This one was a little bit Bukowski (*so you want to be a writer?), sort of warts and all. It just popped out and I posted it after being inspired by the decidedly irrational comments section of Radio Leicester’s Facebook page.
A friend had posted how great it was to see people rallying to the climate protest. Hers was, at the time, the only positive comment in a litany of ad hominens against the protesters, many of which repeated the sentiment offered in the text by one particular gentleman who saw fit to hurl the phrase in some sort of verbal drive by.
In honour of such a stylish rebuttal and cutting with I penned this in a flurry of self satisfied mania. It made me smile because if you’re a sci-fi fan you’ll no doubt recognise things that were being discussed way back in the 60s – I think my first experience was Brunner’s Stand On Zanzibar and The Sheep Look Up.
But anyway, here it is without recourse to endless revisions and edits. It is as it is.
So beware, there may be mistakes ahead……
CASSANDRA SAYS HI, DICKHEAD
Protesters besmirch the roads, weary from carrying their placards of misplaced concern. There is no emergency, and our hero knows it. With a sneer of disdain he swerves into the other lane and tries to by-pass all the delays. Don’t these people have anything better to do? Bloody hippies! They should be fined! Who do they think they are? He takes his Landrover over the curb and throws a gesture at another road user with the temerity to beep a horn. All this just because of some misguided and trivial notion that its END OF THE FUCKING WORLD.
Don’t they know that it’s just an excuse so the government can put the tax up?
Alone, weeping at the curb, is a woman. She is Cassandra. She has been telling people for decades that there is a problem, but as our hero drives past he winds the window down and shouts, “I bet you drove here.” He is too busy making a living to tolerate all this cultural marxist bullshit about the end of the world. There’s always been climate change, and don’t they know it’s just the Sun stupid!
If there was really a problem the newspapers would have been trumpeting it all the time, and oh god! These hypocrites who drive to protests and who eat food from supermarkets and who use electricity are saying that he shouldn’t be doing any of that himself! The nerve! Who do they think they are? He worked hard for this! Worked for his villa in Spain and his big house and his huge TV and his swimming pool and five bedrooms with en suite. EN FUCKING SUITE! This isn’t the Dark Ages! People aren’t grubbing in the dirt like cavemen.
Meanwhile, thousands of miles away children are used as slave to mine the raw materials that will go into our heroes new mobile phone.
And things begin to change.
Slowly at first, then quicker, the world slips a bit further. The third world dries up and civilisations dependency on mass production starts to strain. Riots break out and people begin to eat the food they grow for export to western supermarkets. Yet the world is drying quicker and quicker now, and they are forced at gun point to work like prisoners in death camps just to feed the civilised.
Wars are fought over liveable land, but more importantly over water as it becomes even more precious than oil. Water is the gold standard now.
Meanwhile, there are a few who have chosen wisely, but their foresight is hampered by the state’s monopoly on violence. Those that choose to resist are swept aside as martial law becomes the standard. The military soon takes complete control and even the rich are finally put against the wall as their money becomes worthless. The chain of command breaks down and the soldiers become marauders, enthroned in the palaces of the wealthy.
The refugees who fled to the wealthiest of civilisations have long been exterminated because their numbers threatened to overwhelm the last defenders of the husk that is civilisation. In the English Channel bodies clog the water after boats were sunk and families left to drown. At the borders mass graves were filled with those who wouldn’t be turned away because there is nothing to return to.
Was the world spared atomic warfare? Who can say any more…..
Our hero, meanwhile, is holed up what’s left of his house, eating another can of baked beans and thankful that the looters weren’t able to break into his garage. He’d made sure it was built like a bunker to keep anyone from thieving his beloved car collection. Now it was more a prison as his food supply dwindles. The power is out and he amuses himself by weakly jerking off to tattered old porn mags and drinking the stash of whiskey he murdered some looters over.
He is the alpha male, and he will survive.
But soon the food will be gone, and he might have to drink his own piss to survive because the bottled waters running out. After six months of fear, isolation and occasional hysteria he decides that it might be safe enough to venture forth and find help. There must be survivors out there. His teeth are falling out from malnutrition. He has a large can of petrol, perhaps the last can of petrol in the country.
Desperation forces him out into the world, hopeful that he can find other human beings who will help. So he fuels up his Landrover and takes off through the end of the world. The sky has turned to a pale orange and the plants are all dead.
It is hard to breath.
The world he knows is gone. Civilisation collapsed in on its own ruinous corpse. The poor have eaten the rich, and then the cannibals turned on each other and consumed what was left of the cadaverous society. Skeletons line the streets, fires smoulder and the crows now rule. Out of this charnel house of despair rides our lone hero in his Landrover, searching for signs of humanity.
Eventually he finds a cove where survivors have fortified one of the final pockets of viable bioscape, a land base that ekes out drinkable water and meagre sustenance. Armed with bows and liberated shot guns, these are the ones who chose to work together to prepare for the future. They have made this place their last bastion against all others; they were the ones who stood on the pavement and demanded action, they were the ones who quickly understood that greed cares nothing for life, they were the ones who activated and formed networks, the ones who learned full spectrum resistance and built future proofed communities to stand against the horrors of a world dying.
Now, as our hero rolls up to the fortified compound he is tired and weary, barely able to keep the wheel straight. Ahead he faces the slings and arrows, the hand made spears and civilisations final bullets sitting in their barrels. Surely they won’t turn him away?
A masked, apocalyptic warrior approaches. She steps closer, pulls the scarf from over her mouth and smiles. It is Cassandra, and she looks our hero up and down in his big car, then leans in closer and says, “I bet you drove here.”
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