HALINE

Imagine a post-climate change future…


What is HALINE? It’s a stark look at a post-climate change future. It’s our world licking its wounds after decades of war and famine in which resources are scarce and government tyrannical. Think “Hunger Games meets Climate Change.”

Why did I spend nearly 9 months of my life writing it? To answer to the troubling and timely question: what if we do nothing?

Who am I? Just a concerned member of our species. After starting a company to introduce shoppers to organic, non-toxic & eco-friendly products, I was shocked at how little people cared about sustainability credentials. One day while at the movies I realized the best way to help us all understand the magnitude of the climate change issue was to fictionalize (and dramatize) it — and thus HALINE was born.

Below is an excerpt from the Prologue, a small scene setting the stage for the story to unfold. I hope you enjoy it, and that it stirs something inside of you…


24 YEARS BEFORE HALINE

“Soel.” Alyel whispered. In the background she heard the evening report broadcasting in the living room as the door to her flat slid shut behind her. Leaning back she closed her eyes, relaxed her shoulders, and indulged in a deep inhale.

It was not the long days of treating poisonous spider bites, acute malaria, sun burns, and frail bodies of the famished that she found most stressful. “Violence that nature inflicts upon us after a millennia of us inflicting violence upon nature,” she had once said to a nurse as she surveyed an overflowing waiting room at Central Hospital filled with hardened, heavy faces.

Rather, her stress was rooted in the twelve minute walk between the Emergency Room at Central and the apartment she shared with her husband, Soel, several blocks away. Though regularly patrolled by City Police, sometimes they themselves were the danger. Other times, especially as fall turned into winter, it seemed every alley she passed sheltered the hopeless and desperate — and hungry. If you were lucky they just wanted your keycard. Slightly less lucky, they would slit your wrists looking for hidden cardsafes. But in the cold, hunger trumped all other desires. If you were not lucky, you were all they wanted.

So everyday after work Alyel walked home with the shaky confidence that only the min-max gun in her left jacket pocket could provide. Soel desperately wanted to escort her safely home each evening, but her independent nature furiously protested. Each afternoon he walked alone, then, made dinner for them both, and sat in front of the living room screen, watching and waiting. He too worked at Central Hospital but at the opposite end of the two-block fortress of a building in the secretive GOD Department — Genetic Officer Development. He had better hours and far better pay, but she got to keep her soul; it was a deal they struck when they were coming out of medical school together. Alyel again inhaled deeply then walked into the living room.

“Hey baby… come here, come look at this.” Soel stared intently at the screen, eyes moist, lips quivering. “Look what they are doing now.”

His face swiveled in her direction and he stretched out a hand. “Sit with me.”

Alyel fought the sudden desire to grab the lamp from the table next to Soel and throw it headlong at the screen. She ached to go back, before the wars. Instead, with the manic self-control she had honed over the past several years, she gently took her husband’s hand and sat, kissed him on the cheek, then turned her head to see what his eyes saw.

A drenched field reporter stood outside a Survival Center in front of a line of raincoats and umbrellas that seemed to stretch for miles, his dronecam shuddering slightly in the strong wind as it broadcast:

…water levels have reached critical, stressing the levee structures and prompting the President to preemptively declare a Federal Disaster Area. Martial Law with an 8pm curfew for surrounding areas has also been imposed. While locals remain hopeful the actions will at least guarantee them desperately needed food and water rations, most expect little in the way of shelter.

Moments ago, the Governor gave a press conference seeking to quell fears in the region that Congress would turn its back on the mountain state and let it fall into the hands of militia as happened to two coastal states last year after similar flooding in the west.

The image moved from the tired reporter to the tired Governor, a glaze in his eyes betraying the lack of sleep that his commanding voice sought to hide.

I want you to know that engineers are already working to reinforce the levees and as of now we don’t believe an evacuation will be necessary.

His carefully chosen words were read in measured cadence off the screen to the left of the camera, his eyes dashing from the audience to his script and back.

To address the food situation, while it is true that the rains and floods have spoiled a portion of our reserves, we have been preparing for this contingency for some time and there are no expected shortages.

Stressing the word ‘no,’ the Governor paused to look out at his audience, seemingly expecting applause or nods of support. He of course got nothing.

Finally, our walls, fences, and defenses to the north and south are holding, and President Renton has assured me of additional troops if needed. What’s most important is that residents know that we will not fail them and that we have the full support of the President.

The Governor leaned forward, put his hands on both sides of the podium for support, and looked directly into the camera: “We will not fail you.”

He paused again, an expression of defeat peeking through his makeup. “Let us bow our heads in prayer….”

The news turned to images of people in an affected area where floods had already wreaked havoc: a family of four, a girl on her mother’s shoulders, a boy on his father’s, fording a river-street; a couple standing in each other’s arms alone on a rooftop island as water moved debris and bodies around them; masked looters breaking into a third-floor jewelry shop, piling their plunder into a waiting speedboat; a golden retriever delicately balancing on top of what was once a streetlamp as it was slowly enveloped. The voice of the reporter was drowned out by a disbelief that engulfed Alyel. Her brain processed the tragedy and failure, her heart the pain and fear.

Soel motioned the screen off and Alyel found her left hand covering a gaping mouth and her right hand tightly gripping Soel’s arm, whose right hand was lightly placed on her softly protruding belly bump. They sat there in silence, holding on.


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