Infernal (a cli-fi story) part 1

in #vyblast year

Hi! I've been scratching out some short stories about the climate disaster that we're all going to have to deal with. Some of the stories are multi-parters, some very brief, some uplifting and some a real grind into a horrible possible life. There's often a little swearing and sometimes a little sexuality but nothing I think is too outside of the n orm.

I hope you enjoy this first one, Infernal.

I brushed past the man in the street. A panhandler looking for a drink.
I've never gotten used to the smell of people who haven't washed in days. Even all the water-free soaps freely available just for the asking at dispensaries, some people just couldn't get rid of that odour.

"A little water mate" he mumbled "haven't had a drink today".
"I gave you a hundred before, on the way to work. What do you mean you haven't had a drink"?
I looked at his arm and saw new, red wounds. Pinpricks on their way to infection.
"You sold it for W did'nt you"!
"What do you reckon?" he said "Who can live like this"?

It was the truth. Who could live like this? Even those of us with an income had to rely on handouts of everything; water, food, medicine. With tempoeratures rising just like the population, everyone struggled. Everyone who hadn't the luxury of bolt holes and palaces in the days when it all changed.

I'd just come into town for some medication. A handout, of course. I couldn't afford to buy it without welfare credits.
I reached into by pocket and pulled out a hundred. A small plastic pouch containing 100 ml of water. Pretty much the smallest currency in some places.
"Here" I thrust it into his hand. "Drink it while I watch"'

The panhandler looked around, as if he knew he was being watched - they rarely work alone. Satisfied nobody was looking, he broke the seal and swallowed the precious liquid in one gulp.
He wiped his hand across his mouth and smacked his lips in an exaggerated manner, indicating his displeasure.
"I'll get a hiding for that later. There's always some fucker watching".
Then he mumbled "thanks anyway. You're a good sort.

The bell chimed indicating that the outward bound train had arrived.
I pushed on through the crowd, saying nothing.

The ride home was a hot, stinking, hour standing shoulder to shoulder, or sometimes, belly to back if it was really crowded. There were only six seats per carriage, reserved for the disabled. The rest of us jammed in like the proverbial (but now extinct) Sardines. Sometimes someone would squeeze into a space and you'd be looking at a face. Usually not a pretty face at that. We're all haggard and tired looking, grimy and dusty at the best of times.

"Wanna handjob?" "You can fuck me from behind" asked this face. A brunette with sad eyes and even sadder skin. She saw that I was interested and reached down and patted my crotch.
"Ten or fifty" she muttered into my chest". "Look at this crowd. nobody will ever know". She was right. Everyone was tired and numb looking. On the way home from work, or the long lines at dispensaries. Maybe even from begging or selling themselves. Nobody would even notice a gunshot here, or if they did, they'd just look away. It pays not to get involved.
I reached down and pulled a 20 from my pocket.
"I was hoping for fifty she said. Even I've got to enjoy myself sometimes".
The brunette gave me a doe eyed, sad look, one that was obviously well practiced'. She reached under her shirt and pulled out a 10, giving me a look tattooed breasts that had been sadly used by a number of kids. I had to pull the note from her hands.

Any way. I got a pretty discrete hand job, cumming into a surgical cloth as was the usual way with these things. If she caught and kept my load clean she could sell it at a gene centre for a few dollars. They say that they use this cheap source material to develop cures. They might even employ these girls and be cloning us, one handjob at a time.

She was long gone by the time the train got to my stop. I'd heard her spiel half a dozen times as she worked her way through the crowded commuters. I spent the time watching the blurs through the perspex windows. You couldn't see the city outside. The windows were heavily darkened against the Sun and covered with graffiti to the point that the best you could see was grey-brown patterns moving past.

The doors opened with another chime. The automatic voice said in a slightly Indian accent "It is 6 pm and 42 degrees outside. Sundown is at 8.30. Hydrate, cover up and enjoy your evening".

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Ah, dystopian futures, so much to look forward to. I was rather hoping that the weather would do a flip, so we might get more of those storms we had recently. Then we could worry abut floods instead of drought.

@tipu curate

Only the beginning couple of chapters are dystopian. They establish a baseline upon which bope and recovery will be built.The whole thing is very positive.

Ew, well, I don't much like your protagonist! I thought he was going to be kinder to her but he's obviously ground down in the horror show around him. Love the banal ending, much like now, just a little further on. Mask, vax, be safe. And ignore climate change.

There's a lot of cli Fi fiction in Australia right now. I keep getting it from my Mum. Keen to keep reading more.

There is some amazing clifi and solarpunk coming our of Oz now. It seems that Oz and South America are the source of most of it. There's an awesome ebook called the Eromanga Disruption about a huge geoengineering project that makes Oz into a paradise.

My protagonist (when the full story is released, he will have a name (I made him male and straight because that runs counter to most contemporary solarpunk)). Yes, he represents the ground down, reduced, tired masses who will dominate society after 2030-2050.

He's certainly a Winston from 1984 kinda character, with his varicose veins and despair - sometimes a good character isn't necessarily likeable, and likeable characters can be so passe!

Eromanga Disruption looks interesting - I'll look into it.

There's been a few I've read set in Tasmania - seems a place to wait out the apocalypse! One was interesting - about scientists trying to bring neanderthal back to life - they succeed with one girl, but then give it up. That's also set against a backdrop of climate catastrophes - an extinction of the human race who, ironically, brought an extinct race to life and then abandoned it (ethically fucked).

https://www.penguin.com.au/books/ghost-species-9781926428666

The other was 'The MOther Fault' https://www.simonandschuster.com.au/books/The-Mother-Fault/Kate-Mildenhall/9781760854478

The Australian Book Review sums up this one well (the backdrop)

...set in an alarming near-future Australia. Climate change has left refugees ‘marking trails like new currents on the maps as they swarm to higher, cooler ground’. Sea levels have risen, species have died out, farmlands have been contaminated, and meat is a luxury. Unprecedented bushfires occur regularly; technology and surveillance are ubiquitous, with bulbous cameras hanging ‘like oddly uniform fruit bats from the streetlights’. The media is controlled, and Australian citizens are microchipped and monitored by a totalitarian government known as ‘the Department’. The ‘Dob in Disunity’ app offers ‘gamified’ rewards to informants (‘Even kids could join in the fun!’), while troublemakers can be relocated to ‘BestLife’ housing estates where the reality is far from the Instagram hashtag. Reflecting on the events that led to this, protagonist Mim notes that the world ‘shifted slowly, then so fast, while they watched but didn’t see. They weren’t stupid. Or even oppressed in the beginning.’

The BestLife housing estates were truly threatening - a way to quash protest and dissent.

I'll definitely look them up! Linda Woodrow's 470 is definitely the benchmark