Updated: 4 days ago
Q: What if we are all displaced by climate change and land is allocated to those who sacrificed the most?
Warning: this is fiction.
(scroll down for Chapter three)
Chapter one - Press your buttons now
Good evening and welcome to the inaugural Terra Ludos, the latest easy-living concept from MetaMusk, also known as ‘the land games’ - it’s Latin you know, for those who aren’t able to afford an education. It’s the brainchild of the newly merged power-megalomaniums, whose aim is to bring inner peace with the delivery of habitable habitation.
Finally approved by a winning majority of an impartial ballot by the Standard Housing Allocation Departmental Yield (SHADY) the land games are held on these artificially created archipelago of The World Islands.
Since the failure of COPOUT35, the divide between the richest and the poorest citizens has never been starker. While the former live in acclimatised and gated communities, richly furnished with the latest renewable energies, the latter live in pre-Victorian conditions akin to those you might find in Dickensian novels [stirring music starts]. We here at OmniMediaGamma pledge to support all those in need and will endeavour to replay the horrific conditions of the poor over and over again during this programme to raise awareness [voice breaks, sniffle].
Today we are here to balance this inequality, to offer everyone the chance to fight for a piece of land [dramatic music starts] one of the last bastions of humanity [dramatic music builds] the last chance to survive as a species [reaching its climax] before the earth’s surface becomes fully uninhabitable. Scientists have given us six months grace, enough time to crown the winning patriots and settle them in with a selection of starter kits - animal, vegetable and mineral - to protect our legacy.
The games will be divided into three parts; The Pitch, The Rush and The Prune. Keep watching live here on OMG and don’t forget to vote on your apps for your favourite contestants. The one with the most votes after the third day will be the victor. All votes are carefully monitored for security purposes and any complaints of fake or tampered votes will be adjudicated by The Committee.
Talking about The Committee…[chuckles] what a segue, what adroit presenting, they don’t call me The Pro for nothing, well not for nothing anyway, a few billion yuan but who’s counting [clears throat]. Let me introduce you to The Committee. Selected by the Friends and Family of The Committee, they will be on hand to make sure nothing inappropriate or underhand occurs.
The first is Sir Gawain of Winklebury, a former Member of Parliament who has been lauded for his powers of persuasion and has occupied every possible post in every assembly. Then we have The Absolute Ambassador of Arabia who is kindly hosting these events and sponsoring the games. We at OMG are extremely grateful for your hospitality [applause]. Thank you so much. Finally we have Gloria Steinem, yes the actual, late Gloria Steinem in AI form, a virtual avatar, representing the under-represented worldwide. Can’t have you accusing us of being biased now can you? [laughs] Now let’s head over to the contestants to hear their pitches. Each one will present themselves to The Committee and detail the various sacrifices they have made to combat climate change. At the end of the presentation, voting will open. Are you ready? Let the games begin!
First up is Rina, housewife, ex-trader. Take it away Rina. You have 30 seconds.
RINA: Hi, my name is Rina. I’m 34, married, no kids. I do my bit for the environment. I recycle, walk wherever I can, have an electric car, offset my flights, invest in ‘green companies’…
GLORIA: What does your husband do?
RINA: He’s an oil trader.
GLORIA: How does he feel about the new licenses offered to North Sea Oil and Gas?
RINA: We all need cheap fuel in these times of economic crisis…
GLORIA: Do we?
GAWAIN: Enough of that. [He switches Gloria Steinem off with a remote control]. Please thank your husband for supporting local jobs. Next.
BOBBY: Hi, Bobby, 69 [guffaws]. This climate crisis is all a conspiracy, brought on by tofu liberals, wanting to scare us into submission. I’ve survived world wars, I can survive this. When democrats sell their beachfront homes I’ll start listening.
GLORIA: Actually they’re all submerged…
GAWAIN: How did you…
GLORIA: You can’t keep us down.
GAWAIN: Yes I can. [Switches her off again] Next.
HANNAH: Hi? I’m Hannah, 24, student, protestor, glued myself to buildings, roads, been in prison twice. We need our leaders to step up. Do their job.
GLORIA: Thank you for your sacrifice.
AMBASSADOR: Un [Takes the remote and throws it to the ground].
Ok then. Thank you judges, thank you contestants. We’ll take a quick break before we move on to the next round of competitors. In the meantime, start voting. It’s down to you, the public. Who deserves to go to the next round and be in with a chance to win land for their sacrifices? The choice is yours. Press your buttons now.
Voters are limited to one (1) vote per registered number per voting event. An undisclosed sum will be taken from your bill.
Chapter two - Rush to the head
Good evening and welcome back to part two of the Land Games, the greatest battle of our life time. Our Hastings, our Gettysburg…I could continue, sharing my erudition with you but we haven’t got all day. Time is precious, with the end on its coat tails. We must speed up the search for our victor. Our legacy must prevail [stirring music]. Brought to you live from The World Islands by yours truly, ‘The Pro’ on OMG.
[corporate sound mnemonic]
As Confucius said, ‘our greatest glory is not in never falling, but in rising every time we fall.’ And fall we seem to be doing as the remaining contestants line up alongside the starting line, amongst the mud plains, sinking into the quick sand, losing their balance…the drones of the Absolute Army on hand, ready to shoot down any ‘Sooners’ who might be overstepping their mark…literally [chortles to himself]. Good old Rina, remember the housewife with the oil trader husband? At the front, in Tree Pose, years of daily yoga practice finally paying off. And then there’s Hannah, the revolting student…see what I did there…[guffaws] who also seems to have balance on her side from years of hanging off motorway gantries. Good luck ladies and hope to see you on the other side!
And we’re back. Let me tell you more about the second part of these games. Known as The Rush, a nostalgic nod to The Oklahoma Land Rush of 1889 where 50,000 people made a dash for two million acres of land. Today, we only have 12 chasing 120 acres, the same size as the now submerged island of Tuvalu, which has been forced to become the world’s first digital nation. A stark reminder of what is to happen to all of us, whatever walk of life. No longer can we buy our way out of this problem or keep our heads in the sand. These are no longer options [voice hardens]. We all once had the choice to curb our ways, to prioritise the world’s health instead of our individual needs but we procrastinated, put our faith in the wrong leaders and let the 1% fleece us.
[sudden advertising break]
Apologies for that. My opinions do not reflect those of OMGs. Talking of fleece, aren’t those sheep tied to Hannah’s vehicle? How bizarre. I know that once our contestants have cleared the mud obstacle, they have an opportunity to collect their loved ones and a few treasured possessions to take with them to their new beginnings but…sheep? [chuckles] Hey, there’s also a horse…pulling the car…oh I get it. The sheep must be companions for the horse! Let me explain. As you know, petrol cars have become redundant ever since fossil fuels were banned. Only the wealthy now have electric ones and most country lanes are littered with abandoned fossil fuelled vehicles. But here’s the clever bit…Hannah is using one of the fossils as a carriage, pulled by her trusty steed! Pretty ingenious if I may say so myself [muffled aside] I’m just telling it is as it is [normal volume] Moving on. Who else is out there? Satoshi, the Japanese billionaire who’s been spending more time in space than on land these days but no one can deny his charitable donations to climate change. A worthy competitor. And then there’s Rina again but where’s the husband? Has she ditched him? Maybe Gloria Steinem’s drilling, excuse the pun, resonated?
The contestants are lining up now. The tension building as the Absolute Ambassador of Arabia comes forward with the starting gun. He raises it in the air. The crowds go quiet. In anticipation, in hope for what is about to happen [dramatic music starts]. This really is a momentous occasion. A moment in history. And…oh no, one of the competitors has lurched forward before the gun has gone off. He’s down. Face first. Shot in the head. No one likes a premature ejaculator. He’s been dragged away and the drones are flying low to calm the crowds. The Ambassador has the gun up again….and….then…[thrilling pause]
They’re off. Rina knocks down the competition on either side, not looking back as they sink in the quicksand. Hannah tries to help but it’s futile. Leave them Hannah! Carry on. Save yourself. Sorry, we are totally impartial here at OMG. They’re totally submerged now. Shit, they’re disappearing. Is anyone going to pull them out? No? Ok, moving on.
Satoshi is out first, with Noah, an Australian eco-warrior close behind. They’re grabbing their possessions, Satoshi in his Tesla while Noah has a massive wagon pulled by four oxen. What is he taking with him? Hey, can we get a closer look and see what’s in his wagon? Wow, I don’t believe this, is this allowed? Does it say anywhere in the rules that he can’t bring his whole extended family with him? Can someone look into this? Has he somehow managed to find a loophole? OMG, if he has, that’s awesome. Go Noah! [muffled] What? I can say what I want. We’re all going to die anyway.
And now they’re all making a dash towards the prize, Rina in a small, electric car with a lot of suitcases, overtaking her four-legged competitors…how many are left now…I count four…yup, only four left in the race, towards the sacred lands. Wait, what is that? Who are they? A mass of protestors waiting for them? Can someone find out what’s going on please? [muffled]…what? They have to what? Are you serious? WTF. Excuse my language but that is beyond. Yes, yes, I’ll do my job. Ladies and gentlemen, apparently the last part of the challenge is to overcome the existing indigenous inhabitants on the allocated land. What does that actually mean? [muffled] Can’t they share it? What? There’s not enough to sustain the numbers? So they’re going to have to….OMG suddenly the Land Games have turned into the Hunger Games ladies and gentlemen. Are our contestants going to be able to eliminate the indigenous tribe for their own gain? I’m sorry to say I think Satoshi, Noah and even Rina would. But Hannah? Could she live with herself if that was the only way? What’s going to happen? Who will follow through? Vote now. Press your buttons.
Voters are limited to one (1) vote per registered number per voting event. An undisclosed sum will be taken from your bill.
Chapter three - attempts, quits, stitch
Good evening and welcome back to the nail-bitingly stressful Land Games, the latest co-creation from MetaMusk, brought to you by OMG. Thank you to all those who voted and wow, what a result. Unanimous. United. Universal. Who would have thought that Rina would bring together a divided society. Congratulations Rina, you have been chosen as the most likely contestant to do absolutely anything to win a piece of land. Anything? Really? We await.
Let’s return to the scene at hand. Four competitors left. Satoshi, the Japanese billionaire, Noah, the Australian eco-warrior, Rina, the housewife and Hannah, the protesting student, all standing in front of the indigenous tribe, the true custodians of this land. The drones of the Absolute Army hover over Rina, their red sniper dots poxing her forehead. They compel her to step forward and pick up a spear from the ground. The defenders of the land bristle, bringing their weapons to attention. WTF is going to happen now?
And we’re back. Rina hasn’t advanced very far since we broke for the commercial break. Her knees are shaking and she looks like she’s going to hurl. Not a great look. Let’s hope for her sake that it doesn’t go viral! [chuckles]
The drones are closing in on Rina and they’re goading her to attack. Nudge here, push there. It’s obvious what she’s gotta do. But will she? Shit, she’s going for it. With a predatory yell she lunges spear-first at the closest member of the tribe who blocks her with a swipe and she’s on the ground, fighting for her life. I see splashes of blood. Whose is it? Who’s been hurt?
Wait, what’s going on at the back? Is that Satoshi getting back in his Tesla and driving off in the opposite direction? Does this mean that he’s retiring from the games? And what’s Noah doing? He looks like he’s in a trance, staring at Rina, watching from the sidelines in shock. It’s Hannah though who comes to Rina’s rescue. She drags her fellow competitor out of the struggle and back to the sidelines. Bravo young lady. Bravo. A round of applause for her please. That’s what you call integrity and courage. But what is she doing now? She’s going straight for the camera and is addressing the watching world. Let’s cut to her.
HANNAH: Life is precious. Each and every one of us. One is not greater than another, one is not more worthy than another. We all live and belong on this planet and we all need to take responsibility for it. Together.
W-O-W. How beautiful was that. Such eloquence from such a young mind. Wait, she’s not done.
HANNAH: attempts, quits, stitch
Huh? Is that some kind of inspirational poetry I wonder? What does it mean?
HANNAH: attempts, quits, stitch…irretrievable, celebrant, paintbrushes… wiped, interrupt, misled…
She’s spieling off random words in an erratic manner. Completely lost her marbles, the poor thing. Must be the stress of it all. It can happen. Wait, is this a glitch…?
Cut to a vast ocean. Endless blue waters shimmering in the midday sun. A speckled sprinkling of islands dot the sea. On closer inspection we see that they are individual pods, floating on the water, each with oversized humans inside them. One of the pods unfurls and a man takes off his VR headset and stretches skyward.
MAN: Piece of shit. I keep what3wording where I wanna go next but it won’t let me leave the Land Games. I’ve had enough of playing Hannah. I’m ready to move on. Please can someone Ctrl , Alt, Delete the shit out of this thing for me. Thanks.
The man puts his headset back on and resettles himself in the pod. The doors close and he’s back in his metaverse.
These are the survivors of earth’s climate crisis. The ones who managed to buy their way into submerged pods, floating in the world’s never-ending oceans [dramatic music starts]. Land no longer exists. No animal, vegetable or mineral. The only life there is is in the metaverse that they access through their headsets, brought to you 24-7 by MetaMusk.
[corporate sound mnemonic]
They once had a chance but they didn’t take it. They literally didn’t give a shit and saw no wrong in it. They chose ease over adversity. Pleasure over sacrifice. Self over society. And for that, they will eventually die here in their pods. No offspring, no future generation. Our extinction story. They are the first group in our world’s history where legacy has not been a driving force for their existence. The self was.
[stirring melancholic music plays]
As the sun sets over their luxury pods, it’s too late for them. They don’t have a chance. But it’s not too late for you. Do something today. This land of ours isn’t a game. Leave the right mark on this planet. It’s your responsibility too. You are a part of it. Signing off now, yours truly, ‘The Pro’.
[static crackling SFX]
It’s not too late to take action.