‘Fort’ is the writephoto prompt from KL Caley from New2Writing.com this week. It popped up just as I was considering the James Lovelock book the Vanishing Face of Gaia, which prompted a very unwelcome idea indeed. I’ll be reviewing that book along with a couple of others I should have read when I bought them, fourteen years ago. Climate change science has moved on. Policy has lagged, and this idea was because of that… I may develop it into something larger in due course. It’s just under 750 words today.

 the image shows battlements, [including a gun emplacement], a strait of water, then a large fort.


The woman in the trenchcoat seemed curiously overdressed for a stroll in the sunshine around the abandoned fort. The two men accompanying her were similarly dressed, although only one carried a briefcase, from which he struggled to find the correct piece of paper whenever the woman demanded it.

“No matter, you’ll see it in due course,” she said to the empty handed man. “The PM is entirely happy with the idea. Even more happy when I showed him the analysis from Lovelock, of all people. Not like him to provide us with exactly the science we need.”

“The Gaia man?” 

“Indeed. I’ll find the reference if you want.”

The man shrugged. “So basically, converting this fort to a barricade, and creating a string, or network of them around the entire coastline…”

“Just like the wartime defences. No need for anyone to think anything of it. Just being prepared in case…”

“They’ll say you’re scaremongering.”

“How can I be scaremongering when I am merely recycling old buildings to provide a useful purpose against a foreseeable threat. Climate change is real, you know. Sea level rise is upon us. Get this lot set up, then work on plan B for London.”

“Only B?”

“Well, the plans for the raising of the Barrier are already on public record. Just nobody’s bothered to look at them. I’m surprised some Guardian busybody hasn’t already scrutinised them.”

“So, the network of tunnels under the fort will be made waterproof, the gun emplacements restored—“

“With surface missiles and torpedoes, nothing to breach airspace. We need to be circumspect. If these people continue to invade, they will feel the ultimate deterrent.”

The man looked at the Home Secretary’s face as she gazed out over the battlements, across to the other arm of the fort. This harbour was completely defended. Could she really extended the defences all the way along the coast?

“What about Ireland?” he asked, deciding that if Churchill could, she could.

“Ah, well. There are two options really, aren’t there?” She sounded like she was not going to elucidate, so he prompted her. He got a cool gaze in reply.

“Not my problem, not yet,” she added. “Wait till the end of the Good Friday Agreement, see which way the wind’s blowing, and act accordingly.”

“So if they abandon the Good Friday Agreement, you let them in to the British security region, and if not…”

“If not, they either make their own iron curtain around their coast, or sink under the climate refugees. And we make sure our Irish Sea defences are as strong as they can be.”


“Easiest. I’d even mine the Channel if it wasn’t for the oil tankers. And our imports from Australia and New Zealand.”

“Won’t they be sinking as well?”

“Not according to Lovelock. Ourselves, New Zealand, and few other large island nations with plenty of hinterland, a balmy current washing our shores, and control of the population. That’s what we need to become the new power, once all those coastal cities are awash, and the continental plains a new desert.”

“It sounds like a science fiction story.”

“Science fact, with support from top scientists. No shilly-shallying over the language in order to please the oil states. We’re acting on known science. Have been for years.” A grim smile appeared to light up her face as she gazed over to the fort in the distance.

“You mean… Boris knew about this? It wasn’t just his mania?”

“He had some top climate advisers. Chose to ignore them, of course, but there’s more than one way to become an isolated, self-sufficient nation. If the pandemic hadn’t happened, he’d probably be where Rishi and I are now.”

“Planning for 2030.”

“Indeed. Brexit will look like a tea party compared with the sea level rise after the arctic ice goes. Make sure your new house is well above the fifty meter contour line, so you’re not in the new coastal shanty town.”

“I will. Thanks for the tip. And… when do I start?”

“Right now.” She passed him the briefcase. “Never copy any of it, use no emails or texts. If you need to meet, just phone Peter here for an appointment. Venue tba, of course.”

He took the briefcase, looked at the fort around him and turned to the Home Secretary.

She’d already gone. He was on his own.

© J M Pett 2023


Fort | #writephoto Flash Fiction
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6 thoughts on “Fort | #writephoto Flash Fiction

  • 8 May, 2023 at 4:27 pm

    Very disturbing. Yet, of course, here in the US we have a large contingent who literally want to build walls on the borders. Your PM might want to take a hard look at just how successful that’s been.

    • 8 May, 2023 at 4:57 pm

      At the moment we have boat people coming across, and it’s awful. But with sea level rise it’ll get worse. And you’ll have dust bowls again and a lot of islands off the west coast.

  • 11 May, 2023 at 11:27 am

    Hi anyway –

    Disturbing, definitely.
    Live on the 250 metres / 750ft contour line, definitely not smug.
    .Down in the village, last night’s meeting,was about flood defences – and nobody’s happy . Landowners don’t want government imposed flood prevention,
    No measures ? Homes will be wrecked again. .

    • 11 May, 2023 at 5:09 pm

      It’s a very difficult issue. A friend of mine did her doctorate on it including much debate with homeowners on the E Anglian coast.

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