Only the safe survive

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


“‘Premium top floor flotation apartment in weather ready development, guaranteed water tight and to withstand hyper-storm events to level 4.’ … How can we afford to rent somewhere like that?”

“How can we afford not to? We’re not moving into some down-river death trap. We’ll just have to tighten our belts.”

They both fell silent, listening to the hail bounce off the solar windows and thermo-roofing. Beth picked at her nails, tearing them off in ragged edged strips, biting at her fingertips. Joe pressed his fingers into flushed temples, rubbed at his wrinkled forehead. They both knew there was nothing left. No belt to tighten. After paying their rent to the Housing Syndicate, the Garden syndicate for food, the Environs Council for their utilities allowance and the People’s Council their Welfare Tax, they had nothing… This was not unusual — it was the same for all Sector dwellers. All wages were logged and no ‘profit’ was allowed. For people like them, there was no hope of moving to a safer area. That was for those who had been raised into the Betterment Sector — no one outside it seemed to know how to get in – and now they had outstayed their welcome in the Rescue Sector. The message had flashed up on their bulletin screen that morning…’Your temporary shelter capsule has been reallocated to new refugee status citizens. Please vacate within seven days.’

They’d heard of other refugee status citizens — Virtual Teachers and Information Analysts like themselves — who had been forced to move back to the Unsafe Zones. Someone had to live there. Sometimes they were lucky enough to find a micro-climate enclave on a small patch of good upland and they survived. Sometimes they just disappeared. Dead or just off-radar — no one seemed to know. The daily Citizen Bulletins never discussed the matter. They just bombarded their viewers with advice — health, hygiene, life enhancing tips — always ending with a reminder: ‘Never converse with Unknowns. Stay inside your capsule at all curfew times. Only the safe survive.’

Sometimes Joe felt it it was all completely futile. There was no future he could contemplate. Four plastic walls, work and friends confined to Sealed Networks, no way to move up any kind of ladder — or even sideways — unless you were already in that mysterious Citizen Betterment loop. Beth had these same thoughts but both kept their thoughts to themselves and only spoke of change. Of improvements. It was the only way they could adapt to their situation: to talk of a future. A future with happy children, looking forward to the possibilities of Ultra-drainage and reclamation, new field sites, new crops and a return of hope, of social integration: a return of trust.


Bridget Bowen renewed her love of writing when her daughter was young, completing an O.U. Diploma in Creative Writing. She was shortlisted for the ‘Olga Sinclair Short Story Competition’ in 2016 and has appeared in ‘The Yellow Room’ magazine. She lives with her husband (& a slightly mad cat) in Suffolk, where she walks and thinks and dreams and tries to make sense of the world.

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