There's a great tradition of people writing when they've been fired, after all, and I can join that. It can be something else to focus on other than the job hunt. Another way to motivate myself when the I suck messages go through my head and threaten my motivation to find more paid work.
What follows is not a story -- there's no real plot to it, just an impossible situation I tried to visualize. The imagery is the point, this time. I owe it to not only myself, but to the people I know who tell stories professionally, to actually get good at this -- or, at least, to see if I can. I won't be sharing much: it takes a while to get good, if you have good in you. But I like the idea of sharing a starting point. Or a restarting point -- I've written little stories before. OK: here are 1,334 words' worth of practice. I'll get more aware as I go on about where I need improvement.
(started 12/21/2011, at most fiddled with for a week, finished 12/28/2011)
It was heartbreaking, all the people who didn't -- so many minds snapped, maybe one-tenth of the species having a psychotic break, a guess but the best guess we can make under the circumstances. Plus all the deaths just from being in the wrong places at the wrong time. So many wrong places: ships, bridges, piers, docks, and shores, crossing places and edge places (as well as airplanes in flight) that got overwhelmed by almost all the water of the world suddenly going up. As if revolting against gravity, something that every law of the universe should've called impossible but the sight above all of us discounts that.
We're not meant to look up at the ocean.
Or up at rivers, lakes, ponds, any of that.
Submarines in the sky. This is a thing now. Except all attempts to re-establish radio contact with the subs that were sailing when this happened have failed. We're trying to accept that the violence of the change -- too fast a shift? Did pressure change around them so much that the sailors onboard got the bends? -- likely killed the crews. A bleak assumption, but one supported by the evidence. So far. They're still there, probably engines off and drifting. What happens when they start reaching the edges of the water-bodies, we are not looking forward to.
Were there warnings? Somehow, yes: I heard, later, that ocean waves stopped, then flattened out. Not beach water suddenly receding, the warning of a tsunami, but beach water suddenly reverting to a more staid state, like waves deflated. Surfers and swimmers were at the forefront of the change, unfortunately for them. And their families and friends, so many of whom were watching, who saw their loved ones thrown into the sky on the force of upward waves.
(I can't imagine the noise of the change that people near oceans heard, the noise of as huge a mass as even a small sea's water going from down there to up there. Imagine a thousand hurricanes slamming into each other. You can't. The noise from the rivers and lakes near here was eardrum-damaging enough for me.)
Impossible. But done.
And the oceans, lakes, rivers, all other water-bodies keeping their same shapes is something those of us left have somehow accepted. They all flow, as best as we can observe, as they did ever since the Earth first had flowing water. But now they flow some miles above us -- sometimes higher, sometimes lower, but always more than a mile separates the ground from the bottom of the water. Small ponds hover like flying saucers; somehow it's those smaller water-bodies that are the hardest to accept when you look at them. No or few tendrils of water reaching to them, like an anatomy model showing veins on their way to the heart; simply the shimmer of light bouncing off the sides that once moved against the sides and bottoms of those swimming holes.
Did you hear about the modified weather balloons? Apparently the only quickly feasible way to study what's going on up there. (Sending rockets into the water would just be asking for trouble. It would be like doing science with torpedoes.) Lightweight science instruments, tiny video cameras, enough helium, and the balloons can skirt the upside-down edge of the water, and their sensors report. Some of the life in the water seems to be fine, but only as far as we can tell. Still fish and sharks and plankton and whales, just, again, UP THERE. None of the shelter of the reefs and cliffs and caves of ocean floors -- our best guess is that every reef in the world has died or is dying, as they're cut off from sources of nourishment -- and how much that has affected the ocean's ecology remains to be seen. We don't know yet what's happened to animals like seals, polar bears and sea lions that go back and forth between water and land, now that they cannot do that anymore. Exhaustion and drowning, sadly, and most likely. Plus waste products from the life still up there has to go somewhere, and since gravity still seems to work, both down here and within the floating water, the best guess is that it should all float down to the bottom of the bodies of water -- but that hasn't happened yet.
Still, if it is going to happen, it'll almost certainly happen soon. If it doesn't, maybe we won't have the time to find out why. Or the inclination.
We've got our waste to deal with, still. Sewer pipes discharged, for a while, into the former ocean beds and river beds. The sewage didn't go far from there. And once what little water, relatively speaking, that was not immediately affected by the change had worked its way from our toilets and our tanks and some of our sealed-up reservoirs, had finished evacuating from those sewer lines and then gone straight up...well, that's when this got dire. We're waiting for our waste to stagnate and rot in sewer pipes.
And dehydration doesn't care that the impossible's happened, it's still killing people.
This is where once again we can be glad we have so much bottled water already, though of course that's being rationed so, so strictly.
I've heard of proposals for pipelines into the sky, connecting to the water up there and trying to suck it back down to here. Means we would have to quickly build the tallest structures ever: and what happens if -- or when -- the bodies of water move, either up or (perhaps) to the side, and away from the pipes? Do we modify pipelines to be moved around? To extend? Is that engineering even possible? We may have to find out. We may not find joy in the answer.
This all can, sometimes, be beautiful: when the sunlight can penetrate a river-deep or shoreline-deep portion of the ocean. Refraction and shimmering, like you're looking up from the ocean bottom but can breathe on your own. Clouds often run into the floating bodies and dissipate, either dissolved into the water -- one kind of moisture joining another -- or pushed aside by it. Other clouds pass below and above, still drifting as they should. Otherwise, the shadow-darkness is thick, so thick: former coasts and places near large rivers now spend much of their days in the dark.
Other places, near what used to be miles-deep ocean trenches, the sight's still more mind-bending: Earth's deepest, widest canyons, finally visible to the naked eye, but with what might as well be stalactites of water dipping down past your line of sight into those trenches -- never touching what used to be the bottom of them. Imagine standing on the edge of the Grand Canyon, with the Colorado River floating in the middle and at rim level, and multiply that by the amount of water that really could fill that canyon to the rim...then move that water even higher up, impossibly (we thought) higher up. And you wouldn't have to imagine that, if you can get to where that's what happened.
What if it all falls? What if the impossible rules now at work change, and water goes back to how it's always behaved? It'd be like the world's largest tsunami -- from above. It would pulverize cities, highways and interstates, dams, forests, maybe even mountains down to the bedrock. Billions of us would probably die. Billions. If billions haven't already died by then. Animal death tolls would be similarly catastrophic.
The near-tripled amount of land on Earth created by this lift: fascinating, but a small consolation for the loss of what's supposed to sustain us. At most a fraction of that new-land will be explored -- much as before. The pressing issues are now impossibly pressing.
What happens now? We recalibrate what we call Impossible. And see what can be done. If it can be done.
Used to that yet?