Picture it and Write: Accident Report

by joetwo

Hi there! This is my offering for this week’s picture it and Write from Ermilia’s blog here. Once again, the picture is not mine, it is from here, I’m only using it for inspiration. Anyway enjoy!

Accident Report

There was a faint wisp of rotten eggs so I adjusted the mask on my breather to ensure a proper seal. I had been taking photographs of a dry lake bed filled with the skeletal remains of old trees. From the degradation of the bark I guessed that they had been dead for decades, easily before the collapse. The house at what used to be the lake shore had been abandoned too, that was a blessing. There were no dead bodies in there.

I transmitted my images as well as a short assessment to the survey ship above and made my way to the transport ship standing in the baking sun. I was no more than half way to it when my satellite phone went off.

I answered it and it was Frank McDivot, the leader of the expedition. “Are you sure about those numbers Grimes?” No hello or any other pleasantries as usual “Is the desert as old as you say?”

“I think so sir!” I stuttered “I’ll have to check colonial records. But my visual inspection would give that age. Plus the houses in this region were all abandoned gradually and properly, not in a rush like the others.” I swallowed “Or not at all.”

“Good, Good!” Frank said “If you’re right Grimes, then I think we will have a working theory about how this cluster-fuck happened.”

“Really?” so soon I thought “What do you think happened?”

“Do you remember that mountain range to the East of you, the one that seems too high to be real?”

“Yeah. What about it?”

“It turns out it wasn’t. That idiot Administrator Calvin wanted a view of mountains from his office but didn’t want to move so instead he had nano machine buried deep beneath some hills fifty kilometers from the capital. Had them grow to over twenty kilometers high.”

“Jesus!” That was madness. I said so to Frank then asked “But what about the environmental engineers?”

“They seem to have said everything would be okay if the mountains were kept under a kilometer but it seems that he told them to keep growing it as high as he wanted.”

“I take it there were a lot of repercussions from that”

“More than you know Grimes. First thing it did was block the south easterlies from the main ocean, setting up a rain shadow where you are now.”

“People must have noticed something was wrong then?”

“Some did. But nowhere near enough. Now all that rain had to go somewhere so it falls all down on the coastal plains, more rain than they could handle.”

“Floods?”

“A good few, there were at least ten deaths attributed to it. But that was taken as par for the course when a planet adjusts itself. The shit really hit the fan when all of that flood water hit the seas.”

“Was there a salt shock?”

“No. Worse. They had been laying tonnes of fertiliser out on the plain in order to support the agriculture they had intended for there. There wasn’t enough vegetation there yet to gather it all up so when the floods came…”

“It washed it all to sea.”

“Yep! Enough to turn half the ocean green for a season. Then there was a die off and all that algae rotted in the ocean.”

I thought of the rotten egg smell again. “And that released the hydrogen sulfide.”

“Got it in one. Billions of tonnes of it. The entire ocean went anoxic then all that waste gas had to go somewhere. The sensor records from the day of the collapse were very sketchy but it looks like the gas level took only a few hours to rise past toxic.”

I was aghast. The vanity, the stupidity of it all. “There was no warning?”

“Not at once. The gas spread like a wave across the planet. By the time some places were lethal other monitoring stations had barely registered a shift in the values. And of course, they were woefully unprepared. There were no respirators in the majority of towns as far as I can tell. What incompetence.”

“What about the administration? Who’s going to take responsibility for this?”

“We all know who’s responsible for this. And it looks like the bastard managed to escape too. They had respirators in his building the bunch of cretins.”

“Do you think he can be charged with anything.”

“I hope he can be. Fifty million people died here thanks to his whims. If there isn’t a law there to cover him, I hope to hell they write one.”

“Is there anything I can do.”

The line went silent for a minute then Frank said “We’ll need evidence, more than we have now. That means more leg work for the likes of you. Get back to your shuttle Grimes. I know exactly where I need to send you.”

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