continued from previous
“Are you sure?” – said Ben
“It is one of our working hypotheses at the moment”, Olivia replied. “It is possible that hurricanes, and other storms, combined with tropical temperatures, act almost like a shaking incubator environment: they increase gas exchange at the sea surface, therefore providing more CO2 for the phytoplankton – while at the same time stirring up nutrients from below. We’ve noticed division rates among the mutants go up dramatically during storm events, and in our lab simulations. This means faster metabolism and, possibly, more CO2 absorption. This may well explain the CO2 dips you’ve been observing. These variants were made to thrive in a Hurricane Earth.”
There was a pause in the conference call as Olivia’s last sentence echoed in peoples’ heads for a few seconds:
“These variants were made to thrive in a Hurricane Earth”.
For a group of scientists who had spent their life studying the inner workings of a planet, the realization that the system itself that they were studying may have changed so dramatically, was unnerving. Were they already studying an alien planet? What is the atmosphere like on a Hurricane Earth? What is the biology of a Hurricane Earth? And how does it feel to a human scientist to be studying a planet for which their species is not naturally adapted anymore? Was the planet an alien planet, or was it the Humans who were the aliens?
John watched the instructional video carefully for the third time, before carefully securing the final straps and hinges to his harness. The rescue drone was waiting outside, ready to pull him out of his tiny kitchen window. The bed sheet that he had hanged from the ledge, with the word “HELP” clumsily written with paprika and turmeric, had done its job.
He began to climb on the ledge, as the unmanned drone’s thermal imaging camera picked up his silhouette. He looked back into the studio flat for the last time, as the glass fragments on the floor reflected the sun. He wasn’t sure if, and when, he would come back. His fear of heights made him wish that he had died in the hurricane, rather than having to balance himself on a window ledge sixteen floors above ground. Lifting one arm in the air like a salute, he signaled to the rescue robot. He felt the strings pull him up like a puppet and off he went into the distance, flying above the flooded city. He was being taken to one of the civilian shelters.
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George is an author, researcher, podcast host, chemist, molecular biologist and food scientist. You can follow him on Twitter @99blackbaloons , listen to his Spotify podcast George reads George, sign up for blog alerts below, or enjoy his books