The Long Winter

skiing

© A Mixed Bag – 2013

“I can’t believe snow season’s extended into May. It’s incredible.” Dora had just finished her Junior year and would normally be cultivating her tan for the summer, but ski conditions at Snowbird were perfect.

Her boyfriend Herb Klein graduated with a degree in History and had been accepted into Law school. “It’s amazing, like summer is never going to come.”

Dora’s facial expression became solemn. “Herbie, you don’t think…”

“Think what?” Then he realized what she meant. “That’s nuts. With climate change and all, this is just a fluke. The temps will be in the 90s by the beginning of June. You’ll see.”

The gondola got to the top, and they stepped off with the other skiers. By the time she hit the powder, Dora had forgotten all about her foolish worries.

“Say Ted, take a look at this.” Ralph Manx had been a Senior Meteorologist at the National Weather Service for ten years, and he still couldn’t believe what he was reading.

“Same stuff, different day. No warm up in sight for anything above the 40th parallel.”

“It’ll be summer in six weeks. How is this possible?”

“Beats me. News agencies are already playing up ‘mini-Ice Age’ stories.”

I wrote this for the Sunday Photo Fiction – April 15th 2018 writing challenge. The idea is to use the image above as a prompt for creating a piece of flash fiction no more than 200 words long. My word count is 200.

I saw that the photo’s file name included the date “15 May 2016,” which seemed a little late to go skiing (but what do I know?), so I imagined a winter that just kept hanging around. I found an image of the 40th parallel as it crosses the United States at The Daily Mail I could use for reference.

Picture a world where it’s winter everywhere above that red line.

To read other stories based on the prompt, visit InLinkz.com.

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When Science is Wrong

snake oil

Found at Mindlovemisery’s Menagerie

“Good afternoon, Ladies and Gentlemen. My name is Dr. Eric Sandersen, Director of Climate Studies at the American Foundation of Science Awareness. My studies of climatic changes due to atmospheric pollutants based on a half-century of data compiled by my department have shown conclusively that the Earth is headed toward an imminent and catastrophic ice age.”

Both the audience of scientists at the 1965 Conference of Climate Scientists and the much wider body of people watching on their television sets around the country started murmuring.

“I know this is a difficult piece of knowledge to take in, but the survival of our civilization is at stake.”

The crowd seated in the auditorium became louder and there were small outbreaks of arguing among some of the delegates.

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Extravagance, Thy Name Is Humanity

mars

Scientists have revealed a provocative new theory of moving planets like Mars, pictured, into an orbit that would create habitable conditions through such methods as using a satellite’s gravitational pull. (NASA/GODDARD)

The plans were extravagant in the extreme. For centuries, the thought of creating a Dyson Sphere, that is, manufacturing an immense hollow ball around the Sun with the inner edge of the shell positioned at One AU or the exact distance of Earth’s orbit from its star was thought to be the absolute cure-all for every problem introduced on the mother planet by human beings. The inner surface area would capture one hundred percent of all generated solar energy, providing an all but inexhaustible amount of power and living space, so humanity would run out of neither.

One of the biggest drawbacks was that you’d have to cannibalize every other object in the solar system just for the raw materials, plus you would have to find a way to create the energy necessary for the manufacturing process. However, the engineering genius even to design such a fantastic structure didn’t exist among Earth’s best and brightest and probably never would.

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Nine Thousand Stories

barge on a river

© BarbCT/Gallimaufry

“It doesn’t look the same but I’ve been away so long.”

Latham stood on the deck of the barge as it slowly ambled north on the St John’s River.

“You’ve traveled everywhere else in the world but never came home even once. Why?”

Professional tourist Bill Collins met Latham by chance at a bar in Côte d’Azur and after hearing his story, decided to go back home with him.

“I was afraid of what I’d find, memories and regret. This was once my home long, long before the white man came.”

“You still hurt because your people drove you out?”

“After all this time, you think I wouldn’t be, but it’s a deep wound. Everyone around me aged and died but I didn’t. They couldn’t accept that. Most people today would have a hard time with it.”

“Latham, I’ve spent my life traveling the world, experiencing everything, blogging about it all, but you’re the biggest adventure yet. I could travel with you for a lifetime listening to the stories of a nine-thousand year old man.”

I wrote this for the FFfAW Challenge for the Week of October 10, 2017. The idea is to use the image above as the inspiration for crafting a piece of flash fiction between 100 and 175 words long. My word count is 175.

I have no idea where this photo was actually taken, but something about it made me think of Florida. I looked up rivers in that state and settled on St. John’s River since it’s the longest in Florida and is used for commercial purposes.

People have been living on this river as long ago as 12,000 years, but about 9,000 years ago, the climate warmed resulting in much of the polar ice caps and glaciers melting making for a wetter environment and allowing the Paleo-Indians there to go from living in camps to villages. Yesterday, I commented on someone’s blog how it’s rather intimidating to write about an immortal character because it’s hard to imagine what they’d be like with so many life experiences.

Learning of the history of this river, I decided to take a stab at it. Latham isn’t particularly secretive about his longevity, at least not with some people such as Bill, and I liked the angle of a professional adventurer and storyteller being captivated by the sorts of tales a man like Latham could tell.

To read other stories based on the prompt, go to InLinkz.com.

Diverting Armageddon

ceres

Found at: solarsystem.nasa.gov

“Papa, why do I have to go to Hebrew school? You didn’t.”

“My dear little Miss, that’s because I’m not Jewish. You and your Mama are.”

“But it’s so boring. I already know all of the Hebrew, the cantillation is so easy, and Rabbi Endelman drones on and on and…”

“Now stop it. Rachel Aiyana Zheutlin, you will not mock your elders. This is important. There are so many Jewish children behind the Iron Curtin who would love the opportunity to have a Bar or Bat Mitzvah, but…”

“I know, Papa. The Communists made it illegal.” Almost twelve-year-old Rachel Aiyana hugged her Papa. “I’m sorry. I love you and Mama. I just sometimes get…well, frustrated.”

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Incursion

ice station zebra

From the 1968 film “Ice Station Zebra”.

Kelgarries wanted the job done in a month, but he was a soldier, not an engineer. The construction and precision placement of twin temporal gates, one at the highest point on Vila do Porto, one of the smaller islands of the Azores, and the other at the epicenter of the Tunguska Event, some 65 kilometers north-northwest of the town of Vanavara, could not be rushed, particularly at the stage of configuring the fusion generator for each and then applying power to the gates.

Both gates had to be absolutely synchronized in power output and frequency for their plan to work.

The plan? To intercept an experimental alien space and time craft that launched nearly 4,000 years ago from what used to be the main island in the Atlantis chain, where now remains only the tiny islands of the Azores, and due to explode in the atmosphere above a remote portion of Siberia on June 30, 1908. The field the gates would generate between the launch and crash points would create a nexus in the time stream intersecting with the ship and sending it off source to another place in the far distant past.

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Threshold

storm

© WeatherStudios

True to his word, Major Vasnev Romanovich of the Russian Ground Forces did not get drunk until well after the debriefing of the Atlantis mission at Project Retrograde’s Arctic base. When Romanovich had been assigned to Retrograde, it had been called an “Operation” and he had been a Major of the Soviet Armed Forces. However, when reality was changed after an unfortunate Time Storm, initiated when Time Gate Technician Louis Aramazd and his team activated the gate in close proximity to a live Forerunner power source, the world he returned to was not the same as the one he left.

U.S. Army Lieutenant Walter Byrd was in operational command of the Folsom time base in Arizona when the Time Storm hit, and all of his people were instantly transported back over 14,000 years in time. Ashe and his team, of which Vasnev was now a member, rescued them, but in returning the survivors and their children to the present after ten years in exile, they created a new timeline, one in which the Soviet Union fell in the late 1980s.

Either way, Romanovich was the Russian liaison to the Retrograde Project and worked as an equal member of Dr. Gordon Ashe’s team of time agents attempting to minimize or eliminate the results of the Time Storm and most importantly, to prevent or reverse the effects of climate change that will likely cause human extinction in a mere half century.

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Prologue: Key Out of Time

comet impact

Found at The Verge

From space, the Earth looked very different from what modern humans would expect today. For one thing, the Panama isthmus did not connect North and South America, allowing direct low-latitude circulation between the Atlantic and Pacific Oceans. There was no Drake Passage separating South America from Antarctica and the Arctic was also more restricted.

It came from space. The object, impacting on or near the coast of what is now called New Jersey. There was an abrupt release of carbon into the atmosphere causing global climate warming at an accelerated rate. It took decades or centuries, not thousands or tens of thousands of years for the planetary temperature to rise 5 to 9 degrees Centigrade or about 9 to 16 degrees Fahrenheit.

Numerous single-celled ocean bottom organisms became extinct while other surface species moved to the poles in order to survive.

Overall, the climate became wetter, Arctic freshwater concentrations increased, and although there was a general lack of global ice, sea levels still rose due to thermal expansion.

“Dr. Barnes, you’re not saying that this impact over 55 million years ago caused modern climate change. That’s not what you explained to me before.”

“Of course not, Colonel. However it is necessary to…”

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The Long Dark Winter

freezing

© 2013 loniangraphics

“God it’s cold out there, Simon.”

“You say that every time you go out for supplies. Of course it’s cold. How’d you do?”

“The Rogues’ shipment from down south came in early. Paying those mercenaries cost a lot, but I managed some oranges and strawberries this time. How about you?”

“Got enough fuel from Old Man Mayberry to last us a couple more weeks at least. By then, he says he can get us some more.”

Carrie set her groceries down on the counter. It’s only a one room cabin, originally built as an artist’s retreat several miles outside of town, but now Simon and Carrie Mitchell call it home. Being small, it’s easy to heat, which is important, since the overall global temperature averages 3 to 4 degrees F less than it did before the Indian-Pakistani nuclear war five years ago.

It’s a limited “nuclear winter,” not quite like all of the disaster movies of the previous decade, but it will be fifteen years at least before the climate begins to return to pre-war levels.

I wrote this in response to the FFfAW Challenge-Week of May 16, 2017 hosted by Priceless Joy. The idea is to use the photo prompt above to write a piece of flash fiction between 100 and 175 words, with 150 being the ideal. My word count is 174.

When I saw the photo, after turning over a few possibilities in my mind, I settled on the topic of large scale nuclear winter. I first thought that it would be set off on purpose by a madman to counter the effects of climate change.

Then, doing a bit of research, I decided to lessen the effect and scope to show that even a “small” nuclear conflict could do long lasting damage to the environment.

I imagined that traditional government would break down, at least in certain areas, and that mercenaries would provide necessary services for an inflated price.

To read more stories based on the prompt, go to InLinkz.com.

Bee Drones

robobee

© Eijiro Miyako

It had been forty years since Eijiro Miyako and his colleagues at Japan’s National Institute of Advanced Science and Technology developed the first generation robo-bees. Pesticides, land clearing, and the effects of climate change had resulted in a steady decline in the bee population. Without bees, many plant species, including crop plants from apples to almonds, could not be pollinated and reproduce.

By the tenth generation of the tiny drones, they were self-replicating, self-repairing, solar-powered dynamos. They did not replace the natural bee population, but they greatly enhanced pollination efforts, allowing flowering plants to survive and finally to thrive again.

Each individual robo-bee’s AI formed a collection of nodes, which, when linked to the population of drones as a whole, formed an intelligence that was arguably sentient.

The problem was finding a way for the natural bee population to either develop an immunity to what was killing them so they could increase their numbers to a viable level, or eliminate the causes of their die off.

The drone AI quickly realized the cause of the die off of bees, and many other environmental problems, was the human race. Robo-bees could go even where the natural bees could not, so the almost complete extinction of humanity was ensured by swarms of millions of these tiny assassins.

I read a story yesterday called Robotic bee could help pollinate crops as real bees decline at “New Scientist,” and thought there could be another side of the story.

This is a pretty grim outcome, and hardly superversive, but if you push your biosphere too far, the biosphere will push back.