Lord Jesus, think on me well, for I built a shippe for your animals. Yet those people did not come aboard. They stayed wretched and drunk even as the storm approached and I was left alone with the beasts. When all was still I let your raven fly in search of some dry haven. It brought me back an olive branch that I held tearfully to my breast. At that moment I saw a rainbow and all was well. How blessed and safe we felt. But I see clouds building on the horizon.
She came back inside at three, just as the light had started to fade fast. Andy was boiling the kettle. She kicked off her boots and stood them on the mat, took off her gloves and placed them on the ledge.
No coat? You’ll catch cold, said Andy.
I’m in a sweat as it is.
I’ll take a water.
Andy shook his head. She looked nice in her work jeans and jumper, he always thought so.
How is it out there? The ragged garden of January?
Daffs are up, she replied. I think it’s Spring.
It was not the 100 million tonne North Atlantic Garbage Patch, which covered hundreds of miles of ocean, that most shocked Jack, a northern pike from Saskatchewan, on arriving in what we term the present. Nor was it that he could hardly catch sight of a cod off the coast of Newfoundland, or that crabs and shrimps had moved in to make the region their home. No. It was that all the remaining fish had become so small. Yeah, said one, we’re about a quarter smaller than we used to be, but the sea’s nice and warm now isn’t it?
In a village of the desert regions, men and women gazed at the heavens and prayed. A wind was up and clouds were rolling in. Lightning flashed. It never rained in high summer.
The steel structure had arrived in the village a few months ago: a giant totem. The Westerners called it an “emitter”. It sent messages to their god. The villagers looked on in wonder.
But then the palm trees blew and the blue sky grew grey. Slowly at first, then quicker and quicker, drops of rain began to fall. The villagers shuddered. The Westerners called the outlook “optimistic”.
As soon as the show was over the room rose as one and began to applaud. Looking around, he could see all the delegates were smiling. He was smiling too, though his thoughts needed to settle. It had been a highly charged drama but worth it.
At the end, when their time was up, they stood wearily and, not knowing what should be done, began a slow handclap. All the delegates were fixing their grins. He knew they would come to pay for all the drama. Nothing whatsoever had been settled – but the show was over.
He lit a cigarette, pressed up against the wall, sheltering from the freezing air. The cigarette would warm him. Taxis and buses clattered along the street, which was still wet from the rain. There were voices and laughter from inside the pub. It was packed. Always was at this time of year. So tiring. So much food and drinking.
Aeroplane lights crossed the starless sky. Where were they flying to? In the future no one would fly any more. And no one would eat or drink. People were scared. They talked fearfully as if it all, soon, had to end.
It never got dark any more. At night, streetlight would filter through the blinds and cast shadows on the walls. You lay awake, wondering how long it would be before you would fall asleep. You remembered nights of total darkness but they were gone. Now everything was fuzzy and grey. People didn’t sleep much. They lay awake and worried about the planet and about the apartment, how it needed cleaning. All the surfaces were covered with dust. No matter how much you cleaned, within a day or so it was back. Dust to dust. Awake with things on your mind.
The ice is melting round us all. The winds are breaking it apart. Soon its great mass will be shattered into fragile crystalline flakes that look like trees. And the wind will raise great fires from the earth and blow them through the trees and the trees will turn to ash. And the wind will lift the ash to the heavens and rain it down on us. And the ash will fall into rivers and kill the fish and the rivers will be swallowed by the seas which will rise up against us, for they know what we have done.