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  • Writer's pictureAmelia Chang

The Storyteller

Style: Speculative Fiction

Writer's Statement: I wanted to write a story that really sends a message to people about the dangers of global warming and how our future could potentially end up like if we don't take action. I also wanted to write about how people will refuse to learn from their mistakes and let their greed control them as well, because it ties part of the reason of why global warming has become so much more serious these past few decades. I've never really written a speculative fiction or much in the sci-fi genre but I wanted to give it a shot, to talk about an issue that is very important.


Nobody would ever think that a classroom mouse escaping would leave such a ripple in one’s life.

Pac was chosen to chase after it. No one wanted to chase a little white mouse throughout the whole facility so when nobody wanted to do something, it was always Pac. He ran through the halls of the colony, the round white hallways curving in a million different directions.

He stopped to look outside the little circular windows to the reddish dust filled landscape outside. 

Home. Well it was for him. Humans had come from Earth originally though. That was something everyone knew by fourth grade.

There! Pac spotted a flash of white which was hard to see on the same colored ground, but he ran after it, keeping his eyes trained on the swishing pink tail. His shoes squeaked against the smooth ground, which was spotless to the point where he could see his reflection. He passed by multiple bots, none of them stopping to make him go back to class. The mouse (his name was Jerry) led him down a weary chase all the way to the end of the facility. Pac stopped to catch his breath, leaning against the wall as he pushed sweaty brown bangs out of his eyes, watching with a heavy heart as Jerry scampered off once again.

He looked up, realizing that he didn’t quite know where he was anymore. This area of the facility felt empty and desolate, only one or two cleaning bots still roaming. There was no one here at all, and behind the doors were darkened rooms. But one particular door at the end of the hall…

No way.

Most doors in the facility were simple arched white doors that would slide open automatically as you walked close to it, but this one was made of wood and had a doorknob. Wood! There was barely any wood on Mars, the only wood left was kept secure by the government, to be used for who knows what.

Pac pushed open the door, stepping into the stars. It was a huge library, the domed roof painted with glittering stars that almost seemed to glow. There were trees planted, surrounded by little circular benches for reading. The only time he had ever seen a tree was in the picture books they read in class. There weren't any on Mars, as humans had long before discovered how to artificially create oxygen to breathe within the dome, but there were trees here and bookshelves and bookshelves full of books. They didn’t look much like traditional books they read about in their history tablets, with fine bindings and perfectly clean cut paper, but rather beaten up journals and notebooks that filled the shelves, hundreds of them spanning all around the room. 

Where there weren’t books, there were pictures. Pac walked forward, lightly running his finger across the faded photos. 

Earth. 

People, random people Pac had never met who were probably long dead, smiling in a green world. This couldn’t be real. It couldn’t be. But then Pac ran a hand across the tree, and feeling the rough bark of the tree, more texture than any of the walls or furniture in the facility, he knew it was real.

A soft breeze blew around him, although Pac wasn’t sure where it was coming from, and a soft tinkling of wind chimes echoed throughout the room. “What is this place?” He could barely manage to get his words out, frozen in amazement. Every inch of this room was new and yet old and filled with history Pac wasn’t a part of.

“A place of memories, where stories are kept and life goes on,” a gravelly voice said behind Pac. Pac jumped, turning around to see an old woman standing behind him. She was wearing a deep green cloak with the hood pulled over her head, her gray hair long and hanging down her shoulders. “What are you doing here child?”

“I was…looking for my mouse. Who are you?”

“I am the Storykeeper,” the woman said, and she reached and took one of the journals off the wall. “You’ll find the last remaining memories of Earth here.” She gave the journal to Pac, who opened it to the first page.

In 2020, we were in a pandemic, so everyone was under lockdown. I think that a lot of people liked it at first. There was no school after all. I hated it. I hated being trapped inside the house. So my friends and I went mountain biking and it was the most wonderful experience in the world. Being out there in nature, I think I took it for granted at the time, but I miss it.

Pac looked up. “It’s a journal.”

“They’re all journals. Years and years ago people would come to me and ask me to record their stories, so they could live on. So Earth wouldn’t be forgotten.” Her expression faded into a sad, deep loneliness. “They’ve all died already, years ago. I’m the only one left.”

“You lived on Earth?” Pac said in wonder. No one who had lived on Earth was still alive, or that’s what they had been told.

The Storykeeper had a distant reminiscent look in her eye as she replied. “Oh, Earth was beautiful.”

“So you were there when…when it got to the point where everyone had to leave?” They had learned about it in history class. It had happened naturally they had said.

“You speak of it so mildly,” The Storykeeper said. “They all do. Everything happened over time, over decades. Yet, people continued pushing us towards that path of destruction, and they continued to ignore the signs.”

Pac swallowed, looking around at the room. He never really gave Earth much of a thought. Sure they learned about it, but it had never really been a part of his life. Mars was his home. “It’s beautiful. How come no one comes here?” “People,” the Storykeeper said softly. “They’re not really interested and I doubt half of them know this exists, but those that do always come back. Would you like to read some more stories?” The Storykeeper smiled kindly, taking another journal off the shelf. Pac’s eyes lit up. Everything about this was fascinating, he wanted to know more. About Earth, and about what had happened to it, a topic only briefly skimmed over in school. “Ye–”

“Adeline Brooks?” The name sounded so normal, so plain, it took Pac a second to realize that was the Storykeeper's real name. Policemen entered the building, in their cold white uniforms a sharp contrast to the many different shades of color in the library. Another man stood leading them, dressed in a fancy suit and holding a suitcase. “We meet again. How are you doing today?”

“Oh it’s you,” the Storykeeper snapped, her usual soft and kind gravelly voice suddenly hard and cold. “You’ve brought friends as well.”

“Who’s this?” Pac asked, tugging on the Storykeeper's arm. She looked down at him reassuringly, although she moved to stand between him and the man. “This is Niel Griffin, a manager of a digging firm. He’s been trying to dig up the library for quite some time.”

“Right, well as we have explained to you before, your library is not serving a use to the colony anymore so we have decided to tear it down.” The man opened his suitcase and a hologram popped up of graphs and data that Pac couldn’t understand. “The dig site will be of great use to find some minerals Mars has to offer.”

The Storykeeper's face twisted into an expression of pure outrage. “And I have explained to you, this is a sacred site. No one else from Earth lives anymore and you want to bury away and destroy the last remaining evidence of our homeworld, of the destruction we caused to it. The mineral you speak of, Aspian, yes, an old lady like me keeps up with the news, is a useless gem that is worth millions and looks pretty. What we need to do is spread these stories, this history, and have people learn from their mistakes, so we advance in a way where we don’t kill another planet. Something, I will remind you, that has been dismissed again and again.”

“Are you done with your little spiel? I’ve talked to the council and they’ve agreed to tear down the library. It’s not up to you anymore. We came to tell you to hand over your books to the government and to vacate the building for immediate demolition,” Niel Griffin said smoothly.

“And what will you do with the books?” the Storykeeper asked warily. 

“Store them. For safekeeping,”

The Storykeeper sneered. “Lies. You’ll burn them the first chance you get.”

“You can trust us to handle this. The library though, is not a matter up to you. You will be compensated but there is no choice in this.”

The Storykeeper’s wrinkled, spotted hands curled into fists. “Leave.”

“Aggression,” one of the policemen noted on his device. “Alright, tear it down.” Pac stumbled back in fear as Niel Griffin made a motion with his hand and dozens of sleek metal bots came hovering in, and they began to tear down the library. 

The screech of the metal and the sound of the ground being torn plank by plank cut through Pac’s ears, buzzing like bees that wouldn’t go away, and he dropped to the ground covering his ears. He looked up, invisible to the eyes of the policemen and Niel Griffin and the Storyteller who was screaming at them. Pac grabbed one of the journals when none of them were looking and slipped it into his jacket. He didn’t know why he took it, even though they were taught to always respect the government and listen to the policemen, but he knew he needed to save it.

The bots were created to be efficient. Within an hour, the library was gone, a hole in the facility. The Storykeeper was released by the policemen holding her back when the destruction cleared. She dropped to her knees as caution tape was projected across the gaping hole where the library once was. “It’s all gone,” she whispered. “They’ll never learn.”

Pac hesitated, then took out the book he saved. “We can rebuild and we won’t forget Earth. We can teach my classmates. There’s still a chance to learn from our mistakes.”

The Storyteller smiled, patting Pac’s hand. “Oh to be young and filled with hope. Let’s do that shall we?”

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