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Scenes from a future movie

Beginning: Image of a lake appears on screen. Zoom in on a pair of mallards and a dozen geese gracefully swimming. Zoom out, revealing the image as recorded on a phone camera.

Split screen: Another image of a clear blue sky, some soft white clouds. Absent are jet vapor trails.

Screen image splits into quarter sections, more cellphone images, industrial smokestacks sitting idle, no fumes spewing into the air; four deer walking along an empty highway, scurrying raccoons and a lone fox meandering down the road.

Return to full-screen image of a hazy and indistinct city and slowly lift the veil of smog to show nearby mountains clearly visible. Subtitles appear: “The earth is beginning to heal. The world, however, is hurting.”

Newspaper headlines appear on the screen: “Election interference,” “impeachment,” “trade wars,” “easing of environmental regulation” and “climate change denial.”

Cut to press conference and the current president saying one thing, then reversing his position just days later. Juxtaposition of images highlights his duplicity. A series of outlandish claims follow with a ticker tape at the bottom of the screen displaying facts in real time that refute one false claim after another. Numerous administrative figures, including the vice president, support the president’s distorted statements.

Cut to a meme circulating online of an angel appearing and removing the tarnished halo from above the veep.

A senator appears at a fundraiser and is recorded saying, “I’ll believe this president is incapable of doing his job when pigs fly.”

Cut to image of a man eating breakfast and finding feathers in his bacon. Fade to a shot of an undercooked pork chop rising up from a plate and doing loop-de-loops around the room.

The senator is on the news a day later, unrepentant. “Can you believe it?” he says. “Our great leader has come up with a simpler, more efficient way to get hot dogs and wings!”

A man wearing a MAGA hat with a Confederate flag pinned on it is interviewed outside a presidential rally, one of the first held since the pandemic has been prematurely declared under control. People are packed into a stadium for the huge rally. The president talks of “liberation” and “defeating the invisible enemy.” The man marvels: “He says so many contradictory things, he’s right and wrong at the same time!” Few people at the rally are wearing precautionary face masks. (Sound of prolonged coughing).

Cut to image of man lying in a hospital bed two weeks later. He is hooked up to a ventilator. A doctor outfitted in protective gear checks the patient’s chart, looks at the nurse and shakes his head sadly. They leave the room, and the camera zooms in on the machine monitoring the patient’s heart rate. Time passes quickly, and eventually the beeps and pings of the machine slow and become one continuous hum as the charted ups and downs of the patient’s heart rate flatline. Two aides wearing hazmat suits appear. They work quickly and efficiently, disconnecting the man from wires and tubes. The patient is encased in a body bag, ready for removal and freeing up a bed for the next patient. As they’re wheeling the body out of the room, a worker bumps the table holding the man’s belongings. Image of MAGA hat with the Confederate flag pinned to it falling into the trash.

Close-up of a nurse talking on the phone, the person on the other end asking, “When will you be home?”

“I don’t know if it’s safe for me to come home. Maybe it would be best to put a bed for me in the garage for now.”

“I’ll set it up. Call me when you’re ready to leave work, and I’ll heat up dinner and leave it out for you. You need to get some rest.”

“I know, but I’m needed here.”

“I want you here, too. This new normal sucks.”

“You don’t know the half of it,” the nurse says quietly after she says good-bye.

Camera zooms out. The corridor is filled with corpses in body bags. The nurse puts her N95 mask back on and returns to work.

Montage of fast-moving fingers and brightly colored fabric, fast motion depiction of sewing together a homemade mask. A young woman puts a purple tie dye mask on and says, “The mask can reflect who you are.” Although her entire face is not visible, her eyes are smiling.

Cut to images of people wearing different color and style masks. Close-up of expressions, some hopeful, but many showing fear and anxiety.

Image of a young woman appears on the screen. She is participating in a webinar comprised of social and environmental activists. The camera focuses in on her, barely able to frame her intensity. “We need visionaries to lead us in a new direction,” she says, “not greedy, dishonest politicians who think only of themselves. We’re the future, they are the past. We’re witnessing how quickly things can fall apart.”

“What about the world economy?” someone asks.

“What good is money if there is no food?” a young man replies.

“But we need money to pay for research and to buy the things we need!” someone else exclaims.

“The rich are silent now,” a teenager says. “Where are the billionaires who could give 10% or 20% of their wealth to help those in need?”

“It’s always those who don’t have that are asked to sacrifice,” a woman says. “Look to those who are brave during this crisis, the health care workers and those willing to give, the ones who help are the ones who heal. Those promising a miracle are liars and will be proven to be fools; their story changes each time the wind blows. The answer is simple: We need to change, or our planet will die. Our planet is dying.”

Someone asks, “Are we too late?”

Ending: Fade to darkness, then slowly the screen begins to get lighter. Sunrise: Shadowless light beginning to brighten, the world comes alive. People are gathered on a hillside and looking out to face the challenges of a world in recovery.

Alternate ending: Fade to darkness.

Michael DeDivitis lives in Rainbow Lake.

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