Crab is the prompt for this week’s #writephoto, thanks to KL Caley and

Your comments on the Roscoe and Neville stories made me realise a) I was writing out how much I miss these boys, and b) they are never coming home. That’s the short version of a long discussion I had with myself. It’s part of my grieving for them. There is no end to this story. So it is ended now. Maybe I will create some proper fiction for them in time. The good thing is, I have set Neville’s voice down, while I remember it. Roscoe’s is already well-established through his blogging on George’s Guinea Pig World – and the boys there are revealing their theme for the April A to Z Challenge today.

Back to this week’s prompt

I was thinking about Ukraine, and the way the conflict is allowing world leaders to ignore the dire warnings from the latest IPCC report. Since I’ve been watching the parts per million of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere rise way above the ‘safe’ levels for years, I don’t worry about nuclear explosions. If we don’t stop using gas, coal and oil right now, we’re doomed to a world of storms, sea level rise that will wipe out billions of people (including London, California, the Eastern seaboard and most of the world’s largest cities), not to mention appalling heatwaves, climate refugees and strife. I see another set of doom-laden flash fictions coming on.

a rather fearsome little crab with pretty big claws, making his way along some white stones

So…. 450 words of the crab’s eye view.

A Crab Called Nostradamus

Nostradamus the Crab came back from his trip to the surface.

“Well, Cassandra, there are lots of dead starfish, thrown high onto the land, and many broken shells from our other neighbours.”

“I told you the storm would wreak havoc one day.”

Nostradamus nodded his top feelers and twitched his smaller pincer across his eyestalks.

“And you were right, my dear, as always. I don’t know why they didn’t believe you, although I predicted they wouldn’t, as you recall.”

Cassandra sifted some sand. There was little goodness in it. Most small feed had been washed high and dry too. A few broken bodies had been their only prey for weeks now.

Nostradamus watched her. It was a displacement activity. She needed his reassurance. “I will take another journey to the dry land at next tide.”

A few days later he came up with a new idea.

“I predict that the sea levels will rise, engulfing this whole island within the next five years.”

His community murmured at this, although Cassandra just stared at him.

“I said that ages ago,” she hissed when they were out of earshot.

“I know, my dear. They seem to have trouble believing you. I have no idea why. Your analysis is first class. The only thing we differ in our opinion is the degree, in general. The message is clear, if only they’d listen.”

“We have to take action.” Cassandra had been saying this for years.

“We do. There is no time to be lost. If they continue to quibble, we will lose our beach completely.”

“They say the reef will grow and provide dry land.”

“They are over-optimistic. You know as well as I, the coral is bleaching, dying under our feet. And we can hardly expect it to recover, with the warming seas, which hold less oxygen in it for the fish.”

“At least we can stick our heads above water.” Cassandra loved her home. She did not want to leave. She loved her lifestyle. Above all, she did not want to give up her home and family. “But we don’t float. Not indefinitely, anyway.”

“We must leave this beach, find another with higher land beyond. Then we can retreat up it as the waters rise.”

“Will they believe you?”

“I will make the prediction. If they believe me, they will follow.”

Half Nostradamus’s community believed him. They floated west on a tree trunk that passed their island, propelled by the unusually strong currents. They found themselves clambering across crowded beaches to the rocky mountains behind, along with other refugees from the islands and low-lying coastal cities.

The rest of his community drowned.

Their world died, while the lucky few defended their homes.

(c) J M Pett 2022

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Crab | #writephoto flash fiction
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