Lucas gazed out at the throngs of people blocking the streets in front of the massive refineries. Traffic on all the streets surrounding the site was gridlocked. Horns honked their own protest against the thousands of people packing the busy roadways with banners and signs raised in the air. “Lucas, Lucas,” the crowd chanted his name drowning out the squeal of sirens and the police bullhorns. Another city held hostage by yet another anti-oil demonstration.
Turning his eyes to the sky, he studied the clouds that had floated in during the afternoon. Dark and threatening, rain definitely, hail a good possibility. Lucas zipped his coat tighter to ward off the brisk wind blowing in from the Gulf. With his eyes trained on the ominous clouds, his mind drifted back a couple of years to when he became involved with the professor and the anti-oil movement. No, that was wrong he corrected himself, not anti-oil. Climate change. That was the catch phrase this movement was all about now.
Lucas strained to remember how he had become involved in the first place. The last couple of years had passed in a blur. Something to do with his folks he seemed to recall but for the life of him, he couldn’t nail down the reason. Lucas vaguely remembered attending university when this had all transpired. After that things grew foggy. The professor had taken him in, and Lucas had done what the man had asked of him. Now thousands upon thousands of people joined him, cheered his name and treated him like a celebrity whenever and wherever he was protesting.
Lucas lowered his eyes from the looming clouds. The large crowd of followers shouted and waved their hands, some holding placards denouncing dirty oil and corporate greed. Large banners with pictures of desecrated land bounced in the air. Suddenly the crowd grew louder. Lucas peered toward the ruckus. Through the wall of bodies, he watched as flashes of police uniforms appeared as they fought their way through the riled bystanders.
Knowing that his arrest was imminent Lucas quickly dug out his pouch of marijuana and proceeded to roll a couple of joints. Sticking the finished cigarettes in his mouth, he lit both sticks with the same match then slid one out of his mouth and looked Alice in the eyes. The two of them had been in this position too many times to count. He handed off the second cigarette to Alice.
He let his eyes linger on her. She looked like shit. Her hair was greasy, and her eyes were two black holes sunken in a gaunt, shrunken face. How had she come to be like this Lucas wondered, too may drugs he figured? He’d have to talk with Alice one of these days about her drug problem if he could remember. His mind wasn’t what it used to be.
“It’s time,” he muttered and drew the smoke deep into his lungs as he fished a set of handcuffs out of his back pocket. Clamping one over Alice’s wrist he fed the remaining cuff around a pair of posts at the refinery entrance and then snapped the cuff over his wrist effectively locking the large gates leading into the grounds. The entrance now blocked, Lucas swung his head back toward the crowds of demonstrators. News cameras spun between him and Alice and the front line of protestors. The police uniforms battled their way to the front. A couple of the cities finest broke through the human barricade, one of the cops brandishing a pair of bolt cutters.
The potent drug of the marijuana mixed with the uppers he had consumed a short while ago. The action in front of Lucas appeared to him in slow motion. His brain was sluggish to record the events as they were unfolding. The police officers stepped closer. Lucas watched their mouths move, but the words failed to register in his ears.
One of the officers stopped a few feet in front of Lucas. The man’s face morphing from human to demon to...Lucas stared, his mouth open. Sweat began to trickle from his scalp and run down the sides of his face. The officer/demon leaned closer. A pair of bulging eyes came within inches of his face, a huge gaping mouth with rows of razor sharp teeth and foul demon breath crowded Lucas back tight to the wire gates.
Panicking, Lucas twisted to avoid the beast. He yanked on the handcuff tying his hand to the gate. A woman screamed close beside him. Lucas was too scared to look. His attention wholly focused on the beast standing in front. A blood-curdling cry left his mouth. Raising his free hand, Lucas pinched the joint in his fingers before flicking the lit cigarette into the beast's face. The demon raised a large club. With horror, Lucas shrank to avoid the sting of the demons weapon taking the hit on the top of his skull. The demon raised his weapon again. Then thankfully Lucas felt peace. A welcoming blackness closed in on him as he slid to the ground. Now, if only that woman’s screaming would stop.
A painful white light shot into Lucas’ brain as his eyelids fluttered open. His vision was blurred as he looked around. He heard whispered voices. He must be in heaven he reasoned. His head felt like it rested on a cloud. With determination he forced his eyelids wide, the bright light blinding him briefly. He lay still as his eyesight cleared. He was in a room, a white room with curtain walls. Without moving his head he stared straight up, a white panel ceiling came into focus.
Lucas rolled his head to the side when he felt a hand grasp his. A young, beautiful girl stood to the side. Beside her were a serious, older man and another man dressed in white. Slowly Lucas’ memories seeped back.
“Alice. What am I doing here?” he asked. Alice leaned in closer. The rims of her eyes were wet with tears.
“You’ve been here for the last couple of months,” Alice sobbed. “We weren’t sure if you would come back to us.” She clutched both his hands in hers and laid her head on his chest.
“I don’t understand,” he eyed her wearily before glancing up at the two men. “What happened? How did I get hurt?”
Professor Ender smiled down at Lucas. “For now, you rest and get better. We will explain everything in due time.” The professor patted Lucas on the shoulder reassuringly. “But right now let the doctor take care of you. I need you back soon, young man. We have important work to do, lots of greedy corporate climate deniers to be visited. It’s what our followers want. They want us to save the planet.”
Lucas cocked his head and through narrowed eyes studied the professor. Flashes of large crowds and police and oil and corporations ran through his head like a slide show before a sudden clarity chased them away. In that instant, Lucas knew what he had to do. It was evident to him that he was on this earth for a reason and one reason only. That reason was to protect the planet and its environment at all costs.
His face relaxed and in a very calm tone, he spoke to the professor. “Do you mean that we should continue our little charade and put on a dog and pony show for the media while we do nothing to stop the capitalists from destroying this planet?”
Professor Ender cleared his throat, sheepishly avoiding Lucas’ face while he replied. “Well, I wouldn’t put it in those words exactly but yes we have to stand up to those determined to destroy the earth in their selfish drive to deplete her of her resources, the climate be damned.” Ender turned to Alice for her support.
“By using large groups of people to block streets and by chaining myself to buildings and equipment so we can claim we are doing good and keeping our funding flowing. You think that we’ve helped slow global warming. Do you believe we’ve done one bit of good?” Lucas raised his voice.
Ender looked between Lucas and Alice and shrugged. In a quiet voice, he argued. “We have done great things. Our gatherings now attract thousands and thousands of people, millions worldwide and the international media covers all our demonstrations,” the professor concluded, the argument sounding weak even as he said it.
Lucas was the reason for the large turnouts and international media coverage and the severely increased funding from the multitude of environmental groups. “You get yourself mended, and when you’re healthy, you’ll see that what we are doing is important.”
Lucas answered with a resounding, “No.” “When I come back we will do things differently. No more speeches and protests. The deniers had their warnings. Now we fight them on my terms,” he said before falling silent.
A new Canadian Author with too many ideas in his head. Surprising even himself with where his stories go.