The Rich & The Poor - Shreya Sachdev
"Honey, wake up" said Mrs. Carson as she tried to wake her son up who had been sleeping until one in the afternoon. "Ugh" whined Ian. "That whining isn't going to help, get up before I pour a glass of cold water on you" replied Mrs. Carson. Ian's eyes suddenly opened up like a jack box. He sighed as he realized there was no way his mom wouldn't be able to ever not get him out of bed by just using that one line. She knew how much he hated cold water, just that feeling of bitter icy numbing liquid touching his fragile skin covered in goose bumps would be enough to make his heart stop. Ian pushed his covers out of the bed and got out of bed. "There, happy mom?" Mrs. Carson smiled "I would've been happier if you had gotten up three hours before like all the other kids." "Three hours earlier? What's so special about today" Ian chuckled. There was an awkward pause as Ian had realized what he had forgotten. His mother could tell that Ian had remembered just by the way his hand somewhat trembled as he placed his toothbrush back in the stand. "Oh right yeah, today's the day" he tried to say casually. His mother gazed at him in astonishment. "I don't know how you do it. Most people can't sleep all night the night before because they're so tense." "I'm sorry I just don't see the big deal, we know what happened" Ian quietly mumbled as he made his way to the cupboard. Mrs. Carson slowly took a couple of steps towards his son. "And it's still hard to hear what happened without actually knowing whether it's true or not." She said histrionically. "I understand. Are you going to be okay today?" asked Ian as the loving and supportive son he always tried to be. "Don't worry about me, just get dressed and come outside." Mrs. Carson walked over to her sons bed and started making folding the covers and ruffling the sheets. A shiver ran down Ian's spine. The truth was, he was just as afraid of today as anybody else. Of course he had to act like a brave, dominant man in front of his mother. He knew it reassured her that her son would be there to protect her because he's not scared like she is. But each year, on this exact date, the moment his mother left the room. It felt as if his body wanted to throw up every single nourishment he had every digested. The biceps he always flexed whenever he was around Janine Parker instantly turned into slimy oysters that felt as if they couldn't even move because there was simply no single being transported there. "Stop it Ian" he thought once it occurred to him that he 17 couldn't let his mom witness how he truly felt about this. He decided to get dressed and walk out the door like it was just another day.
Ian stepped out his front door in his navy blue khakis and his black shirt. He hated getting formal for this event, it was boiling outside. He scanned the island trying to find his mother. "She must be with Mrs. Wilson" he thought. He shrugged and decided to just quietly prepare himself for what was about to come. He looked out to the sea, the thought of icy cold freezing water still giving him the chills. Then he recalled, how was Vicinity Poor doing? After all, this was just as heavy as a day for them as it was for Vicinity Rich. He started walking through his crowd trying to get to the edge of the island, the warm, chunky sand was getting stuck between his toes and he couldn't even feel the inside of his flip flop anymore as the sand wouldn't stop rubbing against his heel. He kept walking and beamed when he saw the big palm tree. The big palm tree indicated to everyone where the start of the island was. He strolled over and could vaguely see the people from Vicinity Poor. It was hard to see what was going on and how the people from Vicinity Poor were reacting to today's celebration. Both islands were so far away from each other that the people from Vicinity Poor looked like tiny little dolls men from Vicinity Rich. The sad thing was, that's how they were looked upon too. "Ian!" Called Ian's best friend, Terrence. Terrence was a couple years older than Ian. Terrence had been there for Ian since day one. Ian turned around and grinned. At least he had his best pal by his side today. "How you doing man?" Asked Terrence. Ian took a breath "When does it start?" Terrence looked at his watch "A couple of minutes." He replied. Ian perused his reaction and noticed the way his mouth moved as he tried to discreetly gulp. It was a known fact that everybody felt nauseous for today. Terrence and Ian had basically stopped talking to each other the moment Ian had asked what time it was. Ian quietly grumbled to himself when it hit him how uncomfortable the situation had become. "Why did I have to ask what time it is? Terrence probably just wanted to ignore the subject." He thought. Right when Ian was about to get up to leave, Terrence asked, "Do you ever wonder...what goes on over there?" He said staring off to the shore. Ian couldn't answer that right away. Every time somebody even brought up the question of what happens on Vicinity Poor? Or are we the only two islands in the entire world? Ian would become speechless; it was impossible for anybody to understand Ian's curiosity for this. "Of course I do. All the time. But is it any use? Would we ever be allowed to visit?" Instantly, Terrence started chuckling. "Listen to me, you're supposed to stay on whichever island you belong to. Vicinity Poor and Vicinity Rich aren't supposed to interact. He'll never let it happen. So let it go." Ian was staggered by his best friend's aggressive remark to his question. Although, he couldn't blame him and would never confront him about his feelings towards the condition. Trying to find out who the people from Vicinity Poor were and what they did was how his mother had died. "You're right" answered Ian in a mature manner. Ian licked his lips and stretched his neck as it occurred to him that they were getting closer and closer to the announcement. He knew it sounded crazy and completely bizarre, but he swore he felt as if he was making direct eye contact with another person on Vicinity Poor. There was somebody just standing there, completely still. They were looking straight at Vicinity Rich but Ian felt as if they were looking only at him. It was as if, Ian had 18 become the representer of Vicinity Rich and whoever that person was had become the representer of Vicinity Poor. And they were wishing good luck to each other, through the mind because of the mutual empathy. "Are you done?" Ian asked himself. He promised himself this was the last time he was going to get lost in his imagination, he knew this wasn't the right time. After all, his mother needed him today. He looked over to the side and realized that Terrence wasn't even there anymore. He had been so lost in his imagination, his friend must have noticed and left. He ran his fingers through his hair flipping his fringe to the other side and got up making his way back to the crowd. He stopped because he registered how tired he was and how badly he wanted to sleep. The sun was slapping his eyes and he was rubbing them continuously. He took a deep breath and turned around. He knew it'd be easier for him to stay awake if he just splashed a bit of cold water in his face. “It’s about to start, you don’t have a lot of time just do it now” He thought.
Ian uncomfortably started taking baby steps towards the sea; just the sound of the waves hitting the rocks near him gave him a repugnant gag. “Attention everybody, the announcement will start in one minute. May everybody from Vicinity Poor please go to their region, and everybody from Vicinity Rich also go to their region.” Ian raced to the water, slowly bended down as his legs were quivering tremendously and took out his hand; he gradually dipped his hand in the water, feeling the frigid water piercing through his skin. Without even thinking about it, he bespattered the water on his face. He started panting heavily, but realized he couldn’t be distracted right now. He glanced at his watch. 30 seconds. He hastened back to the main region of Vicinity Rich knowing it would cost him if he were late. He had just made it back to the main region of Vicinity Rich, with five seconds to spare. He eyeballed the region desperately trying to find his mother but in the given time, he failed. There were one hundred people on the island and his mother was a short woman. In the crowd, she would be impossible to find. He felt defeated by himself when he realized what he had done. He always thought that he had just one job on the island, to protect his mother. And today, out of all days, she was forsaken. His feelings were disrupted by the noise the sky made. It was time. Everybody’s heads turned up as the video camera was buffering on the sky. In a heartbeat, that was it. He was there. Everybody could see him. It felt as if the world had gone silent, and the way he smiled at both vicinities daunted everybody’s confidence that they were faking in just a millisecond.
We could never see any of his body, as he only showed his face. His face was extremely wrinkled; he had shaggy jet black curly hair covering all of his forehead. His eyes were so dark “Good day everybody, it is my pleasure to be speaking to both my vicinities today. I honestly don’t know where to start. We’ve really come a long way since one hundred years ago. As you know, thanks to technology the world finally discovered that there isn’t a god, but in fact there is a Satan. And he’s talking to you right now. The king of this world. Now as I’ve said before, sadly because of so many wars and conflicts that happened in the last seventy years. We lost most of the earth's population and all land was also destroyed. All that was left were these two islands one hundred meters away from each other. And with that we were left with two hundred people in the entire world. I am talking to those two hundred people right now. These two hundred people have the chance to re-populate the earth. Just remember, the one hundred people on Vicinity Rich will only engage in sexual intercourse with each other. And the people in Vicinity Poor will only engage in sexual intercourse with each other. The Poor and the Rich will never ever cooperate or merge together. As I’ve mentioned before, seventy years ago. The cure to cancer, Ebola and other diseases were discovered. Except, more conflicts happened in the universe, which led to world war three. The biggest war, ending everything. It’s a shame that, you people didn’t get to see what a world that was like. Some of you were only three or four when world war three happened. It destroyed everything. So as you know, we did discover a lot of things like I mentioned before, cure to cancer and Ebola. It’s just a shame that none of those cures are going to be useful anymore until the world is re-populated. And as I’ve said many times before, Vicinity Rich stays on their territory away from Vicinity Poor. And once again, you two hundred people are the only people in the entire universe. You are all alone so stop over thinking these things, alright? Good day. From your leader, Satan. The video camera switched off and everybody could see the white, fleecy clouds above him or her again. The moment the video camera switched off, there was a split second of dead silence as people exchanged looks and children grabbed their mother’s hands for comfort. Nobody wanted to remain in such an awkward zone that finally, people started trying to wipe their emotions off their faces and act as if nothing happened. Ian didn’t know whether he could really believe the fact that there was truly nobody else out there. 200 people on a radius of 6,371km? He shrugged, he could think about his theories later, right now he had to go find his mother to make sure she was okay. He knew she’d be back home trying to boil some pasta forcing to act normal in front of him. He knew her well. “Mom’” Ian called out hoping for a response. “In here, love.” She replied. Ian wiped his forehead with relief; he was glad she was home and didn’t even observe any shakiness or discomfort in her voice. He walked inside the kitchen and saw his mom, as expected, stirring a pot. "Where were you? You heard the announcement right?" Mrs.Carson asked. Ian was stupefied that his mother would actually even consider the fact that somebody could have the valour to skip a yearly announcement from the leader of the two vicinities. "No of course I heard the announcement, I just came right when it started because I was...busy talking to Terrence" he answered. Mrs.Carson had a befuddled look on her face as she poured the sauce into the frying pan, she hadn't been able to talk to any of her friends all morning because she had been so distressed. She could tell her son wanted to talk about the announcement with her just by the way he was sheepishly standing in the doorway staring down. "So what did you think of the announcement?" She asked thinking she might as well address the elephant in the room. Ian looked at her in thunderbolt, not expecting that question to come out from her mouth. Each year since he was eight, he wanted to talk about the announcement and ever time he brought it up his mother would immediately shut him up so his opinions were left falling silent. "Mom we don't have to-" "I want to" Mrs.Carson replied knowing the change of personality in his "tedious and old" mother must be hitting him like a bombshell right now. Ian wasn't going to miss this moment, he quickly poured out exactly what had been on his mind since the first time he had ever heard the announcement. "Maybe it would be different if we were allowed to go search for more land and other people ourselves. If we can't find anything then alright, we know we're alone. But being stranded here in this claustrophobic expanse is torture. We're not even allowed to talk to Vicinity Poor. You know it's like, we're so far...yet we're so close because we both want to know the same thing." Mrs.Carson was flabbergasted just by the way her son had explained his notion and judgement in such a passionate manner. She felt like a horrendous and 20 egocentric mother who had kept her son shut up all these years. He had valid points and wanted their lives to become better, she had been so petrified all these years that she didn't notice what her son had to say about the predicament. "I'm proud of you, Ian." She said wiping her tears off her cheek. "You care so much." She sniffled and whimpered as she struggled to find a tissue. "Mom! Please don't cry what's the matter?" Ian asked frantically. "I just feel as if I've always stopped you from expressing your feelings. I mean we're just stranded here. We deserve to know what's out there. Even if our so called Satan says there nothing is...we should...we should be able to look for ourselves." Ian simpered not believing what he was hearing. His mother had never once gone against Satan's word. She believed that he was the one updating both the vicinities about what had happened, trying to give them as much information as possible so they feel more secure knowing exactly why they had been placed on this island. It turns out that was all an act. His mother did believe that both vicinities deserved to know more and that made him absolutely jovial. Suddenly the smile swept off his face once it got into his brain that even if him and his mother knew that both vicinities couldn't be treated this way. There was absolutely nothing they could do to change it.
In the past, people had tried to take a lifeboat and paddle over to the other vicinity for closure. But the next morning, whoever had tried to get to the other territory, would be killed by satan. That's why each year, whenever satan would use the phrase "you two hundred are the only people left in this universe" it would send hysterical terror into everybody's minds because their brain would promptly recall the terrifying events that happened with the twenty people that had tried to communicate with the other vicinity. There weren't originally only two hundred people on both the vicinities, there were two hundred and twenty. Satan had made his rule exceptionally intelligible. Anybody who tried to cross the other vicinity would be virtually inhaled from Satan's video camera. After that, both vicinities were shown a live recording of how that person was being brutally murdered. It was the same way for everyone. They would be placed on something known as the rack. It was designed to dislocate every part of the body. This torture device was made out of a wooden frame with two ropes fixed to the bottom and the other two tied into the handle on top. Once the victim was bound and placed on top of the rack, Satan would proceed to turn the handle. Eventually, the victim would be stretched till his limbs where dislocated. Satan, however, just to make sure those limbs where indeed dislocated would continue to turn the wheel until the limbs were completely torn off the victim’s body. Everybody from both vicinities would hear the disturbing, anguished tumultuous screams from the victim that were sadly completely hopeless. “Ian, there’s a campfire tonight for everybody out in the main region. It starts in twenty minutes so quickly take a shower and then meet me outside.” Ian nodded and started walking upstairs. He opened the bathroom door and his ear twitched once he heard the sharp creak of the old wooden door. He stripped and placed his feet into the shower enclosure carefully making sure to turn the knob to hot before turning the shower on. The boiling and oven-like temperature was just how Ian liked it. He felt the water to be soothing and almost protective in a way because of the way the steamy, soft water sent shivers down his spine. Just in that moment, he forgot everything he was so worried about and enjoyed the intense warm water spilling down his entire body.