I still can’t wrap my brain around it. Sitting alone on the desolate beach, I squint out at the horizon. The once vast, cerulean expanse is now a murky grey, its edges indistinct.
A two-year-old article in Sky and Space Magazine predicted the phenomenon, but I didn’t pay much attention to the dire forecast. It was just another outdated science journal at a doctor’s office.
The earth’s 11-year solar cycle follows a predictable flux in the planet’s atmosphere. Only the current cycle, according to the article’s author, wasn’t showing signs of the expected expansion. Instead, a steady collapse was wreaking havoc on the earth ecosystems.
The sky was shrinking.
Gravity, intensifying due to the uninhibited pull of the moon, spawned tsunamis worldwide. A spike in CO2 levels was poisoning lower life forms, and a creating an epidemic of respiratory and cardiac fatalities in human and other large mammals.
Dead birds were falling from the sky, and fish, swollen and decaying, floated to the surface of ever warming oceans and lakes. Space debris, no longer held in orbit around the earth, was crashing into populated regions, sparking catastrophic fires and seismic destruction. Smoke from the fires was only adding to the toxic troposphere.
Mass burials are being held because local morgues couldn’t handle the accumulating bodies.
The world was ending.
Here I was, sitting alone on a desolate beach, when I was shocked out of my abstraction by the shrill caw of a sea bird. Craning my neck around, I frantically searched for the gull, fearing a disease animal attack.
A few feet from my spot in the sand, the bird dropped something. I waited until the bird was lost in the haze before crawling over to examine it’s offering.
Picking up a small twig with a tight cluster of maroon berries still attached, I began to laugh. Wild cherries… and a memory from my dear, sweet, departed grandmother’s folklore homilies warning against eating the fruit. From my more conventional college botany courses, I remembered the pits and wilted leaves were rich in cyanide.
A final gift from heaven?