I wasn’t planning to do one today, having done Flashback Friday last week, but I had a dream about New Year’s Eve 2021. Surprisingly, it was a good dream. It’s 1000 words, and I hope it doesn’t dampen your New Year’s spirits too much.
Five Years On
Jemima sat down, unloading her last guinea pig onto her lap for a cuddle, then zapping the viewscreen. Something horrible blared out, all naked dancers and product placements. She switched to her stored programmes, selecting her two favourite movies, back to back. That would take her through to midnight. By then it should all be over.
Mr Percy Pig nosed for some cucumber, and was rewarded with a lettuce leaf.
“Make the most of it, Percy. We might as well eat it all up.”
Her own treat consisted of a plate of stuffed breaded jalapeno peppers; the last of the Christmas trifle, and a chocolate beetroot cake. She paused the film and checked her online sales data. The final book of the Princelings of the East series was selling well. Revolution was a hot topic, much to her surprise, since all revolutionary activity had been quashed during the Trump and May years. There was still an underground.
She pondered on all she’d learnt since 2016. Firstly working through anonymous browsers for all the updates on anti-establishment activity, then forming a shadow company through which she divested her savings to worthy causes, including Action Against Climate Change and Scientists For a Future. The latter had sprung up once NASA had been taken over by the media, and real scientists needed a clandestine outlet for independent research. It had grown from private space exploration to all aspects of science, forming a bastion of sense against the factoids proclaimed by the Government and embedded in the national curricula of the 51 states.
Thanks to the SFF she was fully aware of the nature of the intense and growing star on the plane of the ecliptic. The official story lauded it as a supernova, encouraging people to view the once-in-a-lifetime spectacle.
It was certainly once in a lifetime.
It was almost laughable, that it had come so quickly into the public view after the President had declared the elections unnecessary; he had stood again with the full support of Congress, and the alternative candidate had been killed ‘tragically’ in an aircraft over the Atlantic. “She should have relied on the media to talk to our newest fellow-Americans,” he said in his eulogy. “Nothing ever came of visiting former colonies in person.”
The Queen would have turned in her grave.
Britain’s disastrous exit from the European Union had led to its disintegration after 300 years of relative harmony. The Scots had managed to build a secure fence through the Borders, but the Welsh Assembly had neither the builders nor the cash to reinforce Offa’s Dyke. Ireland was united against the foe, but needed some fancy anti-submarine resources to trade with the rest of Europe. Jemima considered leaving on a boat, but too late realised the extent of the anti-immigration measures; new sea walls and floating barbed wire with unmapped mined areas kept all yachts restricted to the inshore waters. The Brexiteers had succeeded in isolating them and turning Great Britain into England and Wales, which failed to survive without US financial support.
King Charles had done his best to rally the country, but a sniper bullet had done for him.
William and Kate had escaped with their family to the Netherlands in one of the Air Ambulance helicopters; reward for loyalty to the cause from the people of Norfolk and Suffolk, for whom he had flown many missions.
President Johnson had lasted only a year before bowing to the sovereignty of President Trump.
It had all happened so fast.
Jemima took a quick break from the movie, remembering the malt whisky in the cupboard. Putting Percy on the floor for a run, she poured the amber liquid into her favourite crystal glass, one she’d won five years ago in a golf competition, engraved ‘Life is for Living’. They couldn’t run golf competitions now. Gatherings of over twenty-five people were banned. That allowed football games with a manager for each side and a referee. Supporters watched at home, since everything was covered by CCTV. The racing industry had collapsed, and provided a stockpile of meat. Just as well, since nothing was imported anymore, save for BayMon micromeals. The agribusinesses had won control of the world’s food production, and the various trade deals had swept them through in the blink of an eye. Seed saving was illegal. Sandy Smith’s prediction was right*, but took forty years fewer than she’d imagined. If it wasn’t farmed in England and Wales, it didn’t appear on the plate.
Jemima took a bite of her chocolate cake and thanked Green & Black for smuggling chocolate in.
She sighed as the vision of Scottish shores and the little village fighting against the Texan oil company to save its pristine existence faded with the music of Mark Knopfler, and refilled her whisky glass. No point in wasting it. She got some more salad for Percy, settled back with him on her lap again, and watched the opening credits of Casablanca. She always forgot the name of the actor playing the police chief.
Should she have done something other than stay here, waiting? She thought of the days she had spent running through the simulations, working out the variables, assessing where would be a safe place to go.
The answer was simple, really. Nowhere. Maybe Australia and New Zealand might survive in some form, but there would be tsunamis to take out billions of acres. The only good point was that moving anywhere in England would make no difference, although she knew of some of her former colleagues, all in their forties and with children, had moved to the Welsh mountains and the Pennines in hope of survival. She wished them well. There would be at least two years of nuclear winter to survive.
She and Percy would just sit here enjoying the film until the asteroid hit, somewhere around 10.50 pm. Their problems weren’t worth a hill of beans, after all.
© J M Pett 2016
Picture is actually of Colman on my lap, rather than Percy
Films cited were Local Hero and Casablanca