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Journey through Before

by Michael Lejuez 2 months ago in science fiction
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A story from the past for the future

As the school bus slid to a halt in the water logged soil, the Amazon Rainforest was vast before the children, each of them astonished by the heights of the trees and the vibrancy of the colors surrounding them. The teacher gathered them all into a tight group and began giving them several facts about the forest and the incredible amount of biodiversity which exists in such an environment as they traversed the brush. The students listened intently, a sense that several of these facts would be present on a future exam.

They continued on, eventually making it to a large opening where the Amazon River sliced its way through the landscape. Animals lined the bank on the other side, as the teacher motioned to stay quiet so as not to startle them. They stood there for a while on the bank, drinking the water and bathing in the sun before taking off, back through the dense forest. The teacher and students did the same, now surrounded by a cacophony of animal noises ranging from birds, monkeys, frogs and other indistinguishable ones. It was disjointed at first but as the teacher and students continued through the forest, it became like a song, all the animals in unison creating a chorus of music.

They eventually made it to a large skybridge, a foggy mixture blanketing their vision as the roar of a massive waterfall bellowed off in the distance. It took some students longer than others to make it across the bridge, the fear of heights rooting them in place until the encouraging words of their peers and teacher helped them along. Overcoming that initial fear of heights, the teacher led them to a large research tower which rose high above even the tallest of trees. She asked all the students who wanted to go to join her on an elevator to take them to the top while the other students still recovering from the bridge stayed behind to regain themselves. The elevator was positioned in the center of the tower, taking them up through the middle of an open structure that allowed them to see the forest in 360 degrees. Once they reached the top, they all stepped off and were speechless as they looked below them with their now birds eye view. The teacher drew their attention to the moisture rising from the trees, explaining it is a process known as transpiration. The students could see the water vapor as it joined together and rose higher. It soon began to coalesce to form thick clouds above the forest and with the added winds, it started to move like a river across the sky. With the sun also hitting it, the river of clouds sparkled as it extended far beyond what their eyes could see.

The rest of the students waiting down below heard the elevator making its descent and ran over to greet their fellow students, asking them what they saw. The teacher gave them time to express their experience before asking them to group up again to journey to the next area of the forest.

The group continued on further to a place where the vibrancy and sounds of the forest were replaced by the silence and deadness of a deforested section, lined with charred trees and undergrowth unrecognizable from the environment they had passed through just moments ago. Large machinery was spread throughout the region here and the soil had lost its colorful facade. The teacher discussed the aspects of deforestation with the students and the impact that big agriculture has on the use of these lands. That by continuing to upturn these areas of the forest, the soil and the organisms which maintain it were unable to recover it. And because this area was unable to recover, all the animals and organisms which could normally thrive here needed to relocate to find a more habitable area to live. Again the students remained attentive before they moved on back into the forest, the charred smoke lingering high above the canopy behind them.

It was not long before stones began lining their path, at first seemingly random. Until stones became boulders and boulders became blocks and blocks became sprawling temples merged with the forest. The roots and trees were able to reclaim most of the territory around the structures, hiding several different chambers underneath the earth. The teacher explained to the students that they unfortunately did not have time to discover the secrets hidden beneath and that they would be able to another time. All the students began following the teacher as she continued further through the temples before reaching the tallest of the structures. The group mounted the steps of the temple, making the journey up it till they reached the very top. From there, the students gazed out over the vast forest they had traversed through, capturing the beauty of its diversity before their vision went suddenly black.

The sounds of the forest were now replaced by the sound of many students removing their virtual reality headsets and suits, an icon appearing before the students' learning stations reading, “The Amazon Rainforest Before the Ecological Collapse”. The teacher was slower to remove her headset, but announced to the fleeting students that the next VR tour lesson would take them under the sea to witness the former beauty of the Great Barrier Reef. A short animated preview appeared before them on the station display screen, showing a large research vessel skimming across the water before reaching an alluring display of colors beneath the ocean. Several of the students cheered, while others could be seen placing something snuggly to their face and switching something on that looked like a high-tech backpack. The teacher announced to everyone to not forget to equip their gas masks and to turn on their air purifiers before leaving. She helped several of the students with each before they said their goodbyes until they saw one another again the following day.

science fiction

About the author

Michael Lejuez

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