Read Chapter 6 “Patrick’s Quarters”
Instead of following the political upheavals of the Old World, the Ecotopian government decided to refocus their efforts on space travel research. The Ecotopians knew that the resources on Earth weren’t only limited but also running low for both sides of the revolution. Rather sooner than later the Down Below would run out of supplies and the Above couldn’t exist without the productive and strong Down Below. The hunger and fighting to survive could only cause more global unrest and suffering unknown ever before.
When Maggie and Patrick were still kids and lived with her parents, Patrick used to tease her about the amount of water she used for her showers. The water has always been Maggie’s element, helping her think and make decisions when she felt unsure and anxious.
Of course, she has changed not only her habits since their childhood; her life became all about sustainability and preservation. However, now and then, she still loved indulging in a long shower or hot bath. She was certain that this shower was going to be her last for a long time. She knew that time was of the essence and every minute counted.
Her whole plan was built around Patrick. In the Old World, without him, she couldn’t do much or rather couldn’t do enough to save her children.
The hot shower slowly started turning into a cold one. Not only freedom of movement was restricted int he Down Below but also a cap was imposed on natural resources that had to be re-directed to the Above.
Maggie could never understand why, after all those years of austerity, limitations and suffering, the people of the Old World were still willing to put up with the Corporate Government, why no one was fighting or demanding change? She quickly jumped out of the shower, dried her body as fast as she could, and pulled out a spare jumpsuit from her backpack. Before leaving the bathroom, she looked at her reflection in the mirror and noticed a few grey hairs accompanied by dark circles under her eyes. The past 24 hours were challenging and the next 48 weren’t going to be easier. So it wasn’t a surprise to see how much she has aged over the past couple of days.
Patrick used to be an excellent cook, always experimented with food but now with such a limited supplies he did what he could.
His droid was still off, which meant that the Above must have suffered a greater loss in London than Patrick expected, leaving the power grid still unrestored.
When Maggie walked into the kitchen, the dining table was set for a romantic candlelight dinner, not something Maggie expected but she was truly grateful that he tried, despite the circumstances.
Patrick served Maggie pasta with what looked like a tomato sauce but didn’t taste like one. The last time she ate was before she left Ecotopia, and she surely wasn’t going to care for the strange aftertaste. An apple sat in the middle of the table, which they would share afterwards. Real fruits were a true rarity so Patrick always treasured those moments when he had access to one.
He secretly wished his day-to-day reality was like that. He longed for simplicity and was tired of the bleakness of his real life. But he knew he couldn’t have what he wanted, not now, not ever.
– “Can we talk now?” – he asked in an attempt to stop his imagination from making impossible plans for the two of them.
Maggie put down her fork, had a sip of water and took a deep breath, as if she was trying to prepare herself for the confession of a lifetime, then she nodded.
– “Do you remember all those years ago when the Corporate Government invited us for negotiations?” – she asked.
– “How could I forget?”
– “The night we spent together, do you remember that?”
– “Do you really have to ask?”
– “I got pregnant that night. I didn’t think it was possible but it happened. Now we have two amazing kids. A boy and a girl.”
– “How do you know they are mine?” – he quickly realized what he just said and he immediately started apologizing: “I’m so sorry, I didn’t mean… I didn’t want… It wasn’t meant to sound like that.”
– “I didn’t know you were the father until a few days ago. Mine, our daughter’s DNA didn’t match her fathers. I mean my partner, my ex-partner.”- confessed Maggie.
The awkward silence that fell between them was throbbing.
– “What happened a few days ago then?” – Patrick was trying to wrap his head around a situation so alien to him that it felt as it was happening to someone else.
– “I need you to listen to me very carefully before you … before you say anything… or judge what I’m about to say” – Maggie stopped for a second while looking for the right words: “The Ecotopian scientists have found a way to travel in time. However, the time loop we can use for travelling is short and I only have 72 hours to find the kids, go back to Ecotopia, have the blood transfusion for Josephine before the time loop closes.”
– “Are you serious?” – he couldn’t quite believe in what he was hearing.
– “We have run the experiment a few times and it works. Besides, this is the only way we have to try to save humanity.” – Maggie added in desperation. She gave him all she had but clearly it wasn’t enough.
– “By time travelling? Maggie, I beg you.”
– “In order to stop the destruction of the rainforests, that your Corporate Government was in full support of, we need to go back to 1999. We must stop the triumphant march of the climate deniers, the plastic pollution, and the meddling of corporations with non-renewable resources. That is our last hope.”
– “Ecotopia is safe, you are well protected.” – Patrick tried to argue.
– “Not for long. Even though we are divided by a wall, we still share the same piece of rock. The pollution the Old World keeps producing has been affecting us for years. That is why we started looking for solution “ways” to change the future.”
– “So, you are going to send our kids to the past to fix the future. That sounds like… like… lazy science-fiction.” – Patrick slowly was beginning to think that Maggie lost her mind. She clearly didn’t sound like Maggie he knew.
– “Our daughter has a rare immune disease and needs your blood if she is to travel. Otherwise, she won’t make it through the time loop or at least this is what our doctors think. Her immune system is too weak to make such a huge jump into the unknown.” – Maggie was well aware of how crazy all that must have seemed to someone like Patrick.
– “Maggie…” but before he managed to finish, Maggie interrupted him.
– “Patrick, we both know what the Old World is and what it has done to the planet. In our current circumstances, we must believe in the impossible. When we were kids, did you ever think that this hellish destruction was possible? I didn’t! I believed in society and the good intentions of those in charge. We’ve been trying for years to find an alternative planet to settle on but so far everything that seems good enough is too far for us to even attempt to travel. We’re not running out of time, we already have. And if I can save my children, I’ll do whatever it takes to do so.”
– “Why did you leave?” – Patrick asked out of blue.
– “Leave when? – she asked.
– “After that night.”
– “You can’t be serious?”
– “I wanted to jump the ship, I was ready and willing to come with you.”
– “The message, Patrick, the message you got.”
– “What?? What message?”
– “The one on your phone, saying that…asking if you got the information from me.”
– “There was no message on my phone, there was nothing. You just left. No note, no nothing…” – Patrick stopped mid-sentence. A very soft but distinctive sound could be heard coming from outside.
– “The Old World’s droids aren’t allowed to come that far without special permission. I’m the only one who can give them that permission.” – he whispered while making his way towards the window.
– “Downstairs! We need to get downstairs!”
Patrick swiftly moved away from the window, grabbed Maggie’s hand, and ran towards the safe room. On the way out, Maggie managed to snatch her backpack. By the time Patrick closed the door behind them, Maggie could clearly hear footsteps approaching the house.