Challenge #02613-G056: Trash to Treasure

in #fiction4 years ago


She lived in the United States circa 2020. Well, it was New Year's. The first day of that year. Deep in debt, stressed, tired, her entire body hurt, she laid back on her recliner to sleep praying for something to help her. She'd ended up in debt because she'd bent over backward to save family members and they'd left her with their bills. But, before that, she'd drained her bank accounts nearly dry saving other people who were homeless, taking them into her home and helping them get back to their feet. Those debts, and a steep student loan, she just couldn't keep up.
Then there was that flash, so bright she could see it through her eyelids. A voice whispering "you've saved so many, now we will save you". When she awakened, she found herself sitting up in her recliner, but it was encased in crystal, her two cats asleep in her lap and she was in some sort of tent with odd.... bird people looking in on her. She was confused, dizzy, and other than her flute, her clothes, and her cats, she had nothing else with her. Then one of the bird people spoke gently telling her she was save, they were archeologists, they'd found her crystal and it'd opened to set her free. She and her pets, now safe, been asleep for 600 years. -- Anon Guest

[AN: Obviously this doesn't happen in my Amalgam Universe, but let's call this a close neighbour.]

They had, according to the archives, called it the Deadbeat Bomb. Technology given to the powerful and fearsome by aliens who had been observing Earth from a hidden base on the far side of the moon. Being students of Human nature and the ways of the rich and powerful, they had expected exactly what happened next. The aliens told Terran's powerful that they could encapsulate all the unworthy, as many times as necessary. Setting the parameters according to their whims.

Of course, the powerful defined the unworthy by fiscal bars to clear. They targeted the welfare queens, and were angry when the firing fizzled for finding none. They targeted welfare cheats, and were similarly annoyed when so few wound up in the encapsulating crystals. They refined the search once more, and hit what they thought was the jackpot. Those who had little, and wasted what little they had on others who similarly had little.

Luann had always joked that she only needed her cats and her flute. Those were her essentials. She paid for her little extras -mostly cat food- by busking at thoroughfares and life was... tolerable. Barely tolerable. At least she was used to it. Too tired at the end of the day to binge-watch anything, she usually fell asleep to whatever podcast she was listening to on her phone, with her cats for company and some kind of slightly-enhanced ramen in her belly. Her apartment was small and had cardboard walls and she shared one tiny bathroom with six neighbours. It was better than nothing, which was the only alternative. Just as she was wishing her cats goodnight, there was a bright flash of light...

The Deadbeat Bomb had detonated. Across the nation (the United States were not prone to sharing) people like her with less than a hundred dollars and a total worth of less than a thousand, were preserved. What the people in power did not know, was that each of them got a message from the aliens on the dark side of the moon.

Hers was, You have saved so many. Now we will save you.

Luann, her bed, her flute, and her cats were preserved like an insect in amber, only without the mandatory fatality. The United States learned very quickly that their society depended on those they deemed unworthy. So too did all the other nations who used the Deadbeat Bomb in a similar fashion. Society as it was known collapsed, with the encapsulated stored in vaults or occasionally exhibited as society rebuilt itself from scratch.

They still remembered the Deadbeat Bomb, and thusly sold the preserved to outsiders for whatever they could get. Humanity was, more or less, allowed to pickle in their own juices. They repeated the use of the Deadbeat Bomb until they finally learned the lesson. By then, centuries had passed.

For Luann, it was a bright flash, and then the tiny room with cardboard walls was a much larger, mostly-white room with her bed - a salvaged recliner from a roadside that she had refurbished herself - her cats, and her flute ready to hand. She winced at the flash long centuries past, and said, "What?" because the world had apparently changed around her.

Linaura the Floof sensed her fear and snuggled up to her. Wakkyt was fast asleep with all four paws in the air and snoring as if nothing had happened. She had joked once that Wakkyt could sleep through the apocalypse. This was proof. She was tired, yet strangely ennervated. As if she'd been drowsing for far longer than she thought she had. Luann cuddled Linaura and watched as one of the walls slowly faded into being a window. A window with... bird people in it.

They were like nothing she'd ever seen before. Well. Not without loads of CGI to make them look nearly real. These ones were... absolutely real. Sort of bird-ish. Sort of dinosaur-ish. She felt every hair on her body stand up. Real live actual aliens had taken her and a very specific set of her things.

"Welcome back," one of them said. Not quite perfectly. That had always bugged her, how the aliens always managed to speak perfectly like a native. "You have been preserved for six hundred of your years."

Luann had no reason to doubt them. "Okay? Why?" Linaura had started to drool and was wiping kitty slobber on Luann's face. She started massaging Linaura's ears so the drool would at least fall on her clothes.

"You were unvalued in your time," said one of the dino-birds. The one with the vibrant red and iridescent blue feathers. "Your leaders blamed you for every crisis. Our people sought to educate by example. They refused to learn. You were not meant to be preserved for this long. It was not our intent."

Luann got up, disturbing Wakkyt in the process, who oozed off her lap and into the relative protection of the old La-Z-Boy's underside. He would come out when he was ready. Linaura whined at being placed onto her warm spot, but got on with the serious work of making kitty biscuits in very short order. Luann's feet still hurt. Not fair. "I get the whole thing about leaders not learning. It's kind of what they do. But... why was I preserved for that long?"

"The people of your world view the preserved as a sort of resource," said the one with the nauseating combo of bright yellow and magenta for their feathers. "It has taken us that long to explain your rights as a human being to exist to your fullest potential."

"Okay," Luann paced as she thought about that. "Yeah, I'd say six hundred years sounds like the short waiting time." She checked up on Wakkyt, who had just poked his head out from the safety of the La-Z-Boy and was sniffing anxiously just past the threshhold. "What happens now?"

"You create, you save, we see to your comfort and health," said a third birdasaur. This one with a pretty peacock colour scheme. "You will have everything you need... and many things you want. Here, you are valued."

There were neighbours in the new settlement. She had a garden with a catio and a cottage-type house of her needs with really good internet. The people in her neighbourhood were people she synergised with. There was no lack for company, time, or anything else she needed. She still played the flute, but it was far less exhausting because she wasn't playing for medication money or the rent or her next meal. She was playing for the love of it. The love she had of it, and the love she received for doing it.

She had started the month broke, tired, stressed, and wondering how she'd make it through tomorrow. Subjectively speaking, she ended it far richer in love and care and comfort. She had food enough for herself and her fluffy little demons. She had a garden to tend for fresh vegetables if she wanted them or for the neighbourhood swap meet if she didn't. She had time enough to do everything she wanted to do, including socialisation with her similarly lunatic neighbours.

Luann no longer had the wolf at her door. It was amazing how liberating that simple fact was. She had a cluster of friends who had been similarly liberated and could do what they wanted. What they wanted to do most was to create wonderful things.

Earth didn't miss them. After all, it had already written them off as deadbeats.

[Image (c) Can Stock Photo / Subbotina]

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Makes me wish this would happen to me sometimes.

I think I might be in the same boat TBH

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