The end

It had been a week since Jeffrey and Helena had escaped London. Now they were going back. They knew where the eco-president and the mad scientists would be. That was the only thing that was left to do. The group of survivors moved south without encountering any sort of resistance, and went all the way to Regent’s Park without meeting anyone in person. The black lady from the shop where Helena and Jeffrey had initially hidden was in the entrance, waiting for them.

“Well, that’s the end of it, then” she announced.

“It is, grandma” Jeffrey said, hugging the old lady. “We now need to arrest the people in here and start to rebuild”.

“Good, good” Jeffrey’s grandma nodded. “But don’t let those maniacs live. A bullet to the head should be enough to end the problem”.

“That’s what I think, too” Helena’s grandmother agreed.

The two ladies started to talk, and seemed to hit it off. They did not enter the bamboo palace that the environmentalists had built in the park. In fact, nobody did. Dani just gave an order, and they set fire to the building. A small group, which included the eco-president and Barbara, came out of the building. Before they could say a thing, Dani’s people shot them down.

“Wow. Wasn’t that a bit excessive?” Helena asked.

“These people and their followers have killed over 5 billion people. They had already sealed their fates” Dani explained.

“But I just feel that… I don’t know, this whole thing, this story, or whatever this is, doesn’t get much closure, does it?” Helena asked.

Jeffrey intervened. “I’ve told you before. Life is absurd. It is completely absurd that thee environmentalists did any of these things, but they somehow did. Sometimes life doesn’t make any sense, and you just have to accept that”.

Helena sighed. An absurd period had ended, after a completely senseless chain of events. Now rebuilding was going to take a lot of effort from everyone.

Wrapping things up

They listened carefully, and heard no more buzz. They had spent over an hour in complete silence. Jeffrey finally spoke. “I think it should be safe to move now”.

The three women walked outside. They saw a bunch of corpses throughout the street. It would seem that the town and its surroundings had not been abandoned when they had arrived. The Genetically Modified Soldiers had swept past the town, killing everyone that they could detect. As Helena’s grandmother inspected one of the corpses, there was a large buzz.

Helena turned around and saw a mosquito-man. Its eyes were looking at them, and it seemed ready to attack. Before Helena could react, an axe cut through its head. Helena gasped, and the creature screamed in pain, as it received several hits from the axe. The body fell dead, revealing Dani, who had sneaked up behind the soldier and hit it several times with the axe.

“Dani?” Helena suddenly noticed.

“Hey! Helena, Jeffrey. I suppose that this is your grandmother?”

“So you’re Dani” Helena’s grandmother registered Dani’s face.

Dani nodded. “It’s nice to meet you, but let’s leave the introductions for later. We need to move now”.

“Move? Where?” Helena asked.

“This whole eco-revolution thing is coming to an end. Social order is decomposing, and the eco-regime is losing control. They are losing battles all over the world… And we are now going to cut-off its head” Dani explained.

“But what about these insect-soldiers? How are we going to destroy them? There are thousands of them!”

“Helena does have a point. We can’t be reckless about this” Helena’s grandmother said.

“I will explain everything as we go. Let’s head towards London”.

The four of them got onto Jeffrey’s car, and started to move south. Dani started to talk.

“OK, so let’s start from the beginning. This whole eco-revolution thing was not started by environmentalists, or anything like that. It was started by scientists. In particular, a group of scientists that was researching several pathogens that disrupted human DNA” Dani said. “They discovered that, using these pathogens and several viral vectors, they could transform people into hybrids with animal characteristics. Radiation can help with the mutation process”.

“That is the reason why those soldiers in Newcastle…!” Helena realized.

“Yes. Those were a test run. The thing is, the human body cannot process these pathogens well. In fact, initial trials were a complete fiasco, and so the project was cancelled”.

“I imagine someone went bonkers about this” Jeffrey hypothesized.

“You are right. The principal investigator did not want the project to be cancelled, so he sought out for funding and support. Most world-governments did not want to hear anything about it… But somehow, nobody knows how, the current eco-president heard about the project, and seemed interested”.

“Mad scientist and crazy environmentalist. Sounds like a bad combo to me” Jeffrey added.

“The researcher somehow managed to convince the environmentalists that his project would help humans evolve onto a next level, with hybrid features, in which they would be more in sync with nature. They could change the world, and he would help them by testing his chemicals on as many people as possible” Dani continued.

“Is that the reason why most of the killing actually happened in hospitals, and not in the street?” Helena’s grandmother asked, remembering how she got called.

Dani nodded. “Yes. The environmentalists went onto that spiral of madness somehow, and are now actively participating in this whole thing. I don’t think I need to explain much of what has happened since the eco-revolution. The data that they’ve gathered has allowed our mad scientist to improve the formula, and that is the reason why there are now so many genetically modified soldiers”.

After a pause, Helena felt like she needed to ask a few questions. “How did you know all of this stuff? How did you know where we were moving?”

“Well… Scientists like myself were the first ones to get persecuted. Some were kidnapped and sent to work for the genetic modifications project. Many others were killed because the environmentalists thought, in their madness, that science is a depraved practice that leads to technological improvement and strain on natural resources. So me and others had to go into hiding. We organized, and have managed to create quite a complex association. We have spies everywhere”.

“Like myself” Jeffrey explained.

“And what now?” Helena’s grandmother asked.

“The eco-regime had killed over five billion people in about a year. They have somehow proven to be the deadliest force on the world. We are going to stop them” Dani stated.

“How? They have those soldiers, and what do we have to fight them?” Helena asked, worriedly.

Dani smiled. “We have a plan. Those soldiers are quite unstable and don’t last over a few days, so we are going to wait while we get ready. And then we will finish the eco-government, and rebuild from the ashes of our society”.

An unusual storm

Helena stopped the car. Jeffrey looked up, wondering what was going on. He saw a bloody old lady walking on the border of the highway, going south. She looked quite worn out, but seemed determined. Helena ran out of the car and went towards the woman.

“What the hell are you doing?” Jeffrey shouted at her, trying to move out of the car.

“Grandma!” Helena shouted.

The old lady turned around and saw Helena. “Helena?”

Helena grabbed and guided her to the car. Jeffrey had not managed to squeeze out from the tiny space he was confined in. “Helena, don’t bring that woman in! We don’t know her!”

“I do know her! She is my grandma!” Helena explained.

“Your grandma? That old lady who killed so many eco-policemen some time ago?” Jeffrey asked.

“Yes, this is her. Grandma, this is Jeffrey, she is a friend of ours” Helena introduced them.

Helena’s grandmother pointed a gun to Jeffrey’s face. “I have no reason to trust any of your friends, Helena. See what happened with Maud. This one could also be a spy”.

“Wow, you better calm down, old hag” Jeffrey got sassy. “I’ve saved your grand-daughter several times now, I think you should be thankful”.

“Mira, m’hija. I don’t know who you think I am, but make a wrong move and I’ll kill you” Helena’s grandma said.

“Hey, you two, calm down!” Helena said. “We are all in the same team”.

“I don’t think so” Helena’s grandma said, still pointing her gun at Jeffrey’s face.

“You don’t think so? You don’t think so?” Let’s see what you think about this!” Jeffrey said, putting a gun to Helena’s grandmother’s face. “You better behave, or I’ll have to make you leave my car”.

They did the rest of the trip holding their guns against each other’s faces. Helena’s grandmother did not trust Jeffrey, and Jeffrey thought that Helena’s grandmother had gone bonkers. They had no reason to trust each other. In the evening, clouds started to move up from the south. They were moving pretty quickly.

“Weird. That storm doesn’t look like anything I’ve seen before” Helena commented, looking at her rear-view mirror.

Jeffrey and Helena’s grandmother looked back, and they could not help pulling a face of horror. “That’s not a storm” Helena’s grandmother said.

“Helena, push the engine to its very limit! And take the first exit!” Jeffrey shouted.

Helena panicked, and did as she was told. They were speeding towards a small town. “What now?” Helena shouted.

“This is an abandoned town!” Helena’s grandmother pointed out. “Let’s hide into any of the houses! Quick!”

Jeffrey somehow squeezed herself out of the car and ran towards a detached house. She opened the garage with brute force, let the car in, and closed the door behind her. Helena stopped the engine and walked out of the car. The three of them saw the cloud of modified eco-soldiers approaching the town fast. There were tens of thousands of them, flying quickly.

“Let’s hide in the basement” Helena said.

They went down and waited in silence, in darkness. The modified eco-soldiers would notice any sort of movement or light, and they could not afford to fight so many of them. They would need to wait this one out. The prospects were terrifying.

Some explanations

It was quite an awkward trip. Jeffrey did not say a thing until they reached zone 11, out of the city. They left the train and started to walk outside. Helena was not happy with the situation, but it was not as if she actually had much of an option. Jeffrey walked directly towards a tiny car, opened the door, and signaled for Helena to come in. She had to make an effort to fit inside the back of the car, so Helena drove the car.

“Take the North route” he signaled.

Helena sighed. “Are you going to just point directions until we get wherever we need to go, or are you going to tell me what’s going on?” she asked.

“I can tell you now” Jeffrey said. “I am on Dani’s faction. My work was to destabilize the eco-regime… And well, seeing that you ended up getting tangled with the Sisters somehow, save you in the process of doing so”.

Helena was extremely surprised. “Wait, what? This was Dani’s doing?”

“Yes, who else’s?” Jeffrey answered.

“So you’re not a Sister?” Helena said.

“Nope, I’m not. I am web design and community management expert. Well, I was, before this whole eco-revolution thing” Jeffrey explained. “I was saved by Dani, and I was given an extremely important mission. I infiltrated the Sisterhood and quickly went up the ranks because of my knowledge of social media, which gained me the title of Preacher Supreme. I forced everyone to follow me on social media, and thus made my word the visible moral authority of the eco-community. In fact, I need to make an update…”

Jeffrey brought out a phone and started to update all of her social media. She posted messages about their terrible escape, and how they had been attacked by the eco-government’s forces. She was ambiguous about the state of Helena, their newly appointed Prophet, and thus created an uproar.

“I didn’t know that social media could give you such power” Helena said. “At least, not in this eco-obsessed world”.

“Well, the thing is that it’s not even been a year since the world governments were toppled by the new eco-world order, and after a decade of social media… You know, old habits die hard”.

“And what is next?” Helena asked.

“Well, Dani has planned everything, don’t you worry. Right now, we need to decompose the eco-world. I mean, it’s not very difficult to do, because the eco-regime has had quite some self-harming practices, so we are going to have it quite easy. Then…” Jeffrey went on.

“Halt!” Smith shouted.

Jeffrey could not finish his sentence. Smith and Smith, the two eco-police agents that had searched Helena’s house for some sort of evidence to find her grandmother, were blocking their path with their guns out. Helena had to stop.

“What now?” she asked.

“Let me handle them” Jeffrey reassured her.

Helena tried to curl a little and put her face down, as she did not want to get recognized by the two agents. Jeffrey opened the door and walked herself out of the car. Smith and Smith were suddenly taken aback, as Jeffrey towered high above them, and they felt like ants. Jeffrey used her deep voice as a form of authority.

“Excuse me, agents, don’t you read social media updates? I am the Preacher Supreme, and I am taking our prophet to a safe place”.

They kneeled. “Sorry, Preacher Supreme, we didn’t recognize you at first… Please, go on”.

Jeffrey took five minutes to get back in the car. They then moved on.

“That was easy” Helena commented.

“Yup” Jeffrey agreed.

After a while, Helena talked again. “I have so many questions. The world does not seem to make sense at all. It’s like suddenly a lot of weird stuff is going on”.

“That’s what life is about, really. A lot of weird stuff happens, and you cope with it” Jeffrey responded. “Think about it, before the eco-revolution people were spending their money on receiving a random box of stuff they did not want every month. They also cared more about watching sports than voting for their leaders… The world is, and has always been, quite a weird place, when you actually think about it”.

“True” Helena had to agree.

“Take the highway. We are going to drive for a couple of hours, and then stop somewhere to rest”.

The escape

Sister Jeffrey kicked the door open. It was sent flying through the room, and Helena and Barbara were startled to see the super-muscular Sister running into the room. She looked for Helena, and we she saw her, she approached with long and firm steps that made the floor vibrate.

“Prophet, you are in danger here. Your words of wisdom have divided the community, and the eco-government considers you dangerous. We need to leave, now” Sister Jeffrey said.

“What?” Helena was confused.

Sister Jeffrey did not wait for her response. She just took Helena on a shoulder and started to run out of the building. Barbara tried to follow, but Sister Jeffrey was over 2 metres tall, and it was difficult to follow her when she was running. With a free hand, Sister Jeffrey punched a guard so hard in the stomach that he flew for over ten metres before landing, completely unconscious.

The soldiers were confused, and did not know how to react. What was Sister Jeffrey doing? Could they stop her? They definitely could not shoot against two Sisters, so they let Jeffrey do as she pleased, and did not react until someone made the alarms go off. It was too late. Jeffrey had already planned how to escape.

People moved out of Jeffrey’s way (not like they had an alternative, really), and when she reached a relatively empty area, she turned a corner and ran into an open shop. There was an elderly black lady behind the counter, and she smiled at Jeffrey. She smiled back, and without stopping to say a word, she walked to the back of the shop, where she lifted a few of the boards on the floor and went down with Helena, closing right behind her.

“No talking, OK?” she said.

There was noise upstairs someone walked into the shop. Helena and Jeffrey stayed silent, and listened to what was going on. Jeffrey started to braid her long hair.

“Hey, lady. Have you seen two people running around?” a muffled voice asked.

The woman answered in a fragile voice. “I’ve seen a lot of people, running around to their jobs”.

“But did you see anyone running away just now?” another voice asked.

“I’ve seen my years running away from me in an instant” she continued.

“We mean people. Two people” the first one insisted.

“I’ve seen you two running into my shop” she said.

“Apart from us” the first one said.

The second one was getting nervous. “We mean a young girl and a huge dude wearing a wig”.

Sister Jeffrey had just finished making her braid, and was surprised and enraged. “Oh, no, you didn’t” she said.

She jumped up, throwing the floor boards flying up. Before they could react, she had them both up by the necks, one held in each arm. They tried to escape from Jeffrey’s strong grip, but their weak complexion was no match for her muscles. Before they asphyxiated, Jeffrey threw them to the floor with disgust.

“This is not a wig, understand?” pointing at her braid.

The two men were recovering on the floor, and could not say a thing. Helena walked towards the front of the shop.

“We need to leave, Helena” Sister Jeffrey told her. She then turned towards the old woman, made a hand gesture and nodded. The old lady nodded back at her. Helena looked outside, and seeing that the streets were empty, the two of them slipped out. They ran to a main street, and saw a tube station. It had been closed with the new eco-regime, which opposed cars and public transportation, somehow. Jeffrey and her managed to break in through a window.

Helena looked at Jeffrey as they started to walk down. “What’s going on?”

Jeffrey did not answer, she just walked up to a payphone, took one of the phones and waited for approximately 30 seconds. “We’re both here” she finally said. She hung up the phone and started to walk towards the stairs. Helena did not move, so Jeffrey turned towards her. “Come on, we need to go”.

“No. I want to know what’s going on” Helena said.

“No time for that” Jeffrey answered. He waked towards Helena, held her with both arms, and took her away on one shoulder. Helena complained and tried to escape, but Jeffrey just took her downstairs, all the way to one of the lowest platforms.

“There is no train” Helena said. “The eco-government stopped the tube service”.

Jeffrey did not say a thing. She just waited. And a train came. To Helena’s surprise, a London tube train came into the platform, and stopped to pick them up. The wagons were empty, and the train did not stop in any of the other stops. The train had come to pick them up.

Leaders of the world

Helena was taken back to the Palace, as they called it. She did not have much of a chance: when she tried to escape, a crowd had held her and raised her on their arms as if she was their leader. She was taken to a Council room, where several men and women were waiting for her, expectantly looking at her. A few of them had military suits on, but there were also two representatives of the Sisters, and the president of the world eco-government was there.

“Please, sit” the president of the world eco-government told her, indicating the only chair that was available. The Sisters looked at her with pride, as Helena complied. “I am glad to have you here with us, Prophet” he continued. “Rescuing you was the best thing that could happen. You are a beacon of light for our followers, the source of wisdom that they drink from to continue their holy mission”.

“I am not a Prophet” Helena continued.

“That’s so humble of you” the president of the eco-government continued. “The Sisters have told me about this, it is indeed the mark of the Prophet.

One of the Sisters, who oddly enough looked a lot like a man on a wig to Helena, spoke on a basso-profondo voice. “The prophesy will then turn true: a humble one will descend upon the Earth, one that will not trust her own powers. She will appear in the midst of the cleansing fire, and she will guide humanity to the last war of all, restoring the balance of nature”.

As he spoke, Helena inspected him and noticed that he actually did have a 5 o’clock shadow. That was definitely a man. When he stopped talking, the other Sister spoke. “You came from the fire of Newcastle, the cleansing fire intended to kill the rebels there. We had not noticed initially, but you are our chosen one”.

“Cleansing fire? You mean the nuclear bomb that was thrown there?” Helena was enraged by the memories.

“The nuclear attack was necessary to stop the advance of the rebel front in the north” the president of the eco-government said. “It was the eco-friendliest option”.

“That’s not true! Now Newcastle is a wasteland that will be contaminated for the next tens of thousands of years! That’s not eco-friendly at all” Helena objected.

“It is!” the president of the eco-government insisted.

“It’s not!” Helena continued.

The tension had extended to the whole room. The men and women were all looking around, not one of them daring to speak up for one or the other. Apparently, Helena had enough power to hold her ground against the president of the eco-government.

“Look, I had several scientists working on this problem. It was the best solution that they could come up with” he explained. “Also, sometimes sacrifices are needed”.

“I don’t think that massacring the population is an eco-friendly thing to do” Helena stated.

The Sisters gasped. The rest of the people in the table looked at her, eyes wide open, terrified by the consequences of what she had just said. The highest spiritual leader of the eco-world had just pronounced herself. The president of the eco-government did not have words to respond to that. Seeing that opportunity, Helena left the room.

It was impossible to go out without being spotted, so Helena went back to her room. Barbara was waiting for her there. She looked concerned.

“Helena, are you OK?” she asked.

“I am perfectly fine. I’ve said what needed saying” she answered.

“I know. Sister Jeffrey has told me” Barbara told her. “It was so brave of you to speak the truth… In front of all of those world leaders, too!”

“Wait, what do you mean that Sister Jeffrey had told you?” Helena asked.

Barbara brought out a brand new smartphone from a pocket in her Sister garments. “Sister Jeffrey tweeted it. You know, the Sister that looked like a super-muscular heavyweight mixed martial arts champion?”

“Wait, so this is public?” Helena asked.

“Yes, in fact it is compulsory for every citizen to follow Sister Jeffrey, to get spiritual updates. He has uploaded a video of it, too. Oh, you look so fierce saying it, I really admire you”.

The reaction did not take long. The news had soon gone viral, and the still-forming eco-world was now boiling with one of its initial crises.

Welcome sacrifice

“Barbara?”

“Please, don’t call me by that name. I’m not that monster who used to eat meat anymore. I am now enlightened” Barbara answered.

“Oh, yeah, sorry…” Helena tried to recall whatever ridiculous name Barbara wanted to be called by, but it had been too long, and it had not stuck into her memory. She would have to manoeuver awkwardly, making sure never to be in a position to have to use the name.

“It’s OK, Helena, it’s OK. You are back where you belong now. And your connection… it’s even more powerful than it was before!” Barbara commented, closing her eyes and moving her hands around Helena, almost like a ritual.

Helena held Barbara by the shoulders. “Look… I know this is awkward, but whatever connection you think I have with nature… It doesn’t exist”.

Barbara was quiet for a few seconds, and then she smiled as she opened her eyes. “Denying your connection to not make others feel bad. That’s so humble and wise of you, Helena” she threw herself to her knees. “Please, teach me in your ways!” she begged, kissing Helena’s feet.

Helena moved away. “Please, stop it. I am not a chosen one, or anything. You don’t need to do this”.

There were sudden screams outside, and Helena ran to the bamboo balcony. Some soldiers were forcing a crowd in front of the bamboo building. There were hundreds of people, and Helena was looking at them, bewildered, wondering what was going to happen. Barbara had followed her onto the balcony.

“Oh, the ritual sacrifice is about to start” Barbara commented.

“What ritual sacrifice?” Helena asked.

“Our troops have been victorious in Africa and in South America. Most of the Pacific, too, but there is quite a large Australian resistance in the outback. North America and Asia are just a matter of time now” Barbara explained. “And now that we have you to guide us in our spiritual connection with the world…”

“What?” Helena was bewildered.

“Look, this is our holy mission. We are cleansing the Earth” Barbara continued.

“We need to stop the killings” Helena said, as she ran into the room and looked for the exit.

Helena opened a door that led into a corridor, and found the corridor crowded with men and women bringing flowers and other gifts. When they saw her, they cheered happily. She tried to close the door, but it was too late: the crowd came in like an unstoppable force. Helena ran on the opposite direction, and found only the balcony. She noticed the building had not been built very professionally, which gave her an idea.

If there was one talent that Helena took pride on, that would be climbing. She had always loved climbing, and practiced every week. She walked out into the balcony and checked the bamboo walls. It would be a rough descent, but it was better than nothing. She started to climb down, as the crowd inside the building tried to hold her desperately.

“Our prophet wants us to climb down this wall, as a symbol of our descent from the heaven to Earth in our holy mission!” Barbara screamed.

They soon started to follow her. Helena was afraid of what could happen, and jumped the last couple of metres directly to the floor. She saw her pursuers struggling: they did not have the upper body strength required for climbing, in part because they had never climbed before, and in part because they followed an unhealthy diet with no protein in it. Most of them fell to the ground, killing themselves right there. Helena was horrified, but ran towards the sacrificial crowd.

It was too late. The soldiers started to fire their machine guns against the crowd, until none of them was left. Helena saw them, horrified by the massacre. Meanwhile, Barbara climbed down the building and joined Helena.

“Isn’t it beautiful, Helena? Everyone is doing all of this just for you” Barbara marvelled.

“What the actual fuck?” Helena could not contain her reaction. “Are you crazy? Several people just got killed! This is horrific!”

Barbara looked down in shame. “I’m sorry, lady” she threw herself to the floor, crying. “I’m sorry! Please forgive me! I am not worthy of your compassion, but I beg of you!”

“Many innocents died. This cannot happen again!” Helena shouted.

“Of course, you’re right. It’s all my fault. It’ all my fault. Please, forgive me” Barbara whimpered. She was, however, not thinking about the same innocents as Helena.