The planet hadn't been the same for quite a long time. Not for me, at least. Pictures of the time before, labelled as fake news by the government, convincing an entire society to believe that what existed currently, was what had always been.
We were happy this way, don’t let the rising death rate and increasing hospital bills tell you otherwise.
We all believed them, of course. I mean, innocent until proven guilty, right?
Nothing and no one contradicted their claims, therefore, they must be true. The main objectors, scientists, had been eliminated in the Western Cultural Revolution a couple years ago. Elitists, we called them. And they were. Equality of the mind had become the imperative.
Those above, and below, had to go.
I lived in a strange area. I mean, it was completely normal from the crime rate to the regular blackouts, but it was only really labelled strange because we happened to live next to a cottage blossoming with a hippie-dippy family of five. Everyone avoided their home (except the police, who frequently visited. Some said for marijuana, others said they were exploiting government secrets.). They were the last in the area to actually grow and care for their trees, to use the rationed decontaminated water on their plants, to vaccinate their children to ‘protect them from terrible illnesses’, the only family who refused to own any guns or weapons and refused to eat meat, saying they were ‘infested with hormones’. Hippies.
The problem with that damn family is that I had to pass them every day on my way to school. The oil dried up long ago, so no cars could be found on the roads, making me walk to school, forcing me to speak to the hippies.
The mother, June, would always strike up a conversation with me, usually regarding the apparent 'p*llution', or 'gl*bal w*rming', words not meant to be ushered in public. Her language was filthy. I couldn't even go swimming without her chattering in my ear about how I would get riddled with diseases if I even place my big toe in that p*lluted water.
But, I swam. It was too hot for anyone not to. No one listened to them, anyway. I swam among plastic bottles, as common as zebrafish used to be, swam over metal structures as rough and jagged as coral, swam next to plastic bags as graceful as jellyfish.
It was normal.
Our current environment was perfectly normal. Everybody suffering from asthma was normal. Not being able to see through the foggy air was normal. The rain stinging like acid on bare, pale skin was normal. Water being as black as the coal we used up was normal. Why worry if everyone was doing it? Even dead fish go with the flow; we had seen it in oil slicks.
Despite all the doubts and warnings, there was a day where I almost believed the hippies, like the week before Christmas when a child discovers the hidden presents. But, like Santa Clause, it was covered up and forgotten an hour later, because mom bought ice-cream. We were like children, easy to manipulate.
I woke up at midnight to sirens and flashing lights. I peeked through my window, finding an ocean of police cars parked outside the hippie hole. On normal days, I would have shrugged it off, gone back to sleep, but this time, there were ambulances. Someone was hurt.
I ran outside in my bunny-slippers and pyjamas across the road, hopping over some roadkill, just in time to see someone being wheeled out on a stretcher. It was June, lying on her side, a crimson gunshot wound in her back.
My skin started to tingle and burn, as they wheeled her corpse into the ambulance. It had started to rain. Despite the stinging pain, and the water slowly singeing my pyjamas, I stayed. Too shocked to move. I had always heard of violence. It littered the news every day. I had lost some of my friends as well. But, the state said that it was a natural process. The weak died; whether during the viruses, the police raids or street fights. The strong remained. The too strong were watched, and sometimes, never heard of again.
"Reef, the kid, went crazy and shot the family with their handgun. Mental illness." the officer guarding the border of yellow-tape told me, shrugging his shoulders as if nothing out of the ordinary had happened. "I mean, if I had lived with those crackheads, I would’ve done the same.” He laughed, as we both watched the ambulance pull off. “Nothing to see here. Go back to sleep, kid. Might as well forget that this all happened." He slipped me thirty bucks under the yellow tape.
“Ok,” I mumbled, my protection mask muffling the noise. I could’ve stayed. Maybe it was the acid rain, maybe it was the huge gun casually laying in the officer’s arms, but I decided it would be better for me to leave.
I rubbed my eyes and went back home, almost forgetting about it.
Everything was perfectly normal. No one listened to them, anyway.
written by Ashley Allard
I wrote Acid Rain in an attempt to ridicule and satirise the current attitude older society is taking to climate change and what the world will look like if it continues to go on this way.