Day 5: Plastic
30 December 2017


An Impersonation (2nd Place)
Matdura Sivakumar

Joseph woke up bathed in sweat. Panting like he had just ran for his life. Again. It was that same dream. The black and white creature with a rather unique face. Joseph could never make up what it was. But it was a rather familiar life form. He just couldn't seem to recall where he had seen it. He then woke up to the wake up call from his trusted buddy, Robo. Literally everyone now in 2070 had one. To Joseph, Robo was more than computerised robot. Robo was a friend.

Joseph's day was an ordinary one. But he couldn't seem to brush off that recurring dream. "What is that peculiar looking creature? Why does it seem so familiar, although I know I've never seen one in person before?", he asked himself. He tried recalling all the creatures he had seen in the virtual zoo his parents brought him to at the tender age of seven. This creature was too small to be an elephant, and too big to be a deer too. He had never seen a real elephant or deer in his entire life. It is claimed that they have all ceased to exist. Extinction was what they faced due to the rapid development in this cosmopolitan world.

However, his parents did buy him miniature animals made out of plastic. His memory is rather vague as those toys were then replaced with digital ones. He never looked back since. Joseph then decided to inquire further about the animal in his dream. Robo was of no help. His description of what the animal may have been was far from what Joseph pictured it to be. This animal had a rather odd face. Its snout was long and hung over slightly, while its black fur was rimmed with a white one. It seemed soft to touch, but of course, he wouldn't know.

The route to his school happened to be the one passing by the local park that he used to visit as a child. His intuition was bugging him to take that path to school. It was definitely a longer one, but he decided that he had to follow his heart this time. As he walked through the plastic grass and trees, he realised one thing. He did not know what they felt like if they were real. All his life, everything was an imitation. This plastic world he lived in was a cover up. It was like a deflection from the destruction caused by many generations of human beings, and it had led to this deceptive life that he had to lead.

That was when he saw it. His memory hit him like a steel trap. The black and white creature sat there along with many other creatures made of cement and plastic. They made no noise, breathed no air. He read the small digital board with the details of the creature.

"The Malayan Tapir. Conservation status : Extinct."


Unwise Decisions
Jasmine Regina Fong Chui Hsia

“I’ll race you there!” shouted Ari. We raced to the top of the hill as fast as our 8-year-old legs could go. Suddenly, I tripped. Ari stopped and turned around to see me wincing at my bleeding knee. Whatever tripped me looked like an old bowl, but it was made out of something I’d never seen before. We decided to take it to Grammy. Maybe she’d know what it was.

“Oh my, a plastic bowl! I haven’t seen one in years,” Grammy exclaimed.

“A plastic bowl?” I’d never heard of plastic before. All the bowls I’d ever seen were made of clay. Thinking that people of the past made bowls out of this was...intriguing.

“Why isn’t anything made out of plastic anymore?” Ari questioned.

“Years ago, people started using plastic to make various things that used to be made of metal because the metal ores worldwide were starting to diminish–”

“What's diminish?”

“To gradually finish. Anyway, the unprocessed metal on Earth was diminishing; especially after they had to make those gigantic space shuttles to send people who could afford it to Terrafirma, the second Earth, back in 2099 because Earth’s condition was already bad. They even had to seize existing metal products to be recycled for that project.

Therefore, in order to sustain the livelihood of the people left on Earth, we had to replace metals with plastic. The bad thing is, plastic is non-biodegradable.”

We listened with overflowing interest.

“However, plastic still started replacing metals in every way possible. Plastic scissors, tools, knives. Whatever plastic couldn’t replace, we did without. Something called electricity which provided lights when it’s dark was one of them. I remember my grandma’s stories about how easy life was with this...electricity.

Everyone knew plastic can't degrade but they didn’t find other solutions to sustain life here. They were just waiting for the Earth to die along with all of us on it and they were doing it cheaply. The ones with a brighter future were the Terrafirmans, not Earthlings.

When I was born in 2165, Earth was already almost a dystopia with unrecyclable plastic left everywhere. To clear them up, the authorities buried them in landfills, like the hill you always play at. The problem with the authorities is that they had given up hope on surviving and did everything lacklusterly because Earth was doomed to perish anyway.

When plastic stuff broke, they had to be thrown away. Then, with no more electricity, we could no longer recycle nor produce new plastic. Slowly, humankind on Earth started reverting back to caveman ways: using clay and manual labour; from being heavily dependent on machinery like what you see in history books to how we live now. I’ll take you to the library one day to look at books that depict life in the 1900s and early 2000s, when humankind should’ve cared for Earth better. Maybe mankind wouldn't even have needed to move to a new planet if our ancestors had put in more effort.”

Memories in Plastic
Yap Ming Yao

The old man gazed into the sunset, momentarily forgetting the aches and pains that plagued his frame. It was true, he thought, you really can’t put your arms around a memory. The trees around him seemed to him a hint too bright, their colours not exactly the way they were supposed to be, but he pushed that out of his mind. After all, he was here to enjoy himself. This park had always been a major part of his life, and he thought it only fitting that he revisit it once more.

He approached a landmark he knew all too well, an apple tree now withered with age. The rows of oak trees in the distance, almost exactly as he had remembered them in his youth, served to emphasise the importance of the apple tree in the foreground. He remembered falling in love for the first time under the boughs of that tree, falling asleep under its shade on those long, lazy afternoons that felt like they’d never end, tripping on a stray root and landing in her arms. She had never let him hear the end of that one. He could almost hear her voice, asking him what he’d been up to today, convincing him to lay down with her against the tree trunk and forget all their responsibilities.

And wasn’t that old Hodges ambling up the sidewalk? Surely it was, he could make himself believe for a second or two that the man he had spent the entirety of his high school years with was right there in front of him, beaming as though they didn’t have a care in the world. He could nearly see old Hodges passing round a few of the chocolates he always had on him, hear himself make fun of the tattered sweater he always wore this time of year. It was right here in this park that they first met, and he would never forget it. It was wonderful, it was magical, here in this beautiful park everything would be alright.

Except trees, rosebushes, hedges, and fields no longer existed. The crude representations that surrounded him were all that was left, and they were shoddy imitations at their core. The plants in the park he had grew up in had long since died out, and all he could touch were these plastic replicas. His children and his children’s children would grow up in a world where the oxygen that kept them alive was pumped out of a vat and the heat that warmed their skin was artificially generated.

No matter how long he kept his eyes on the holographic excuse of a replacement of the sunset, the fumes from the world beyond kept creeping in. He had to laugh at the irony. The man who once had it all knew his memories were no replacement for the people he had known- yet he kept them around anyway, exactly the same way the people of his dying planet kept their fake plastic trees.