Today, Alesand and I will be going through chapters 72 and 73 of The Final Warning.
“I’m gonna barf,” I whispered to Fang, wiping my sweaty hand on my jeans.
“You’ll be fine,” he whispered back. “You always are.”
“I’m gonna die,” I moaned.
Alesand: I wish you would, Max.
EmotedLlama: My feelings are the same.
“You can’t die,” he said, a hint of a smile in his voice. “You’re the indestructible Max.”
EmotedLlama: How… how can you hear a smile in a voice? That’s like hearing a wink.
Alesand: This is going to be a looooong spork.
EmotedLlama: With a book this bad, it’s hard to go quickly.
“I’ve never faced anything this hard before.” Yes, I sounded like a pathetic weenie. I prefer to think of it as showing my softer side.
“Max?” My mom stood at the door, smiling at me. She was all dressed up and looked fabulous. I would be lucky if I grew up to look like her. Which I guess would be hindered by my refusal to girlify myself. I looked down at my clean T-shirt and jeans. Mom had thoughtfully supplied me with a nice actual dress, but when I’d tried it on, I felt–I don’t know. Vulnerable? Like I couldn’t move, couldn’t fight.
Well, we all have issues.
Alesand: You could wear a suit similar to King’s from Art of Fighting/King of Fighters.
EmotedLlama: Ooh, fancy.
At least my clothes were totally clean, though my T-shirt advertised Guero’s Taco Bar in Austin, Texas. On top of that I wore my traditional oversize, loose Windbreaker, because why would I want Congress staring at my wings?
Yes. Congress. There, in a nutshell, was my whoopsy-daisy life: Many evil people wanted to kill me, or sell me, or use me for evil purposes, and on the other hand, there I was, testifying about global warming to the Congress of the United States. Sometimes the lines got a little blurry.
EmotedLlama: …Why is a genetic hybrid at all important in regards to global warming? Why not get, I dunno, a scientist? Any kind of expert on the subject?
Alesand: A badly dressed genetic hybrid at that.
Okay, do you have your notes?” Brigid Dwyer came up and brushed some lint off my jacket, as if that would help.
“Yep.” I held up my sheaf of paper. Brigid, Michael, and the other scientists from the Wendy K. had helped me come up with what to say. ALl except Brian. He’d turned out to be another mole for the UD. He was in jail. There always one–or in this case two–in every crowd.
Alesand: Why would a villainous organization be spying on a tiny group of no name scientists who are out to prove global warming?
EmotedLlama: I guess they somehow knew the flock would be there. Not that that makes any sense, either.
Alesand: I’d undertand if it was Teams Magma/Aqua or the villains from Captain Planet; at least they make more sense as oppossed to Not Krang and his Godzilla reject side-kick.
EmotedLlama: Yeah. What does some dude who wants to sell the flock have to do with global warming?
Alesand: I’d understand if Not Krang was more like the real Krang and was trying to turn the world into a cesspool which would be comforting to him. But Not Krang is from this world, not Dimension X.
“I think they’re ready for you,” my mom said, gesturing at the open door. I could hear the buzzing of voices inside and wished fervently that the Capitol Building had an open ceiling that I could escape through if necessary.
“This is your mission,” said Jeb, smiling at me. “You’re fulfilling your mission right now, right here.”
EmotedLlama: Jeb is such a terrible character.
Alesand: He doesn’t do much other than advance the flimsy plot.
EmotedLlama: Exactly. And what he does do makes no sense.
Alesand: He might as well be doing a Russian jig in the background. At least with that image in mind it would make reading this dreck bearable.
I nodded, took a deep breath, and gave one last look at my flock. They were lined up, scrubbed clean, looking awed and a little freaked. Angel waved at me, and I waved back.
EmotedLlama: What, no mention of Angel’s broken arm? I would have expected JPatterson to make as much a deal out of that as he could.
Alesand: A little freaked? *facepalm* More poor use of adjectives.
My hands shook. The microphone in front of me seemed too big, and I’d made it squeak by getting too close. I wished I could just beat someone up and get the heck out of here.
I cleared my throat and looked down at my speech.
“Thank you for inviting me here today,” I said, my voice sounding nothing like me.
EmotedLlama: I really have no idea what to make of that. Is Max saying she inhaled some helium?
Alesand: I’m preparing the vodka now. Gonna need it…
“I’m here to testify about things I’ve seen and experienced myself. I’m here because the human race has become more powerful than ever. We’ve gone to the moon. Our crops resist disease and pests. We can stop and restart a human heart. And we’ve harvested vast amounts of energy for everything from night-lights to enormous superjets. We’ve even created new kinds of people, like me.
EmotedLlama: Let me guess: the only reason Max is giving this speech is for that last line there.
“But everything making”–I frowned–“personkin has accomplished had a price. One that we’re all gonna have to pay.” “
EmotedLlama: What, you didn’t remove mankind when you were writing the speech?
Alesand: Personkind? Max, when I am finished with this bottle of vodka, I’m going to chuck the empty bottle at your head.
EmotedLlama: I mean, humankind totally isn’t a term or anything.
Alesand: Or if one wishes to be fancy, homo sapiens. A lazier way: nearly hairless apes.
I heard coughing and shifting in the audience. I looked down at my notes, and all the little black words blurred together on the page. I just could not get through this.
I put the speech down, picked up the microphone, and came out from behind the podium.
EmotedLlama: What, is she going to sing or something? Do a standup routine?
Alesand: The flock enters with their instruments and they perform the Captain Planet theme?
“Look,” I said. “There’s a lot of official stuff I could quote and put up on the screen with PowerPoint. But what you need to know, what the world needs to know, is that we’re really destroying the earth in a bigger and more catastrophic way than anyone has ever imagined. “
EmotedLlama: So you’re taking a scientific issue and… throwing away the showing of facts and, you know, SCIENCE?
Alesand: And straight up mentioning global warming in an instant doomsday scenario without allowing the audience a chance to think things through.
“I mean, I’ve seen a lot of the world, the only world we have.
EmotedLlama: Um, Max, no you haven’t. You’ve seen maybe a third of America, a bit of west Europe, and a tiny amount of Antarctica and Argentina.
Alesand: Max, I have seen more than you from the comfort of my computer room.
There are so many awesome, beautiful things in it. Waterfalls and mountains, thermal pools surrounded by ice and snow as far as you can see. Beautiful beaches with sand like white sugar. Fields and fields of wildflowers. Places where the ocean crashed up against a mountainside, like it’s done for hundreds of thousands of years.
EmotedLlama: …And? Is Max trying to imply that these things wouldn’t exist in the course of global warming?
Alesand: Not to mention that most of the time she just bitched and griped the about it.
EmotedLlama: There’s that, too.
“I’ve also seen concrete cities with hardly any green. And rivers whose pretty rainbow surfaces came from an oil leak upstream. Animals are becoming extinct right now, in my lifetime. Just recently, I went through one of the worst hurricanes ever recorded. It was a whole lot worse because of huge, worldwide climatic changes caused by… us. We, the people.”
Alesand: Um, are you going to tell us why or are you just going to complain some more?
EmotedLlama: Seriously, this speech has no substance whatsoever.
I suddenly remembered a catchy (if annoying) song I’d heard over and over in a Saturday morning cartoon–the one that was supposed to teach kids about the Constitution. The words of the preamble, which were quoted in the song, came flooding back to me. “‘We the Poeple of the United States,'” I began, “‘in Order to form a more perfect Union, establish Justice, insure domestic Tranquility, provide for the common defence, promote the general Welfare, and secure the Blessings of Liberty to ourselves and our Posterity, do ordain and establish this Constitution for the United States of America.'” “
EmotedLlama: Fun fact: Max is talking about School House Rock, which I grew up with. Fun fact: the School House Rock song for the Constitution Preamble cuts “of the United States”. Also, School House Rock isn’t annoying. I just listened to the song to make sure I was right, and it’s great. You can go back in that hurricane, Max.
Alesand: So, she is singing/butchering School House Rock in front of Congress? *chugs vodka in a waterfall rush*
EmotedLlama: I would assume she’s not singing, but… yeah.
The room was silent. I looked around at all the face. “A more perfect union? While huge corporations do whatever they want to whoever they want, and other people live in subway tunnels? Where’s the justice of that? Kids right here in America go to bed hungry every night, while other people get four-hundred-dollar haircuts. Promote the general welfare? Where’s the general welfare of strip-mining, toxic pesticides, industrial solvents being dumped into rivers, killing everything? Domestic tranquility? Ever sleep in a forest that’s being clear-cut? You’d be hearing chain saws in your head for weeks. The blessings of liberty? Yes. I’m using one of the blessings of liberty right now, my freedom of speech, to tell you guys, who make the laws, that the very ground you stand on, the house you live in, the children you tuck in at night, are all in immediate, catastrophic danger.”
EmotedLlama: AHAHAHA. Also, Max, you already used the word catastrophic.
Alesand: Max is being condencending to the audience. She assumes they are all lazy and care for nothing but money. While I agree that corporations need to be regulated, the poor need better care, and the environmental laws need updating; her arrogant and pompous attitude will but ruin her argument and hinder the needed reforms.
EmotedLlama: Ah, Max.
I took a deep breath, really getting warmed up. The flock was standing all around me, and Mom and Jeb were off to one side. I glanced at Mom, and she looked so proud. I hoped that Angel wasn’t turning into a bird of paradise, and that Nudge wasn’t making pens fly toward her. And if there was a God, Gazzy would not demonstrate his new skill right here in Congress.
Alesand: Please tell me why was the flock was chosen to be speakers of global warming.
EmotedLlama: Because REASONS.
Alesand: I am at a displeasure to say that my right-wing conservative uncles would be better speakers of warning of global warming.
EmotedLlama: Yikes. That’s saying a lot.
Alesand: It is.
“Every minute of every day, cars belch exhaust. Factories spew toxins into the air, land, and water. We’ve cleared millions of square miles of forests, rain forests, and plains, which means tons of topsoil is just washing away. Which means losso f animals and plants, and increased fires, floods, and coastal disintegration. Just by stuff people have made, created, we’re raising the overall temperature of the entire atmosphere. Well, we only have the one atmosphere! What do you plan to do when it’s destroyed? Can we all hold our breath until we get a new one?”
No one shouted out an answer.
EmotedLlama: It’s not a game show, Max. Of course nobody spoke.
Alesand: Nobody bothered to tell her how speeches work?
EmotedLlama: Guess not.
“The problem is here, now,” I went on. “Nine of the ten hottest years ever recorded have happened in my lifetime. I’m fourteen. More or less. THere have been record-setting weather extremes across the globe–tornadoes, hurricanes, typhoons, droughts, wildfires, tsunamis. We’re warming up the planet, and the planet’s ice is melting. If only fifty percent of the world’s ice melts, countless rivers and streams will overflow and then dry up, killing hundreds of thousands of people from disease and starvation. The ocean water level will rise anywhere from four feet to maybe twenty feet. How many of your favorite vacation spots would be under water? Want to see the Effeil Tower by canoe? Do any of you own beach houses? Kiss ’em goodbye. And not two hundred years from now. Soon. Maybe within this lifetime.”
EmotedLlama: For someone who’s not a big speaker and is working with no speech, Max sure is comprehensive.
Alesand: And who was suppossedly nervous. And she is describing a scenario only compatible with the Noah’s Ark myth.
I swallowed and wished I had like an Icee or something. “
EmotedLlama: Unknowingly current, hah.
“We can’t reverse this disaster, even if we all pitched in now and did everything we could, which, face it, we’re not going to do. A small percentage of us will do stuff, and other people will ignore the problem and hope they’ll be dead before it gets really bad. But there are things we can do that would at least help. It would make a difference.
“The US could ratify the Kyoto treaty. Pretty much every country in the world, except us and Australia, has ratified it. How can we be so pigheaded? Wait–don’t answer that. I know our time here is limited.
Alesand: Way to win over the audience Max. Just keep insulting them.
EmotedLlama: That’s our Max.
“In general, we need to pay more attention to what we do, what we buy, who we buy it from. Use compact fluorescent bulbs. If every house in America replaced just one of its regular lightbults with a compact fluorescent, it would be like taking a million cars off the road. I mean, how hard is that? I can do the math, and I’ve never even gone to school!
“Look into other kinds of power. Windmills, water mills, solar power–every year corporations pay a jillion dollars in legal fees to avoid getting fined for pollution violations. What if they took a tiny percentage of that money and put it toward coming up with better energy sources?
“Right now America looks like a fatheaded, short-sighted, gas-guzzling, arrogant blowhard to the rest of the world. And Sweden looks all clean and tidy and progressive. I mean, where’s our sense of pride?
EmotedLlama: If Max knew anything about Congress she knew that they’d have stopped listening to her long ago. She really needs to get off her insult-wagon.
Alesand: *chucks vodka bottle at Max* She makes radical feminists such as Janeane Garofalo look like June Cleaver.
“Why can’t we be the progressive leaders, showing the rest of the world how to clean up its act? Why can’t we, the people, get more involved and push through legislation that will help clean up our air, land, and water? Why can’t we take government funds from stupid things like war and use them for programs that will develop better fuel sources?
“I’m just one kid, and not even a regular kid. But if I can come up with all this, why can’t you? Will you wait until the water is lapping at your feet?”
Alesand: Max, you really should quit being a public speaker.
I stopped abruptly. To tell you the truth, I could have gone on and on. I could have kept them pinned in their chairs all day while i recited facts and figures. But I hoped that at least a little of what I had said would stick, and make them think.
That was all I could do to save the world.
EmotedLlama: Wow. All you can do is give the most basic, rudimentary speech on global warming to Congress? That’s weak.
Alesand: So, instead of giving reasons as to why global warming should be taken seriously, you decide instead to insult the audience with a long rant whining why you are right and that if anyone disagrees with you then they are stupid.
EmotedLlama: …At least it’s in line with her character? I dunno, I’m grasping for straws.
Alesand: I wish that Max was muzzeled and put back into a crate. She belongs with the vicious animals she behaves as.