A Safari of Ghetto Earth

It became a destination, many millennia after the ancestors of the rich currently inhabiting Apogee seemed to have forgotten all about why their ancestors had fled in the first place. That World War VI had practically erupted amid the fraught process of the wealthy evading the jealous rages of the poverty-stricken as they figuratively and literally grabbed at their feet to prevent them from paying their rightful way to a better (in the sense of not being tainted by centuries of human pollution), more elite existence. More elite purely because, in the migration to new planets, there could be no illusions presented to the poor about their potential worth if only they knew how to work the highly lucrative system of capitalism.

Lucrative only, of course, if you were already born into wealth in the first place. That was the little-discussed caveat the government officials who benefitted from capitalism chose to gloss over in their touting of the longstanding economic structure. But the poors, as “uneducated” as they were (not that paying for a degree does much in the way of improving intelligence), could see right through the scam and–just as Howard Beale in Network–refused to take it anymore. They rose up with an especial vengeance in the year 2020, when, once again, a certain presidential candidate managed to take office again–though one can’t imagine why when the liberals were cozying up to stripper-turned-rappers for clout.

In any case, it wasn’t ultimately going to matter who took the political stage–the rich had been planning for some time to depart. To gather their most prized possessions (though it wasn’t like all the wop and frog luxury brands–Versace, Gucci, Céline, Chanel, etc.–hadn’t already invested in lunar and other interplanetary real estate) and abscond for territory unbesmirched by poverty. The ugliness of poverty. Not just from an aesthetic standpoint, but as a concept in and of itself. So icky. How could one even dream of functioning on Earth without money? And yet since so many did, the rich decided to leave that overrun planet to the plebes and colonize their own, hence the rebranding of the phrases “First World” and “Third World” to “First Planet” and “Third Planet” territories. In the Third Planet territory of Earth, orgiastic infestations of dirty, rabid people fed off garbage mounds and warred over which D-rate famous person would govern over said mound.

Occasionally the rich would still look in on their once “fellow” man as a matter of having some sort of “reality TV” source of entertainment before Leonardo DiCaprio started the first production company on the moon, which he decided to “tongue-in-cheekly” call Sinking Ship Productions. Unsurprisingly, many didn’t pick up on the fact that it was a Titanic reference as the rich are quite stupid and therefore have no sense of irony. It was a wonder that Leo himself managed to come up with the name. Granted, that would be his last act of “brilliance” before deciding to go back down to Earth to fall prey to his “liberal do-gooder” tendencies by becoming the president of one of the trash mounds. To be sure, he brought down twenty cloned versions of Gisele Bündchen (whom he never got over after she dumped his not correctly vapid ass in the mid-00s) with him to serve as a single First Lady en masse. The other richies he left behind didn’t seem to mourn the loss of one of their own for too long–after all, he had already done all the gruntwork they needed to keep the tradition of Hollywood lies going in another galaxy. In fact, they decided to call the lunar capital (marked as the spot where Neil Armstrong or whoever originally placed the American flag) Prollywood. As in: it’s prolly a good idea to be born rich.

Marion Herribold was born as such. A twenty-first generation descendant of the original earthling Herribolds, who had made their trillions in the landowning/real estate game before going the Edward Lewis in Pretty Woman route and breaking up their property into little parts and selling them off. If it sounds convoluted, that’s because money isn’t real and doesn’t make sense to anyone who actually believes in its tangibility. Marion was well-aware of this notion even if she wasn’t the brightest of all the Herribolds who had managed to parlay their financial legacy into something even more profitable and behemoth-like in its far-reachingness. And while she hadn’t totally squandered the monetary boon established by her forebears, she hadn’t done much to grow it either. Which is where the idea for turning back to the original homeland of her ancestors came in.

As she ruminated over a strategy that would make her own name stand apart from all the others in her lineage, she “imbibed” of an Aperol-flavored ice cube as the seed of an idea began to grow: why not turn Earth into something profitable for the rich again by repackaging it as an “extreme adventure” destination? The way white people once used to go on safaris in Africa or the way white people once used to gentrify “scary” black neighborhoods by implementing bar/flower shops in them. Why couldn’t Marion, too, repurpose the core of this practice by making Earth seem “exotic” to the rich? The place to see and be seen–particularly since all apps had transcended long ago to the point of livestreaming one’s every move on the projector of thin air. Whoever paid the most in cryptocurrency to the Republic of Prollywood (which had dominion over all the rest of the galaxy from an economic standpoint) got their projection to remain broadcasting the longest. Usually, it only took about a minute for one rich person to usurp another for “air” time.

Today, Marion would manage to snag five whole minutes of that time to deliver her ad campaign–crafted by the few remaining minds literally floating around for sale. To present a spiel that boiled down to the tag line: “Money can’t buy bravery. You’re rich, but are you indomitable enough for Earth?” Taking a somewhat antagonistic approach, Marion knew there were plenty of richies who would bite, for the association with being “indomitable” to being moneyed meant they would accept the challenge in order to prove something to themselves about how rich and powerful they (and their many generations back of family) were. Psychology hadn’t much changed in all these eons, it appeared.

As her “travel agency” began to catch on, Marion hired some remote underpaid earthlings (the new synonym for plebe) to put together her “Earth Adventure” packages. Including space shuttle fare, lodging in the cushiest, most “private” trash mounds possible (replete with all the fire-filled trash cans they could ever hope for) and, of course, a guided tour from an uncouth earthling itself to show the outer-planet richies around and maybe even take them to the original mansion (since bombed out and ravaged by looters, naturally) where one of their own earthling ancestors might have lived before invariably hightailing it the hell out of that abominable scene characterized by “class divide”–something they felt they had ascended high enough on the ladder to ignore talking about or acknowledging.

In many ways, the richies who toured Earth did see it as “adventure” travel, in others, it started to bring up a lot of unpleasantness about their history. The very sort of unpleasantness that their progenitors had worked so hard to avoid ever having to hear about again. It didn’t take very long for Marion–via the reports of her remote staff–to start receiving myriad complaints, most especially after the umpteenth mugging. To boot, Marion could see that her profit margins weren’t adding up to what any of her predecessors would call a successful business. She was horrified. Wished she had simply coasted on the built-in wealth she was born with instead of trying to “make something of herself” like that ancient socialite, Paris Hilton. She was humiliated beyond all comprehension, racking her brain with ways to spin the assured demise of Earth Adventures, which the clients were soon rebranding among themselves as A Safari of Ghetto Earth. The shame Marion felt over the cruel gossip that was swirling through every cloud-made chateau in the star system was enough to make her want to engage in the bulimic tradition of one of her long-dead relatives and throw up.

But she held it in. After all, she was only constituted of Aperol-flavored ice cubes–there was nothing to vomit. Instead, she decided to use the last of what was in her familial coffer to prove a point. Scooping up all the air time she could to inform the galaxy of her intent to go down to earth herself and show the richies how adventure travel really ought to be done. With the stakes so high, it naturally generated the interest of Sinking Ship Productions, the head of which offered to provide Marion with an around the clock film crew for her endeavor “down there.”

She felt positively ill as, for the first time in her immortal, vacuum-sealed life, she set foot on that Ghetto Earth soil. And in the very instant she breathed in the contaminated air, she became awash in the energy coiling around her. In the sheer misery of unbridled desperation. As the earthlings all glared at her like a lone piece of raw meat tossed in front of a pack of wolves, she cleared her throat and said, “I’m Marion.” All the earthlings bared their teeth at her, each one of them taking note of the “hidden” glint of a diamond necklace (for it rains nothing but diamonds next to Saturn) she foolishly couldn’t seem to leave behind before her descent into the depths of analog humanity. But if this was “humanity,” she reasoned, there was a reason her rich ancestors had had the good sense to accelerate evolution by simply leaving the Earth behind.

Doing her best to remain poised, she approached her earthling guide, a dirty creature of no discernible gender. No one she saw appeared to care much for molding their aesthetic to any one sex–the very idea of “fucking” being, shockingly, the furthest thing from their minds as they struggled solely for basic survival. Marion began to wonder how any of the richies she had charged to come down here had even managed to escape at all. She was beginning to worry that she wouldn’t as the camera crew continued to follow her around. Their constant presence made it impossible for her to even try to make Earth look palatable as she said things like, “I’m told this trash mound here was once called Portland and that this is where many of the first genderless earthlings were formed.”

As it was always dark out, there was no way of telling how much time was actually passing, though it felt to Marion like an eternity already had. In reality, it had been a mere three days. By Day Five, she had traversed the lands in her jewel-encrusted Humvee to what was once Chicago. The earthling guiding her was becoming increasingly irascible, making garbled and unintelligible demands that made her uneasy. She snuck out of her “hotel” (a trash mound igloo with a bedpan in it) and called for her space shuttle to take her back. It wasn’t worth it any longer to attempt saving face, to attempt preserving her family’s once semi-reputable name. No, she would settle for being the most plebeian woman in all of the galaxy if she could just make it the fuck off this gigantic trash heap.

Alas, right as the shuttle returned to take her back up, she was spotted by her earthling guide, apparently enraged by her sudden decision to leave (as though setting off ages of inherited trauma from the first time it happened to the original poors of Earth). And without even bothering to offer some form of payment. It was the last straw for the earthling’s attempt at maintaining “civility” as it summoned its brethren to help it tear Marion limb from limb. No one could remember the last time they tasted anything like the meat of a richie. And it was all immortalized on film so that another few millennia from then, the subsequent generations of the Herribold family could remember why there was no need to bill Earth as a place for “adventure.”

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