After a looong break, here's another Flash Fiction story. It's a tad dystopian, but I've been in a mood.
The challenge was as follows -
It's 3 AM. An official phone alert wakes you up. It says "DO NOT LOOK AT THE MOON". You have hundreds of notifications. Hundreds of random numbers are sending, "It's a beautiful night tonight. Look outside." No more than 1000 words - mine is 745.
Do Not Look At The Moon
It had come as an official WorldGov alert, popping up on my phone. 3 a.m. my time, but supposedly it was worldwide. I'd checked my messages, and there were hundreds of them, from friends and strangers, dismissive of the alert.
"It's a beautiful night tonight. Look outside."
No arguing with that. The last few full moons had all been beautiful, even since the Clear Air project. Pollution in the atmosphere had been just getting worse and worse, for decades. Corporations had been thriving, of course, but not people, with respiratory ailments on the rise. There seemed to be no simple solution either, until WorldGov came up with Operation Clean Air. Technology to the rescue, with a new chemical compound that would precipitate all those harmful chemicals and particles from the air. It would be launched quickly, as a new public-private worldwide initiative, an added payload in a massive expansion in the Starlink satellite program.
And it had worked. Sure, there had been some short-term damage to crops and forests from all that acid rain, but most people had been compensated, and the air was definitely better, clear as a crisp winter's night. That first full moon, it seemed the entire world stayed up late watching it rise, dancing and celebrating in the streets and parks. There had been some violence, but that was to be expected with so many celebrants.
There was more violence the next full moon, though. A lot more. Some blamed it on a few extremists. Some felt that Clean Air had been launched too quickly, with little public consultation and minimal scientific research. Some worried more about coming droughts and crop failures, since with the crystal-clean air, fewer clouds formed, with much less rain. And some pointed out that the last clean air like this had been back in the 1700s, and then they linked that to all the stories from then of moon-induced madness. That last group, being the most outrageous, seemed to get the most media coverage, appearing on all the talk shows as part of a 'balanced' panel of experts. By the third full moon, protests had grown to the extent around the world that marching crowds had overthrown several smaller, less stable regimes.
Hence, that alert. And they did not do it as a suggestion, as it was part of a govt mandate, a law, with curfews and hefty fines. Not just the full moon either, but several days before and after, just in case. I was fine with staying in, but according to the news reports, many didn't feel the same. What with COVID and immigration problems, people by then had enough with restrictions and mandates, with attacks on their freedom and their constitutional rights, with 'woke' elites. We had a big protest every weekend here in Ottawa, and the marches, the looting, the riots just kept escalating worldwide.
It was time for another quick fix. In 2010, after several Icelandic volcanoes had erupted, huge dust clouds had circled the world. To emulate this, the plan now was to nudge a few volcanoes into activity around the world, with a series of carefully placed tactical nukes. The naysayers did point out the difficulties of controlling the extent of the eruptions, or how much ash and other gases might actually result, but the decision process was a balance. A balance of science versus the economy and votes.
Operation Right Air seemed to work. A few more towns were lost than planned, and for several weeks it was hard to breathe, and of course there was no air travel. But most of the eruptions calmed down, and soon the air was more or less back to normal, or at least pre-Clean Air normal, with more rain, more overcast days. Most importantly, the full moon, on those rare clear nights, was softened by a light haze. We also had some fantastic sunrises and sunsets. We were assured things were getting better.
They were wrong. Stressing all those seismic faults had been a bad idea. A series of massive earthquakes hit Europe, Asia, Australia, the Americas, toppling buildings, killing tens of thousands of people. But eventually the earth seemed to readjust itself and calmed down to the occasional cracks and upheavals.
We just had another alert, so I'm sitting outside now, waiting for the inevitable tremors, updating my diary. The power is off again, so I've gone old school, back to my notebook and pen.