.
"My mum then shot the bodyguards."
"She did what?" I asked.
"We had a gun, a small one and just as the guards pulled their weapons to cover the doors and windows, my mum retrieved it from a kitchen draw and then shot them.
"I didn't do anything to stop her because I assumed she was going to help them. She was a terrible shot the only reason she was able to get them both was because they had not been expecting the attack to come from us. Both guards went down, holes blasted in their backs. Then she shot my father in the head.
"My mum then grabbed me by the hair and screamed at those outside, firing the gun again at a window, she told them to back off. Those outside scattered.
"I told my mum she was hurting me, she pulled at my hair even more. Turned out my mother resented me too, unlike my father though she didn't drink her life away, she plotted. She told me that she was planning to take my chip for herself when the teleportation was going to happen. She said I was an ungrateful daughter for not doing anything for her parents. Now her plan was ruined thanks to my dad, so now she said that we would both be going on the run from the government, from Dr Ghost and when the time came she would take the chip from my arm for herself and if I behaved myself I would not suffer until that time.
"Then one of the bodyguards who wasn't quite dead shot her. She went flying backwards when the round struck her in the chest.
"The bodyguard then told me to run, get for the police station where I would be safe, then he died.
"For probably ten minutes I stayed where I was.
"I crouched on the floor amongst my dead family, in shock, partly in grief, partly in guilt because I was glad they were gone.
"Then the neighbours started trying to get in again.
"I don't know about you guys but the first nanite injection for me was from a soldier, someone who could remain calm in distressing situation."
Me and Gloria nodded, I had received the memories of an army captain, a tough experienced soldier.
"Well those memories were telling me to run, but they also told me to remain calm and prepare for the worst. So I picked up a fallen gun and left the house. I left my luggage behind and immediately went out the back door into our garden. Then I climbed onto the roof and started running across the roof of the little houses until I was as far away as I could be. I decided I would try to get to the station, however that was when the water riots started in Bogota. The city was turned upside down the streets filled with rioters. Burning buildings and cars were everywhere it was madness.
"I made it to the station dodging fires and mobs out for blood or something else.
"The station was ruined when I got there.
"I still went inside and decided to hole up in a room, the security room actually where all the camera feeds were displayed. I figured it would be good to see who might enter the building after me. Dr Ghost had told me that I could be tracked through the chip. I hoped that a team of his would arrive to pick me up.
"They didn't. They must have tried but there was no unified government of the city anymore. There was no way for Dr Ghost to contact me and give me instructions on where to go. He was probably sitting at a computer somewhere seeing a dot on a screen that was me, but unable to reach me. His people couldn't get into the city I was stuck.
"That day someone did come for me though. A man dressed in a dishevelled, torn suit. I saw him enter the building through the cameras. He had a phone in his hand and as he entered the building he made his way straight for the security room. I realised that he must be tracking me, how else could he have known exactly where I was. I felt elated, Dr Ghost had sent someone after all.
"However when he reached the security room, his entire demeanour told me that he was not here to help me. Instead he came at me with a knife.
"He said he knew who I was and what the chip did, he was going to cut it from my arm.
"I did the only thing I could do and shot him with the gun I had picked up."
"You shot him?" I asked.
Luciana sighed, "Callum I was raised in slums, I was prepared to defend myself, plus I listened to the words of my nanite injections, they were telling me to save myself and it was very easy to obey them when a guy lunges at you with a knife. Plus I was panicking, I didn't execute him, I told he to back off, I pleaded but he wouldn't listen, I closed my eyes when I pulled the trigger. I then checked his wallet, he was a high ranking government official, clearly he knew about the Ark project.
"I ran from the building, it was getting dark now and I knew I needed to stay somewhere else, it was still several weeks before the teleport and I was all alone. Not only that I knew there were people out there who could track me, not just Dr Ghost's people but others wanting to escape the destruction of the earth. The tracker in my arm was a liability, but I couldn't get rid of it, it was my salvation. I knew I needed to do something very risky. I had to jam the signal and wait for the end of the world, and when the time was right let the signal transmit again.
"Problem was I didn't know when the world would end, not exactly, I was supposed to be safe somewhere waiting for a phone call, a five minute warning. If I didn't unjam the signal at the right moment the Destroyer might have already caused the destruction of earth before I could do anything.
"I went to a local hardware store, I found some tin foil and wrapped it around my arm. I figured the metal would disrupt the signal. I had this big bulge of foil around my arm for the next few weeks as I scavenged for water in the ruins of Bogota. I used to visit old abandoned apartment buildings and tear pipes off the wall. The pumps were not running, but the water was still in the pipes. It was dangerous since the water was getting stagnant but I had no choice.
"Then one day a few weeks later, I was cornered in an alley way by some boys.
"They were practically feral, I had no supplies they could want I think they wanted something else..."
She shivered at the memory.
"It was then that the ground started to shake, an earthquake I thought, a small one, like being on a train rumbling into a station. The boys didn't care they were hungry so they came further down the alleyway for me. The rumbling continued.
"I realised that the sustained earthquake might not be an earthquake it might be the Destroyers' pre-flight engine activation.
"I needed to be sure. If I took off my foil protection then I could be tracked by opportunists and I didn't have anymore to hide myself again should my assumption be wrong.
"The alleyway was next to an apartment building and by luck there was a stairwell, which lead the roof.
"I started climbing. The boys gave chase.
"I made it to the roof of the building ahead of them and looked to the western horizon.
"There I could see the top of the Destroyer. The ship was so massive that its summit peeked over the horizon of the Pacific, which was really a desert now. Even from this distance I could see it glowing and shaking, clouds of dust were flying into the air reacting to the engines powering up. The chimneys were also retracting, it was preparing to go.
"It was time. I started tearing off my tin foil, freeing my chip. I then held my arm in the air thinking it would help the satellite or the Ark or whatever get my signal.
"The question was, had I done so in time? Would the teleportation signal lock onto me in time. Was I too late, had it been searching for me for the last few minutes and given up."
"No where to run," a voice said from behind me, it was one of the boys, he cackled as he advanced.
"I pulled out a makeshift knife I had, a piece of glass duct tapped to a stick of wood.
"The only reason he pounced on me was probably because he didn't think I would stab him, but I did."
Luciana said that so nonchalantly that I was scared of her for a moment.
"The glass went into his abdomen and he went down crying, and screaming. His mates then backed off.
"They cursed at me and threatened all sorts of violence, but it was too late.
"Spots danced before my eyes, I smiled knowing this was the beginning. I must have terrified those boys because to them it would have looked like I was slowly disappearing, while smiling, holding a bloody knife. It didn't come with me when I teleported, thank goodness. You guys would have freaked out. The next thing I knew I was in the observation room, with the earth coming apart below us."
"Wow," Gloria said.
"Yeah," I said, both appalled, but also in awe of what Luciana had to do in order to survive and make it here.
"Do you know what," Lucian said standing, up and taking a deep breath. "It feels good to get that all of my chest, thank you Gloria this was a great idea."
She then left the room with a little bounce in her step, a weight off her shoulders.
I looked at Gloria.
"Maybe I won't show anyone that one, for a while," she said deactivating the camera and locking her phone.
"Yeah, also I'm going to start being really, really nice to her from now on," I replied.