The day was like any other on Elone. It was springtime so the flowers in the area surrounding the Aeona observatory were blooming well. From the top floor Ime could see the riot of colour. In the distance he could see an airborne travelor cross the skies. He suddenly remembered the vision of Earth he had been seeing for the past few weeks. Ime went back into the lab and sitting at his workstation began to surf through the images of Earth captured in the last few days.
An eerie silence had descended on the planet. There had been no movement of airborne vehicles in their skies for the last many weeks. It was visible more clearly because the haze that surrounded the planet due to their senseless activities had dramatically decreased. The graph that monitored the level of activity on Earth was a point near the horizontal axis. What had happened there? Was it something he needed to report to Valhan and the others? Probably yes.
‘What has happened to the humans? What a tragedy it would be if they have been destroyed even before we contacted them. They were progressing so slowly that we had no option but to wait’ Patix was saying as he pored over the data collected in the past few weeks.
‘It cannot be. If such a monumental event had occurred we would have picked it up definitely’ Ime stated.
‘Why then for weeks now the human activity has come to a standstill?’ Valhan wondered
Iwe, the only female in the group spoke up firmly, ‘I have been analyzing the data from Earth Ime was sharing for the last few vihaans. It appears that some virus has spread like lightening across the length and breadth of their globe. They don’t have a medicine for it and so they are all hunkered in their homes, awaiting either abatement of the virus or some medicine. That is why activity on Earth has diminished so dramatically.’
The four of them were silent and then Valhan said the obvious, ‘They have been cowered down by a disease! How primitive and how unfortunate. We thought after their brush with earlier viruses like Ebola, Zika, Nipah, HINI, etc they would have planned for something new to hit them long ago. How come they have been caught unaware? They are an intelligent species – one of the few ones in the Universe who I thought would make it to our stage soon.’
‘Do you think this would set them back in a major way? If they don’t discover a cure soon enough, it could potentially.’ Patix was sounding distressed.
‘They will discover how to beat this virus, they always have. They will think of new normals till they do, and I am sure they will move out of their isolation soon. They are a survivor species. What I have discovered in the zacs I have analysed the data Ime throws up about humans is that they do learn from their mistakes, albeit it takes a few generations for corrections to come in. Its a different matter that overtime the corrections also become erroneous. And so the cycle goes on.’ Iwe put things in perspective.
‘There is a lot they should be noticing during this forced retreat from life as they know it. By slowing down their activities the virus has given their nature time to recover. The haze surrounding their planet has reduced dramatically. They are also rediscovering new ways of staying connected on their worldwide web. I think they are working and learning while sitting at home. The networks are buzzing – almost beyond capacity.’ Ime described the changes he had noticed.
Iwe sighed, ‘I notice that they are using technology for chasing the virus and containing it. The next step could be using this new method for chasing and containing their own species. I see them moving on the trajectory of merging biology and technology – not as a means to refine their existence, but to dominate each other. Though they talk of need for a new way of life, most are simply waiting to get back to the life they had known before. The crowded, busy life in the fast lane where consumption is both the means and end. It will probably take more generational cycles for them to comprehend that technology is meant to be a part of life in a manner where it remains tamed and not the other way around. And may be even longer for them to see that the known way of life has to transform so that such havoc does not visit them again in some other unknown form!‘
The others in the group looked confused. How could such basic and simple issues be confused by the humans – at this stage of their evolution!
All four of them gazed wistfully at the image of Earth that was flashing on the screen before them. It was a glorious sight – blue with its oceans and white and green patches. Humans would conquer the virus, but would they be able to conquer themselves?