The Great Freeze

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Status: Finished  |  Genre: Science Fiction  |  House: Booksie Classic

Submitted: February 10, 2017

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Submitted: February 10, 2017

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The Great Freeze

 

 

Travelling to the surface had been an essential part of Max Chapman’s working life for as long as he could remember. His roll as cosmologist and meteorologist, working for the “Climate Control Authority, afforded opportunities, which were unavailable to ninety-nine percent of his fellow citizens; but despite his frequent visits, he never tired of the awesome sight that met his eyes each time he emerged from the old underground railway shaft that connected “New London” to the outside world. With average surface temperatures around minus twenty degrees, the frozen waste that confronted him seemed desolate and hostile; but somehow, in a cold petrified way, beautiful. It was flat, dark and featureless and navigation was hazardous. Life he thought would be totally impossible without the GPS guidance device, bleeping away happily in his thermal suit.

 He was standing on the south side of what used to be the River Thames, at about the spot where Lambeth Palace had once stood some two centuries earlier. Now of course, it was beneath four meters of ice. To his right half a mile away he could just make out through the freezing half light the clock face of what old Londoners called “Big Ben”. The ice sheet had almost swallowed the main building and doubtless in a few years time would engulf this last visible monument to human folly; but in the meantime it stood there as a stark reminder to future generations. Max had studied 21st century history, as a second subject at university so he was familiar with the way old style British Parliamentary democracy worked. He remembered reading and seeing computer graphics of the debates that took place. Ill-tempered people yelling at each other with a small man in a black robe sitting on a large green chair shouting order, order. For Max, some of the subject matter of these debates seemed trivial but the passion with which cases were argued bore testimony to their importance. Standing here, over two centuries later, looking out across this frozen world, Max could only reflect on the futility of it all.

Even before the catastrophic eruption, scientists had been struggling to combat global warming. By 2090 vast areas of the planet had reverted to desert, the Gulf Stream shut down, and sea levels had risen by two meters. But it was the Yellowstone Park explosion that actually triggered the current ice age. Every school child in “New London” could tell you about the devastation, lose of life and panic, which followed the largest volcanic eruption in recorded history. Of course much has been written since, about that fateful day in October 2120 when the Earth literally shook with fear. Scientists have written about the ten-mile wide crater that appeared; how seventy percent of US citizens perished within a month of the event and how the Earth’s surface temperatures dropped by five degrees. But it was the “nuclear winter,” brought on by dust and ash in the atmosphere, which had the most devastating effect.

Worldwide famine, drought, pestilence and disease; for a time it seemed mankind was doomed. All these thoughts flashed through Max Chapmen’s mind as he surveyed the frozen landscape stretched out before him. He was reminded of the old manuscript he’d been reading at New London’s library, during last weeks “learning pageant”. A computer of course delivered the words but the incandescent gleam of a holographic image seemed to make the old parchment vibrate with life. John Evelyn had written his diary text in 1684 over 550 years before Max was born. He’d painted a grim picture of frozen London. Great hardship, Industry ground to a halt people and livestock being frozen to death and transport brought to a standstill. Yet, through adversity and bitter cold misery Max had seen in John Evelyn’s dialogue, tenacity enterprise and ingenuity. Evelyn had gone on to describe the scene on the frozen River Thames as a bacchanalian carnival; a triumph of the human spirit over nature’s extremes. What would the old boy make of the new ice age thought Max? He was up here doing his job, but he couldn’t help feeling it was perhaps the same indomitable spirit described by Evelyn that had driven human beings to build those vast underground cities after Yellow Stone. New London, powered by geothermal energy was a shining example of mans ability to cope with adversity. It would be many decades if not centuries, before water again flowed on the earth’s surface let alone street traders on the banks of the Thames. A grin lit up Max’s face in the dull surface twilight as he recalled a few words of his girlfriend’s latest philosophical credo. They had become all the rage, since formal religions had taken such a knock after Yellow Stone. “I believe that nature is an innocent force, which our error cannot with impunity misuse”. May be he thought, she has a point. With that he strode off across the frozen waste. 

 

 

936 Words.

John Evelyn diarist- the best description we have of the “frost fair” on the Thames during the winter of 1683/4. Thames frozen over and people could walk from Fulham to Putney; whole streets of booths sprung up on the banks and across the Thames selling all manner of merchandise, including ale, brandy & gingerbread cakes. Even a printer set up a booth and sold post cards as souvenirs of the event; Evelyn records he made as much as £5 per day (a huge sum in those days) according to Evelyn even  king, Charles the 2nd bought one. But the winter of 1683also caused great hardship misery & death.


© Copyright 2017 Peter Piper. All rights reserved.

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