“The pills that you were handing to the people in the village, are they the drugs they crave? Are you providing those pills to keep them happy?” Victor asked Sabastian accusingly.
“No, Victor” Sabastian replied patiently. “Those pills are strong pain killers. They are given only to the people who are suffering the most. The people you saw in that room were all dying. The lack of the proper medicine and food is killing them.” Sabastian stated with sincere concern.
“Who is supplying the illegal drugs to the Majority then? They must consume tremendous amount of drugs…” Victor found it hard to conceal his anger and frustration.
“The Majority grow and manufacture their own in such large amounts we can’t stop the supply.” Sabastian answered.
“My God! You’ve got to do something.” Victor shouted
“Yes, Victor. That is why we brought the children from your century here.” Sabastian replied calmly.
“To see the people who are suffering? And make them understand the consequences?” Victor asked.
“Yes, Victor.” Sabastian said and looked away, growing tired of the conversation.
“Why can’t your people continue to survive and control what is going on? After all, you have all these technologies,” Victor continued, raising the intensity of his voice.
Sabastian remained calm and replied, “Because the Majority continuously spreads diseases and we are incapable of stopping them. As soon as we come up with the vaccination or the cure for those diseases, a stronger strain of disease spreads and kills our people by the hundreds of thousands.”
Victor felt terrified for Sabastian’s people.
Victor hesitated, “How…how many of you are left?”
“In this part of the earth, only a few thousand. We know there are more people like us living in other parts of the world but they are in the same situation. Our numbers are declining by hundreds each day.”
Sabastian continued gravely, “We live here in this Dome, protected from the outside world, protected from the Majority.”
“And the Majority? How many of them are there?” Victor asked hoping to hear that there was still some hope for Sabastian and his people.
“About 250 million, but they are all aging and dying. As you saw, there are no children nor young people left among them.” Sabastian sighed.
Then Victor asked, “Why me? Why did you bring me over here?”
“Because your investigation began to interfere with our operations.” Sabastian replied.
“My investigation? You mean the investigation of those missing kids?” Victor asked.
“Yes.” Sabastian replied calmly.
“Why?” Victor looked at Sabastian totally confused. ”How can my investigation interfere?” He mumbled to himself.
Sabastian looked at Victor and asked, “If we didn’t bring you here what would have been the next step in your investigation?”
“Well, we already concluded that it has something to do with drug transactions among the youth, so we would try to warn the public.”
“That would cause a lot of problems for us. Once they stop doing business, then we would not be able to tell which children we should bring here. Besides, even if your warning works and the drug transactions among children subside, it would only be a temporary measure. You know, once everything settles, they would go right back to doing the same thing all over again. We seek a permanent solution.” Sabastian warned.
“Why is it so important to bring those specific kids here?” Victor asked.
“When we studied the history of the usage of the illegal drugs, we concluded that it spread exponentially in the beginning of the millennium. Prior to that, the drugs were only distributed by adults specifically for use by adults. However, just before the turn of the millennium, the demand for the drugs by children increased rapidly. It was because dealers got children involved in selling the drugs.” Sabastian said.
“You are absolutely right. Thus, the increase of criminal activities related to illegal drugs. I was there. I saw it. That’s why I decided to become a policeman.” Victor said nodding his head in agreement.
“Once that happened, the usage of drugs spread like a wild fire. To make matter worse, some of your governments in the 21st century began to legalize the usage of drugs for recreation. This act of legalization by many countries definitely made those drugs more prevalent,” Sabastian said.
He added, “We understand that some drugs are helpful for those who are constantly living with pain. But there is no reason for healthy children to take them. The legalization of drugs encouraged more usage among the general population. By the 23rd century, almost everyone on earth was using them!” said Sabastian with the first show of emotion that Victor had witnessed since his ordeal had begun.
“I can’t agree with you more. Even in the 21st century, some politicians, lawyers, and doctors are using marijuana and cocaine or hooked on stronger substances. The scariest fact was that teachers at school became users, too. The whole society became corrupted and uncontrollable because of drug use. And none of us could stop it,” Victor added.
“Yes and, eventually, the ones who fought against the use of drugs were isolated from society as ‘outcasts’,” Sabastian said.
“They were your ancestors, right?” Victor asked.
”Yes. Despite pressure from others, they did not surrender to the temptation of conforming. They escaped to this place and built their own community. Among them were brilliant scientists, engineers and doctors. They were the ones who eventually invented all these wonderful facilities you are seeing right here, using the most advanced technologies. Without them, we could not have survived.” Sabastian stated recovering his composure.
“Now I understand what is happening. But I still don’t understand why you brought the children here. It sure looks to me that you brought them to help reproduce humans for your society?” Victor was puzzled.
“We do not have any intention of keeping them here for long. We just want to educate them. Can you not see? We have to stop them from distributing drugs to others. We brought them here to make them realize the consequences of drug use,” Sabastian replied.
“If they are reeducated here and return to their own time, wouldn’t you take the risk the people in the 21st century will find out about life in the 24th century? It doesn’t make any sense,” Victor was getting confused again.
“No, Victor. Before they go back to their own time, we will alter their memories to make sure that they would not remember certain facts about this place. The experience they have here would be like a nightmare to them. But they will still understand the long-term effects of the drugs, though they won’t know why or where they learned those facts,” Sabastian said.
“Are you going to abduct all the children who are drug users from the 21st century?” Victor asked, shaking his head in disbelief. “It will take forever.”
“Whatever it takes,” Sabastian calmly replied.
“How long are you going to keep those children here to reeducate them?” Said Victor
“Only for 10 days or so. Though our technology is advanced, we have to take every precaution to make sure there is no danger to those children, nor to our society. What you are not aware of is that we have begun to return some of the children as we speak.” Sabastian said as a matter of fact.
“Are you going to erase my memories about this place, too?” Victor asked with trepidation.
“That will be your decision.” Sabastian answered.
“So, there is a possibility that you may send me back to my time with the full knowledge of what I have seen here?” Victor asked, wondering if that would be a problem.
“With a child, we can’t rely on him not disclosing what he saw here. We believe you are different. You are a man of honor. We saw what you do as a detective. Your heart is focused on saving people, not on destroying them,” Sabastian nodded approvingly as he spoke.
“Keeping such a grave secret will be a heavy burden on me,” Victor said.
“I understand. That is why you have an option. If you choose to keep your memory, you will have an opportunity to observe the changes around you after our operation is complete. We would like to prove to you that our strategy works,” Sabastian said as he looked at Victor with curiosity.
“I would love to see the changes. So I wish to go back to my time without my memory being erased,” Victor was hopeful that the experiment Sabastian and his people were conducting would be successful.
Victor paused and bowed his head in thought for a while and then looking up at Sabastian asked, ”If I keep my promise and never tell anyone about what I’ve seen here, would you give me one chance to go back to my past? If you could bring me to the 24th century, you can surely take me back to a certain time in my past, right?” Victor asked hoping that it was in the power of these people.
“Yes. If you can keep your promise, we will grant your wish. Sabastian added, “However, you must wait until the time you cease to exist on earth. Just before you take your last breath, we will take you to your desired time and place – remember, you are granted only one chance. You can do whatever you wish to do there.”
“Can I stay there and relive my life?” Victor asked.
“No. You are not allowed to stay long,” Sabastian said sternly.
“How long can I stay there?” Victor asked again, trying to bargain.
“We will give you one whole day. Then we will bring you back. To prove that we kept our promise, we will give you a few extra minutes before you take your last breath. Remember, you will only have one chance,” Sabastian warned.
“Just one chance…” Victor muttered and continued to say, “One more thing. While I am here, could you please let me explore where your people live? I saw a part of the structure and found it very fascinating.” Victor wanted to stay a little longer in order to get as clear a picture as possible of how the minority lived.
“In order to do that, you have to go through the same process. It will be very excruciating. Are you ready to go through that process all over again?” Sabastian was impressed that Victor would suffer the pain to satisfy his curiosity.
“Now that I know that it won’t kill me, I can face it. I’ve got to see how you live here,” Victor said eagerly.
Victor went through the ordeal of being miniaturized again, after which he was placed in the crystal capsule once more. Sabastian also put on a protective suit. Then Sabastian picked up the capsule and took Victor outside of the building. This time, he took another type of vehicle which was more for viewing scenery than travelling long distances. Within a second, they were outside.
When the vehicle stopped, Victor saw beautiful hills and valleys under a blue sky. The sight was spectacular. It reminded him of Colorado.
“Where is the building we just left?” Victor asked though he wasn’t sure if Sabastian could hear his voice.
“Oh, you will see it soon. We built a large Dome behind the hills so the Majority can’t find it. These hills are actually man-made structures. They were built around the Dome. I brought you here, because I wanted you to see the outside of the Dome first.”
Then Sabastian continued, “No one would realize that there is a Dome behind these hills. Would you agree?”
Victor looked towards the hills and was fascinated by the sight. Not only did he see the hills, but also snowcapped mountains behind the hills. In front of those hills, there was a large lake reflecting the blue sky. Even a long winding river was crossing an endless green field in the distance. ‘Nature is amazing’, Victor thought. ‘Even though human beings are destroying everything, including each other, there are still some things left on earth that are glorious; clear blue sky, high mountains, emerald color lakes, green trees. They are everywhere, as if nothing ever happened.’
Next, Sabastian returned to show the inside of the Dome. When the vehicle approached the building, a door appeared from nowhere and let the vehicle move right into the building.
When Sabastian arrived inside of the Dome, he had to go through the process of disinfecting everything around him. Once that was completed, Sabastian walked towards a large horizontal elevator which had transparent walls. From the capsule, Victor observed the people in the elevator. They were all dressed in a white uniform just like Sabastian. As soon as the door closed, it moved forward and took them through the building with lightning speed.
Within a few seconds, they arrived at the center of the Dome. When Sabastian stepped out from the elevator along with other passengers, Victor saw a bright light coming through the huge transparent roof which covered the Dome. The roof was so high it seemed to be the sky itself.
Sabastian then stepped into an elevator that took them to the top of the Dome. There, Victor saw a well-kept garden along the walls that reminded him of the ones he had seen in Europe. With the green grass, colorful plants and flowers, it was a paradise. The flowers and fruit trees were planted as far as he could see. Victor saw some children, with light, multi-colored clothing, frolicking in a playground. How beautiful and peaceful the sight was, he thought. He heard the joyous laughter of children surrounding him.
Sabastian then took him to show the different quarters of the Dome. There were schools, hospitals, shops, and restaurants. They were compartmentalized and also surrounded by pure white walls. All the people there were also wearing white or light colored clothing. They seemed to be very polite to each other. Victor could sense that they were very happy being there.
The next day, Sabastian took Victor to a special section that was prohibited from entry except for authorized members. There, through a wide glass window, Victor saw the missing children. They were not in capsules. Instead, they were secluded in a large room separated by transparent walls. Some were lying on beds. Some were sitting in booths built for individuals. Sabastian explained to Victor that one of the children there was about to be taken back to the 21st century.
They were all there – hundreds of them. Victor even spotted the last abducted boy Timothy. Victor felt relieved to see that there was no indication of the children being hurt or if they were suffering. Each child appeared to be well cared for, just as Sabastian had promised.
All those boys and girls would go back to the 21st century and would help stop the distribution of illegal drugs to other children. Having seen the consequences first hand, they would become advocates for the abolition of recreational drug use and would be a positive influence on the children around them. Sabastian and his people might save the corrupt 21st century after all. Victor felt hopeful.
Sabastian told Victor that he was allowed to stay in the 24th century for a week. During those 7 days, Sabastian took Victor to more places on earth where the Majority lived. The transportation in the 24th century allowed both of them to travel all over the world in a few days. As expected, no matter where they went, the living conditions of the Majority were similar to those Victor had witnessed the very first time. Most of them were in slums that were in dire condition. Nobody seemed to care where they lived or what was going on around them. There were no children. All Victor saw were disfigured old people who were begging for drugs from each other. This horrible sight became burned into Victor’s memory.
By observing the life of the Majority, it made Victor understand how strong drugs could control people’s mind. They definitely would take people’s pride and their caring nature away from them. It seemed that once people were hooked on drugs, they wound up living only for themselves and disregarded the needs of others. To them, there was nothing more important than getting high. Nothing else mattered.
The week passed quickly. Victor saw enough of the consequences of drug usage and how the Majority lived in the 24th century. Victor was very thankful to Sabastian and his people who gave him the opportunity to learn about the future. Victor even gained the friendship of Sabastian even though it was a short visit. With the promise of keeping the secret about what he had seen in Sabastian’s world, Victor was sent back to the 21st century.
(Writer's Note: Chapter 10 will be uploaded on Tuesday, July 21st.)