continued from previous
Olivia was running a late-night shift in the lab. After Michael’s death, and with her mornings taken up by volunteering at the shelter, her workload had suddenly exploded. New samples kept arriving from all over the world, holding new secrets to be unlocked: brand new phytoplankton variants, foraminifera, and bacteria that once belonged in Yellowstone park – now casually found in the ocean. Old organisms with new adaptations, all waiting in line to be studied. In the middle of the biggest extinction event in the planet’s history, the sea was breeding new life forms.
“Was there even a point in studying all of this? In trying to keep up?” – Olivia thought to herself. The Earth obviously knows what it’s doing. Who are we to judge? Who are we to even think that we can possibly intervene? The EoT will do what it wants to do, whether we like it or not.
John found himself awake within his dream. In fact, he was not sure whether he was in an actual dream, or in the real, tangible world. It felt like somewhere in-between: a state of consciousness between fantasy and reality. He looked around and everyone else in the shelter was asleep. Or were they? Upon closer inspection, he noticed that many people were wide awake. They were all quietly lying in their beds, staring at the ceiling, and wondering, just like John, why they were awake.
And then it arrived. A blue plasma-like smoke flew in through the window and suspended itself above the beds. It placed itself in the middle of the tall ceiling of the conference center and began to glow brighter, stronger, as it became more and more defined. Taking on one shape after another in quick successions, it began to undulate and pulsate, much like the Northern Lights – but it seemed to do so on its own volition, its own decision. Was it a spirit?
People looked at the phenomenon mesmerized, not daring to say a word. Whatever it was, it seemed to be showing off all the tricks it can do. It wanted to be seen, to grab people’s attention. As the streaks of blue glow began to undulate like curtains, occasional fleeting images of landscapes appeared, as if a hologram was being projected. Everyone, including John, thought that they were probably dreaming this. But then someone shouted.
“Can you see what I see?” they yelled from their bed. Suddenly voices replied, as people touched their faces and pinched themselves:
“Yes! I can see it!”
“I can see it too!” yelled a kid.
The plasma turned itself back into an amorphous swirl, almost as a response to the voices. It made a few more flights back and forth across the ceiling as if it was putting on a show, before turning itself into a blue smoke halo again, crawling back towards the window. It was beckoning.
People started getting up from their beds. There was no fear, just curiosity and expectation. John followed the first brave ones out the door. As they stepped out into the night, they saw the plasma hovering above them in the sky. Around them, the entire landscape was illuminated in the same blue glow. They followed the halo as it swirled and twisted in a mesmerizing dance, guiding them towards the beach. And then they saw it.
The entire ocean was illuminated in blue, like a hotel pool at night. It was where the EoT was now concentrating all of its energy and creativity. Far out into the distance, the glow seemed to get more intense. The horizon was burning in hot neon blue, illuminating the sea below and the sky above. It began to disappear as the Black Sky started to wear off. Whoever had been in charge of cooking dinner at the shelter that evening, had a lot to answer for.
(from the upcoming novel A New Earth)
to read from the beginning, go here
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