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 boat drifted through the forest. Sol was paying almost no attention as she was busy reading her father’s notes. For anyone else, finding their way through the countless trees and small passageways would seem impossible, but not for her. She was born and raised on these lands and so, every tree branch, every water stream, and every bird nest gave away her exact location.

Every morning she got on that boat and steered it through the currents. Her task was simple: to monitor and record data from each station. Sol had learned all this from her father. He was a great man, whose love for science was only surpassed by the love he had for his only daughter. Sol’s mom was also a scientist, but she died months after giving birth. Sol’s memories of her were only those of old photographs and repeated stories told by her father.

Sol’s parents met when they were young students, they both shared the love of science and a great ideal: to minimise the impact of climate change on earth. They dedicated their lives to this. After the big floods they relocated to the Amazonas and committed their lives to record, analyse and understand.

The lessons we will learn from the stations will be vital for future generations.” Sol could almost hear her father say. She was now following her parents’ legacy.

When her parents first arrived to the forest, they discovered an isolated tribe. Sol’s parents tried to make contact with the tribe, attempted to learn about their culture and hoped on establishing a trade agreement. Before the radio silence supplies were scarce, after, basically inexistent. However, despite their multiple attempts, trading with the tribe was nearly impossible. They blamed the white men for the floods. And they were right.

You take and take, now earth dies” said the old man in broken Portuguese.

Sol’s parents paid no attention, convinced they were helping the earth. Soon after that, Sol’s mother gave birth to Sol. Together with Sol came her mom’s sickness. In a desperate attempt, her father took Sol’s mom to the tribe, the old man did all he could but it was not enough.

“The forest kill you and girl. Come, live with forest, with earth” said the old man pointing down.

“No” Sol’s father said. His task was too important.

Break machines. Earth will heal.” said the man.

They do no harm!” Sol’s father cried. Although he was not sure about it, the engineers had said that, apart from the chopped down trees, the stations had no impact on the environment.

You have eyes, open! If eyes closed, forest will not be friend” the old man said in a last attempt.

Devastated Sol’s dad abandoned the tribe with Sol in his arms. He was even more focused now, he needed to do this for her.

Sol’s father died seventeen years after that day. Sol never found her father’s body, only the boat, drifting along as earth did with it as it pleased. Two months went missing from the logs of that year, as Sol spent most of her time crying and searching. Alone, weak and without food, she saw the old man coming.

“Sorry. He said as he dropped a bag full with supplies.”

“Thank you.”

“Come with me. Live with forest.”

“No! This is important; we can save the earth with this information.

“White man is problem.”

“You don’t understand, I want to help!”

“Your eyes are closed. Earth is dying” the old man said gravely, and sailed away.

She knew the old man was right. But she was doing all she could not to create more damage. But those stations, how could she be sure? They were installed years before Sol’s parents came to the forest. Sol never questioned how those gigantic measurement stations could get sufficient energy with those small solar panels. But she was doing the right thing, as her dad had told her. Science was right. This would help in finding a solution for climate change, and then everything would go back to normal.

Sol went back to her routine. Every day checking the stations, collecting data. The months passed, seventeen since her dad disappeared, and that day, as every month since, Sol was on her way to visit his grave. The boat was drifting as she swiftly steered it. The forest was silent. Too silent. Her head turned as she tried to listen, why were the birds not singing? Or the trees shaking as the wind passed? Nothing. Only the sound of the water as it pushed forward. It was as some kind of spell had fallen over the forest. Suddenly, a snapping sound right ahead broke the silence, her head rose, her eyes widened. It made no sound as it perforated her lung, but the pain was unbearable. She looked down, she could see more than half of it sticking out. She recognized the wood, babassu, as she used to play on that tree when she was younger. She caressed the feathers, urubu, and thought she could hear its calling from the distance. A second snap. This time the arrow hit her left shoulder. She screamed in pain, and yelled to the Forest:

“Please I am just trying to help!”

The Forest was silent.

“I am not like the white man. My faa-

Arrow number three. She touched her mouth, and saw blood on her fingers. Her legs failed and she fell on her knees. Eyes filled with tears no air in her lungs, she whispered:


Four. Five. Six.

The forest was silent. The boat drifted through the forest.

Ignacio Carlucho is a Doctoral researcher at the National University from Central Buenos Aires in Argentina. His main research interests are underwater robotics and reinforcement learning.

The turtle

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

Danielle travelled the waterways of Manhattan. In the years since the waters rose, Manhattan had become the new Venice. Danielle loved the new face of the city. Negotiating the flooded streets was a tranquil experience, in comparison to before.

The majority of the faces she saw were female. The gender revolution had been and gone, after World War Three wiped out 80\% of the male population and only 20\% of women. It had always been tough for a single girl in the city; now even more so. Danielle felt like a green turtle, endlessly searching the deep blue for a mate.

She had other things to worry about, today, though. Real estate was a booming business. Certain industries still thrived, and companies needed viable properties in order to expand. A lot of the most prestigious business areas in Manhattan were now underwater, and it took a creative sales team supply that demand.

The self-driving skimmer slid into a mooring spot on her destination’s short dock. Danielle climbed out and walked down the wooden platform to the building’s main entrance, now on what used to be the second floor.

The receptionist looked up with a bright smile.

“Can I help you?”

Danielle was distracted by the floor to ceiling water tank behind the receptionist’s chair. Brightly coloured fish darted in and out between fronds of coral and tropical plants. In amongst all the activity, a pair of turtles swam slowly together, flippers almost touching.

“Yes, sorry,” Danielle said. “My name is Danielle Saracen. I have a meeting with Sam Deveraux.”

The receptionist checked a schedule on her computer, then looked up with another dazzling smile.

“Fifth floor. Room 502.”

Danielle made her way to the bank of elevators and pushed the button. Her attention was drawn back to the turtles as she waited. They looked content in their enclosed world. Danielle envied them their simple existence; every need catered for, no unknown dangers and no long years of solitude stretching ahead. They might not be free, but they were protected and looked after. It was a seductive concept.

The elevator panel beeped and the doors opened. She stepped inside, trying to focus on the meeting. She had corresponded with Sam Deveraux by email and knew the basic requirements. Small new law firm, seeking a business office that would lend credibility without breaking the bank. It was the kind of request Danielle specialised in, and she had a portfolio of options all prepared.

The elevator reached its destination, and Danielle took a moment to check her teeth in the back-wall mirror before exiting. A plaque on the wall told her which way to turn for Room 502. Danielle knocked.

A deep, male voice called out, “Come in.”

Danielle was completely thrown. At one in five globally, it wasn’t as if men were completely unheard of, but she had assumed Sam Deveraux was a woman. She threw off her surprise, drew her confidence about her like a shield, and opened the door.

As she entered, a man stood up from the table and extended his hand. He gave off an air of professionalism that made it easier for Danielle to forget his gender and focus on her purpose.

She stepped forwards and took his hand.

“Mr Deveraux.”

“Sam, please. And may I call you Danielle?”

“Yes, of course.”.

“Coffee?” He gestured at a sideboard set out with refreshments.

“Lovely, thank you,” Danielle said. “May I freshen your cup?”

There were papers scattered over the table, a plate sporting a few crumbs and a cup containing coffee dregs.

“Yes, thank you,” he replied, handing her the cup.

Once the coffee-making was completed and they were both seated at the table, Danielle laid the leather case she had brought with her between them.

“I’ve read the specification you sent through, and I think I have a few properties that might interest you.”

Sam leant forwards. “One of my friends recommended your agency and said your team came up with some really creative ideas for her company.”

“Well,” Danielle said, turning the portfolio slightly to give him a better view, “this is a good time to be looking. There are some real gems out there, which are priced very reasonably at the moment, but will likely increase in value in a few years. Let me show you.”

Once they had been through the whole of Danielle’s presentation, Sam looked up at her with a smile.

“I see my friend was right. This is very impressive work.”

Danielle felt a rush of professional pride, and smiled back. “Thank you. Do you see something you might want to move forwards with?”

“Absolutely,” Sam said, “but I’ll need to take a couple of days to think it over and reach a decision. May I take this away with me?” He gestured at the portfolio.

“Of course,” Danielle said. “Would you like to meet back here later in the week to work out the details?”

Sam looked calculating. “I was wondering if our next meeting could be at your offices. My new firm will be specialising in property law and I thought I could pitch my services to your agency.”

Danielle smile at his opportunism. “I’ll see if I can set something up and drop you an email to let you know.”

“Excellent. Thank you.” Sam extended his hand again, and Danielle shook it. “I hope this will develop into a very beneficial relationship.”

It was clear he was talking about a reciprocal working relationship, but Danielle thought she saw a glint in his eye that might speak to the possibility of something more. She might have been imagining it, but she couldn’t help thinking about the pair of turtles in the tank downstairs. Had the endless, empty ocean shrunk to the size of this conference room, and brought her lonely turtle days to an end?

Annie Percik lives in London with her husband, Dave, where she is revising her first novel, whilst working as a University Complaints Officer. She writes a blog about writing and posts short fiction on her website. She also publishes a photo-story blog recording the adventures of her teddy bear. He is much more popular online than she is. She likes to run away from zombies in her spare time.

The sentencing

Annie Percik puts some perspective on the difference of two meters.

“Life plus two metres!”

A collective gasp travels around the courtroom, and the judge’s gavel comes down like the final nail in my coffin.

I hear the words but I can’t process them. There are fingers clutching painfully at my arm, and I look down into the despairing eyes of my mother.

“We’ll fight this,” she says, trying to sound confident, but failing by several degrees.

The likelihood that any appeal will go through before the worst part of the sentence is carried out is vanishingly small. And, once that part is done, there’s no going back, no matter what may be decided later.

I’m still finding it difficult to understand what’s going on. I realise I’ve stopped breathing, and I force myself to take in a strained lungful of air. Suddenly, my knees feel weak and I slump down onto the wooden bench, utterly defeated.

For a crime I didn’t commit, I have been given the heaviest sentence possible. I will have to serve a lifetime of indentured servitude, working the hardest tasks in the most inhospitable and dangerous environments. It’s no consolation that the other part of my sentence will equip me better for such work than I am now. It is not an equipping I want or will be able to endure without great suffering.

Sooner than I can imagine at this moment, I will be taken from this place and delivered to the Department of Transmogrification. There, my bones will be broken and extended, and my body stretched almost beyond its capacity, adding a full two metres to my height. Then, I will be provided with acclimatisation training, to teach me how to live and move in my new body, and how to use it to the benefit of the establishment that has forced it upon me.

I have heard tell that everything slows down when the two metres are added. Having such reach and such mass may be useful in undertaking certain types of manual labour and military tasks, but it necessarily results in a slowing of all movements and accompanying thought processes. It is not possible to utilise the familiar speed and flexibility of the human body on a grander scale.

I will no longer be able to meet the gaze of my friends and family eye to eye, even if I get the opportunity to see them at all. I will no longer even be able to relate to them on a level playing field. They will never be able to comprehend my new existence, and I will quickly forget what it is like to be one of the small and hasty beings that will soon be scurrying beneath my notice.

It may be a life sentence, but it will be the end of the life I have known up until now. The person I am now will cease to exist as surely as if I was to be executed. A new being will take up my newly assigned role in society, with different abilities, a different perspective, and different companions in my servitude.

My mind shies away from the implications of what has just happened, and I retreat into the oblivion of unconsciousness, hoping I will awake to discover it has all been a dream. More likely, I will awake to a nightmare of a new existence I will have to endure for the rest of my life.

annieAnnie Percik lives in London with her husband, Dave, where she is revising her first novel, whilst working as a University Complaints Officer. She also publishes a photo-story blog recording the adventures of her teddy bear. He is much more popular online than she is. She likes to run away from zombies in her spare time. Annie has won the weekly Hour of Writes competition four times, and been runner-up on several more occasions. Her collected entries are due to be published in two anthologies later this year.

hourofwrites* This vision was a runner up in the “Life plus 2m” prompt at Hour of Writes, which carries out weekly, peer-reviewed writing competitions.

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