By Lakshna, age 16, Oman
The photograph showed a family of four sitting in the shade of a huge tree in a park. The background consisted of a commanding line of buildings. Birds flew overhead and there were more trees that formed the backdrop.
Rhea put down the 60 year old photo. Looking out the window at the treeless horizon, she sighed and remembered the day the announcement had been made. The event made headlines for a week - the people of Earth were to be rehabilitated.
She carried in her bag only what were the bare necessities - toiletries, a computer, a few photographs, and a single change of clothes. The new artificial satellite that the people were being sent to was ready to accommodate and cater to approximately a 1,000 people at any given time. Many had chosen to stay back and face whatever consequences came to the Earth. Legions didn't believe in the proposition and felt it would simply fail.
Rhea was the head of the project, the second head. The previous had retired and left Rhea in charge of seeing the project move from the drawing board to the launch pad.
Today was D-Day. Rhea had to go to the lab and tweak the design, to ensure that the transportation of the people went off without a glitch. To ensure that the systems of the satellite were in synchronisation with the command base on Earth.
Half an hour later, she sat in her office reviewing the reports. Everything was in order. If they wanted, the people could be moved that very day. She sat back and reflected on the situation. The crowd was getting restless. They were ready to move. The government was not in a position to run the settlement camps for long. Perhaps they should be moved that evening.
After working out the complications and completing the necessary paperwork, Rhea had her secretary inform the settlement camps about their departure.
The people were boarding. Rhea stood on the dias near the shuttle. It would be a little more than 3 days before these people set foot on solid ground again. This was their last few minutes on the home they had known all their lives, and everyone seemed eager to leave behind all that was familiar to chase the flighty temptress Adventure ... even if it took them 385,000 km away from home. Everything was in place.
She looked over at one of her colleagues, Dr. Ray Ban. The dynamics of the satellite were all his own work. No one knew them better than he did - or so everyone believed. Rhea was proud of herself. She had been called a sadist when she was younger, but she knew that what she had done was for the greater good.
Dr. Ray caught her eye and gave her a slight nod. She was ready.
Two Days Later
Rhea was in the control room with her entire team, including Dr. Ray. The technicians were poring over the control panel and timely updates were being received from the airbourne shuttle. She was getting impatient. Looking at her watch, she decided it was time for some action.
"Alright, everyone, time for a coffee break. I want everyone out of here and to get themselves refreshed. We have a grueling time ahead of us. Be back in half an hour. Not a minute later. I will be here."
She was known as a hard boss, but she was nice when there wasn't any serious work to be done. So whenever she said something people listened. And acted on it.
Rhea waited a few minutes to make sure no one was around before she went over to the controls and adjusted a couple of them. Even Dr. Ray would never know the difference. The last report from the shuttle had come in five minutes ago and another was not due for at least half an hour. That was sufficient time for the oxygen levels to drop, not be noticed and create havoc...but havoc that couldn't be traced back to the Control Room, to Rhea. And no one would realise what had gone wrong until it was too late.
Giving herself a satisfied smile, she went to her desk and wrote a 'Be Right Back' note, and left it on the radar screen for anyone who came into the room while she was gone.
She fixed herself a much needed coffee and toasted her success at the elimination of at least half the people on board. This way, she could get away with ridding the earth of a sizeable number of people, enough to make a change. At least this way the artificial satellite would eventually be abandoned as a haven, and never know the horrors of human habitation.