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Fire

People can change the world if they have the will.

By Mark GagnonPublished about a year ago 4 min read
2

I never thought it was possible to feel this cold and not be dead. People were told they had options when the planet’s surface began to die. Just be more conscientious about what you consume, stop producing greenhouse gasses, be eco-friendly and the planet will repair itself. Sure, the ice caps will melt and the average air temperature will rise a few degrees, but that’s okay, the planet will become one big tropical paradise.

Of course, what we weren’t being told was fossil fuel production continued to increase, weather patterns became erratic, turning some of the planet into vast deserts. The melting polar ice submerged many of the Pacific islands. Oh, one other thing. It would take a thousand years or more before the Earth fixed itself.

By the time the truth got to the masses, the wealthy, privileged classes had been preparing for several years. They built air-conditioned fortresses high in the mountains to protect against heat and floods. The edifices were stockpiled with food and medicine to wait out the catastrophe that was about to occur. The rest of us were left to fend for ourselves as usual. What no one predicted was the inversion factor.

True, the temperature did rise for a while, causing the aforementioned events, but that only lasted for a short time. With all the windblown desert dust and water vapor from the polar ice caps growing thicker in the upper atmosphere, only a portion of the sun’s heat penetrated to the surface. Global warming reversed and became a global ice age. It seemed to happen almost overnight. The temperature plummeted from over 100F on average to -5F within a week. The machinery designed to keep the castles in the sky cool froze solid. Now everyone had to struggle for survival.

Before the great climate collapse, my family lived in a village of silver miners. It was only natural for them to take shelter underground when the earth decided to rid itself of humans. Actually, I have it backward. Humans, steeped in greed, carelessly rid themselves of a livable earth. I guess it’s a dead argument because the only thing that mattered was survival.

The villagers had all the tools necessary to stay alive except one, a clean source of energy that would run the massive generators already used to power the mine. Natural gas was piped in from other areas, but its source was unreliable and they knew it would run out soon. People can be resourceful when they work together. It was determined that the snowpack on the surface could be converted into hydrogen. The gas was pumped into fuel cells, and the villagers had clean reliable energy.

Working together for the greater good lasted for about five-hundred years. As is normally the case with people when they get too comfortable, societal hierarchy, prejudices, and all that’s wrong with human behavior found their way to the surface. An elite class formed, and through manipulation, coercion, and old-fashioned bullying, declared themselves the rulers of the mine. Those who objected were exiled to the surface. I belong to that group.

The self-appointed royalty explained to their subjects that we were graciously allowed food and survival equipment to last for a week. It was the humane thing to do. No one thought we would survive that long, but we had to try. What other options were there?

We strapped on our skis and headed down to a frozen river valley at the base of the mountain. We knew from ancient maps that the river ran south, meandering through the mountains and eventually emptying into what our ancestors called an ocean. None of us had ever seen one before, but it might be warmer at the lower elevations. The cold was biting. A relentless wind whipped up the icy snow peppering our bodies.

When darkness approached, we searched for any available shelter. Much to our surprise, we would locate an isolated cabin. A few frozen towns along the way offered refuge from the wind. When we entered a house and found frozen bodies from 500 years earlier, it was a grim reminder of how people had suffered. Our original food supply was gone, but we scavenged frozen can goods and other eatables from the abandoned homes.

We trudged on searching for warmer weather, using our one fuel cell sparingly to generate heat or light a fire when possible. The mountains had shrunk into hills and the snowpack appeared thinner the further south we went. Even the wind had less of a bite on any exposed skin. Might we survive after all?

It was day ten when we first saw it, an unobstructed view of the sun. It was magnificent! None of us had seen the sun without a blanket of clouds obscuring it. That was the motivation we needed. We would keep moving south, searching for that ice-free utopian place to live. The fire in the sky would be our beacon of hope and maybe, just maybe, humanity would get it right this time.

habitat
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About the Creator

Mark Gagnon

I have spent most of my life traveling the US and abroad. Now it's time to create what I hope are interesting fictional stories.

I have 2 books on Amazon, Mitigating Circumstances and Short Stories for Open Minds.

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Outstanding

Excellent work. Looking forward to reading more!

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    Well-structured & engaging content

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Comments (1)

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  • Donna Fox (HKB)about a year ago

    I love the concept you chose, pulling at my heart strings again with a dystopian world! I was so not ready for the twist that an ice age took over the world, such great irony and Karma for the rich. This was such an engaging and thought provoking read. Do you plan to do a part two or sequel?

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