David had lived underground all his life, his existence tied to the Hive habitat that had been manufactured hundreds of years ago, and his body, blood, work, all in the service of the state. He couldn’t have imagined the exquisite beauty of the garden he was now walking in, sunlight warming his back and shoulders, the sweet aroma of these spectacular plants, all so green, growing and alive, even after all the vid records he’d seen of life before the tipping point of global warming, he was still astonished.
“So, Mister. What do you think?” Ten-year-old Timothy had been assigned to guide the mysterious guest around the farm and the common grounds such as this community garden. He wore clothes strange to David, what they called denim pants, a “T” shirt, whatever that meant, and a hat. Oh, he’d used helmets on his job in maintenance to protect him against hazardous conditions, but what protection would one need in such an idyllic setting?
“I think it’s all quite amazing. I’ve never seen anything like this, all of this.” He spread his arms wide and whirled around in delight.
“You mean you lived all your life in a hole in the ground, like a gopher?” Timothy scratched at his dark brown hair under the billed red cap.
“Well…” he chuckled. “I don’t know what a gopher is, but the Hive isn’t just a hole. An entire network of Hive habitats were constructed deep within the Earth when it became apparent that the global temperatures were going to trigger a worldwide extinction event. They are actually very sophisticated biospheres powered by nuclear fusion. Our lives were regulated by the state, where we lived, ate, our jobs, our friends, we had everything was provided for us.”
“Bet you didn’t have this.” The boy ran to the tree at the center of the garden but didn’t sit in one of the available chairs. He was fascinated by the stranger, especially how he escaped from his “state” up through one of the old air shafts, after they found out he and some of the others were trying to be individuals and not one of their worker ants. But even then, he was also getting a little bored.
“No.” David, his long legs still unaccustomed to dressing like the rest of the farmers, actually missing his synthetic one-piece overalls. “Nothing like this.” He casually strolled up to the boy and sat on a wrought iron chair under the blooms of the tree. He spent a few moments trying to take it all in, the buzzing of bees, the fluttering of small birds, the barking of a dog in the distance.
“I’ve read the history, too. How ol’ mother Earth got hot enough to fry an egg on. But we thought that those old wells, the one we got you out of…that is…that all those folks who went down there died. I mean, hundreds and hundreds of years. How could any one survive?”
“I guess the same could be said for you. Our history doesn’t teach us that anyone on the surface survived at all.”
“Well, them that stayed weren’t exactly on the Earth.”
“Your Dad Silas told me.” The word “Dad” like “Mom” sounded strange to him, since he and everyone he knew had been raised in the state’s crèche system. It had only been a records error that resulted in his actual birth mother being assigned as his first crèche teacher. Before he was advanced to primary, like Moses of old, she taught him he was a Jew, sung him some of the prayers, even though it was forbidden to distinguish themselves from the rest of the state’s citizens.
“I know how human beings survived by colonizing the Moon, Mars, the cloud cities of Venus, eventually developing technologies to bleed off the heat from the…the oceans.” His mind still boggled at the thought of so much water. He couldn’t wait to take a transport west and see the Pacific for himself.
“Don’t forget all that carbon dioxide trapped in the air and water. I seen videos of those old extractors, bigger than a mountain each one of them. Why they left one in orbit as a museum.” The boy puffed out his chest in pride.
“But that’s why you…I mean people, have all decided to farm the land, live in balance with the global environment, leaving technologies that would be destructive to the biosphere in space, on the Moon, and some of the asteroids.
“Yep. I really hope Dad lets me sign up for university when I’m of age. I’d love to get on a rocket and go blasting through the solar system. Heck, I’ve even got an Uncle who’s a miner in the belt.
“Yes, it would be fascinating, Timothy.” David (the state had named him Herbert, but his Mom had named him David first) got a far away look in his eyes. There was so much to take in on just this one farm. He couldn’t begin to imagine what life would be like in space.
“Hey, Mister David. We gotta go.” The older man turned and saw the boy looking at his wrist watch, run manually by a spring, no network access, such ancient technology. “Lunch should be just about ready.” Then he grabbed David’s shoulder. “Race you back.”
Then suddenly, the boy was in motion and dashing in a cloud of dust down one of the paths away from the tree.
David stood but otherwise didn’t move. At forty-seven, the pale man with the thin blond hair just starting to grow out had spent all his life performing for a schedule set by a faceless, anonymous state. “What’s the rush?” Then he slowly began to amble after the boy, enjoying the moment, and perhaps the rest of his life.
I wrote this for Thursday photo prompt: Fragrant #writephoto hosted at Sue Vincent’s Daily Echo. The idea is to use one of Sue’s original photos as the prompt for crafting a poem, short story, or other creative work.
I just finished writing a short story which I’ll be submitting for publication about life in an underground “Hive,” which was the habitat for humanity as a result of runaway global warming. I read that even if we stopped 100% of carbon dioxide production today, the carbon already free in our environment, particularly the heat being absorbed by the oceans, will continue to change the climate, not recovering for perhaps hundred of thousands of years.
In my wee tale, which is currently being scrutinized by my beta readers, I only had 3,000 words to play with, which didn’t give me the chance to explain how the climate had been reverted. I felt the need to write an epilogue here.