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Olive AND FIG



Olive stands in a gigantic sterile white room. The letters UN are stenciled in blue on each wall. A speaker bellows out: “Temporal Historian Olive. You’ve been assigned the year 2323. 5 minutes to temporal resonance cascade.” Olive checks her backpack: Apple, waterproof tin of pills, knife and an inflatable raft. She activates her wrist device and shouts “Zukunft!” Small lights begin floating in the room. Quantum effects of excited photons tunneling their entangled particles. It’s beautiful like fireflies on a summer night, she relaxes staring at them. They begin to elongate and turn into long undulating filaments -- like perfect sine waves. You could calculate their amplitude and frequency by eye. Suddenly all the particle waves glow and combine in a flash of light. A silent darkness fills Olive. She can hear every body function in her system. She feels wet. Her eyes focus. She is in a rainstorm. Turbulent dark clouds overhead.



“Regnet! I have to remember to bring a raincoat, too bad years don’t have a dress code”, she thought to herself. She looks around; she is on a mound of rock jutting above water stretching in every direction, punctuated with plants poking out of the water in patches.


She thinks about the temporal historians who materialized in un-survivable places.






She can’t see the sun anywhere, but the rain is pleasantly warm, but her thoughts turn to hypothermia from exposure. There just seems to be clouds above the clouds like a kaleidoscope. Staring too long makes her dizzy, and sheets of rain are falling as far as the eye can see.


In the water she can see huge schools of fish and sharks. She sees a pod of whales blowing water. She smiles thinking about how the ocean ecosystem has rebounded - - but where are all the people?


She wonders if the UN made a mistake on her coordinates. Did she catch a year where human life truly ended? She closes her eyes to think. The constant rain is a steady drone pounding in her ears. It makes her almost want to go to sleep, she’s drifting off. The raft! Should she use it?


Olive slowly opens one of her eyes. She squints through the rain to see an object with a light barreling toward her. She stands up and waves.


A boat-like vehicle made of bamboo that looks like an arrow skims toward Olive silently. Water spews out of the rear for propulsion.


“What are you doing out there? Get in here!” A hand reaches out and Olive takes it and jumps in.


The skipper hands her a towel and some ear plugs. Olive asks, “Why are you shouting?


Olive looks over the propulsion system as she dries herself. Looks like a pump powered by tanks of bioluminescent algae as batteries.


“I’m hard of hearing! Wear those. The constant rain makes you lose hearing after a while. Trust me you don't want that,” the skipper shouts.


“How long has it been raining?” asks Olive. The boat driver looks off into the distance, “All my life -- I've never known a day without rain. Almost a century I’ve heard from older folks.”



Olive thinks about Earth’s Carnian Pluvial event where it rained for centuries. She wonders if this is cyclical or manmade.


The boat is following bright LED light markers floating just under the water. Olive asks, "What are those for?"


“Navigation. We are headed to the Providence platform. What platform are you from?”


Olive checks her wrist device, it scans all legacy spectrum -- she isn't picking up any GPS or GLOSS, BEIDOU. “Do you have Satellite Navigation?” Olive inquires.


“Satellite Navigation? There hasn't been satellite anything for decades. The cloud cover pretty much makes it useless. And the ground stations for most of them flooded long ago. My grandpa told me there was a huge crash among the satellites years ago rendering most of them useless anyway,” the skipper reveals.


“Kessler syndrome,” Olive mumbles below the skippers' hearing.


The boat pulls up to a large, roofed docking area of a huge platform.


“Providence Platform! Here you go!” says the skipper.


Olive jumps onto the deck. A little girl is standing there staring into the horizon.


Olive bends down to her. “Hi! What is your name?”


The girl stares at her for a bit quizzically.


“Are you waiting for someone?”


“Nobody. I am Watergee - I don’t have a name yet,” the girl says.


“Watergee? Oh I get it, like a refugee from the water. Nice to meet you! I’m Olive,” says Olive brightly.


The little girl takes Olive's hand and walks wherever she goes.


Around the dock and the platform there are gigantic plants, she can recognize them but they are huge -- and they all seem to be water plants. She also notices now that the dock is covered in frogs.


“Are you hungry?” the Watergee child asks.


““Yes! What do you guys eat around here?”


“Frog legs, lots of frog legs -- want some?”


“Yes.”


The Watergee leads Olive from the docks down a hallway. On either side are huge growing platforms. When Olive looks in on them, she sees that they are open ended aquaponic farms. The fish and amphibians pass seamlessly from the open waters into the seaweed. Complex grasses grow on a grid of mulch.


They arrive at a buffet-style public cafeteria. The Watergee and Olive get in line, and grab trays. The food is a seafood lover's dream with offerings of greens from Seaweed to Celery.


“Is there any chicken or beef here?”


The little girl shrugs, but a middle-aged woman in line leans over to answer.


“How old are you? Have you seen a chicken or cow recently?”


Olive catches herself, “No, but I saw one in a book.”


The three of them sit down to a delicious meal of frog legs, cod, watercress and spinach.


The middle aged woman continues, “Those died out a while ago, the deluge pretty much made it hard to keep those kind of animals. The drop in human population over the planet has really led to a rebound in fish and water-born plants -- other than aquatic mammals, most of them died out, but luckily we have unlimited frog legs!”


She takes a deep bite of a juicy frog leg.


“KFF: Kentucky Fried Frog -- that could work,” Olive says to herself.


A gentle alarm sounds. “PLATFORM EUPHORIA SPOTTED, PREPARE FOR DOCKING. PREPARE FOR TRADE AND MAIL.”


Everyone starts leaving the cafeteria. The middle aged woman, Olive and the Watergee follow.


Olive can see in the distance a similar platform to the one she is on moving toward them. She can see plants and sails rising from it.


As the platform comes close, its denizens appear on the dock with food, crafts and goods. The platforms dock with a clang.


The crowd of traders make way as the Captain of the PLATFORM PROVIDENCE emerges and walks to the merged docks. The captain of PLATFORM EUPHORIA meets him in the middle. They speak a strange language, some kind of pidgin English. It’s rapid fire and they never unlock their eyes from each other. Olive tries to catch every word to document it with her recall memory.


“Captainese!” she names it. The captains suddenly go quiet and they both raise their hands. Fireworks erupt from the platforms. Everyone cheers and begins trading items both large and small. Mail and packages are exchanged -- addressed to the members of the platform. They have routing info, showing the platforms they have transferred from, like a decentralized network.


Olive asks the middle aged woman,” Do you guys exchange money here?”


“Nope! Where did you say you were from again?”


“She must be a Watergee like me!” says the Watergee girl.


Olive enjoys seeing people trade plants and fish for crafts, services and medicine. She pulls out the apple from her bag and asks if anyone wants to trade for the seeds? The crowd is vocally amazed looking at the shiny red fruit, some people even gasp.


An elderly, sagacious-looking man sees it and takes Olive by the arm and whispers, “Come with me before you start a riot on this platform!” Olive grabs the Watergee. The old sage whisks her down a hallway. The captain's eyes follow them as one of her lieutenants whispers in her ear.


He closes the door and asks “Sun or no sun?


"Is there sunlight?” He slides back a wall insert and a bright artificial light floods the room.


Olive nods and basks in the light.


“I know you aren't from here.”


“How?”


The old sage holds up a glass of water to her fingers. Nothing happens. He places it near the Watergee’s hand and his, and the fingers get wrinkly.


“Your fingers don’t wrinkle automatically from the presence of water to make it easier to pick things up. You aren’t waterborne, since your nervous system doesn’t react to water instantly. And of course, this apple…”


He takes out a knife and cores the apple and carefully puts the seeds on a tray. He slices the apple up into 3 pieces and offers one to The WaterGee, Olive and he bites the one with a Crack. He closes his eyes as the taste transports him to another place. The Watergee tastes it. Her face lights up! “Hmm! A Sugar Pepper!” “I'll trade you knowledge for your seeds,” the sage says.


He holds up a tray and they all carefully take his lead putting the apple seeds into the tray.



Why is it raining so much?”


The old sage explains: “Good question, as far as I know from history, a runaway greenhouse effect took place, exacerbated by a geo-engineering attempt to seed clouds to reflect sunlight. 126


But, instead it unlocked the rain and it never stopped till the planet was in a constant state of flooding. Look at this map.”


“He points to a map of the earth and points to what was Miami, a light appears under the area he touches.


“We are here, where on this map are you from?”



Guards come to the door. “Open up in the name of the Captain! The Captain would like to speak to the unregistered visitor!”


“Uh oh -- I think maybe I should get out of here,” the old sage says , “the captain won’t harm you, but I have no idea how long they would hold you so if you have to get back now, you should leave. Will you come back?”


“I have to say I am really touched by the resilience I have seen here. Maybe one Day!” says Olive.


The little girl smiles knowing better. “I want you to -- but you aren't coming back.” She pulls up close to whisper in Olive’s ear: “But I am glad you came. You make me hope.”


Olive whispers in the Watergee’s ear. “I have something for you. A name. Fig.”


“I love it! Thank you, Olive!”


Olive hugs her. “That means more to me than you'll ever know, Fig,” as a hot tear runs down her face.


Olive motions toward the hatch. “Can I?” The old man opens the hatch for her.


She jumps out just as the guards enter the room and splashes below into the water. She inflates her raft and scrambles in. She starts paddling in the raft, following the navigation LED’s till she reaches the rock.


She looks at her wrist device and selects 2023. It triggers the temporal resonance and the quantum effects begin to swirl around the rock. She grabs the raft, stuffs it into her backpack. She blinks out of sight.


__________________________________________________________________________________


John Threat

John Threat is a consulting futurist for entities such as Visions2030

(www.visions2030.studio) about environmental and security futures

and solutions. John has been featured on the cover of Wired and

on 60 Minutes on air and staff as a consultant. He is also a writer,

director, hacker and visiting professor at Cal Arts, where he will

have an experiential installation Zukunft Garten for Visions2030’s

Eco-Consciousness event in September 2023.


(johnthreat@gmail.com)


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