The sound of the helicopter landing is the only thing I can pay attention to right now. I'm exhausted, confused, hungry and dirty. The only thing I feel is the soldier's arms are holding me.
“Why aren't you wearing masks?” Said Doctor Graham. “Come on, put the masks on, everyone!” He orders the soldiers.
All the air on the planet is polluted with the toxic and colorless gas, Arsenic, that causes poisoning and death. Doctors worldwide treated patients with doses of medication, dimercaprol, but many people died. Years and years of corruption, deforestation and burning contributed to this situation. These gave way to devastation for building or refining industries and armaments.
“Vamos, Doutora Ramos.” The soldier said while putting a mask over my mouth.
He led me into one of the helicopters, along with the other two researchers and a soldier. In my head, I remember all these days we spent here in the Amazon Reserve again and again. The Reserve was just considered by many to be a myth, where only indigenous tribes live in a piece of the Amazon Forest. No one for so many years could not enter here. But now, in 2135, we finally discovered the secret kept by ancient civilizations.
“They're all on board. We can go!” Soldier Fonseca said to the pilot.
Fonseca was one of the soldiers who accompanied us on the expedition. He is the only soldier who survived the attacks by the cannibal Indians. The worst among us is Dustin, who has been unconscious for many hours.
I'm lost in my thoughts when the helicopter begins to take off. How did I come to accept going through all of this? Knowing that my parents are receiving the cash prize for those chosen for the expedition is the only thing that reassures me. I mean, selected is not quite the correct term in this case.
We live in a society without the lungs of the world. The Amazon forest and other forests in the rest of the world were also devastated. The only preserved place is on this reserve, but getting there wasn't easy. We had to go through a complicated process.
The government decided it needed to look for this hidden forest. Thus, they offered cash prizes to researchers who decipher the puzzles in the Tupi-Guaraní language. Therefore, many researchers from around the world managed to come to Brazil. My parents and I are Brazilians, so it wasn't hard to get to the Training Center where I could decipher the riddle. The point is, I was accepted at first as a doctor, so it still sounds weird when they call me that.
Due to accounts and the period of economic crisis around the world, arsenic has contaminated a large part of the population and water. I had to interrupt my studies last year because we didn't have enough money. Furthermore, when I had this opportunity, I immediately dedicated myself to participate. I studied to be a historian, so knowing the language of the ancient indigenous peoples of my country was not a complicated task.
Despite having managed to decipher, I was not formed, so they left me as a backup. They'd call if they needed someone else to join the team. The first puzzle was part of another puzzle to find out where the reserve was, and one of them was to find the solution to the problem, and the answer was the fern.
The fern is a medicinal plant that was widely used by the Indians to cure different types of ailments. Many botanical scientists through research have shown that a specific type of fern can absorb and eliminate arsenic.
Despite what we've been through and lost to find this plant, we're pleased with what we've achieved.
In my hands, I have the cure for our issue.
“Now, you can give it to me!” Doctor Graham said to me while pointed to the fern in my hands. “Please, Doctor Ramos!”
Due to mental confusion, I couldn't deliver to him.
“Silvia, he’s talking to you!” Doctor Ximen Yan looked at me and shook my shoulders.
I finally stretched out my hand and handed the plant to Doctor Graham. He was one of the scientists who failed the test, but he can help prepare the plant for healing.
The tests were more than knowing how to solve puzzles. We had to show physical and mental strength to endure several days of walking, entering caves and facing hostile people. Because of this, many did not pass the test and so chose to put more soldiers on the trip, but without the necessary knowledge.
So, I became part of the team, even though I didn't finish my doctorate. But before, I had to go through the same endurance tests everyone else did, and my performance wasn't the best of all. But I still resisted until the end of all the challenges. At the end of it all, only ten remained, most of them soldiers. There was help and support. However, the problems started when we came across the Tupinambá Indians.
We had been on an expedition for a few weeks and when we finally found them, this happened. One of the Indians tried to hit me, but Fonseca jumped in my direction to protect me. We ended up falling downhill away from everyone.
We fell on the banks of the river next to an Indian woman. She was afraid of our presence, so I told the soldier to get rid of his weapons, camouflage clothing and our masks that were no longer needed. I spoke with her in Tupi and explained the reason for our presence. Although she was surprised that I knew her dialect, she agreed to help us and deliver the fern.
After that, we ran away from that place too fast, but several times I had to hold Fonseca, who wanted to attack the Indians to try to save his friends. But unfortunately, it was too late, they were dead and ready to be devoured. Because the Tupinambá enjoyed war and had the habit of avenging their dead by eating their enemy's flesh.
On the way, we found Doctor Ximen Yan hiding next to Dustin, who was unconscious. Fonseca took him in his arms and Yan and I continued to crawl until we left and managed to get help.
“Chegamos!” Said Fonseca.
I didn't even realize how dark it had already got from Manaus until we arrived at the Training Center in São Paulo. I only realized when I saw many ferns with a green leaf-shaped LED light reflected in the darkness.
“Who will talk first?” One of the reporters waiting for us arrived, asking us.
Fonseca looked at me and asked if I could talk. I agreed and started to say:
“We found what could be the cure we were looking for, but it won't be the definitive solution to all our problems. These weeks have shown me how important it is for everyone to do their part. We're not going to change the planet, but that doesn't mean we need to harm it. I know I learned a lesson from it.”
Thank you for reading!
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