Cautiously, the leafy fingers crept up around the steel skeletons. Luscious leaves interweaving with vines-culminating in a dazzling array of green hues and tinges. Victoriously, flowers rise high above the disused factories and warehouses, which now lay sunken, broken and defeated against the skyline. Melancholy seems to seep from the broken shells of buildings into the earth, feeding the wild and unpredictable vegetation.
Ominously, no one comes, as steel-edged clouds begin to gather. Poisonous rain begins to fall, the arrogance of man captured in water.
Man thought they would harvest, control, own nature. They thought nature would be vanquished, they thought that pesticides would control the insects, that fences would control the livestock, that houses would keep them safe.
Nature did not cry out as chemicals poured into her rivers and oceans, nature did not scream as man cut down her children, the trees. Nature did not wail when man burrowed underneath her skin, polluting her for gold, diamonds and coal.
The rain stops. Water falling through empty buildings, echoes like the voice of forgotten workers. The breeze causes rusted machinery to creak and groan. Many years ago nature watched silently as the bombs fell.
Eva Lucía Kielstra Ortega, Age 13
Laude San Pedro International College
In the Name of Progress
A monochromatic canvas torn through by the calloused hand of war.
The paint is strewn across in panicked, sloppy strokes of choked greys and corpse browns. The sketchy outlines of a sky, the bruised bodies of the clouds, and the dotted specks of black rain all frame the picture in a cruel portrayal of death.
Amongst the remains of a battlefield lie thousands of strewn figures half-buried in ash and soil. Their eyes are picked clean. Bullets are planted like seeds in the basket of their yellow ribs. Amongst the brittle bones of faceless soldiers lies a tangle of machinery red with rust. Synthetic muscles tense and pull in order to lift the machine off the ground. A single eye carved down the center of its steel head glows faintly. It slowly begins to survey its surroundings. Each torn limb, each rotten face, is scanned, failed to identify. The machine’s rubber torso whirrs and folds awkwardly as it moves along.
Before it can examine the other bodies, it catches movement up ahead in the wasteland. It is a man, clothed in rags with his mouth covered by a filtering mask, but a man nonetheless. He holds a crude metal detector in his bandaged hands and waves it haphazardly over the bodies. He looks up at the hunk of metal and tips his worn baseball hat, muttering a greeting.
“I figured there wouldn’t be any of you left after the explosion.”
The machine does not reply with an explanation, but rather with a question.
“WHAT HAPPENED HERE?”
“Look around, tin can. What do you think happened?
The machine’s eye flickers.
The rain clinks against its hollow chest and rolls down the metal frame until it pools below its feet.
Lola Martin Higueras, Age 14
Swans International School
My name is Irene and I'm 13 years old. I was born in 2206, at the end of the O2 war.
It all started in 2025: the pollution was reaching its peak and humans were doing nothing at all. Then, it happened. The first Breach occurred. A hole the size of the White House in the ozone layer.
It all went downhill from there: more Breaches occurred all over the world; Africa, America, Asia... The whole world was scared, and fear makes us do irrational things. That's when the O2 war started.
People started to go to war for oxygen. Well, actually, they fought for the technology to preserve oxygen. It was complete chaos: fathers against sons, lover against lover...
After 50 years of fighting, something changed.
Some strange space substance was entering the Earth, making certain people die. It was no longer a race for oxygen, it was also a race against extinction.
In 2100, we were forced to live in cities covered in domes made with the latest nano-technology to keep the air in.
Little by little the war got smaller and smaller, there weren't any people to fight it.
Then in 2205, it abruptly stopped. By that time Africa, Asia, America and Australia were all dead. Only Europe was left. Ever since then, we have been on our own.
Scientists are on the brink of creating a time machine and I am the best writer in my school, so they selected me to write a card for the past.
Please stop this before it's too late. All you have to do is walk to school some time or not waste too much water in a shower.
It's up to you to make the future.
Laura Meinesz Sanz, Age 12
Novaschool Sunland International
The year is 2050, I’m Sam and I have a son called Sean. I was born in 2010. My son was born in 2035. Today we put our breathing masks on and go out to the park. The park is right by the sea. It used to be beautiful before we ruined it.
We sit on a bench and my son asks me what my childhood was like in the past and what our world used to look like before. I answered, “I had a great childhood. I played in the park, I played in the sea and in the sand. I cycled in the forest. The smells of the forest were amazing and vivid. You could smell the trees, the flowers, and the grass. I miss the smell.”
My son says, “That sounds like fun, I wish my childhood was like that. I would love to be able to breath in the fresh air outside without having to wear a mask. I would love to be able to swim in the sea. You can’t even see the sea, all you can see is plastic. The sea is covered in it. I wish I could cycle in the forest but there is no forest, it was cut down for housing.”
We sit in silence, how could I possibly reply.
Anissa Nilsson, Age 12
Laude San Pedro International College
The Desolated Streets of Earth
I sit on the rubble and wait for dusk. The heat is unbearable, scorching my skin. My once new polyester uniform drapes tattered and blacked around my raw, bony shoulders. My breathing is raspy, my soft tears burning a scar into my face. It has been two weeks since the rescue ship left Earth. Famine and disease had spread, and flash floods and raging fires have caused society to collapse. 5000 passengers were chosen to escape Earth in the only existing rocket, in an attempt to populate the exoplanet Centauri. I didn’t make the cut. My only chance lost. I stand up, and observe the desolate streets.
Singed buildings and smog hang heavy in the air; and those who aren't dead are certainly halfway there. Slumped bodies, drained of life lie sunken and heavy on the cracked pavement; gasping for a last breath of filthy air. Car alarms blare in the distance, grime coats every surface. I grimace and step over smoking piles of debris - broken glass, blocks of cement and car doors are littered everywhere. I finally arrive at one of the only buildings still standing: a red brick primary school. I use all my remaining strength to shove open the barricaded entrance.
Papers litter the dusty floor. Broken pencils and crayons are scattered everywhere - tables and chairs are upturned and broken. A ray of light filters in through a cracked window. I pull out a damp exercise book from a decaying shelf. On the cover the name ‘Isabelle’ is scrawled out in loopy handwriting. I flip through ancient drawings and poorly spelled paragraphs, learning more about the writer; Isabelle loved chocolate cake and her pet dog. She also loved her mother. She did not like brussel sprouts. I smile sadly. Isabelle, along with all the other little ones in the school, is now gone.
Sophie Newton, Age 15
Swans International School