This “vision” is one of the 30+ that we’ll publish here in the next months. Most of them will go into Life Plus 2 Meters, Volume 2 (expected publication: Dec 2017). We hope that you will comment on the message, suggest ways to sharpen the narrative, and tell us how the story affects your understanding of adapting to climate change.
Most importantly, we hope that you enjoy reading these stories and share them with your friends and family. —David Zetland (editor) and the authors
Joseph ducked, and the Scavenger Leader’s blow missed him. He rolled, grabbed his fallen gun and turned to face the bandit. He was still trying to get his axe out of the bleached trunk of the dead tree. “It’s over, scumbag”. The bandit gave him a look of pure hatred and reached for his own gun, but Joseph was faster. A shot echoed, and the Leader fell down. The Cemetery was silent once more. Slowly, Joseph limped to the corpse of Neema. He snatched his gourd from the cold dead hand of the woman that had led him in this ungodly place. “So long, sweetheart.” Without looking back, he straddled his bike, hit the starter and rode into the sunset, leaving the desecrated Cemetery behind him.
Joseph put down his pencil and stretched his arm. He loved writing his stories, but it always left him with a sore hand. He closed his notebook and put it in his bag. It was starting to get hot under the tent, meaning the morning was already well advanced. It was time to go and get water.
He stepped out of the tent, and his eyes watered because of the harsh light. The two standard issue jerrycans were at the entrance of the tent, empty. Joseph grabbed them and started walking through the camp. After fifteen minutes, he arrived at the queue. That wasn’t good. If the queue was reaching until here, it would be a long wait. He knew from view the woman before him. He saluted her politely, and asked her if she could save his place and his jerrycans while he’d go and check the length of the queue. She agreed. He checked that his mother’s name and his were still readable on the `cans, then left.
The line was long, but straight. There was no water truck at the beginning. The distribution hadn’t begin, that explained the length of the queue. There were the usual HCR guards, though, with their armor and their guns. They were always watching the water distribution, making sure no one tried to get more water than their allowance. He walked back along the line, thinking of how he could integrate the guards into one of his stories. A militia protecting a city with an underground reserve of water, maybe?
He arrived back at his place in the line. “The truck is not there yet, mama”. The woman nodded. He hoped the truck would show up soon. There was only two days since he was in that camp when the truck had not showed up. Those had not been good days. He piled his jerrycans and sat on top of them. Behind him, the line kept on growing. He remembered when there was no need for trucks in the camp. When they had arrived with his mother, there was a well supplying water to the camp. He had been told the camp had been built there precisely because of the well. And then it had ran out.
He often thought that God had a strange sense of humor. They had left their village by the sea because of the floods, because of too much water. And now they didn’t have enough water. Yes, a strange sense of humor.
Joseph didn’t remember the village well. He was too young when they had left. He remembered the sea, though. But it seemed mythical, now. That much water. The Land By The Sea was where the Joseph in his stories tried to return. A place away from the Barren Lands. Over the barbed fence of the camp. There was a clamor in the line. The trucks had finally arrived.
The line moved on, slowly. Joseph picked up his jerrycans. An hour or so passed. At last it was his turn. A guard checked his identification, then his mother’s. He gestured him to fill the jugs. Joseph drank a few sips directly from the tap. The guards tolerated it, and his mother had told him to always do it. So he did. Then he walked back to the place where his mother had her small shop. He had to give her the jerrycan so she could use them to cook, then he would be free to go and play. Maybe this time Neema would let him join her band. It wasn’t very nice of him to have killed her. Maybe he could change the ending of his episode? Maybe Joseph and her could ride together until The Land By The Sea?
Aurélien Puiseux is a French ecologist working on climate change, biodiversity, urban forestry and water resources. He is currently employed by Total.