By Phillip Ghee
Hundreds of years after an epic CME Coronal Mass Ejection from the sun, the remnants of planet earth seek to reinvent themselves
When the ejection is directed towards the Earth and reaches it as an interplanetary CME (ICME), the shock wave of the traveling mass of Solar Energetic Particles causes a geomagnetic storm that may disrupt the Earth’s magnetosphere, compressing it on the day side and extending the night-side magnetic tail. When the magnetosphere reconnects on the nightside, it releases power on the order of terawatt scale, which is directed back toward the Earth’s upper atmosphere.
Coronal mass ejections, along with solar flares of other origin, can disrupt radio transmissions and cause damage to satellites and electrical transmission line facilities, resulting in potentially massive and long-lasting power outages. Humans in space or at high altitudes, for example, in airplanes, risk exposure to intense radiation.
ONE LOVE (Bob Marley)
The character Qfwf is in memory of
ONE LOVE (Bob Marley)
As it was in the beginning (One Love)
So shall it be in the end (One Heart)
The character Qfwf is in memory of Italo Calvino, one of the best minds of the 20th Century.
“It’s not the heat, it’s the humidity.” Qfwf laughed heartedly at his own joke. A joke which no one else got. The cumulative effects of the Greenhouse effect combined with other dynamic changes to the Earth were still evident these many years later. Between belching and laughing he ejected a chunk of something foul from his throat. Ersa his favorite great-great x great granddaughter whom he liked to call Ersa, playfully yet attentively combed, whenever possible and scrutinized the rest of Old Qfwf’s waist length locks, and dreads. She extracted with girlish joy plump bedbugs, saturated ticks, annoying fleas and on occasion a delightful edible treat such as a wayward pill bug.
The assembled children as well as some malingering adults, who dreaded foraging in the intensity of the sweltering midday sun, had assembled to hear some of Old Qfwf’s tall tales. Qfwf had become the oral historian of the enclave. He brought theater to the recounting the old days. He was without a doubt the oldest man in the enclave of forty or so family groups. He imagined himself to be at least 475 years old but, the truth be told he was closer to to about 363. He however had at least 50 to 60 years over the next eldest in line. Qfwf although a little arthritic and slow in the step was still in pretty good shape and didn’t look a day over eighty. He was just a mere boy of twelve of that faithful day. It was a date that had been long foretold by ancient societies more in-tuned. But the society of the day was mostly tuned into their I Pods and Cell phones and the warning were mostly ignored or humored by the general populace and the governing bodies. Yet when that day arrived the event took place as planned with all the precision and orchestration of the grand finale of a well budgeted firework show. The sun let off a blast of plasma, the mass of which was the size of a couple of Earths. The Mass Corneal Ejection hit the Earth around five minutes later. Even before it entered our atmosphere its damage was already detrimental. It fried nearly every Satellite: communications, weather, military etc. in its path. Those that were not directly in the path were still disabled by the massive magnetic and particle disruption that encompassed the entire sphere of the pretty blue world. Qfwf didn’t know much about satellites and the likes so he picked up the story after the CME entered the atmosphere.
”Oh! It was horrible and quite a bit of messiness.” Qfwf continued. ” Airplanes were the first to go, falling out of the sky like silver coconuts during the summer storms, striking the land with all the power and fire of lighting bolts”.
Qfwf had long given up drawing his crude renditions of planes and the likes. No one could relate to a vehicle with the capabilities of a plane so he inserted objects and metaphors into his stories of things they knew about or were accustomed to.
“Phone service gone, Internet gone, Television and Radio gone.” Qfwf stopped for dramatic pause. The assembled masses had no real conception of these things either. It was more the art of Qfwf’s story telling skills that kept the audience glued on every word.
“The Earth itself flipped flopped.” Qfwf made such a comical animated face to suggest bafflement that it elicit giggles and outburst amongst the youngsters in attendance.
Little did he realize it but Qfwf himself had become, for the enclave, the combination of the Internet, Television and Radio. If only he could fly, like little Elsroy was always attempting. Then he would have been their airplane also. If you thought Qfwf’s midday matinees were something you should have seen his night shows. Joshna, one of the adolescent boys who had developed iridescent and glowing hands, thought to have been a result of his mother’s insatiable appetite for fireflies during her pregnancy. Like a skilled stage hand, so accustomed to the dramatic nuisances in Qfwf’s tales that Joshna would supply just the right amount of hues/ colors and dramatic lighting to bath the storyteller in, thus enhancing the tale.
With the conclusion of Qfwf’s tale of the day, most of the young ones were lulled off to sleep. The older ones either caught cat naps themselves or either attended to their various foraging tools and devices. Qfwf dropped the pretense of the jolly old storyteller and took a long and thoughtful look out at the setting sun as it set in the deep orange sky. Already he could see the little diamond bright orbs streak across the sky leaving in their wake luminescent trails. These meteors, as a group, have been striking closer and closer to the enclave in the past twenty years or so. Sure there was the occasional errant meteor strike but much like lightning this was something that struck the enclave only ever so often. Qfwf knew that it was time for action and a decisive decision would have to be made.
It was a council of elders, most of whom were still in their mid one hundreds that made most of the important or vital decisions such as the principles governing community sharing, rites of passages and the allowances they entail as well as Ceremonial Celebrations. Yet when faced with a difficult decision or task they always deferred to Qfwf to seek out his wisdom and guidance. Sometimes the council was even called to task by Qfwf to address an issue of prime concern.
The evening sun had now nestled itself deep into the blankets of the adjacent swamp lands. The activity level picked-up all around the enclave. Foraging was a never ending affair. It took a lot of insects and rodents and reptiles to provide protein and feed forty or so family groups. There was still large reptiles like gators and pythons and such but they made their home mostly in the swamp lands and navigation of the swamp lands were extremely dangerous and set upon only to secure meals of the special ceremonies and celebrations. Every able bodied man, woman and child was called upon to do something in support of daily foraging. This daily ritual also had the effect of keeping the enclave mentally as well as physically engaged. However, tonight Qfwf requested that the members of the elder’s council stay behind. Once assembled Qfwf assumed a totally new persona of command and leadership.
“Elders.” Qfwf spoke deliberately and with purpose. “The safety of the enclave is about to end.” We must either make plans to leave or perish”. The finality of his proclamation made some of the elders shutter while others could only stare in shock and disbelief, waiting for a punch line or one of Qfwf’s famous anecdotal stories to issue from his lips. But, no such story came forth. Silence hovered around the group for several minutes. Yet in the thoughts of each member a whirlwind of visions, thoughts, fears and resolutions swirled through their minds. Leaving the enclave was something that even the most adventurous among them had never considered. The enclave was safe, it was known. And according to Qfwf himself there had been very times and places in the history of the Earth. Sure life was strenuous in the enclave but, that was all that they knew and in comparison to the old world that Qfwf spoke of, this was Heaven; something also that Qfwf spoke about.
The illness that once plagues mankind for many, many centuries had but all diminished, if not in scope then at least in severity. Diseases such as cancers, diabetes and disorders of the digestive and respiratory tract had vanished. Ailments associated with advanced age still occurred but at a much slower pace. Even common day maladies such as Colds and Flu’s had vanished and were nothing more than kindle for Qfwf’s tall tales.
Lifespan had increased five-fold and were probably still on the rise given the remarkable resilience of the young ones. Fertility was not gratuitously bestowed upon women with the frequency of past eras. But when blessed with birth, one was almost assured a full term and healthy delivery. The resilient children were also mutating or evolving, each developing special and mostly unexplained skills and attributes.
The environment was also known and mostly safe. The swamps lands held many dangers such as quick sands, man eaters and toxic reptiles. But the swamplands stayed to itself. Now that little Ersa had developed some sort of telekinetic gift that made it possible for her to spook and corral snakes and other reptiles, even during the monsoons, rarely did such an intruder makes its way into the enclave. They always rebuilt quickly from storms, lights or the occasional meteor hit. Now faced with the prospect of leaving they realized how ideally their life was.
Qfwf remembered the movies of old and suggested that they did not have to do this in haste and that it would be beneficial to send out a scouting party. Unlike the movies, he opted to send out two of the youngsters. He suggested that they choose two, a male and female. In the event it became impossible for them to return to the enclave, hopefully in time, they would be able to reproduce and carry on the species. One of the other elders suggested that they take into account the special gifts that most of the children now possessed and determine which skills would be best suited for such an expedition.
Qfwf agreed, already knowing that Ersa’s powers would make her a prime candidate on everyone’s list.
Each council member drew a branch from a nearby bamboo and etched in the ground two names. It was no surprised that Ersa’s name was picked. Even Qfwf had to withhold his emotions and vote responsibly. Joshna with his light bearing hands was picked because of said attribute. This would help them navigate at night and signal to each other if separated. Joshna was also already fourteen and was developing the strength of a young man and this would help them considerable in such a harsh and physical environment.
The children were briefed on their mission. Their resilience and enhanced aptitude extended to learning as well. Surely there would be some sadness, be asked to depart from friends and family group but both readily accepted their new ordained responsibilities. The pairing of these two already netted a bonus. They already were having a friendly bond between them due to their respected roles at Qfwf’s story time. The children were counseled by Qfwf and instructed by the council. Sometimes they were taught together, sometimes separately. Since Ersa was still pre- adolescent she was extended much more time with the female members of the elder’s council. If she were to get lost and not return to the group, she would have to endure and understand the rites and rigors of womanhood on her own.
Joshna already was a skilled forager but he had never spent time in the swamp lands in the hunt for dangerous prey. Due to the dangers inherent to the swamplands this responsibility was only assigned to the most skillful hunters. The elders assigned Joshna to the care of these practiced hunters in the enclave. New spears and arrows were fashioned especially for Joshna, accommodating his still adolescent frame.
It was determined that once Joshna had completed his first solo gator -kill, that the training would end. The men spent at least a week out in the swamplands. The men returned triumphantly with snakes, lizards. Bringing up the rear was an elated Joshna dragging behind him a ten foot gator. A special dinner celebration was held that very night and in the morning the whole enclave gathered to send the two explores off.
Unlike the two young explorers the members of the enclave were not informed of the objectives of the mission. Most assumed it had something to do with more fertile foraging grounds or higher land to guard against flood waters. Many of the enclave wanted to give the explorers lucky trinkets or their favorite tools or weapons but, Qfwf forbade it. They had many miles to travel and Qfwf wanted them to travel as light as possible. Each had their own satchel. Joshna also proudly displayed the three new carved long spears and bow. He had to be watchful for not only predators and prey but legend had it that there were possible other humans, just barely…out there. The were said to have over the centuries descended into savagery and were now more animal than human and possible harboring cannibalistic tendencies.
Ersa carried in her satchel most of the foraging tools used agrarian pursuits. She also carried the short bow and a supply of arrows. For her own protection Ersa relied upon a secret weapon. When Qfwf was distracted with all the leaving festivities Ersa had quietly slipped into her satchel a very poisonous coral snake. The snake was small almost toy like, non-threaten in appearance yet extremely fatal. In the last few centuries the Coral Snake, now forced to ward off behemoth Pythons and Anacondas, deadly Nile Monitor Lizards and other non-indigenous species, the petite snake had evolved to become ten times more toxic than before. When no was around she would wear the snake around her neck fancying it a pretty necklace. She felt safer with the snake then with the rest of their arsenal, combined. If she encountered any unwelcome guest she would hurl the snake at them with deadly accuracy. She had practiced.
Qfwf pointed them in what he thought might be the best direction. He knew that to the east was the ocean and although the naive enclave would have relished the move and find great delight in experiencing such a vast expanse of water and space, not to mention, adding to their diet an abundance of fish and seafood; the now frequent tropical storms would have made life very difficult there. Qfwf instead pointed them in the direction of the mountainous rain forest. The two youngsters made their farewells and boldly set off into the unknown.
The couple had done well and had by now completely exorcised their past-life survivor skills. The youths seem to have a resilience of mind as well as body. The journey thus far had been wondrously exhilarating. The couple had been entertained thoroughly. They had encounters hundreds of new sounds, sights, aroma and tastes. They had learned to apply expertly all of the tracking and tracing skills taught to them by the elders and by the experts within the enclave. They had learn to survey and gauge distances with proficient accuracy. It was such a skill that caused the couple such a devastating blow that they barely recovered.
They were camped out, feasting on a newly discovered treat, toasted tree frog. when the inky black sky was interrupted by a meteorite the size of a micro-moon. The blazing satellite raced to Earth like a silver swamp fly with an attitude. The entire southern sky ignited, glowing white as the projectile lit up the night sky. It landed with such a thud that the duo could feel dull ache from the concussion of the blast as it laid harvest to their young bodies. Although they were by now hundreds of miles away from the enclave the accuracy of their skills and tested craft was undeniable. Neither spoke it but, both knew it. The enclave had been struck and more than likely had been destroyed.
For days, Ersa sat vacant, wasting away, refusing to eat and crying most of the day and night. Occasionally she would spring forth from her catatonic state. Silently yet angrily she would retrieve her satchel and start off in the direction of the enclave only to be restrained by Joshna. If she would have reached that goal she would have found to her horror that they were correct. The enclave had been obliterated. What she may not have discovered was that Qfwf had the presence of mind to send out another exploration team just days before the calamity. This team consisted of almost all the children. Qfwf thought it strategically beneficial to send them off in a slightly different direction. Therefore theirs and her’ paths may have never crossed.
Joshna exhibited a new found maturity in lieu of the tragedy. He concluded that Ersa needed closure. He fashioned as best he could an elder-like Ceremonial Headdress and outfit. He caught and roasted the plumpest rodents he could find for a feast. That night he held a ‘Passing Over Ceremony.’
Instead of lamenting an individual, he held it in memoriam for the entire village. Remarkable he called out as many enclave members’ names as possible, only missing a few. He did not waiver from the character of an elder. Much like the senior Holy man would do, he completed the ritual with prayers and innovations for the future of those remaining. It worked.
From a vantage point on the cliffs the jutted out from the lush hillside Joshna detected a strange light emanating from a dense patch of jungle in the valley below. The light sparked his curiosity because it did not appear to be the aftermath of a lighting or meteor strike. It also did not appear to be the yellowish, red-orange flames of a man made fire. Joshna curiosity got the best of him. He convinced a Leary Ersa that they should go down into the valley and have a better look. They precariously made their way down the moss covered slippery cliffs succumbing to only a minimum of scrapes and falls.
Week Eight, Day Seven
Joshna now stood less than a hundred yards away from the light. The lights moved as if it they had intelligence and purpose. Joshna, himself partially light, viewed the lights as two distinct life forms. He was not so flabbergasted by their presence. They appeared to him to be continuously intersecting and criss-crossing each other. One shimmered like gems, sparkling in hues of white, sliver and blue. The other reminded him more of landscape colors, painted horizons, earth tones and delicious rainbows. Ersa only saw a terrifying pillar of supernatural fire.
Joshna advanced closer. Ersa hesitated and had to be drawn by a sturdy hand. He now stood directly before the towering lights. He could barely see beyond the lights be he could make out a landscape and with seeing it clearly, he could sense the beauty of it. As brilliant as the lights were there was no detectable heat emanating from them. “Could this be the deadly radiation that Old Qfwf occasionally spoke of?” Ersa cautioned Joshna. With deadly intent Ersa reached into her satchel and clutched her snake.
As he raised his hand towards the lights Joshna hand tingled. He then notices that his hand now echoed like a chameleon by replicating the same pattern of light as the entities.
He took a deep breath and moved his hand into the light. Ersa gasped and covered her eyes. Once his hand had traversed the light Joshna felt a profound sense of essence and being. His and the lights were as one.
He withdrew his hand and looked towards Ersa with amazement. Now he raised both hands towards his face, deflecting some of the effect of the lights upon his eyes. He tried to peer into the landscape beyond. The images were fluid and not readily discernable. He could obtain that inside was not a thick and dense jungle. He either imagined or saw, pleasant landscapes, crystal ponds of waters and animals, much larger than the rodents he was accustomed to. Some even larger than the biggest gators or pythons. He could stand it no longer. He attempted to walk through. The attempt was cut short. Although his hands, head and forearms passed freely through the guardian light when he attempted to tilt his torso into the lights he was reprimanded with a series of sparks.
Joshna stood confused for a second. Once again he placed his hands into the lights. No resistance. The clothing he reasoned maybe it had something to do with the clothing.
He first removed his shirt and attempted the maneuver again. No only did it worked, he saw clearly and with true perspective the luscious landscapes and exotic creatures therein.
He mind was expanded to regions to which there were no words. He spent less then a second emerged in the new world yet it seemed to him hours had passed. He had even begun the assigned names to some of the wonderful creatures. He returned back to his known lackluster world. Ersa merely stared at him perplexed as to why he was removing all his clothes. He was now completely nude and unashamed. He beckoned Ersa to join him. To prove it safe he jumped, full body in the lights and disappeared. Ersa started to cry. He retuned seconds later, having already found them a place to set up camp. He had also bonded with several of the animals as well as his new Host.
Ersa was confused. She didn’t know what else to do. He looked happy and more vibrant than she had ever seen him or, anyone for that matter. She shyly disrobed. Being conscious of her unfounded shame, he maintained eyes forward towards the light. Only his hand extended behind him summoned Ersa to come. He heard the rustle of supplies and sensed that she was gathering up the satchels, tools and weapons. With a single gesture of the hand he waved them off. They would no longer be needed.
Ersa, however had managed just a second earlier, to secure her reptilian. protective jewelry. She clasped his outstretched hand and entered into her new world.