Archive for March 8th, 2012

8th March
written by amber

The Solar Cyclone

The Solar Cyclone was hardest on the young people, and I was one of those young people. Back then, I couldn’t remember a time that I hadn’t been in constant contact with my friends. If I woke in the night and couldn’t get back to sleep, there was always someone somewhere awake and ready to talk.

That was the first thing we lost – all the communication that flew through the air. I missed it for personal reasons, too young to understand what it was doing to world commerce. But everyone thought it was a temporary inconvenience, until the solar flares were over.

There were periodic power outages as well. Those made me angry. Already I couldn’t talk to my friends, couldn’t play games on the internet, now I couldn’t even play games on the computer or television. My mother fussed over the food in the freezer thawing, while I whined about not being able to kill digital aliens.

Only a few scientists saw the pulse that came a few days into the solar flares. Some had predicted it, using the last readings they got from the telescopes they used to have in space. They’re still up there, I guess, for all we know. Anyhow, those doomsday scientists were ridiculed by nearly everyone, but they were right. All computers and things with a computer chip in them were fried. And the power went off forever.

Meanwhile, something that had been background noise to me ever since I could remember – global warming – suddenly took a great leap forward. It was hot. More than that, if you were outside for even ten minutes, you got a terrible sunburn. People wanted to know what was going on, but how could we find out without television, radio, the internet? Newspapers got popular again, but it soon became obvious that much of the copy was made up – the people who wrote the papers had as much trouble as everyone else finding any verifiable truth. For example, it was at least ten years before anyone found out that the Maldives and Tuvalu were gone. Slipped under the waves without anyone coming to help them.

Oh, we have electricity again, sort of. You can make a generator and put a few houses on it, anything more and you’ve got a grid and it fries out real fast. But if you need to buy that generator or parts for it, then you have to go somewhere, and it took us a long time to get cars and trucks that worked without those little computer chips. That was a low priority, you see. First we had to survive.

The supermarkets emptied out quickly. And the crops and gardens shrivelled in the new stronger sunlight. Shade farming had to be invented, and the horse wars had to happen. You know – do you eat the horses because you’re so damn hungry, or keep them around for transportation because your car doesn’t work?

I was eleven years old, and I’d never done anything but play. Even school had been play for me, but now I had to work. Work to grow food, work to protect that food. Lots of kids didn’t survive. We were lucky. We had a farm that we could get to, my grandparents’ farm, only took us four days to walk there. And we never would have made it if my Dad hadn’t been smart enough to figure out what was coming, and get us out there, with his guns, in time to get the place fortified before all hell broke loose.

They say the earth had too many people in it, before the Solar Cyclone. My kids think there aren’t enough now. They don’t have to work as hard as I did, they have more free time and they’d like to play with other kids. We know and trust our neighbours, but it takes almost a day to walk over there, so we visit only in the winter when we can spare the horse from field duties. I have to be real careful, too, not to get any sun on me. My skin cancer’s pretty bad and I don’t want to make it worse. If I go out, I wear something like those Moslem women used to wear – that burka thing. Wonder how they’re doing in their countries? Those countries were pretty hot before all this.

Yes, I know we had Moslems in our country. And other ethnic groups too. And we probably still do, but everyone’s so insulated, all in their own little compounds. The news-tellers come and go, but that’s not the sort of thing they talk about. They talk about the Capitol, where a kind of government is apparently running again. Not to control the whole country but to create things for the common good that everyone would be willing to pay for – like the network of news-tellers, and types of food crops that like heat and strong sunlight and how to make grain alcohol to fuel the new trucks that no one can afford. They say the news-tellers will be selling school courses soon, and a better kind of sun screen. And instead of riding around on horses, they’ll be driving new trucks.

And my youngest son says he doesn’t want to be a farmer. He wants to be a news-teller. I tell him that the rest of the world isn’t that great – what I remember of it wasn’t pretty, not that I’m about to share those stories – but he won’t listen.

The Story 365 project is a year-long marathon of short story writing, with a new story for every day of the year and posted on this website from May 1, 2011 – April 30, 2012. Stories must be a minimum of 200 words. Please help me by adding first line or topic suggestions in the Comment section of any story.