Humans. No longer the dominant species, now we are the endangered species.
We are the reason this even happened, though.
I laid surrounded by water, yet dying of dehydration.
The irony doesn’t escape me. I felt the chain of my necklace move as the cold slightly rusty, heart-shaped locket fell toward the sand I was lying on as the sun beat down on me.
Internet was the first of conveniences to go.
Power followed less than a week later, then the erratic weather started.
Slowly, people went mad. Stores ran out of food and medication within weeks. Water supplies tainted. Sickening the remaining children and people in cities, flooding already overwhelmed hospitals that were out of resources and medications.
Lakes, Rivers, and campsites flooded with people quickly polluting them. Much like the ocean I was sitting in front of. Toxic soup was a more accurate description. Years of plastic pollution that we ignored. The fish died years ago.
Coupled with the erratic weather that followed, people became violent and went into flight or fight mode. Most choosing to fight, yet inevitably many died. People who survived did one of two things. They remained in a faction or they went solo.
On my own, I was better.
I wasn’t always alone though; I grimaced, clutching the locket near my chest. My husband had gifted it to me years ago when he proposed a faded photo of him and our daughter inside along with a tiny crumpled piece of paper with a code hastily scribbled and scratched into it. I thought back to that night. Thunder and lightning cracked violently on one end of the city we were passing through, meanwhile on the other side basketball size pieces of hail fell, destroying anything in its path. Having ourselves well hidden while having at least a week’s worth of food and water. We were safe until the Marshall faction came through.
The Marshall faction was brutal; they took control of the entire state of California when everything shut down. They started in L. A and slowly worked inward. It was easy once most people had passed away. They made sure they had everything they needed to stay in power, too. Food, water, even rigged solar panels to provide electricity, eventually. Of course, when they got those items it wasn’t in the most pleasant of ways. I grimaced the gash from three weeks ago, still hurting. The infection had cleared. Though the pain of the loss had not. I am determined to finish this. Stopping the weather control and at the very least give those of us left a chance to survive without selling our souls to those who would just assume kill us for any resources we had.
“I wish you were here,” I whispered, thinking of my husband and daughter, my mouth dry and body unable to produce tears, I groaned, knowing I needed to get back to Ally, my daughter. The loud rumble from the sky above me was all the motivation I needed to push myself up and out of the sand.
That was a sound one couldn’t forget. I looked up as the sky turned a dark grey. The ground beneath me shook, sending diseased birds flying out of the dune grass. The shorelines had narrowed. The ocean rose dramatically when it was heated beyond a point we couldn’t control or intervene with any longer. Algae grew, causing red tides that stretched farther than they ever had before. As fish and large sea mammals died in mass, the shorelines quickly became littered with carcasses of the dead, left to rot in the baking sun. Washed away weeks or months later when what left of the water finally came back to the shores to swallow it, mixing it in with the plastics discarded by us humans out of convenience.
The consequences of our inaction are detrimental and now irreversible. Ironically, only one cause of my new chaotic reality. A reality where nearly everyone I once knew was dead.
Rising temperatures, melting ice, a planet full of pollution. The oceans and forests we all once knew, gone. The rapid temperature rise turned large bodies of polluted waters into the toxic sludge behind me. The rise in sea levels swallowed towns and cities. Waves were unpredictable. Nobody knew what would come of the sludge that we used to know as saltwater when they hit. Animal behaviors changed, diseases making them mad.
The sand and plastics within it crunched as I walked away from the storm brewing above me toward a slew of houses. The long trip taking a toll on my legs and injury. Approaching a house, I thought more about the day the Marshall Faction attacked us.
It was only hours later that my husband began telling me about working with Dr. Levi Kent. An experimental-loving mad scientist who went against every code of ethics he vowed to uphold when he was younger. His idea of controlling the weather to drop the climate temperatures enough to make normal amounts of rain, wind, sun, and regular weather patterns so we could clean up water supplies didn’t go as he planned. He wanted to reverse the climate damage we had all contributed to. His programming and the mad-hatter-like machine went crazy inside a repurposed nuclear power plant. That’s probably where he went wrong, using a nuclear core as a power supply to manipulate the weather.
The same plant that was until 2 days ago facing a nuclear meltdown due to core damage from overheating. We all knew even those of us that preferred to be alone, that if this reactor melted, those of us that were left were as good as dead. The problem is, you need the codes to shut them down, codes that my husband somehow knew.
Codes that he scribbled in the last moments of his life with a brief explanation of how he got them. I walked over 1000 miles to fix Dr.Kent’s mess; I shut down whatever Dr.Jekyll, and Mr.Hyde mistake he had made, successfully avoiding the nuclear meltdown. Luckily, the journey back was slightly easier because of the Marshall faction’s reliability of theft. They had found a hanger full of privately owned small airplanes and had arranged for someone to fly me back. Of course, while planes weren’t necessarily in short supply, pilots were. The man that flew me back had never flown before. Somehow still we landed in one piece, but unfortunately about 200 miles west of our target.
I had other plans before all of this. I wanted to find a known safe camp for us, and try out another group living situation. The sky cracked, reminding me of the impending burning rain that was sure to come. I grabbed my bag and ran toward the empty building closest to me along the shoreline. Some patios and balconies hanging off from when the waters first rose and then receded as pollution and the sludge settled.
I didn’t sense any movement from inside, so I broke the window. “It’s always so strange,” I muttered, snaking my way through the broken shards. To find houses all locked up like people were just out running errands. They aren’t. No one is. I always felt a sense of unease entering new shelters. Taking in the small kitchen in front of me, it’ll do until the red rain passes. Sighing, I relaxed for a moment, glancing outside at the dilapidated city. Finding a fully stocked pantry was rare these days, normally if people hadn’t found it, desperate animals had. Bottled water from 30 years ago if not longer was better than none. I devoured three bottles without a breath between. Then stuffed my bag with extras. Once the rain had passed through, I immediately left out the same way I came in.
My feet were sore and tired. The only thing keeping me going was the face of my little girl. I turned down the road to what used to be known as Hearst Castle here in California. I looked up as the sun stung my tired eyes as I approached what was now the Marshall compound with determination and satisfaction.
The sight of the castle immediately brought back all my emotions from that night weeks ago. My throat ached as I swallowed back the tears. Losing him, I lost a piece of me. I gripped my heart locket as a single tear escaped my tired eyes as I remembered the little girl inside waiting for me.
Approaching the gates I saw two guards, armed with AK-47s, as they looked at me.
“Didn’t think I’d see you again,” the guard to the left chuckled.
“Tell Marshall it’s done and I want my daughter, now”
The man groaned, turning to the other man. They then leaned in the gates and waved to someone inside.
“Mommy!” a little voice screeched with joy. A girl with golden-brown hair ran to me, wrapping her arms around me tightly.
“Ally!” I scooped her up and hugged her. Thankful to have her in my arms again. I looked at the man in front of me that ran the Marshall faction.
“It’s done now we are leaving,” I said firmly
“Wouldn’t dream of stopping you, you made my job easier. Time to wake up now.”
I frowned his words echoed. Wake up now. I watched in horror as the little girl I was holding disappeared from my arms. The men in front of me, the castle, the road I stood on, all disappearing slowly. I felt as though I was falling. The feeling subsided abruptly, replaced with cold. I felt fabric beneath me as lights burned my eyes as I opened them.
“She’s awake Dr,” a soft feminine voice said
“Ah, well,” the Dr responded
I blinked rapidly, my heart rate increasing faster than the rhythmic beeping near my head. I instinctively reached up for my locket. Instead of feeling a cold heart locket, my hand closed around a twin set of skinny tubes. I looked up, my eyes watering as memories flooded back.
The world destroyed by pollution, the ocean a hot toxic mess, sick animals. Environmental Chaos. Everyone I knew that mattered dead.
Dr. Levi Kent was real, and he was standing in front of me.
He furiously typed into a laptop rigged to solar panels as I looked at the bloody needle connected to the cord the nurse had sat down. Augmented reality. He had just tried to use a technology I helped invent to get codes he wanted.
A robotic voice filled the room, interrupting us.
Location 186 to self-destruct in 5 minutes.
“What!” Dr. Kent shrieked, turning to me
“What did you do!”
“Guess I entered the wrong code in your fake reality” I shrugged smiling as the self-destruct & contain sequence to the nuclear plant he wanted to overtake began.
I looked down at the faded pen written on the top of my hand. Remembering his shaky voice as my husband scribbled it while dying. I had memorized it. The code would bury that core under 100s of feet of concrete so nobody could ever use it against others. Dr.Kent glared at me, stomping over to me, thrusting a finger in my face.
“I will kill you, tell me how to fix it.”
I let out a hoarse laugh “I died a long time ago, so honestly, Dr.Kent. I wouldn’t dream of stopping you” I leaned back after using his own words from my fake reality trip against him. Locking eyes with him, I felt a needle prick my arm. I looked down, seeing blue liquid disappear from the syringe as it entered my body and the room slowly faded away. I left behind the little box of nightmares that I called reality. The polluted and broken planet here to see another day. I heard a gunshot as Dr.Kent shot himself, unable to cope with his failure just as my breathing stopped.
About the Creator
Wife & Mom Fueled by ;
Caffeine & Gratitude, when I’m not writing you’ll find me raising awareness about our planet’s needs , in the kitchen ,outside with the family, taking photos or in a bookstore.