Kristen lodged herself in the back of the crowd that had gathered in the arena floor of the Roman Colosseum. Stiff shareholders, journalists ready to spew questions, TV cameramen ready to shoot all joined her. None of them were completely sure of what to expect. They all stood waiting before a temporary assembled stage. With a monitor bearing the park logo hanging over it and sound seemingly locked and loaded, there was only one thing left to wait for.
She was very curious to see what Brock’s next move would be. Kristen knew she had lost the argument; whatever that really meant. But she was too optimistic not to be convinced something hadn’t jammed inside the machine. Could she have made a dent after all? The fighter inside her wanted badly to believe so. Hope just meant there was something left to fight for. But her nihilist side, the one more vocal in these scenarios, shook its head. Whatever it was, she had to see it with her own eyes.
Brock stepped onto the stage, the energy he unleashed when they drove through the park earlier re-emerged. He waved royally at the applauding crowd until they had settled down enough for him to speak.
He leaned professionally against the podium. “Thank you all for being here. As many know, I designed my first statue in my last year of grad school. It was a simple 1:1 scale Triceratops. In those days, I was a young, dumb kid. Fresh from college and yearning to make the most of my skills and knowledge. Today, I may not be as young as I was. But the spirit of innovation still reigns freely.”
On cue, 3D images of various figures flashed across the monitor. Kristen could make out a spaceship and possibly a mountain. Oohs and aahs emitted around her. In the distance, she heard cameras began to flash.
“Next year, construction will begin on an expansion to the East and West ends of the park in order to accommodate the latest in Babylon attractions…”
The footage dissolved into a timeline marked by years and names. Kristen was shocked to realize she would be an old woman by the time the furthest date came around. As Brock continued to speak, digital mockups joined every name he listed.
“We have the Space Shuttle…the Great Pyramids…Mount Everest…Manhattan. All this and more, sitting on an extension of over 1,100 sq. miles.”
A map showing the newfound borders of the park dissolved on screen. It was a square taking up most of the state’s northern panhandle and poking into Oregon. Each namedrop was bookended with great applause from all but one. Kristen felt something break inside of her with each name. That was enough; she hadn’t invested all that energy into her argument only to be discarded on a whim. She began to force her way through the crowd, pushing bodies aside and stepping on the occasional foot. Kristen reached the side of the stage and hopped up the steps unobstructed. She failed to notice how the black-clad guards did not stir as she brushed past them.
Brock’s speech was derailed as Kristen suddenly shoved him away from the microphone. The applause stopped as all eyes jumped to the manic appearing woman at the podium. Facing the crowd, she breathed through her mouth as she attempted to catch her breath.
“Don’t you all see what’s wrong here?!?” Kristen shouted breathlessly. “This lunatic is killing us; the proof is out there!”
The crowd stared at her in silence as if she’d farted. A single cough echoed throughout the arena.
“Brock doesn’t really care for innovation; he doesn’t care for anyone. All wants from these statues is to feel like God! And he’ll destroy the environment to get it! If anybody can stop this all, it’s you! We can all supporting him, supporting the park! Please, just put your wallets where it matters most!”
She finished, racked with an aftertaste of adrenaline. Scanning the crowd, she saw the flash of cameras, indifference, awkward sneers and judgy whispers. Kristen couldn’t believe it. After all the documentation, pleas of passion, and the ever-overwhelming nature of it all; she was the crazy one. Nobody could be burdened by the truth, only the novelty of its façade.`1
A meaty hand gripped her from behind. And Kristen quickly found herself being dragged from the podium and off the stage. Brock stepped back before the microphone. She swore there was a hint of a smirk in the corner of his lips. After a pause in which everybody watched her being hauled away, he broke the ice and chuckled.
“I guess she’s not a fan of architecture,” he joked dryly.
Tight lipped laughter peaked in Kristen’s earshot. She felt herself floating away from it all; Brock, the crowd, the park. What would she gain from resisting? Another opportunity to yell at the brick walls surrounding her? She couldn’t tell if she felt weightless because of the security guard’s strength or if it was all in her head. Kristen and Brock locked eyes at a distance. Even from the edge of the crowd, she could see the flame that roared in them. Brock would reach the heavens after all.