Climate Of Change

Entry by: Alobear

4th December 2015
Climate of Change

Elspeth travelled the flooded streets of Manhattan. The city had become the new Venice, Venice itself having disappeared altogether long ago.

Nearly all the faces she passed on the busy waterways were female. The revolution had been and gone; female dominance forced down society’s throat by age-old gender inequality in the military. It was said people should be grateful that World War Three only wiped out 80% of the men and 20% of the women, rather than ending in total global destruction. And the current average human lifespan of 200 years meant that the plummeting birth rate was less of a problem than it would have been before.

But it was tough now, for a girl in the city. An image from a long-ago documentary came to mind. Elspeth imagined herself as a green turtle, swimming the depths of the empty ocean, looking for a mate. She thought things must be even worse for the turtles than for their human counterparts these days. There was even more ocean to search, and fewer and fewer males to find. And with all the problems facing the human race, there wasn’t much time or energy left over to try and help turtles.

The cause of the problem, as far as she remembered it, was global warming – but then, wasn’t that the case for a ton of problems? Turtles didn’t have the monopoly on that complaint. The weirdness of turtles, specifically, was that the gender of their eggs was determined by the temperature at which they incubated. In colder years, most of the eggs turned out male. But in hotter years, most of the eggs turned out female. So, as the world gradually grew hotter and hotter, more and more female turtles got churned out to discover there were no males to greet them. Add to that the fact that female turtles didn’t become fertile until they were thirty years old, and it amounted to a bit of an issue.

Elspeth’s self-driving electric skimmer announced that it had reached her destination, bringing her thoughts abruptly back to her immediate surroundings. She moored the boat at the building’s jetty and climbed out, smoothing her thick, red hair back into a high ponytail. Inside the building, she approached the reception desk, where a severe-looking woman held up a finger for her to wait while she completed a phone call.

“Yes?” came the eventual enquiry.

“Elspeth Browning to see Sam Parker.”

The receptionist looked her up and down disapprovingly, and Elspeth tried not to squirm. She was dressed in her smartest trouser suit of deep blue and knew she looked more professional than she felt.

“Third floor, room 316,” the receptionist said, pressing the button to allow Elspeth through the security barrier.

Elspeth made her way to the bank of lifts and stepped inside the first one to arrive at the ground floor. She was satisfied with what she saw in the back wall mirror, just taking a second to check her teeth before exiting on the third floor. This would be her first meeting with a potential new client for her nascent marketing business – still a thriving industry in the multi-post-apocalyptic world – and she wanted to make a good impression.

She arrived at room 316 and knocked on the door.

Shock and amazement rattled through her as a deep, male voice called out, “Come in.”

Elspeth had automatically assumed that ‘Sam’ was short for ‘Samantha’. The truncation of long feminine names to short, androgynous versions was very common nowadays.

But, sure enough, when she opened the door, a young man rose up from behind his desk to greet her. Her eyes went immediately to his left hand, but there was no evidence of a wedding ring. Could it be that she had discovered that rarest and most precious of things – a single man in New York?

Elspeth pasted on her brightest smile, and stepped forwards to take his proffered hand. His hand-shake was firm, but not overpowering, his fingers warm and dry.

A chance meeting in the vastness of the ocean. Perhaps Elspeth’s solitary turtle days were over.