The clock strikes three, in the morning, and little puffy eyelids still flutter in deep slumber. On the other side of town, in the forest, or what is left of it, a small shape is rapidly growing. Right now, it’s not really a threat. Atleast not yet.
The year is 2050. Nairobi feels like a gigantic robot, the houses within its belly operating like well-oiled automated machines. A woman in one of these houses is darting furiously between the coffee maker and the electric cooker. It’s all futile really, nothing can go wrong in that kitchen. Rhoda, the chef, won’t let it. A growing whirring within her body elongates her arms simultaneously. She flips the pancakes to a perfection and switches off the coffee maker as she pours two cups. The woman smiles. Rhoda has a sense of humor for a robot.
“Lenana, wake up!” His mother continuously shakes him up.
“Why didn’t he wake me up?” Lenana groans, pointing at the robot next to his bed, its clocky face staring right at him.
“I switched him off Lenny. You can’t be having all your conversations with a robot, son.”
” But mom, he was helping me with my homework,” Lenana whines.
” Which you finished.” His mother finishes making up the bed, turns the robot to the wall and sighs guiltily. It shouldn’t be like this, she thinks. She should be the one helping her son out with homework like her parents did with her but it’s not that easy anymore. She sighs again, heavily this time. Lenana will have to do with the two capable robots for the time being. The robots she specifically made for her five year old son.
“Mom, please hand me my project, ” Lenana points at the top drawer. Clocky always tucks him in and makes sure his homework is safely put, always at the top drawer.
It’s a huge 3D illustration of a smiling Planet Earth on a glass like canvas. Lenana has named it ‘Long, long ago’ in wobbly pencil, something he hardly uses anymore. Planet Earth is all blue and green until small holes start appearing from the top spreading downwards. Like thick porridge coming to the boil. The holes become bigger and bigger until she bursts open like labour come too soon. Now the whole canvas is littered with reds and browns, just not the tranquil blue and green. At the top somewhere on the huge canvas, Mt.Kilimanjaro glistens proudly and briefly then completely melts into oblivion in a single second. Tiny LED arrows lead his mother to a huge green mass teeming with all kinds of animal life. Atleast that is what she gathers from the many incorporated animal and nature sounds. Suddenly, there’s an almost painful static sound. The green mass wobbles, the sounds start to go faint. The huge green mass changes in an instant to black. There’s no sound. Only a desert in its place.
“I’m presenting this today mom,” Lenana interjects proudly. “It’s about how much our environment has changed since before I was born.” He’s smiling. His mother is not. The canvas is still changing. A million dots are moving rapidly from one side of the canvas to the other. The path is marked The Mara. “That’s the Wildebeest Migration that you told me about,” Lenana explains. ” Do you miss it mom?”
But before his mother answers him, the dots completely disappear in a flash of red. Only a landscape of dirty brown and a deep gaping hole where the river was is now left. The illustration starts to dim and hums slowly back to the smiling complete Planet Earth.
“Wow! Did Clocky help with this?” She’s trying to tame a runaway tear.
“Yes ,” Lenana answers quietly, ” but mostly from the stories you tell me. Before they disappeared.”
On the other side, the shape is still growing. Its small red eyes dart hungrily to the pile of plastic dumped minutes ago by the garbage truck. It wobbles unsteadily on still growing hind legs and starts gobbling the plastic down in a frenzy. Almost like it needs the plastic to survive, to live. And like a child’s imagination coming to life, it grows to its full size. Hind legs are fully formed, a full body of black mass glistens with life, rather waste, and its red eyes zoom fully from the heady intake of carbon dioxide and methane in the air. Ah! So much of it. It opens its smelly great mouth and howls in pleasure. Pollution has never felt and tasted so good. Let the rampage begin.