The first line for this fictional short story was suggested by one of my oldest blogging friends, Fraggle.
Check out her blogs, she is a great photographer. https://fragglerocking.org/
She had always imagined the world would end with a nuclear war, or at least a zombie apocalypse, but this, this was just disappointing.
It wasn’t that Val didn’t worry about Global Warming. She had heard about it of course, and hadn’t failed to notice the changes in the weather over the years. But you have to live your life, whatever they say on the BBC News. And when that life is bringing up three kids while working minimum age in ASDA, climate change has to take second place. It just does, no point crying about that now.
Kenny could have done more of course, but she had got fed up chasing him through the courts for the maintenance payments. Mum and dad had helped, but Val realised they were not some kind of cash cow, and she had talked them out of remortgaging their house to help her out. Her sister Vicky wasn’t much use. Man after man, four kids with four different dads, and some protracted spells in psychiatric clinics.
Val was sorry she couldn’t help when Vicky’s kids were taken into care. How could she? She was already sleeping on the sofa, with three kids in a two-bedroom house. The Food Banks had been handy, when they still existed, but after that everything had been a daily struggle. Once the Internet had to go, the kids stopped talking to her. They didn’t even moan about having to wear those too-small uniforms to school that last year. They just hated her, and it was a raw hatred that she sensed in their expressions.
With so much going on, and struggling to make ends meet, a rise in the global temperature of one degree, and sea levels rising well over a hundred miles away on the east coast didn’t really register. The kids were watching Love Island and First Dates, complaining about not having Netflix, Sky Sports, or Disney Plus. For her part, she was worn out. Living on toast and tea, saving the burgers and beans for the kids’ dinner. Her main worry was how fast they were growing, and how she was going to pay for the next size in shoes, or new school uniforms when they went to senior school.
It all happened much faster than anyone had predicted, or expected. The kids shouted that the telly programmes had gone off, and there was only news on. When she went to check, she told them to all shut up moaning, and watched the reports with a terrible cold dread coming over her.
Even the kids stopped talking, and stared open mouthed at the telly. Houses were tumbling into the sea. Suffolk was half gone, and a lot of Norfolk too. The change in tides, the wind, those sudden big waves. The weathermen had said something about it a few days earlier, but nobody had predicted this.
And it wasn’t just the coast. Rivers were rising everywhere. The Severn was flooding, York was almost submerged, the water was level with the bridges in London. So much for the Thames Barrier. The solemn newsreader talked about a ‘State of Emergency’. Soldiers on the streets, Police, Ambulance, and Fire Brigades all overwhelmed. Stay inside and wait for instructions, that’s what they said. Val was worried about it of course, but life had to go on. She was due to go into work, and there wasn’t much food in the house.
When the bus didn’t come, she walked all the way. The manager was in the car park, telling staff the store was closed. “Everything has been requisitioned. The Army lorries are round the back loading it all up. Go home, Val”. There was a queue at the corner shop. People were pushing and shoving, getting nasty. All she was allowed to buy was one loaf of bread, and four pints of milk. Mr Singh looked stressed out, and his two sons were in the shop keeping customers outside until they were told to come in.
The days that followed seemed like a dream. Cambridge was gone, and London so bad that the government had moved to Birmingham. The King and his family had gone to Balmoral, and he was making speeches telling everyone to stay calm. Then the things you don’t think about started.
The toilet wouldn’t work because the sewage plants were under water. Electricity was rationed to a couple of hours a day, with so many power stations flooded. And the drinking water stopped being drinkable because of all the salt and sewage contamination. Val had to line up at the end of the street for bottles of water, taking the kids with her to prove she needed water for them. Forget washing, it was only enough to drink.
The kids had been excited not to have to go to school, but when there was no telly, and hardly any electric, they just kept moaning until Val thought her head would explode. Then the water got to town. Only a few inches deep at first, then a few feet overnight. They came downstairs to waist-high water that morning, and knew in their hearts this was worse than they could ever have imagined.
Because she had young children, Val got on one of the resettlement coaches. It took two days of waiting for permission, and they could only take what they could carry. Her kids wanted to know where in Wales they were going, but nobody told them anything. Just that there would be big tents or shelters, and food. They had only been travelling for an hour when the kids started up again, wanting to know where they would be living. Val swallowed her last two headache tablets, and stared at them.
“Somewhere high up”.