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
Jessica urged her customers, “Hurry up, guys. You paid a lot of money for this charter. Check your gas levels. We’re almost at the drop zone. Stay together. If you wander too far apart, you’ll be out of communication range and on your own. Remember, there’s safety in numbers. Also, you signed papers promising not to spoil any of the relics. Look, but don’t touch. ” She pointed to a tan, willowy man, “That’s Tim Trenton. He’s my right-hand man. He’ll be diving with you and protect you in the event of an emergency.”
Trenton pulled back his vest, exposing a gun and a spear. He smiled, and said in his Aussie accent, “No worries, mates, I’ve got your back.”
Patrick, Josh, and Griff were all friends from Lincoln, Nebraska, visiting New York City. They gave Jessica the thumbs up sign and waited patiently for the boat, “The Downtowner” to reach its destination.
Five minutes into the descent, Patrick said, “Can you believe this? I’ve already seen a hundred different species!”
The divers moved away from the boat at a steady clip. When they reached the maximum allowable distance, Jessica pressed a button on her control pad and instructed the men to stop their advance. “That’s far enough, enjoys the sights!”
Josh signaled for his friends to follow him. They obliged and headed to the floor of the ocean. He said, “We’re on 44th street! My great-grandfather told me stories about coming here to see musicals. Now the only show playing is “The Incredible Mr. Limpet.”
His reference to a hundred year-old movie drew no replies.
They swam closer to the door of the building and read the sign, now practically worn away by the rushing waters. “Flood damage, everything must go”.
“Ha! That’s a good one,” said Tim. “It’s not like they can pump out the water, right?”
Griff was a professional photographer and planned on selling pictures of the trip on his website. He clicked away with his underwater camera, as he swam past retail stores of yesteryear like Bergman’s Deli, Styles by Rene, and a tattoo parlor.
Griff swam east on 44th street, passing landmark theatres, now buried in the sea like the lost city of Atlantis. He ventured out too far and an alarm rang in his ear. In a steady, clipped voice, he heard a man’s voice saying, ‘Return, return, return.” Griff did not return. He swam onward, away from the group. His friends were too far away to warn him of the impending danger. Tim frantically tried to reach him, but it was no use.
Griff felt a slight tug on his left leg. Thinking it was one of his friends, he said, “Hey, knock it off.” Then he felt a sharp pain that made him howl, “Ahhhhhh!!!!”
Blood filled the area outside his mask, and then inside his mask, too, and he began to lose consciousness. Tim pulled out his spear and fired at the shark, but the shot only nipped the dorsal fin. The Mako turned and set out for a second victim while Griff, missing one leg, and doomed, drifted along with the current. His trail of blood acted as a homing beacon for two other sharks in the area and they proceeded to finish off his remains, picking at him like guests choosing appetizers at a wedding.
Tim reloaded and fired again. He scored a direct hit on shark #1, stopping it cold, and the killer retreated into the depths and disappeared. His hungry friends caught Tim off guard, rising from below the Australian, each grabbing a leg and turning him into a Thanksgiving Day wishbone.
Jessica heard Tim’s cries of agony, and screamed, “What’s going on down there? Tim! Speak to me! What’s happening? Get back here, now!”
Patrick and Josh didn’t need suggestions, they needed to swim faster than the sharks and get back to the boat before they were dessert.
The sharks gave them a head start and then, as if in a competition with each other, raced towards the remaining divers.
Jessica saw the potential disaster coming from a distance. The shark’s fins poked through the choppy waters, closing in on the swimmers.
With ten feet separating them from certain death, the crew reached out to haul Patrick and Josh out of the water. Patrick went under first, lost forever. Josh extended his hand towards the boat. Jessica grabbed it and pulled with all her strength to help lift him out of the water to safety. She fell back against the railing, still holding Josh’s bloody arm. The rest of the poor man never made it on the boat. Jessica shrieked and dropped the bloody limb, where it fell, ironically, into a pail of bait. Jessica vomited, and then broke down in tears, her hands still trembling in fear.
As they returned to the dock, Jessica said to the captain, “They knew this was coming and they did nothing. They just kicked it down the curb. They knew the water was going to rise, dammit. They knew it, and didn’t do a damn thing about it until it was too late.”
The captain looked up at the tour guide and said, “And that’s why we have sharks in Manhattan.”
Richard Friedman lives in Cleveland, Ohio, and works in the criminal justice industry. His motto, “Saving the citizens of Ohio during the day and the rest of the world at night” keeps him motivated to write. His self-published novel, Escape to Canamith, was a fan favorite at the 2014 Green Festival in New York City. Last year he published The Two Worlds of Billy Callahan.