'Climate Change': a Story; and Excerpts!!
Did you miss the book launch and my readings?
Well, I've copied them below.
And here's a short story entitled 'Climate Change' that I wrote for the Uxbridge Writers' Circle's word challenge. The words I had to use are in italics.
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I’m standing underneath the bronze statue. Too close. I have to crane my neck backwards so that I can give it a careful examination. But I know I shouldn’t be doing this. Gazing at this huge monstrosity unlocks memories almost too hard for me to manage. Perhaps my pain is something like post-traumatic stress disorder.
The plaque underneath states that Robert Gordon Brownswaithe was a hero. He was the prime minister of Canada from 2040 until 2048 and, if you believe the hype, he saved the world with his brilliant mind, his science, and his innovation. An engine that runs on sun and carbon dioxide, emitting oxygen and water, bears his name—the R. G. Brownswaithe. Well, that solved several of the world’s problems almost overnight and he became a billionaire in the process. Then, as a politician, he led the world towards climate change—but for the better. I can just about remember 2020 when people were predicting that many cities would be underwater because scientists foresaw the average temperature of the planet rising by two or even three degrees in the not-too-distant future. My father made nonsense of that. Of course, his new engine was only the beginning. It started an avalanche of progress that stopped pollution cold, so to speak.
What does it matter that this human being bears the scars of having this man, this icon, as his father? When the whole world has been saved, what can I possibly complain about? And, if I was to suggest to any living being that my father had been immoral then I’d be accused of being a miserable liar. In fact, I’m sure my saying such would be considered a cardinal sin. But that’s the truth. No one will ever know it, but that’s the truth.
I don’t dispute he was brilliant, as I’ve already said. But he used his brilliance to steal, to intimidate, to cajole, to dominate, and to claim ideas as his own which were not. It all started with my science project I submitted to my school’s science fair. I developed the concept for that new engine. I was only fifteen. Others didn’t see it, but he was smart enough to see that it made sense and ran with it. I was shut out and shut down.
But I mustn’t start digging up all that stuff. I’ll be back on the bottle again. I need to move away from this thing. I must find a cardboard box to sleep in somewhere. It’s really cold. They say the average temperature of the planet has dropped by a further two degrees, and we could see an ice age in about twenty years if we don’t do something. My bones feel it.
I’ve got some ideas, but I’m not about to share them. Best to keep them to myself.
I got great feedback from my readings at my book launch at Blue Heron Books!
Some of you weren't able to be there, so I thought I'd share them here.
They are both extracted from the first chapter of the book entitled 'Murder':
Meg has just returned from England, where she visited her mother:
Someone’s lurking by the gate to our farm—not more than a silhouette in the semi-darkness. Kelly grumbles. She’s not sure what to make of this figure and nor are we. His vehicle is parked on the road, almost in the ditch. Melissa pulls into the entrance, and I get out to unlock the gate.
“Are you Meg Sheppard?” asks the man.
“What do you want? I’m tired after a long journey and would like to get into the house.” Melissa drives through the gateway, stops, and springs down from the truck to let Kelly out, but they stay by the vehicle. Kelly barks and snarls, showing her white teeth. She’s convinced this man has no right to be here.
“I texted you to say I’d be here. William Porter gave me your number.”
“I didn’t get your text.” Just as I say this, I remember receiving a message when I was still in the airport terminal, but I paid no attention. I was on the watch for one from William. “Who are you? And why did William give you my number?”
“I’m Noah Pestel. You don’t know me. Can I talk to you? It’s sort of urgent.”
We’re standing at the edge of the road. Melissa tells Kelly to stay by the truck and walks over.
“What’s this about?” she asks.
Noah ignores her. “William said you’re a private investigator and you’d be able to help me.” He pushes back his hood.
“Did William mention Noah to you?” I ask Melissa. Noah is shuffling from one foot to another.
“No.” Kelly emits a low, grumbly growl and creeps closer to us. Her judgment of people is almost infallible. She’s made very few mistakes. But Melissa’s told me she’s been edgy since William and Jake took off. I look into Noah’s eyes in the fading light, and it’s as if he’s in pain. They’re half shut under a deep frown and above unshaven fuzz.
“You can come in,” I say. “I’ll give you ten minutes to tell me the problem. If I ask you to leave and you don’t, I’ll call 911.”
“Got it,” he says.
“I should explain I’m a gambler. I’m not professional, but I’m a pretty good poker player and make a reasonable amount. Yes, I’m one of those spoiled rich kids who hasn’t had to earn my money. It was handed to me when my dad died. I don’t remember him, but that’s another story.” He picks up the mug and puts it back down without taking a sip. “Where this guy Barnaby comes in is he claimed he could pick the winners in horse races using a secret statistical formula. A fellow poker player told me he’d doubled his money by investing in Barnaby’s scheme. It’s called the Caldermat Gambling Circle. Horse racing sort of intrigued me. I thought it could be lots of fun. So, I gave Barnaby a wad of cash. He’d only take cash, but I got a receipt. And, although he wouldn’t reveal what horses or what races, I was hooked because I almost doubled my money with the first payment. So, I put a lot more in—over time, of course.”
“I think I can guess the next bit.”
“Yeah, well. After the first payment, lots of promises, but nothing. Zero. My poker buddy told me he hadn’t heard from Barnaby for a month. We tried getting hold of him. This is the bad part. My buddy found out where he lived. It’s a fancy place in Blackloch Estates. He broke in and stole Barnaby’s laptop. He wanted to get the formula, find out where his money was, or something. Not sure if he even had a plan.”
“I assume it wasn’t helpful.”
“No, but when he was leaving, he tripped over Barnaby’s body. He screamed and ran.”
“He’s the most likely suspect, then.”
“You’d think so, but he has a tight alibi for that morning, which is the estimated time of death. I don’t.”
“And I presume you lost a lot more money than he did. So, the police think it’s revenge?”
“I did lose a packet. I was greedy. It’s crazy. I should know better. But what’s the point of killing the bastard? It makes more sense to steal the laptop than to kill him.”
Vicky Earle Copyright 2023
Enjoy the book!!!!