Trishanna walked into her room and dropped her backpack and books. She went over to her large, four-poster bed and dropped onto it. She looked around her room, it was decidedly 20th century, old movie posters on the walls, real wood furniture, book shelves with real books on them. In fact, the only thing modern in her room was her computer. This was the best money could buy, state of the art, voice activated, artificially intelligent, and very expensive. Trishanna let her eyes drift over to the computer and sighed.
“Yes Trishanna?” the computer replied in a friendly voice.
“Open the journal program.”
“Begin entry,” Trishanna waited for the computer to carry out the request,
“Journal entry: Trigon (December) 26, 3196- today in history we talked about the late 1900’s. It gave me a lot to think about. I have always enjoyed learning about that century, but they had so many problems. The poor were numerous, there was pollution, mass population growth, and large-scale war. Of course, this was almost four hundred years before the collapse. They thought they were doing so much to prevent destruction. I guess it must have helped some or we would not be here, but it just was not enough. Sometimes I just cannot believe how immoral and corrupt some of them were. They had not even conquered the work problem. There were still so many poor, and homeless. They had not yet developed Corono’s system. This system is extremely efficient. No one goes without food. I’m not sure how they do it, but the government has its ways. Of course, the system may not have worked back then because of the level of technology, but there had to be some way to at least reduce problems. I have to admit that our life is not perfect, but it is about as close as life can get. We have no wars, no hunger, and the death rate is the lowest ever. People live for 150 years on the average, and technology is at a remarkable high. They had so many problems I can not even understand and fortunately never will…” Trishanna continued to relay thoughts about the contrast between her life and those of people in the twentieth century and the computer dutifully wrote every word. Often it had to put that artificial intelligence to good use, but then, that is what it was there for after all.
“Trishanna! Senator Danning is here for dinner. You had better get ready.” Trishanna’s mother called. The computer did not write this down because it was keyed to Trishanna’s voice.
“Journal, I will close with this. I will turn 18 in a week and I have the oddest feeling that nothing will ever be the same after that day. Goodnight. Trishanna Regalia.” The computer automatically signed her name with the signature in its data banks and shut itself down, leaving Trishannna to dress for dinner.
Anne Regalia had just finished setting the table when she heard footsteps on the stairs. She looked up and saw her daughter standing there. Trishanna had her waist length blond hair curled, a flowing red dress accented her slender figure. She stood at her full height of five foot nine. She wore a gold necklace set with emeralds, which matched her flashing green eyes. Anne looked over at Senator Danning. He was only 21 and was Trishanna’s best friend, and this was why he had come over for an early birthday dinner. Trishanna would have been heartbroken if he could not have made it, so the dinner had to be scheduled at a time when he was available. She smiled, the young Senator was staring at Trishanna, awe struck. Then he smiled and walked over to Trishanna.
“Well hello beautiful,” he said, “who are you and what have you done with my best friend?”
Trishanna laughed, “Shut up Ryan Danning,” she said.
“There she is.” He responded laughing. “No one but Trish would dare speak to me that way.” She started to reply, but the doorbell rang.
“I’ll get it,” said Anne. She opened the door, outside stood her husband and Beth, her daughter’s other close friend. “Come in.” she said. They came in and after greetings and hugs they all sat down to eat.
Dinner was over and games were done, Beth had already gone home, and it was getting rather late when Senator Danning got up.
“I guess I had better get going if I plan to be at work on time.” He said.
“Thank you for dinner and happy birthday Trishanna, see you later.” He walked to the door and left. Trishanna looked at her parents, whispered good night and then ran out after him. She caught up with him in the middle of the large yard.
“Ryan,” she said touching his shoulder. He turned, “Ryan, what’s wrong? You seemed disturbed all evening.” Ryan sighed and led her over to a fountain. They sat down.
“Was it that obvious?” he asked, she nodded, “ we’re having a problem with that terrorist group.”
“That’s the group, they have a lot of support now. I didn’t want to say anything that would disturb your big night.” Trishanna only looked at him. “Look, I don’t know how long this is going to go on, or how far they’ll go, but I think your family should leave before you get hurt.”
Trishanna shook her head. “You know we could never do that. This is our home. We can’t leave.” Ryan sighed, he had known this would happen. Trishanna's family was strong and stubborn. He nodded, then got up.
“I’d better go.” he said, Trishanna smiled and held his hand.
“We’ll be okay Ryan, good night.” With that Trishanna turned and walked away. Ryan stared after her for a couple seconds and then turned and went home.
“ So Trish, how does it feel to be 18.” Beth asked her friend.
Trishanna smiled at the holographic representation of her best friend. She hadn’t seen Beth in a week and had wanted her to come over, but because of their parents’ schedule, this was the best they could get.
“Exactly like being 17 did.” She answered.
Beth laughed, “Yeah? Well I’m only 17 and I can’t wait until next month, because then we can be 18 together.” Trishanna smiled. She and her friend played this game every year, Ryan always said that they were like sisters, and twins at that. This was ridiculous of course. Beth was five-foot even and had short red hair. The only real similarities between the two were their love of 20th century stuff and their sparkling green eyes. Trishanna sighed, that was what was missing, Ryan, usually he joined them, but the 21 year old was an influential senator and was needed to help with the terrorist problem. Trishanna briefly wondered how he was doing, then continued her conversation with her friend. She did not have to wait to long for her answer. That night the war started.
Trishanna strode into her room and called up her journal. She spoke hurriedly, “Journal entry Marinel (January) 4, 3197- It has been three days since my birthday, but it feels like a life time. The terrorists began bombing random settlements on my birthday, and we all live in fear. Our city is the most important in the world, at least from a political point of view, because it is the capitol. I can’t imagine why anyone would want to go back to the old ways, not after knowing what caused the collapse. I’m so confused.
“Ryan was right, we should leave, but if he’s not going, I’m not going. He’s been so busy lately, I’m worried about him, because of his importance he is a prime target for assassination. He won’t go into hiding though. He says he could not stand to live knowing he had gone into hiding when his people were in trouble.
“I can’t believe this is happening. It has been over a thousand years since the last world war. Even the collapse was not a world war, just thousands of smaller wars. War is so horrible that I don’t see how anyone could do this. I have to go now but I will write again soon. Bye.” Trishanna did not sign off but the computer realized that she was finished, so it signed her name and shut down.
Trishanna walked into the living room and stared at the public holovid receiver. They were showing new footage of an attack. Trishanna sighed, another day another battle, she thought. She could not figure out why every one was so fascinated by the destruction of other cities. She shuddered, she was just glad it was not her city they were showing. Of course, she felt sorry for the people in the destroyed cities and for those left behind, but it was a little distant to her. Tishanna looked back up at the screen and almost dropped her glass as she saw a radiation burned little girl on the screen.
“Trishanna?” her father asked. Trishanna did not answer; she just continued to stare at the screen.
The terrorists were using nuclear weapons! Trishanna’s shock melted away to pure fury. How could they? Nuclear weapons were the most devastating kind. They destroyed the environment, practically vaporized everything, and those it did not kill were scarred and handicapped for life. They had been banned long before Earth became entirely peaceful. She had thought that all nuclear weapons and substances, along with all research concerning and plans for such things, had been destroyed. Apparently not, unless those terrorists were rocket scientists. Trishanna walked over to the couch and sat down.
Suddenly something caught her attention that caused her to cease her brooding. It was Ryan; he was making an announcement.
“Hello, I am Senator Ryan Danning. The events you have just seen and the ones that will follow are merely a few examples of what is going on here and around the world. We request that those of you who live in the Manhattan, Moscow, London, and Tokyo areas please leave the area as these are considered likely targets for the next attack. Safe areas at this time are Paris, Mexico City, Rome, Hong Kong, and Washington D.C. Please consider evacuating to one of these areas. If you would like to support any of the needy families who have been injured or forced to leave their homes or if you are willing to donate blood, please contact the International Hope Society or the Red Cross in Geneva. If nothing else, please pray for these needy people. Goodnight and may you all live to see the end of this war.”
The station’s lead reporter continued to reel off facts about the war and other likely targets for the near future, along with possible safe areas. Trishanna heard none of this however; she was too lost in thought. That night as she went to bed she felt hollow and realized that when she had seen that little girl something had connected. The war no longer seemed distant.
Trishanna lay face down on her bed crying. She’d been like this for three days, ever since she had heard about Beth’s death. Her head was pounding and her eyes hurt from crying, but she couldn’t stop. She was going crazy, and she knew it. Her thoughts ran wildly in her head like stampeding animals, out of control. She wanted to die. She wished the terrorists would kill her as they had Beth, maybe she would do it for them. It would be less painful that way.
No, she could not do that. It would be wrong. Not knowing what else to do Trishanna prayed. She had known people were getting hurt, known it was bad, known people were dying, and in her mind had known it could happen to her. But deep inside her heart, she hadn’t thought it could happen to her. At first this odd calm had settled over her, a numbness. It was only after she had finished her journal entry that it had all set in. Finished? Had she finished? It did not matter, not now. DEAD, her best friend was dead. She had not done anything to deserve this. She could never come back, and yet Trishanna kept thinking that if she sat there long enough, Beth might walk in, or call, or… or just do anything. But that would never happen again. They would never play their game again, Beth never got to be 18.
It had happened three days ago, the first of Plinot (February). Beth had been on the holonet with Trishanna, suddenly the screen went blank. Trishanna did not mind. Things like that always happened. She had spent the rest of that day figuring out what she would say to Beth. Beth’s parents ran the holonet system, Trishanna teased Beth every time the system went out. She never got the chance to tease Beth. The holonet connection had not only been interrupted. It had been terminated, permanently, along with the rest of the house, and Beth’s entire family. Trishanna was jerked back to reality by her mother’s voice.
The computer light blinked on and off. It had been left on when the Regalia family had left. Normally it would have shut off, but Trishanna had been in her journal program when she had finally recovered from the shock of Beth’s death and broken down. Not only that but she had been in mid-sentence. The computer, having no sense of actual time (although it had a clock) failed to realize that it had been on for two weeks.
A wing of fighters flew over the city. Bombs began dropping. People started running around on the streets, but the computer recognized none of these things. It did not feel sorry for the people. After all, it was only a machine. A child ran down an alley a few blocks over. A nuclear warhead fell miles from her position. She saw it hit and knew she would die. Just before the wave hit, the child let out a piercing scream. Two feet beyond her the wave dissipated. She had almost escaped, almost, but not quite. The computer recorded none of this. It was keyed to Trishanna’s voice…
Trishanna sat on the floor in her new room. It felt empty, and odd. She closed her eyes and tried to get control of her thoughts. It had all happened in such a short time, and yet it felt like forever. Her birthday, the war, Beth’s death, the move, it had all taken place in a few weeks, yet it felt like a lifetime away. She was so confused. What had they done wrong? Where was the mistake? She laughed mirthlessly. It was the 20th century all over again. People thought they were doing so much to prevent wars. It just wasn’t enough. Trishanna wondered if they could ever do enough.
She glanced down at the data card beside her. She picked it up and read it again. Without feeling the article told about the destruction of the world’s capitol, Raying, almost the entire city in rubble, a quarter of a million people wiped out, mercilessly. Trishanna’s home was gone. 27 of 30 senators dead. And Ryan…, Ryan was one of those who had died. She knew he had to be or he would have gotten word to her. Trishanna felt hollow. She had known this would happen, had prepared herself for it. She had not done that before Beth’s death. She had thought Ryan’s death would hurt less then Beth’s, but it was a thousand times worse. While Beth’s death had been like a hard blow, Ryan’s was like having her heart torn out and the world collapsing all at once.
She had known Ryan for fifteen years. He was the best friend she had ever had. She wanted to die, not enough to kill herself however. Ryan would not like that. Ryan…, Trishanna closed her eyes. She had to stop thinking, had to, or she would go crazy. She needed some perspective.
“Computer, open journal file, and begin entry…” The computer complied.
Trishanna stepped out of the hover car as they pulled up to the city limits and looked around her. It had been three years since her 18th birthday, but those years had taken up a lifetime. She looked around Raying, the capitol was now being rebuilt. They had won the war finally. Trishanna could go home now. Her mother and father stepped out of the car.
“It looks so different,” said her mother.
“Well what did you expect?” her father asked.
“I don’t know, just not this.”
Trishanna shook her head and wandered off down the streets. She didn’t know where she was going, she just walked. When she looked up, she was filled with sorrow. The house before her was Beth’s. Trishanna sank down on the grass. Grass? She thought with a start, then she realized that this must have been one of the first sections to be rebuilt after the fire. It was necessary in order to start the up the holo system. Everything looked just as she remembered it, all ready for Beth to come back. Only Beth would never come back.
Trishanna’s eyes filled with tears as she thought about Beth and the discussions they used to have. She had been so naive then. They had thought that the problems of the twentieth century had little to do with them, aside from being a point of interest. Trishanna stood and started walking again as she thought. Their life had been perfect, sure parents were a pain and exams were hard, but life was good all the same. As she entered one of the few areas of the city that had not been destroyed, Trishanna laughed bitterly, perfect planet indeed, she knew better now, nothing could ever be perfect no matter how hard she, or anyone else tried to make it so. She turned a corner and looked up at the street sign. She drew a breath sharply, Coronile, her street. She hurried down the street, and gasped when she saw that every thing was just as they had left it. It looked almost as though it had been frozen the day before the attack.
“Excuse me miss, but you can’t be here. This is a construction site.”
Trishanna looked up sharply, she sighed. “ I know sir, but this is, was, my home. Can’t I stay for just a few minutes?” The man looked into her eyes for a moment, and then nodded. As he walked away, Trishanna’s eyes filled with tears. When he had spoken, his voice sounded so much like Ryan’s. She had hoped maybe it was him. Ryan… no she would not think about him, that led only to more tears and sorrow. She was 21 now the same age he was when he… Trishanna did her best to banish all thoughts of dying. Ryan would not like that, Beth would not like that. They would want her to go on. The pain would never go away, and it never should. But life would go on. It always did, and maybe that was part of what made death so terrible. The rest of the world went on as if nothing had happened. A hand touched her shoulder.
“Trish?” a voice asked tentatively, “Trish is that you?” Trishanna turned, she gasped and hugged the man before her.
“Oh Trish, I was sure I’d never see you again. I tried to contact you to let you know that I was safe, but the head senator said that it wouldn’t be safe. I’m so sorry.” Ryan said. Trishanna just hugged him tighter and cried.
ENTRY : Marinel (January) 1, 3200
It is the dawn of a new century. It’s
been a year since the end of the war. A
lot has happened since my 18th birthday. A lot of it horrible, but some of it good.
It seems like a lifetime ago, my party with Beth and Ryan.
Beth is gone, and for a while I thought Ryan was too.
This war has been a horrible time of tragedy.
The sky has just begun to clear of smoke, although tonight it is so
dark you can scarcely tell, and even after so long fires from neighboring
settlements light up the night sky. Destruction is everywhere, though in some
places, like here- the capitol, things have been rebuilt.
In most cities buildings are still in flames, their trails of black
smoke floating up to meet an already black sky, to add to the endless
have grown so much since the beginning of that horrible war.
I was so naive then. Life
has changed so much, for all of us. I
was correct about one thing back then, since my eighteenth birthday, things
have definitely not been the same. But
maybe all this was for the good. Maybe
because of this trial, we have been made stronger and changed for the better. Maybe we needed this to help us in the future and to prevent
us from relaxing our guard, because in relaxing and thinking we had conquered
all our problems, we became lazy enough to allow this tragedy to occur.
We have endured and we have triumphed.
We will try harder to prevent this from happening in the future.
I believe that we, despite it all, have come to a better understanding
of our lives and the world around us. We
have been through the fire, and like gold being purified, have come out better
then we were when we went in. We
have learned things to help us prevent this from happening again.
hope and pray that my children and their children for generations to come,
will never have to endure what I have been through.
That they will not know the horrors I have experienced during this war.
May our descendants always remember the day our world almost came
crashing down. May we continue to progress and grow, and may we always live
My birthday has new meaning now. It saw the start of a war and the end of a war. It is the dawn of a new century, the dawn of a new life. May those in the future read this diary and remember our hardships, our struggles, and our joys. May they always be wary of danger and understanding of each other. May they always be cautious of war. I pray such a disaster never befall mankind again. Our civilization has grown to this point. Let it not stop here. Let our lives continue to improve. I can see the sun rising now, it is a beautiful sight.