"Ms. Traynor, please take your seat and buckle in," the pilot gently instructed his only passenger. Her seven-man Secret Service security detail really didn't count as passengers. They were more like necessary baggage, kind of like the eleven suitcases she had her personal assistants pack for this dreadful, annoying diplomatic trip to this dreadful, third-world shithole. Ilana Traynor then heard the last words she would ever hear in her entire cloistered, uppity life.
"Welcome to the Equator. We will be landing within the half-hour in Quito."
Luckily for Ms. Traynor, she had been all buckled in when three events happened at once: every volcano on Earth erupted, earhquakes shook every corner, and a leading scientist who was re-checking readings in a deep, very deep secret command center tripped over his lunchbox, fell palm-down on the access panel, glanced up into the retinal scan and pre-maturely activated an invisible protective dome ringing the planet.
The tail of Ms. Traynor's private jet was sheared off when the dome went up, and down she went. Ms. Traynor came to later that night to an absorbing silence. Her first thoughts were certainly not of the crew nor the smoldering Andean moutainside where the plane had crashed, then sliding down, had created its own runway. No, Ilana Traynor thought about her dad and how much he hated pilots who crashed planes. She was the one who had hired the pilot with the skillfull hands, after all. Ms. Traynor pushed that line of thought out of her mind and wallowed in a muddy, mossy trough until she could stand. Sweating in fear, she squealed, "Help! You must help! I'm the Chairman's daughter!" Nothing. Not a single sound came out of her cries.
Chairman Traynor was more than aware of the dangers of the 21st century climate crisis, but he was eerily unable to apply the danger of it to others. He knew, however, that if he were to go it alone, he wouldn't make it. So when he was approached by a skinny, balding man after one of his rallies where attendance was mandatory at risk of incarceration, the Chairman was all ears.
The Pentagon has developed a space-shield to protect parts of the planet from asteroids, the man explained. The shield can be altered to fit like a dome over the Equator. The man showed him a sketch in Sharpie; he knew about Chairman Traynor's challenging comprehension levels. Only a decade later and through 3D printing and quantum replicating of its structure, power source and navigability, he promised the Chairman, the ring can separate from the planet and establish orbit from this stinking mess, or it can travel to another planet of similar size and root itself there. Of course, the man continued, we'll have clear out the riff-raff to make room for the fine folks who will buy Ring passports. The Chairman absolutely loved it. He could hardly wait to tell Ilana, and when he did, she smiled and announced, "We'll call it the Ring of Traynor.
Ms. Ilana Traynor was furious. Her neat yellow bob was a bloody insect nest and most of her clothes had been ripped off. She had stooped to removing the suit off a dead Secret Service woman and had fumed when she found the waist-line of the pants too tight. "And what the hell is this silence?" she screamed over and over not even hearing herself. Ms. Traynor's throat was sore and throbbing when dawn broke.
The villagers of Colima, Ecuador, started in their slumber, some even jumped out of bed when they heard a tremendous static hissing that vibrated their humble floors and reverberated skyward far above their tin roofs. Then there was a horrific screeching crash on the mountainside. None could explain the hissing, crackling static, but every citizen over twelve knew the sound of a plane crashing into a mountain. For it had happened before and the sad incident brought rescue and news crews, even a film crew for a movie the villagers never saw. The people of Colima were muy buena gente. They were good people and were determined to save lives if they could this time. Ms. Traynor had just unleashed her last, silent scream when the group from Colima approached the site. The sight of these brown, short gang-members in worse than off-the-rack clothes was just too much for Ilana Traynor, and she fainted.
Ms. Ilana Traynor paused from her troweling in the gardens near the Ring's northern wall. She looked at her co-workers and felt the privilege of the well-born. Sure she had to grovel on her knees in the dirt every single day to nuture the seedlings that would be shipped off to PRP, the Ring's Planetary Re-Seeding Project. And yes, Ms. Traynor was deaf and dumb, a result of the static hiss from the dome's construction, but so were all her fellow workers, luminaries who were similarly affected. Why, she worked side-by-side with an ambassador, a head of state, a CEO of an energy company, several deacons and priests, a Prince, and many other haute persons who happened to be near the Equator when the Ring went up. In her silent and silenced world, Ilana Traynor was always exhausted, but could content herself in knowing that at least her dad could never see her like this.
"Ilana! Ilana!" the Chairman cried out. He swung his shrunken form - he had lost over 100 pounds since the Ring went up - over to a skinnier, balding man, and snarled, "The dumb b*tch! Why won't she answer me? Why won't she look at me?"
Chairman Traynor and his advisor had trampled over countless lives and nearly destroyed the vestiges of underground bunker society to reach the Ring. To reach his salvation. And now that he was here, diminished and forgotten, the Chairman stood outside the Ring's wall, shouting impotently for his daughter and pounding, pounding with his tiny fists to get in.
Ms. Ilana Traynor looked up through the Ring's dome at the sweet and gentled blue sky, sighed, shrugged and went back to her dirt.