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The Great Shift

A Dystopian Story.

By Arpad NagyPublished 2 years ago Updated about a year ago 10 min read
Photo by Nikita Fox on Unsplash

Her beautiful light cascaded through the dusky sky. Then, looking up across the twin peaks of the towering mountains, I saw a great granite God that blew her kisses, parting the dark clouds in rings of purity. I held myself within that moment, in that miracle, and smiled. Today just seeing the moon is a miracle. Not long ago, I would hardly have noticed it, but tonight her vision holds me still.

The atmosphere remains thick with ash clouds. So we still have to be careful when it rains. The rain no longer comes with romantic notions of dancing underneath its shower with your lover, holding hands in outstretched arms, rejoicing in its refreshing drenching of clothes pressed against your skin. Now it brings death as sulphuric acid rain. You don't dance in acid rain; you run from it.

It was my rotation to check the bio-domes tonight. The small hard plastic fiber caps dotted the ground like goosebumps on the skin of scorched earth. With the moonlight glancing off their reflective surface, a memory came back. A flash of a moment gone into the abyss of lost idyllic years in our previous existence. A small square box, purple tissue paper with an envelope of bubble wrap inside. Tiny fingers on a small hand are delicately removing a chain of white gold. Dangling on the chain was a silver heart locket with a face impressed by Mother of Pearl. I remember my mother's beautiful smile, and her hands were turning it over in mine.

I closed my eyes and felt the moonlight wash over me. Then, in the stillness of the mountains, I felt mother return to me once more. She showed me the latch that opened the locket inside the small silk pouch filled with magic sand. Her soft voice recalled from a recording in my mind. It was telling me how she had brought back the sand from the only permanent thing in this world, sand from below the bricks of the Great Pyramid of Giza.

Then the water came. That was the curse of remembering the good; the bad was always on its heels. The crash and thunder of water coming in from everywhere and taking everything with it. One moment it was my birthday on a perfectly normal June day. I was sitting with my mother in our perfectly normal home. The next second it was blasts of sunlight and torrents of water. Everything tore apart. My home. My family. The world. It wasn't a war, a virus, terrorism, or a meteor that destroyed the world. It was Time.

Photo by Patrick Perkins on Unsplash

My mother was a specialized climatologist. My father told me that she had ideas this would happen. That there was evidence that it was happening already in that time. It just wasn't occurring fast enough for anyone to believe it would happen in our lifetime. Then it did.

The North Pole had been in a steady crawl southward for decades. "At a snail's pace," she said, "No more than twenty-five miles a year." It could take hundreds of years for any real change to take effect, is what her bosses kept telling her. It could happen in the blink of an eye; she kept pleading with them. No one knew when it would tip until it did, and the earth lost sense of what was up and what was down.

Faultlines broke beneath the continents and ruptured beneath the Seas. The core of molten iron that spun overtop, the body of rotating solid iron which kept our world in balance, suddenly stopped. The earth fell and broke and crashed into herself. Then the balls started to turn again, tearing the seams of the land in different directions. For a time, the earth had four poles instead of two. Supervolcanoes exploded onto the surface; ash clouds spewed that blotted the Sun. Massive earthquakes reverberated across the globe, followed by super tsunami's that drowned coastal cities and carved out new coastlines. The power grid collapsed, Governments became overwhelmed and crumbled, laws ceased to matter, survival was the only rule.

Photo by Yosh Ginsu on Unsplash

When the first cataclysmic events began to unfold, my father had a warning barely. The government had employed him as a botanist for the North American chapter of UNETEE, the United Nations Extraterrestrial Evolutionary Existence. He was working on developing agricultural sustainability on celestial bodies such as the Moon, Mars, and meteors and constructing various domes that would withstand the harsh climates or lack thereof. It was one of his domes that saved our lives.

From the sky, my father saw it all unfolding. As an independent arm of the military and space agency, he had a private staff, including a helicopter and pilot. He wasted no time in getting off the ground. Skirting towards home across the open skies, he watched the devastation from the cascading earthquakes and the tsunami that followed, wreaking havoc below.

Landing in the schoolyard only a few blocks from our house, he hurriedly pulled his gear off the cargo racks and ran for our home. He had almost made it to the yard when the water started coming. Slowly, the streets filled, then the sewers burst to send maintenance hole covers launching in the air from the geysers below. The roar of rushing water pushed against his legs, the klaxon of car alarms, and the crumple of steel on steel were the harbingers of death and destruction. He worked feverishly to unpack and deploy a dome while screaming out our names. Then the water tore through the side of the house, tearing away the kitchen wall. The cataclysm sucked everything into a vacuum. Like a beast gorging then regurgitating spates of water.

I watched my mother torn away with the floor and walls into the torrent of violence as the water rushed at my feet. My father dove into what remained of the room and encapsulated the two of us into the dome. He pulled me into his chest stiff and tight with one hand while he reached for the dangling yellow toggle with the other. Jerking down, he sealed us into the hexagonal cocoon inside a hard-shelled sphere. I saw only flashes and fragments of light and water as my father kept my head pressed into his chest. He guarded my eyes against the horror of bodies bludgeoned, drowned, and torn in the chaos all around us.

Over time, I asked my father if he had seen my mother during the flood. If any chance existed that she may have survived? My father's response was always the same, no words, only a solemn shake of his head.

Later, I had asked my father why this happened. Who was to blame? His answer was direct and uncensored, "The French," he said unreservedly.

Father had always held the French responsible for all the great travesties of the world. First, he blamed the French for ruining European football. Their flailing and flopping exaggerations of non-existent fouls infected the leagues like a plague. It was unbearable to watch now, he would say. He blamed the French for failing to seize the many opportunities to civilize Europe throughout history. From the weakness of Napoléon not having the nerve to follow through with the conquest of Russia. To the ineptness of Reynaud to challenge Hitler. Then to Pêtain becoming his cuckold. Father blamed the French for losing Europe and making the rest of the world pay.

I asked my father if there ever existed a good Frenchman.

He told me, "Only two. Charlemagne and Paul Bocuse." The first was perhaps the most outstanding European leader of all time; the second was the last remaining genuinely great Chef of our time.

I asked him what any of that had to do with the destruction we lived with now. He explained that this had happened before. In France. The Laschamp Event. A supervolcano that obliterated the hemisphere forty thousand years ago. A pole reversal was taking place then, too, but it never finished the job. "The French never have the stomach to see anything through," he said.

I don't know how that caused the end of my world or why it took my mother, so I asked no more questions about why. She was gone, our home was gone, the world was gone. Until it wasn't

The waters pushed us in our indestructible hamster ball precisely where my parents had expected, to the base of the Crystal mountains. An arc of jutting peaks that were once over a hundred miles from the Pacific Ocean. The spires would rapidly become the new coastline of the North American West, becoming our new home, and as far as we knew, the only habitable remains of the old world.

It was no accident that we were here; I had traveled with my parents at every opportunity offered by their professional capacities and in each window of leisure time. Those were my happiest memories. I loved all the adventures, the camping, and the helicopter rides to get to mountains where no roads existed. When I asked why we went to such faraway places, my mother or father would answer the same.

"We're on a treasure hunt, Penelope!" my mother or father would tell me.

My eyes would grow wide with wonder asking to know more. Instead of being told we were searching for silver, gold, or jewels, or lost treasures, the answer they provided was a mystery I never understood at the time.

"A loophole, Penny. We're searching for a loophole." They would say.

"What's a loophole?" I asked them.

"A loophole is a rule that shouldn't exist but does. A way of breaking the rules we know with the rules we need," my father would answer.

For years we traveled and searched. My parents made all sorts of games with all kinds of gadgets. Tiny machines that whirred and buzzed, with blinking lights and twitching needles, we carried these into the woods, up mountainsides, and into caves.

All the machines chimed and chirped when we came into the Crystal Mountains. The needles pointed steady, and all the lights glowed. Having slashed in a road and hauling in tremendous loads of gear, the Crystal Mountains were the only place we camped from then on.

The vast network of massive quartz caves radiated heat. The caves provided a tropical utopian landscape from the pressure of the mountain above and the tectonic plates below. The mystical magic of the mountain came from the iron ore mountain top layered with magnetite and octahedral crystals below. The energy-binding quartz-bearing rocks provided the loophole. We would watch with amazement as ball lightning erupted in the skies overhead. The increased gases in the air exploded in an array of luminescence. The entire mountain range was a chain of natural crystal transducers producing a protective halo. A magnetic field pushed the ash clouds away and kept the new ice age crawling across the rest of the world at bay. With this, we could not only survive but flourish during the apocalypse of our contemporary existence.

In the beginning, only a few came. My parents had shared the secrets of the loophole with whom they could. Even as jokes or light remarks, they would say, "When everything goes to hell, come to the mountains."

Now, it seems more people come every day, survivors that found our message and maps cast out in plastic bottles sent with blinking lights across the floating debris. There is room for thousands; we are safe and warm. Food grows with water flows; we scavenge and build. We care for one another. We value life in every form.

The old world is gone. Our new world is beautiful, kind, serene, and compassionate. Like the eternal sands held in my heart-shaped locket, we have humanity once more against our souls.

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Short Story

About the Creator

Arpad Nagy

1st generation Canadian-Hungarian

Father, Fly fisher, Chef, Reader, Leader, and working on writer.

Feedback appreciated anytime. Tips always appreciated.

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