Climate Change Might Be The Apocalypse

This image is of me, but the relevance is the wee little bundle of joy I'm holding. Millie is two weeks old, and Millie is the future - and it behoves us all, every last one of us, to try to ensure that her future will be at least as good as ours, if not better. And we won't be doing that if, knowingly, we deconstruct the world that will be the only place she has to live on. Doesn't that make a glorious and wonderful and cuddly sense, my brethren?

Hardly a day passes these days without prophets of doom and gloom promising us a vision of the Apocalypse, with seas rising to cover the greater part of the world as the average global temperature creeps remorselessly higher. But if it happens will that be the end of the story?

And if it is the end of the story from a human perspective, the sun will continue to shine, won't it? There will still be days a-plenty, won't there? It'll just be a tad warmer, which means we'll need more sun-screen, won't it?


And here's one of my free samples, explaining to you how. But first, fancy a download instead of half a ton of paper (I know that's an exaggeration, so don't tell me) then try going here to find out why it might be a good idea.



Chapter One

The ball of mud and rock, of water and gases, had been spinning round its parent star in space for so long it might have been forever.

It had seen changes. Life had been spawned by the casual hand of God or Nature, life as diverse as anything anywhere in the Universe. And down the ages that life had died and changed, evolved from one beast to another, had provided unwitting empires with witless emperors, metamorphosised in its remorseless journey from the beginning to a sort of ending.

And now it was that sort of ending.

It had been a strange, almost poetic inevitability about it. Life had wandered too far into the realms of God or Nature. That which had been crafted so casually had been challenged for too long. Intricate balances, each wonderful in itself, had been upset too many times.

With indecent haste the seas had been poisoned and the air clouded with noxious gases. And God’s (or Nature’s) finest creation had supervised that destruction with a sort of fatalism that belied its apparent intelligence.

And it had compounded its own folly. For, endowed with a masterful amount of intelligence, it had known the inevitable consequences of its own manipulations, of its apparently unquenchable avarice. Events had been so predictable that any passing envoy from a different creation might have been forgiven for looking upon the whole affair as one huge cosmic joke.

Item. That dominant life form, that pride and joy of Creation, had needed clean air to breathe. So it had churned out vast quantities of foul gases and fumes into that very air, knowing its folly and putting off making amends until another day or another generation. So the clean air had become choked with pollutants until gradually the sky lost its poetic blueness, and then that dominant life-form had discovered that too late was too late - and that was that.

Item. That same dominant life-form had worked out with a wonderful precision that the crashing seas of its world would slowly rise as ice-caps melted, that the most verdant fertile land would become infertile sea-beds unless it did something here and now to halt the process of destruction. But the demands were too high, the sacrifices of individual freedom too great, and it talked and worried and held conferences and sprouted apparently aware pressure groups – and did nothing.

Item. That crazy life form, seeing its land shrinking as the rising seas swallowed it, compounded the problems by instituting fierce and unbelievably fiery wars over the diminishing land left to it. Land had become precious, too precious to be left for the chap next door to steal, and there were enough warheads remaining from early times when they had been threatened but never used. So the diminishing land was destroyed - and that was that.

But life is a persistent thing even if unimaginable forces challenge it, and there were pockets of creatures still able to poke around in dark corners for some kind of living in the grey-black sands that dominated most landscapes. And proudest of these pockets, and mightiest, most insulated from a sickened Nature, was humanity’s last great monument.

It had been there since the wars had started and it had always been called the High Centre.

The buildings sprawled for miles in every direction. They were as haphazard, as random, as anything ever created by mankind. They had none of the symmetry and none of the beauty of Nature nor did they borrow the least significant splendour from classical architecture. No termite or ancient Man could have created such a hideous place. That honour had been bestowed on homo lastus, the generation to end all generations – almost.

The monstrosity, inside, was divided into castes. Each caste was totally responsible for the custody and preservation of a particular field of human expertise or knowledge. So there was the Education Caste, though what good it did was completely hidden beneath its very existence. It certainly never educated anyone. Oh, Masters and Professors had once held their courts in great halls and given carefully-planned lectures, but the audiences had soon become merely empty chairs and a few mindless mechanical men who knew when to applaud and when to humbly bow out. And now the Masters and Professors were getting few and far between as the most natural ending of all inflicted stillness on their flesh, and it was increasingly falling to the mechanical factors to deliver the carefully-planned lectures of a generation earlier and for empty halls to be their students.

And there was the Medical Caste, housed in a huge hospital. Even now, at this sort of ending of things, it was growing as humanity’s android offspring sharpened their scalpels and instituted huge building extensions with the cooperation of the Building Caste. Whole wards were added on an almost weekly basis as new building swept away acres of black sand, and the mechanical surgeons held their surgeries surrounded by a quiet pomp and no patients. There were no living doctors left and only one human nurse. Miles of wards stretched out, though, wards as empty as the mechanical minds that tended them. But those mechanical beings knew, because an old program insisted, that one day their consulting rooms would be full and the beds overflowing.

The castes were as numerous as man’s pretences. They were there, under one huge crazy roof, and left almost entirely to the whims and devices of mankind’s artificial offspring. Factors of all shapes and sizes, programmed to serve in all manner of ways, either rumbled on ancient wheels or marched proudly on mechanical legs along seemingly endless corridors.

There was no doubt about it. The High Centre was both man’s last great monument and, even in times when ugliness dominated, it was the Earth’s ugliest sore.

The land around the High Centre was mostly dead. But even then there were odd corners where life of a sort clung with a proud tenacity, slowly withering as year followed year.

Furthest away, as far as the inhabitants of this narrative are concerned, was the Green Valley. It would take a man on foot many days to cover the land between the Green Valley and the High Centre, but as communication between discrete parts of the world was at an end neither suspected the existence of the other.

The Green Valley was almost what it seemed to be: almost, but not quite.

Not all of humanity had been blind, stupid and unimaginative when the ending to things had been coming. Some had fought against corruption, had by their own actions proved that life could be lived quite beautifully without the balance of things being threatened.

And there had been a great diversity growing in the Green Valley, species of green stuff with secrets unguessed by the greater mass of humanity as it struggled towards its end.

Greatest of these secrets was a simple cordial made from the essence squeezed from the seeds of a not-so-rare plant and the sap of a particular tree that grew in that part of the world. And that cordial was the most precious of precious things to the folks who lived in the Green Valley, for if taken regularly it did two things. Firstly, it refreshed the mind and seemed to shake mental cobwebs from it, and secondly it extended human life almost indefinitely. The men of the Green Valley had long known the secret and in order to ensure their own futures they had been more fastidious than anyone else when it came to nurturing those aspects of their world that had to do with Nature.

Quootawonga was one such. With his good woman (Umpacookoo by name and beautiful by nature) as well as a handful of like-minded individuals he had long since taken for his own an unwanted corner of the blasted creation and used his skills to recreate the Green Valley of his distant childhood, a Green Valley which had been turned to dust as its trees had been slashed and burned in the name of progress.

The small group was privy to the secrets of the cordial and they had tended the plant and the tree with wonderful care. But different soils, maybe, or poisons in the air, or a changed amount of sunlight, had conspired against their best efforts and the not-so-rare plant was no more even though the tree grew in abundance.

The very basis of their life was threatened. To a people who educated their young for over a century before they considered enough knowledge had been passed on, the prospect of the three-score and ten life span of the rest of humanity was more than frightening. It was, to them, similar to how that rest of humanity would respond if it suddenly found its life-span limited to the few months before weaning.

After a period of darkness and despair Quootawonga remembered how he had once given a fragile handful of those seeds to the Whiteman.

The Whiteman was George Thompson and he lived – or had lived when Quootawonga had known him – many days’ journey away in the Crumbling City.

The Crumbling City was what George Thompson had christened the place almost a century earlier after the last of the Dead Wars had fizzled out and the world was a sad and smoking place. It was a good name, was the Crumbling City. It was accurate and with that subtle nuance which suggested that things had not always been as they now were. In order to start to crumble a City had to be pristine. Only then can time make that which is whole start to decay.

George Thompson had been privy to Quootawonga’s secret cordial for longer than he cared to think and so had lived through vast ages without seemingly growing older. That was why Quootawonga had given him the seeds long ago – so that he could cultivate his own plants and mix the stuff himself. The tree had always been common enough but Quootawonga’s traditional valley home had been the only place on all the Earth where the not-so-rare plant could be found.

George had used the stuff for centuries but the world was no longer a pleasant place in which to live and he had decided to die. So he had taken his last dose years earlier and had fed the remaining seeds to his pigs before settling down to die.

They were mechanical pigs, of course, kept by him for the pseudo-bacon they produced. As a vegetarian who found the flavour of real bacon more inviting than sexual encounters with film-stars the idea of producing the perfect substitute by giving a roof to three or four android pigs pleased his sense of virtue as well as his palate.

But now that his desire for death dominated his whole thinking the pigs were left to their own devices and he lay in their pseudo-filth, trying to sleep and mostly succeeding. It was a hope of his that one of the creatures might well go berserk and turn on its master (himself) and devour him, converting his own ancient flesh into vegetarian bacon. That didn’t happen, so he lay in their stench and waited for the death he lacked the courage to demand any other way. And while he slept the pigs fed him for they were programmed to preserve human life.

He groaned and closed his eyes. The day faded and a long night lay ahead, a night of bad dreams, the past – and Naomi smiling at him in those dreams, her scented hair teasing him, her fingers holding him, her eyes like wonderful pools wherein all that was worthy in Creation could be seen. Once upon a time these same dreams had given him powerful erections in the night, but not any more. It made him smile when he thought that, a smile of gratitude that he didn’t want that kind of arousal any more.

Far from the Crumbling City and much closer to the High Centre was a small community that lived in the Scrublands. Only the most meagre pickings were available so they lived widely scattered in fairly small family groups. There were no buildings and little more than old concrete blocks, the remnants of a wide variety of ancient structures, and these they used to shelter themselves from the frequent duststorms that ravaged the Scrublands.

The sun shone sometimes when the black clouds parted. The sun was a hideous beast and filled with searing heat. The days were quite hot enough without its fiery eye gazing down on sand and rock and flesh alike, burning, scorching, hurting.

Ozzie lived there. And Ozzie the Second. And Mamma and her third breast. And quite a few other folk, most of whom were normal and some of whom also sported strange fleshy attachments to their bodies.

Ozzie was a simple soul with a heart of gold. He would have done anything for anyone at any personal cost to himself but he was afflicted with a hideous growth on his head, one that pulsed as if with its own inner life and because of which few chose to associate with him closely enough to benefit from his renowned generosity of spirit.

The growth was Ozzie the Second. That was Ozzie’s own name for it because it was every bit as large as his own head and perched on top and slightly to one side of it. He’d had it for ages and was usually proud of it. But sometimes, about once a month or so, it cast off its skin and grew a new one. It was then, during moulting, that bile-like fluids leaked from it and ran down Ozzie’s face, their stench carried on the almost still air for miles.

Life was simple in the Scrublands. Ozzie and Mamma kept themselves very much to themselves and existed by eating as many of the tough and grizzled snakes that lurked in that dowdy corner of the world as they could catch. There was a community of sorts, but Ozzie couldn’t be bothered to get involved with it and mamma was usually too bothered scratching Titty, her breast-like growth, and grinning at nothing. Anyway, there had been talk that the Council (in the personification of the infamous Sergeant Greenhow) might start banishing some of some of the more grotesquely deformed inhabitants of the Scrublands because there was a growing fear that one deformed human being could become the head of a dynasty of similar freaks if he bred as prolifically as did many in the Scrublands. After all, besides set traps for snakes they had little else to do. Ozzie had long since decided that keeping a low profile would be the best way of keeping official attention from himself, and as he only had Mamma in his life there was no chance of him breeding at all.

Breeding apart, there was little to life in those days. Ozzie spent a great deal of his daylight hours hunting for the tasteless snakes that formed their staple diet whilst Mamma sat around grinning vacantly at everything, apparently entirely happy in a world of her own.

Their lives might have seemed pointless even to themselves but that didn’t matter. Everyone’s life was pointless these days, even in the Burrows that seemed to snuggle up against the roots of the distant mountains.

The Dina, pronounced Deena, lived in those Burrows, occupying a small hilly area between the Scrublands and the mountains, a peninsular kind of affair riddled with ancient caves joined by more recent artificial passages. They were the only sentient beings that weren’t obviously human, though it was said they might well have had human ancestors.

In fact, powerful rumour suggested that they all shared a common Ancestor, a human woman called Dinah and after whom their race was named. But it was clear as day that they were no longer human.

Long ago they had lost the use of speech, though there were some amongst them who claimed they had never actually had it. For they could communicate directly, mind to mind, without requiring the awkwardness of language, syntax and vocabulary. Their sentences were pure thought and, as such, had no direct speech equivalent. Coincidental to this and probably responsible for the advanced state of their ability to communicate directly was their extremely poor eyesight, which was so underdeveloped that it amounted to partial blindness.

Shoola was a comfortable Dina female. Her whole being was dedicated to breeding new generations of Dina, and to that end she (and all other adult female Dina) were cosseted by their males and pampered by one and all.

As soon as a baby Dina was born it was taken from its mother and reared in the Nurseries by other Dina females who were themselves beyond the age of childbearing. This released a huge amount of energy to the younger Dina-women, which they used for the production of yet more babies.

Shoola loved the life. Sex was fun, and the more sexual attention Morna, her mate, gave her the more she was happy. She loved Morna with a single-mindedness unknown to humankind. Often, in the night when the dark sky hovered threateningly outside their Burrow, he would slip a finger of his mind into her own and feel around, touching thoughts and emotions with a tenderness which beggared belief. Then, silently and unpredictably, he would move that gentle finger until it touched the fragment of her mind that experienced the pleasure of intimate physical contact. It was unbelievable! Exquisite! That tendril of thought would feather-touch her until she could hold the expected orgasm back no longer. And this was just the beginning! Her own mind would slip into his, would reach dreamily about until she knew his erection was almost beyond control. Then they would merge together physically and their bodies and their minds would be united as one temporary and glorious gestalt of the most beautiful of all pleasures.

She shivered as she lay there. The recollection of ecstasy was almost as powerful as the ecstasy itself. Unable to hold herself back any longer she projected a slender finger of thought across the surrounding desert. She found Morna’s mind, found it, treasured it and entered it.

“Morna, hunk mine,” she thought, smiling.

“Love is,” came the reply, and she could have screamed in almost agonized pleasure at the way he touched her. It might have been in her mind, but the flesh equivalent of that mind shivered and shook, and she knew the fragrant juices of her love were building up to explode from her sooner than soon. She needed to change the subject, to delay things.

“Have you foraged yet, man mine?” she asked, imploringly.

But, unlike speech, direct mental communication cannot lie and Morna giggled and tweaked her mind tauntingly.

“I have food,” he replied and she screamed. She often screamed, not out of pain or fear but out of the sheer unadulterated pleasure that is Dina-style loving.

“Then come to me, my Morna! Come lest I come all over myself! Your mind-fingers … they’re driving me mad!”

“I will love you now if that pleases you, my precious, and then again when I am back with you,” came his reply, and he brushed against the clitoris in her mind.

Her squeal shot out of the cave and neighbouring Dina grinned when they heard it. Shoola was being loved from afar, and although no offspring would come from the liaison she had already done more for the future than many other young Dina females. Let her have her fun!

It was often like that. She lying on her furs in the Burrow and he out in the wild world, foraging yet still finding the time and the love inside him to excite her well beyond the quivering stage. She reached out and held him tightly, loving the masculine strength of him.

Then she was beyond her own control, lying on the furs and thrashing about, her legs splayed wide as she searched with her own hands to do to her flesh what his thoughts were doing to her mind. And he knew it, could read with wonderful clarity what was going on, and fought the distance to increase her ecstasy, tenfold he hoped, or twenty fold.

His own erection told him to hurry home and he briefly withdrew from her mind in order to establish his bearings. A moment was enough. He re-entered and started the long run home, stumbling as his toes stubbed against rocks that his imperfect eyes failed to notice. The pain was nothing to the pleasure in their minds, joined almost to be as one trembling unit.

Beyond him and to his back were the mountains. And in a high pass not far from two great peaks sat a small figure, its feet dangling into a stream that gushed from the cracked rocks not far from her. Morna sensed her presence momentarily, had done before, but ignored it because Shoola represented a far more important target for his mind.

The mountain range was testament to the last violent struggle between man and man as the rising waters had washed him from his home. Few came that way, but when they did they called it The Range, and passed on.

Yet more plant life grew there than anywhere except for the Green Valley. But that more was, in actual fact, precious little. Stunted trees and fragile shrubs, little plants that perished before they were fully grown, grasses with blades as sharp as death – and creatures the like of which had never roamed the Earth before.

And there was Rena.

Rena was a child of this world. She had wandered to the Range from far away where food was scarce and life one huge competition for the little that could be found.

Life had been hard for Rena. As a baby nomadic parents who knew she would die anyway had deserted her. But she had survived, thanks largely to a family of wolf-like creatures who had contrived to nourish her through her growing years. She had no idea why they had been so philanthropic, but maybe it had something to do with the light that seemed to shine from her bright blue eyes and the ready happy gurgle in her throat.

When she was old enough to feed herself she had wandered off and her foster-parents had accepted this, had watched her go.

It was then, after months of wandering about, that she had come to The Range and decided to stay there. That had been years earlier. Other less perfect humans visited her from time to time, deformed creatures that, despite their deformities had managed to teach her their tongue over the years.

In the distance, many miles away to the South, was the Black River, a poisonous course if ever there was one. Slowly it slimed across the world, dividing the High Centre to the South from the rest of Creation. It was rumoured by those who knew of it that should a traveller splash in its turgid black waters then he must surely die an agonised death as sores and rashes spread over his body and his flesh loosened and fell off. So everyone, both in the South and the North, kept well clear of the Black River just in case the rumours were true.

And that was the world and its peoples, ranging from the Green Valley in the West, past the Crumbling City, the Scrublands and to the North the Burrows and The Range nearby, to the High Centre in the Southeast.

And those were the people who lived in that corner of the world, all of the People, few as they were, few and bitter and searching for a proper ending to things in their own ignorant ways. And that ending was just round a corner, the next one or the one after that, a long black night for those who waited.

And having sampled this, the first chapter, if you're a little bit curious as to what happens next then try