September 24th … 2126 “… Find the one eyed jack…”
Said the message that ended abruptly…
It has been two months since the impact. The Swift-Tuttle was merciless. Looking out through the window of his dilapidated apartment, Bashir realized how lonely he was. He only vaguely remembers the days before the impact. Brilliant sky, meteor showers, burning moon… some lovers were literally going to be star crossed. As a lonely loser he thought it won’t really matter to him. But as the days passed, he realized that it is not the same without the fellow homo-sapiens, even though he hardly interacted with them. He isn’t sure how many of his kind are remaining in other parts of the world but his city seems to be totally devoid of any kind of living beings except himself… and Toby, the cybernatically enhanced cow.
After the impact, he had located an abandoned supermarket and survived using the remaining supplies. Throughout these days, he considered various options of finally ending his life. Should he just wait till the end comes? Or should he commit seppuku? He gave up the plan as he could not locate a katana in the store. Besides, a certain Jidaigeki gave him nausea. Eventually, he had finalized a less gory approach of starving himself to death. It was exactly at that point, his nearly forgotten phone rang.
“Reach the HQ beyond the Valley of Lust. Rendezvous with Control… Find the one eyed jack…”
October 24th … 2126
Bashir never really thought a place like this is still surviving. The super bacteria had already wiped out half of the civilized world and the impact destroyed the last standing cities. But as he arrived at the Green Valley, it seemed that the nature has clawed back and is slowly covering up the industrial wastelands with the resplendent organic bounties that only a few survivors from the 20th century could remember.
The 22nd century technology had enhanced the four compartments of Toby’s stomach to be more receptive of processed food. But even he immediately abandoned his newly evolved traits and moved back the tradition of his ancestors as soon as he saw the lush green grassland in front of him.
This is the Gateway to the mythical Valley of Lust. One of the few places that were designated to be the last bastions of what people called “nature”. It was protected and entry was banned for most people, except a chosen few. In fact most people doubted its real purpose. Nevertheless, most of them never saw it. Now the challenge for Bashir was to climb up the treacherous pass up to the summit of the ancient mountains. It looked like an ancient reptile crawling up the mountain from the distance. As Toby abandoned him to exploit the greener pastures, Bashir felt even lonelier. Nevertheless, he started his tedious ascent which was preceded by almost a month long tedious walk from his city after that sudden message. Apart from the incomplete instructions, he also had received the coordinates of the location and reached the place after he managed to find an almost undamaged vintage Tata Safari from 2030, but the next phase looked even more intimidating.
“Who the hell is One Eyed Jack?”, He thought, “Why must I find him? Will he answer all my questions?” …
Bashir huffed and puffed and eventually made his way towards the summit. It was not natural for him to make such a long trek without any assistance. But the newly discovered primal zeal, along with his new found curiosity, allowed him to push himself. As he finally reached the summit and set his sight on the other side of the slope, he realized that there is another greener and much more surreal enticing land is waiting for him. Bashir decided to camp at the summit and begin his decent the next day.
October 25th … 2126
As he climbed down, the surroundings quickly changed colour from reddish brown to dark green. He noticed a large rock and then saw something moving beyond the bush.
As he moved closer, he noticed a small rodent eating the moss gathered on the stone. But it was moving awkwardly and seemed more awkward on the left side. Does his right eye not work? Is he the One Eyed Jack?
Bashir gingerly approached the rodent. It looked up and said…
“No no… I am not Jack… two more people have asked the same thing before… I’m sure you are planning to ask the same thing… ”
Taken aback, Bashir asked, “Sorry sir… but do you know where he is?”
“You have to cross the Valley of Lust and then you will find him on the banks of the Road of No Return. But remember, he may not be something that you might expect him to be”…
“Err… thank you sir… but can you tell me why the Valley of Lust called so?… Do we…”
“Well, certain plants growing out there have aphrodisiacs… But that’s about it, you are not going to find anyone from your species…”
Disappointed and crestfallen, Bashir decided to continue his journey anyways. After a few more hours of arduous trek, finally a surreal view greeted him. This was the mythical Valley of Lust. It was refreshing and energizing. Certain organs of his tiring body felt especially rejuvenated.
But where is the HQ? and still there is no sign of One Eyed Jack?
October 26th … 2126
Bashir has reached the Road of No Return. Considering his previous experiences, he did not try to think about the nomenclature of this water body. But in any case, where was the One Eyed Jack? He did locate a house and a dilapidated truck by the side of it… but there is no sign of anyone else. Who were those people who asked the same question to the rodent? What did the rodent say in the first place?… Confused and tired, he started examining the truck closely and at that point it suddenly dawned on him…
“This is it!”… he thought, “This must be the One Eyed jack… this is not something I imagined… the rodent was right”…
He almost started jumping in joy but his celebrations did not last long… there was a loud booming sound and a blinding flash of light.
October 31st… 2126
Bashir woke up with a splitting headache. It was a dark room with one archaic electric bulb hanging over his head. With a lot of effort he stood up. There was a mirror on the wall but he could hardly recognize the skeleton that looked back.
Suddenly the door opened, and the someone walked in.
“Who are you?”, asked Bashir.
“I am not merely a remnant of a distant past but that of a different space too”… said the entity that walked in…
“But why this game?… why lure me into this? My planet is destroyed anyways…”
“This is because you are the descendant of a great writer I once loved… you may not know it but you were named after him”
“OK but it doesn’t answer my question… why all this facade of playing a savior?”
“I did not want to play savior… I just wanted you to realize a few things… tell me what did you see when you drove your car for almost a month”
“Only barren lands… till I reached the Green Valley”…
“Why do you think they were barren?”
“I thought the impact with the comment had disturbed them”…
“Really? Think hard. Only barren lands and no debris? Why do you think so? The civilization might have been destroyed, but where are the vestiges?”
“Now you are confusing me… but really… I am not sure… once I lived the city, I saw nothing nothing. I travelled for days and for thousands of miles but it was more like a desert”.
“Think about your past life… how often have you been out of the city?”
“hmm… never! We were taught that an evolved homo sapiens should be able to do everything through virtual communication and not through physical movement… and of course there was the risk of radiation from the remnants of WW III warheads. Travelling was considered archaic unless it was space travel”…
“There lies your answer kid… why do you think your establishment tried to prevent you from realizing the fact that there is no civilization remaining outside your city?”…
“You mean… it was never there in the first place? WW III, the great leveler, as our teachers preached, had destroyed it already?”
“good going… keep talking kid…”
“Our leader fooled us for generations?”
The entity. which was somewhat shifting its form, now smiled… and sighed…
“I think my job is done… you will figure out the rest very soon…”..
“Wait.. who are you? and why did you save me?”
“Do you realize why these parts you’d crossed in the last few days are so different from the rest of the world?”
“Because they were abandoned by rest of my people?”…
“you are good.. I made the right choice…”
“So what do I do now?”
“Do you know why this road is called the road of no return?”
Bashir looked out of the window, saw a road that led to an even more surreal and resplendent land untouched by the civilization that brought him up… and for the first time in his life… smiled…