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STUCK IN THE ISLAND

Laura got stuck in the island. Again. We were all worried with her. No one could say she was not doing it on purpose. There was too much stress, noise and isolation.

I one of our awareness campaigns about Laura and thousands like her, we prepared a huge empty dark room with a surround sound system. People were divided into groups and had to communicate with each other the way Laura did. There were individual and community tasks to be made in the darkness and, most relevantly, under the deafening noise.

We design the project too well. Some people developed, for a while, behaviors like Laura’s. Social detachment, numbness, isolation, irritability, anxiety, major depression and suicidal tendencies. One hour in the dark room was enough to make damage. People were aware, some would come back to the dark room for the sake of deepening their knowledge, and the more they did so, the more like Laura they would become.

I’ve been into the dark room for days in a row, both as the chief, author and supervisor of the project, and for the knowledge all off a sudden I was getting. The exposure to noise, darkness and effort to desperately communicate was changing the processing of my emotions and I wanted to know what was happening. Like everyone else, when in the dark room, among drifting silhouettes and the full spectrum of noises, only two things were present in mind. Finishing the task successfully, because others depended on me, and getting the hell out of there.

The disruptive and self-destroying behaviors of the dark room’s regular visitors made authorities take action. The project was canceled after four months. As for the awareness, it didn’t reach the said authorities.

“This was utterly dangerous an a monumental flop!,” shouted Allan to me. “Head office is furious. They want your head on a tray surrounded by sauteed potatoes with garlic and oregon.”

“Tell them we never had so many supporters as in this campaign. We can finally achieve a number capable of some pressure.”

“Are you really from this planet, Jacob?” Allan kicked on my iron desk, already dented by previous arguments. “Listen to me, you dupe. Everyone is aware of the damn problem. Everyone! You don’t need any fancy sensory freak show to make people understand the thing. People know about this. They learn it in school, science documentaries and our damn work for decades. The plain truth is they don’t care and never will.”

“After being in the dark room, they will.”

Another kick on the desk.

“You stubborn bonkers! All you got was a bunch of pretentious college kids turned into fanatics!”

To my despair, Allan was spot on.

I was rumbling on this memory while heading full throttle to the beach. I was really scared with the stranding of Laura. As expected, an immense crowd surrounded her, taking pictures while some locals shoveled the sand. A tractor was arriving. I saw her gray bulk on the island shore and her left fin raised for a bit, and I couldn’t help thinking she was saying farewell. There was too much noise in the ocean for her. Too many engines, propellers and sonars. Too many humans. No peace. No rest. No friends to talk to. Only the will to die.

Saturday, September 4th 2021

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