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.