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
The time had come. She could feel a trickle of sand upon her nose, as she broke through from the safety of her spherical home. Clambering on top of her discarded eggshell, she propelled herself to the top of the chamber into the warm night air, where she waited. Suddenly hundreds of tiny heads emerged from their hidden cavity. They looked about nervously. The full moon’s light reflected upon the indigo sea… The air was still and balmy.
‘Let’s go, follow me.’ she said.
The sand was warm, as they scrambled down the dune towards moonlit water. Gentle waves kissed the beach, as they dove headlong into the open sea, leaving the shoreline behind them. The currents grew stronger as they approached deeper water.
‘Wait for me,’ a voice called from behind her. She turned to see one of her brothers, smaller than the rest, paddling as fast as he could against the tide.
‘Come on, keep up, I’m sure it won’t be far,’ although she wasn’t indeed certain of where they were going. but instinct drove her on.
After several hours, with rose-pink dawn upon the water, a large bed of floating seaweed appeared ahead of them, swaying back and forth in the swell of the waves. The horizon, like a stitched line appeared to join both sea and sky together.
‘Come on, we can rest here,’ she called to the little one beside her and turning, she was surprised to see that the rest of the group had disappeared. Seaweed brushed against their bodies and they rested within its benevolent embrace, its fronds aiding them shelter and camouflage from the eyes of predators.
After such a long swim and hunger gnawing at their bellies, they began to tear small pieces of tasty seaweed with their beaks. As they ate, they were unaware of a large slim shape that lurked below them, also intent upon finding a meal for itself.
Suddenly the silver form of an adolescent shark appeared through the crystal waters. She sensed its arrival and signalled to her brother to remain motionless. Its flicking tail passed them, almost close enough to touch, before it headed off into the water’s azure expanse.
‘That was very close,’ she said softly.’ We’d better be more watchful unless we want to become someone’s dinner.’ He shivered.
Days passed into months and the two youngsters were growing larger. Having outgrown their floating home, they desired a more varied diet and decided to swim closer to the shore. In the distance, they could see a large forest of kelp. Like underwater trees, it towered towards the surface. The water was shallower here, with algae covered rocks that jutted from the sea floor.
Amidst this watery canopy a jellyfish poked its glassy bell like head out from a rocky hole and eased itself from its hiding place. She caught sight of its diaphanous form and intrigued, sped towards it, thrusting herself through the ultramarine waters. Potential food, her sawlike beak, pierced its underbelly, instinctively careful to avoid its circling tentacles. Its rubbery body was unlike anything she had encountered, string-like tendrils protruded from her beak, as slowly the new cuisine, was consumed.
Here the sunlight sprinkled waves, with unflexed muscles, crawled smoothly to the shore, where they lapped on to the flax gold sand. Gulls silhouetted against the cloudless sky, wheeled above in the afternoon thermals. The lazy day idled. Summer languished. Time passed.
Some days they would climb on to a rock and enjoy basking in the sunshine. Here they felt relatively safe as they were now too large to fear becoming a hungry seabird’s lunch and far enough from the water to worry about sharks. Life was good. It was one such a day as this, that she noticed that the sea was full of the many limpid forms of jellyfish. From her vantage point on her sun warmed platform, she could see that these floating creatures would prove an easy catch. She chose her prey, slipped into the water and was upon her translucent meal in no time. It didn’t put up much of a fight as it drifted like gossamer in the current. Its white tentacles were tough and somewhat bland, but she swallowed it nonetheless.
‘The sea here is full of jellies,’ she said as they finished eating. Semi-transparent forms floated just below the surface in the rhythmic pulse of the sea. These gelatinous umbrellas pirouetted, caught in the water’s circling embrace.
The sky above them was cloudless, the sun breathed its sultry breath down upon them and they returned to their rocky terrace to bask once more. Listening to the sound of the lapping waves, they watched as slowly the sun changed its colour from orange to muted gold, that spread across the sea’s surface like an amber veneer.
As the temperature dipped, she turned to her brother and was startled at how strangely pale he seemed. He had a faraway look in his eyes. She wondered what had brought about this sudden change. Slipping into the apricot water, she turned and said. ‘I’m going to eat, are you coming?’
‘I don’t want to eat right now’ he said quietly. In fact, as he replied, she realised that she didn’t feel like eating either. It was as though there were lots of tiny bubbles in her stomach and somewhat alarmed, she found it was becoming difficult to keep below the surface.
Neither of them were now hungry and sluggishly they hung around their sea weed forest, occasionally scraping a little algae from the golden rocks. She was concerned that he was so quiet, although she too had little energy. Wedging herself between two small rocks to secure herself from floating upwards, she fell asleep.
When she finally awoke, her brother had disappeared. In desperation she looked around, as she wriggled herself free from the rocks. Once again the bubbles in her belly forced her to rise and before long she found herself drifting on the surface.
A boat’s bow broke the liquid turquoise.
‘Look’ shouted an excited boy with corn coloured hair, his freckled face smiling as he peered over the side into the blue water. ‘It’s a turtle!’ he exclaimed through a mouthful of sandwich, a plastic bag now empty, still in his hand. A girl with a similar number of freckles upon her sun kissed face appeared and leant over the side of the boat to watch a rather sick and bloated green turtle, flounder in the moving tide.
‘It doesn’t look very well does it.’ she said sadly, ‘I wonder what’s wrong.’ The boy tilted himself over slightly further to get a better look, before a sudden gust of wind, detached the plastic bag from his grasp and deposited it into the water below. He watched the receptacle float away on the tide.
Looking up she watched the seabirds circling, as yet another indigestible synthetic jellyfish joined the plastic sea.
Cohl Warren-Howles is an observer of nature, she captures her thoughts in both rhyme and short stories, across a variety of genres, but has a special interest in Eco-Fiction, She was born in Salisbury, England, near enough in the shadows of the ancient stone circle – Stonehenge, where she spent many an hour drawing for her degree in Fine Arts and Graphics. She writes for a number of magazines worldwide, has published a book, is now completing her second and currently lives in Stratford upon Avon with her husband Saul. They have two children. You can visit her blog and check out her next book here.