Challenge #02613-G056: Trash to Treasure

She lived in the United States circa 2020. Well, it was New Year's. The first day of that year. Deep in debt, stressed, tired, her entire body hurt, she laid back on her recliner to sleep praying for something to help her. She'd ended up in debt because she'd bent over backward to save family members and they'd left her with their bills. But, before that, she'd drained her bank accounts nearly dry saving other people who were homeless, taking them into her home and helping them get back to their feet. Those debts, and a steep student loan, she just couldn't keep up.

Then there was that flash, so bright she could see it through her eyelids. A voice whispering "you've saved so many, now we will save you". When she awakened, she found herself sitting up in her recliner, but it was encased in crystal, her two cats asleep in her lap and she was in some sort of tent with odd.... bird people looking in on her. She was confused, dizzy, and other than her flute, her clothes, and her cats, she had nothing else with her. Then one of the bird people spoke gently telling her she was save, they were archeologists, they'd found her crystal and it'd opened to set her free. She and her pets, now safe, been asleep for 600 years. -- Anon Guest

[AN: Obviously this doesn't happen in my Amalgam Universe, but let's call this a close neighbour.]

They had, according to the archives, called it the Deadbeat Bomb. Technology given to the powerful and fearsome by aliens who had been observing Earth from a hidden base on the far side of the moon. Being students of Human nature and the ways of the rich and powerful, they had expected exactly what happened next. The aliens told Terran's powerful that they could encapsulate all the unworthy, as many times as necessary. Setting the parameters according to their whims.

Of course, the powerful defined the unworthy by fiscal bars to clear. They targeted the welfare queens, and were angry when the firing fizzled for finding none. They targeted welfare cheats, and were similarly annoyed when so few wound up in the encapsulating crystals. They refined the search once more, and hit what they thought was the jackpot. Those who had little, and wasted what little they had on others who similarly had little.

Luann had always joked that she only needed her cats and her flute. Those were her essentials. She paid for her little extras -mostly cat food- by busking at thoroughfares and life was... tolerable. Barely tolerable. At least she was used to it. Too tired at the end of the day to binge-watch anything, she usually fell asleep to whatever podcast she was listening to on her phone, with her cats for company and some kind of slightly-enhanced ramen in her belly. Her apartment was small and had cardboard walls and she shared one tiny bathroom with six neighbours. It was better than nothing, which was the only alternative. Just as she was wishing her cats goodnight, there was a bright flash of light...

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