By Queena Lau


Look around, what do you see that’s green? The trees, that meadow of grass yonder, the turquoise water rushing along the river bank? Are these all you can see? Come on, you’ve got to be kidding me. Look into your wallet. You smell that? That’s the enchanting aroma of crisp, green dollar bills; turn on the television, Green Arrow saves the city in his green hood; Joker’s green hair dances with the wind on that psychotic brain of his. Green dominates a great chunk of your lives, how can you possibly miss that?

This is our green planet. “Our” as in, “we created it”. That’s right. A group of elite psychologists including me designed this green planet simulation, known to everyone in the laboratory as “Planet_Gr_04”, from Operation Rainbow. We are currently creating planet simulations, using colours to manipulate emotions.

When you give a child a complete colour palette, it doesn’t just use one colour. Curiosity and the urge to make more out of something is a compelling force. I guess you would’ve known by now, Operation Rainbow doesn’t consist of merely one green planet, but planets ranging from white to black, a full spectrum of wonders. Each planet was given its own dominating colour. Let’s say if we open the file “Planet_Re_01”, the hills, the grass, the water, you name it, are red.

Colour is famous in the world of science for its potent ability to provoke emotions. Each planet with its own dominating colour sustains a population of subjects, each unique and yet the same. The red planet contains a rather fiery and aggressive population; in the bosom of the yellow planet rests a population of energized and deceitful subjects who play tricks with your mind and hide truths in plain sight; the purple planet perpetuates a population of arrogant men who look down on enemies with their signature contemptuous scorn. These planets hold the foundations of a mighty army. With future developments to our experiment we will beat down barbarians with our army’s assigned talents. We will eradicate hurdles in our path to the throne.

Yet among all the colours, green never ceases to dazzle me. In my world, not the one in my computer, green is the colour of nature and money, too. Green is the colour of greed, jealousy and the colour of the basics of human life. “Go Green” they say, green is the key to saving the planet; and so is my green planet simulation, it will save my world from idiots who rule this place on their high horses. In fact, if you are observant enough, you will realize that green is also a colour for soothing senses. Tired after an all-nighter? Then look at something green; feel better in the eyes? Light-green paint on classroom walls relaxes the tense mind; imagine if your classroom had fiery red walls. This is the point where green gets really fascinating. How does a colour that represents greed and jealousy simultaneously bring peace to one’s mind? What magic did it work to create this powerful juxtaposition?

The notion that some people don’t care a bit about this stuff nauseates me; they just reject tours to the abyss of knowledge to live a life of ignorance. “Planet_Gr_04” not only is a simulation, it’s also a replica of my world in pixels, one that allows me to explore more than just colours. If I want, I can claw through the depths of humanity, or pixelity, and turn it into an invincible weapon.

As I tell you this, strolling down the muddy path of one of the villages in “Planet_Gr_04”, I can’t help but marvel at how authentic everything feels despite this being my fifth time here. Yes that’s right, I entered my simulation. It would be downright despicable to be incapable of creating an entrance to my own simulation; an elite scientist cannot just sit back in that swivelling chair of his and observe. Field study is crucial.

Ever since the dawn of pixelity, I have kept receiving alerts from my computer telling me that subjects in a certain village have been eradicated. I wasn’t a bit surprised to hear that my pixel humans have been killing each other. But what drew my attention was how the eradicated shared a similarity: they were all faulty creations, glitches in the model, whom I was planning to wipe away shortly from the simulation. I hadn’t the faintest idea why my subjects removed them in advance, and desperate to know, I boarded the passageway into the simulation. I stepped into the travelling cabin, adrenaline shooting through my body as I went off on my journey to ease my agonizing curiosity.

On hearing the faint sound of a vehement chant in the distance, I began to sprint. Black smoke started to fill the air as I neared, crawling up my nostrils and diffusing into my blood. Approaching the crowd ahead of me, I patted a lady on the shoulder and questioned her about the commotion.

“Shush, I’m trying to watch!”

A fervent lady, there’s fight in her; that’s the spirit! Shoving and apologizing, I made my way to the front of the crowd. I felt my eyeballs bulge out of their sockets as I witnessed something I never thought I would see.

Tied to poles were five villagers, eyes widening with horror as they viewed the scene. A blazing flame crackled and danced on a cluster of logs; twigs were thrown into the flame and villagers were fanning it. An idea crept into my mind. Are they going to burn these five people?

“They ought to be burned. They have the devil’s eyes. The only way to wipe away their sinister vibe from our village is to reduce them to ashes,” a man next to me said in an annoyingly righteous manner.

“Pixels in the recycling bin, you mean,” I muttered to myself, hoping that nobody heard me. That would be immensely troublesome to get out of, given the current circumstances.

I cleared my throat and hollered over the noise, “Sir, would you kindly proceed to apprise me of how these people bear the devil’s eyes?”

He pointed at some trees and said, “Ah, you must be from somewhere else. You see those leaves? What colour are they?”

“Green, of course. What else could they be?” I had a feeling I knew where this was going.

“Well, my dear, these people don’t see that. They see everything in greyscale. Gosh, they even go around propagandizing about how they are the ones with true vision, yapping about how they see the world as it really is. They have a privileged vision into hell, because they have seats reserved for them on that side. We’re just giving them an early and bumpy ride to where they belong.”

Then it struck me.

When we first created this batch of subjects, all planet simulations were in greyscale. The colours were added to each planet afterwards. Yet a minority of subjects have always failed to respond to the added colours. I never took the time to investigate until now; they were glitches after all, I thought. Now I finally knew what it meant to not respond to colours: they were completely colour blind. Theoretically, the colour blind are the ones privy to the truth; those who see colours added by me are the ones living in an illusion. A cold shiver ran down my spine, people here are being prosecuted for being colour blind.

“Bet you’re wondering why it’s a problem to not see like us,” the man said.

“Please enlighten me, sir.”

“Green is the colour of nature; nature sustains our population. Trees bring us oxygen. Fields bring us crops. Our cattle need Mother Nature to survive. It’s as simple as that.”

His face darkened.

“Yet these people don’t have the slightest idea of greenery, they stay in their slum while everyone’s out there picking crops. Keep the green ones, avoid the yellow ones. They can’t do that. But they rely on our blood and sweat to survive.”

With a crimson face, veins bulging, he pulled out a fresh green bill.

“Way back then people were still kind enough to donate them money. The freeloaders have the sweet scent of money shoved under their noses while we kept our noses to the grindstone. They consume the very thing they know nothing about. We’re bringing the world justice by reducing them to ashes; after this we each get to share an equal portion of their undeserved money.”

As the last of his words faded away, bloodcurdling shrieks pierced the sooty air. I excused myself and found myself once again on the muddy path, leaving the village.

“Mob mentality,” I rolled the words on my tongue, feeling each sound. “Alienation of minorities or the disabled.” Then an idea sprang to my mind. Their attraction to money and their stubbornness with striving for themselves is imperishable. Any hurdles to their beliefs are eliminated. What if I were to assign multitudinous armies around small numbers of enemies? Given enough motivation, my enemies would diminish them one by one without a bloodbath and usage of resources.

I was on my way to the well-concealed exit, all I had to do was jump down the rabbit hole, when I hypothesized. Do my subjects respond the same way to minorities more superior than them? Or just to the seemingly weaker? With that thought in mind I hit the muddy path again.

The crowd eyed me with suspicion as I made my way to the centre, careful not to step on what remained of the five poor villagers. Holding up a leaf, I motioned for everyone to inspect it.

“You all see green? I’m certain of that. I’m also sure you all can sense I’m not from around here. I’m from somewhere, hmm, better. From where I come, we also see the colour beneath the green. Those colours are limited to my people’s detection. Long story short, we see twice as much colour as you do. You guys were never close to the truth. For your information, the colour underneath this leaf is…” I paused, trying to invent a random but seemingly official word.

“It’s called grenne. I can’t really describe it to you, considering you can’t even see it. I can only say it’s gorgeous.”

Inspecting the crowd, I could see slight shifts in their expressions. It’s working. Brows furrowed, whispers were exchanged. People looked me up and down. I shifted, ready to make a dash for the exit if the villagers planned a burning for me.

“I knew something was wrong with you when it occurred to me that I had never seen such a face around. Where are you from?” The voice was followed by much murmuring.

“What exactly are you doing here? Or should I say, planning here, with your extra vision?”

“An alien! That would explain why he sees more than us. Evacuate everybody. He might have friends coming.” Several men attempted to start a fire. That was my cue; I leaped to my feet and ran, sneakers splashing up mud.

Of course I was faster; a human’s reaction time in response to stimulus is 0.25 seconds. Huffing and puffing, I skidded to a halt at my exit. Pressing the button on my phone, I waited.

No response.

Three more times.

No sign of the rabbit hole.

My heart raced and sweat beaded my forehead. If there were glitches in subjects, the same can happen to my exit. How could I overlook that!

It was too late. The villagers were quick, the odds weren’t ideal.

Squirming as the flame licked my feet, I had a vision of another scientist in his swivel chair, frowning at his computer. Was I a glitch in someone else’s simulation? What defect did I possess? What was the “green” I couldn’t see in the world that I had to be removed?

I could picture the scientist saying the exact words I said in the beginning, making notes of me as I die in the hands of my creation and fade away to oblivion.