warming by SeverianofUrth
Time, Bleak and Black
Date: 5 January 2007, 7:07 am
Anastasius Black knew something was wrong when that poor sod in green was ripped in two; in his arms landed the upper part of the corpse, all dripping blood, and by his feet landed the other unfortunate half. Shocked, Black stared up from the heavy, horrific mess in his arms and into the face of a rhino-masked gorilla.
He tried to think of all the wild animal segments on Dany. There had been kangaroos, tylapi, elephants, gnotterlings... but nothing about facing down apes twice your size, which had just ripped a man in half. Should he stare into its eyes, or away? Should he run, walk away, tread backwards, and stay? And in the midst of all this, the ape advanced.
He did not see his life flash before his eyes. A crack, and a momentary tinge of purple in the corner of his eyes, and the ape staggered back, the top half of its face sliced and falling off. Green and brains slobbered down as the severed part finally completed its descent and fell with a slop onto the ground. Black wondered, dimly, if apes now bled green.
A hand slapped down on his shoulders, grabbed, and spun him around. He turned without resistance, and would have fallen, had the man--
--not steadied him up.
"You okay?" she inquired. Over her left shoulder was a formidable looking weapon. Black peered closely at it; the technology of the future truly was miraculous.
"If I may ask," he said, "just what do you call that gun?"
"That hunting rifle. The one you just shot down that ape with."
She peered into his face. She seemed to be particularly interested in his eyes; Black nodded, perfectly understanding, knowing how his strikingly brown eyes often captivated the uninitiated.
"Anyways," he continued, "if you could be kind enough to tell me.."
"What?" she said, incredulously. "Are you okay? What happened to you?"
"Why, nothing, my lady," Black said. He was trying to be courteous, but faced with this lad's--no, lass, a girl, can't be a lad with those earrings--lack of courtesy in turn, it was rather trying. Though he had come too from an age in which rudeness prevailed, he had hoped, too, that the future would hold better human beings. Alas, that hope looked to be unfulfilled at best.
Black and the woman ended up sharing the backseat of the Toyonda, and as they sped through the ruins, Black again realized the import of Dr. Time's words--global warming's gonna get us, lad, get us good--and felt a slight shiver pass through his frame. To think, that rising temperatures could force upon the planet total war!
"Would that we had heeded the Sagacious Gore," he said to the girl. "Then our children, the people of your time, would not have suffered so."
She laughed, and looked away. There was a snort from the driver, a tall man with wiry hair. "What a freak," he commented.
Black ignored him, though he felt an urge to sigh, which he chose not to satisfy. Perhaps, he mused, the humankind did indeed deserve this fate.
Meanwhile, the two other occupants--one a driver, the other a unwilling sharer of seats--had themselves a conversation.
"Where we taking him, anyhow?"
"I was thinking that Tommy Beckett would like a look at him."
"Was that an order from up top?"
"Something close to it. A curious bloke, though, which probably--"
"May I inquire about this Beckett gentleman?" Black cut in. The other two ignored him.
"Probably warrants some looking into," she finished.
"Just a moment, young woman--"
"I mean, he just stood there while a bloody fucking brute ripped Mauros in half. I thought he froze or something, but to hear him now, it sounds as if he was fresh from a tea party."
"Most certainly not, my dear," Black said, shocked to hear himself being maligned so. "Why, you may just as well call me gay."
There was a moment of silence, and then the man said, "its been a long time since I heard something like that."
"America?" the girl asked.
Then she turned to Black and said, "so where are you from, anyhow?"
He was nothing if not a obliging person. Though she had grievously insulted his character, he was willing to let the past lie. "Chicago," he said. "Though I'm sure that city no longer exists, it having been five thousand years since my last... my last visit there."
"We went to Chicago once, didn't we, Abbey?" The man lit a cigarette, one hand still on the steering wheel.
"Yeah. Before it got bombed."
"Was it the glaciers?" Black asked politely. So Chicago had survived all the way into this age, bad basketball and baseball teams aside. He was glad for that fact, and wished that Dr. Time was with him.
"The melting glaciers."
"That happened a long time ago," Abbey said.
"How long?" Black inquired, curious.
"Like a couple hundred years, if I remember correctly."
"Quite longer then a minute, wouldn't you say?" And there Black laughed. It was the only joke he knew.
Abbey looked at him as if he was crazy--or just dumb--before turning back to her friend and saying, "you know, I risked my life for this shithead."
"What are you complaining about? We die for shitheads all the time."
"Still, its just the principle of it..."
And she never finishes her sentence. The window splinters, cracks, shatters; all in a moment, Black is showered by shards, the car spins as its driver slumps back, head a ruin, and beside Black is the body of Abbey, similarly in loss of a face--and to him occurs now the horror of this age, the evils of global warming. To think, that war prevails in such an enlightened time!
Then the third shot takes him in the chest, as the car spins around and round and eventually crashes into a wall. He too slumps forward, dead; and then, all in a tingle, he wakes in the lab of Dr. Time.
"How was it, lad?"
"It was terrible, doctor," he says earnestly. "You were right: I should never have doubted you. The evils of global warming are profound indeed!"
"Aye," Dr. Time agrees, as he helps Black climb out of the spatial expander. "True indeed. Just what did you see, lad?"
"Horrible, doctor, horrible. A disfigured ape--"
"Aye! A creature of nature driven from his habitat, no wonder."
"Who was justly angered at his oppressors. Yes, doctor, that ape tore a man in half; and the city I arrived in, why, its even worse then what the Bronx looks like today, all in ruins. I met a woman who carried with her some sort of a laser weaponry--"
"Don't the human capacity for killing anger you, lad?"
"Oh, yes. And they were horrid indeed, calling me mentally retarded and such. Still, you're theory proved to be correct, sir! You showed that Hawking hack alright--for it was not aliens I saw destroying the world, but rather men, and men alone."