Home   |  Issues  |  The Daily Star Home



She stepped into the studio and instinctively waited for the applause. Silence. Dead, cold silence.

It was certainly going to take getting used to. She was once loved, applauded, swooned over in every room that she entered. She was on top of the world. “There is no more world.” She supposed that's why there was no one to shower her with affection anymore. It was what had kept her going in her lonely world.

The studio had relocated to an abandoned warehouse because of the War. She wasn't one for the news she'd relied on the people around her to keep her updated with political 'crap' as she'd refer to it. Her world was about peace, love and music. Political nonsense only went right over her head. As a result of her ignorance, she couldn't tell you how everything had become so terrible.

Her world, and not just her little shallow part of the world, but the entire world was dying, and it seemed like for once, people wanted her opinion instead of treating her like a airhead starlet.

“But that's what you are. You know nothing. You are just spouting your pacifist BS,” there was that voice again. She wasn't going to let it take over. Not now. “Ah Candida your just in time,” the RJ gave her a smile. “Shall we get started then?”

“Y-yes please,” she stammered, “I'm sorry I've never done one of these things. I'm a little nervous.”

He laughed, “You? But you are on the stage every day of your life!”

“WERE.” She corrected, “And it was never because they wanted to hear my opinions. I made my millions by wearing those ridiculously tight outfits and you know it. Let's not pretend otherwise.”

“You don't seem as airheaded as I'd expected”
“I'm not.”
“Good. I was wondering if I was wasting my time”

“You are certainly not. Shall we go ahead?” She was going to show them that she was capable of having opinions. And strong opinions at that.

“And we're live in 5... 4... 3... 2... 1!” Those familiar words, like an old friend, how she'd missed them.

The red button indicated they were already being broadcasted to hundreds, maybe thousands. She hoped it was more than that.

“... and she's been very outspoken about what should be done so now let's find out more from the woman herself. Candida?” she had missed what he had said. Darn.

“Bill, it's not that hard to understand my opinion about the whole thing. The world is dying and it's our fault. Centuries have gone by and we've continuously abused Mother Earth within an inch of her life. Now she's dying and we have NO ONE to blame but ourselves. It has been our fault for a very long time. Years and years people have tried to warn us but did we listen? Well if we had, this wouldn't have happened,” she was on autopilot but she'd never felt more alive. People cared about what she had to say. It gave her a thrill. The thrill she had so missed now that she hadn't performed for months.

“So you're saying we need to stay put and bear the brunt of our actions?”

“Absolutely. I'm not saying I'm innocent. I'm not saying I've been a tree hugging, vegetarian who's recycled and stuff, but I'm staying here and bearing the consequences of my actions.”

“But you can't really ask people to die with the world. Survival instincts kick in, people want to live.”

“As cockroaches? In a barren world? What kind of life is that. You won't even be human.”

“So what your saying is that we should rather stay here and go down with our world as humans than to evolve and take up life in another planet. Do you think that's how God would've wanted it?”

“This has nothing to do with religion, Bill. This is about your humanity. I'd rather die with the world that has given us life and sustenance for billions and billions of years than change the essence of what makes me a human being just to live in a planet where I clearly don't belong. What's the guarantee that I'm going to survive there? What's the guarantee that these human-cockroach hybrids aren't going to destroy that planet, too? Is this going to keep on happening till we're no longer human and we've destroyed the entire universe? I'm not going to let that happen,” her voice was laced with steely determination now and Bill could see it in her eyes, “I'm NOT going to let that happen.”

“There is nothing you can do if people have made up their minds.” His voice was gentle now. He pitied her. “Little girl with no idea what's good for her” he thought.

“There is. To you I may be a dumb little star, don't deny it, I can tell what you are thinking, I've seen it enough times now to know what that look is. But people out there, they care about me and my opinions. They listen to me! I'll keep on declaring my 'ridiculous' opinions to anyone and everyone and people will join me. They'll understand that it's better to stay here and go down with dignity than lose our humanity completely.”

She got up and strode away towards the door. She was done hiding out, she wasn't a dumb little star and she was going to prove it.

The harsh sunlight hit her full force, the world was going to die soon, and she was going down with it.

She was going to make sure that the humans died with the little shred of dignity they had in them.

By Musarrat Rahman


He tasted salt. Or at least what he thought salt tasted like. His feeble mind couldn't remember the time when salt graced the insides of saltshakers. The tattered clothes on his back did nothing to keep out the cold as he licked his lips in desperation. He needed water.

Hobbling across the dusty, deserted street, he made his way to what seemed like a water dispenser at the end of the street. Approaching it, he had no hope in his heart. The last of the dispensers had stopped working when electricity supply in the small towns stopped just after The War. Sure enough, the outlet wouldn't yield, no matter how much pressure he put on it with his weathered hands.

Casting his blue-eyed gaze towards the crimson sky, he thought about what humanity had done to deserve this. How the actions of a few could wreak such havoc on innocents. Those blue eyes had seen many things. From the greed and the struggle for power behind closed boardrooms to the worldwide panic as fossil fuel ran out and soldiers rushed in, he had seen enough. The mutated remains of his wife and child, the feeling of utter helplessness that he felt, what could a man do to deserve this? The desperation set in, and even though he had hundreds of thousands of dollars to his name (a dollar of which he couldn't use), here he was - in a small town somewhere in the barren plains of California, no hope in his heart and no saviour at hand.

“When the Lamb opened the third seal, I heard the third living creature say, "Come!" I looked, and there before me was a black horse! Its rider was holding a pair of scales in his hand. Then I heard what sounded like a voice among the four living creatures, saying, "A quart of wheat for a day's wages, and three quarts of barley for a day's wages, and do not damage the oil and the wine!"

-The Bible, Revelations 6:1-8

He remembered California - a mecca for the rich and famous, a land of promises. Now it was categorised as a level 6 priority area - he would have very little chances of seeing another healthy soul. He didn't care. For, in his once learned mind, he was as important as the band of maggots feeding on the flesh of the dead. He would be cast off as those stronger willed and more able bodied than him left for the heavens. Their giant spaceships had no space for a destitute like him.

Having nothing to gain or lose gave him a strangely unburdened feeling. For the entirety of his previous life, he had strived for success - now he just wanted a soft shade under which he could die a peaceful death. But death eluded him. Each day he awoke from his sleep to the living nightmare before him. The smell of rotting scarred flesh mocked him and his pathetic life. He didn't want this “life” he had, he didn't want to take his chances with suicide either. The flickering light of faith in him wouldn't allow him to kill himself before his due time.

He watched balefully as a skeletal cat sniffed around. He was hungry too; the cat seemed good for two full meals. As the rest of his brain worked on setting a trap for the animal, he unconsciously reflected on the irony of it all. He was nothing but an animal, preying on those below him in the food chain. The basest of animal instincts now dictated his every act. Yet he had no wish for prolonging his survival on this wretched scorched Earth.

Maybe that's why they were leaving him behind. What use was offering salvation to a person who didn't have any use for it? What would he do with another chance at life? Cheat God? Death? He was past such urges, and he thought he would rather die on the planet that birthed him rather than on a far off distant one where he would be just another rag carried by the winds.

He prayed. He prayed for the salvation of humanity. He implored the One Above to grant the wishes of those who wanted another chance at life. They wouldn't know it, but they'd have to be at this crossroad again, but if merely prolonging Fate gave them satisfaction, then so be it.

By Shaer Duita Phish Reaz
Illustration: Sarwat Yunus

Session: Apocalypse

Kamiluddin Akkas was desperate to stop the Mohammedan striker Abu from heading the ball into the net. So when Abu had just jumped above him and was on his way into scoring that all important goal, Akkas produced a kung fu kick that landed right on target: Abu's chest. However, the result was not academic; the referee rushed towards Akkas, and displayed a card Akkas had never seen before in a football field: a red Joker…

“Sir, you are snoring right into your microphone which is still switched on.”

That was the first voice, Kamiluddin Akkas, the 212th Secretary General of the United Nations heard after a ten minute long slumber. Before that he was conducting an extraordinary session of the United Nations General Assembly. While listening to US President Tara Trani's speech, he had fallen asleep. Unfortunately this time he forgot to switch off his microphone.

Sleeping was certainly a better option compared to listening to that raconteur narrating regale tales- Akkas told himself. Despite prophesising that the future of mankind lay on this planet, Akkas knew Tara's government was secretly planning to transport all American citizens to E007- an Earth like planet in a nearby solar system. E007 was known to be the only habitable planet mankind ever discovered and more importantly it had large deposits of Helipoid- a fuel 117 times more efficient than crude oil. To finance the stratospheric expense of this mission, Tara's government implemented an ingenious plan. When the world knew oil supplies were almost exhausted- USA directed the Mongolian Institute of Technology to publish a fabricated report that revealed new oil deposits were found beneath the bed of the Baltic Sea with supplies lasting up to another 100 years. By the time this report was debunked by a research team from BUET- oil supplies had run out. Influenced by the counterfeit report, manufacturers all over the world were producing vehicles powered by petroleum. So it was only the US manufacturers, who were secretly producing all types of vehicles powered by renewable energy, who cashed in on the opportunity to cater to the demands of the entire world and in the process siphon supernormal profits to US coffers.

After the session concluded, Akkas pressed the red button in front of him. Instantly every Head of State's live 3D holographic representations vanished. These days it was too expensive to travel to New York just for attending futile UN sessions. Akkas couldn't imagine how quickly the world plunged into this crisis - yet it only started with the exhaustion of crude oil supplies. Then it happened - rare maladies metamorphosed into epidemics and all low-lying countries were inundated by rising sea levels and gory wars for resources became the generic form of conflict. For him it also meant that he was sleeping excessively during the daytime with that recurring Red Joker card nightmare…

By Nayeem Islam
Illustration: Sarwat Yunus



home | Issues | The Daily Star Home

2010 The Daily Star