A short story inspired by global warmingby Janice Galloway / January 23, 2013 / Leave a comment
Published in February 2013 issue of Prospect Magazine
Janice Galloway is the author of several award-winning works of fiction, non-fiction and poetry. Her latest, All Made Up, won the Scottish Book of the Year Award 2012. This story, “Fittest,” comes from a new collection, Beacons: Stories for Our Not-So-Distant Future, in which a selection of writers have responded to the subject of climate change. “I wanted to write about that moment we all face sooner or later when there is no option but to turn spectator sport into sharp-eyed engagement,” says Galloway.
The weather had been wicked for ages but summer was little short of criminal. Warm, heavy rain every morning shifted to high winds, howling winds and tree-shaking bluster by noon. Long humid evenings, the sun emerging fitfully like a jaundiced eye between bruisy clouds, brought an end to more days than most cared to remember. There was even a freak shower of giant hail, ice-balls hard enough to shatter as they landed, spilling seeds, or maybe insect eggs, over the pavements of Braemar. Not to be outdone, Stornoway reported fleets of stray jellyfish stranding boats offshore, and Perth, a shower of live eels. The Central Belt was milder by comparison, but no one would have called it pleasant. Save for the occasional olive-tinted tuft, grass showed only in shades of straw and brown. When an intercepted film shot by Grampian Police surfaced on YouTube suggesting the sky near Inverness was turning bronze, those of us who paid attention to our instincts began, like salmon, drifting north. Despite warnings of petrol shortages, I took the caravan. Old engines don’t let you down, and this way I could ferry the bike on the roof, just in case. The cat wouldn’t come—she’s not a traveller at the best of times—so I left the flap unlocked and plenty of food, set the tap to a dribble and left her to it, telling myself she’d be fine. Beasts, unless you deliberately crippled their chances, usually were. Nonetheless, guilt and worry nipped at me as I drove over the hills. No deer. No Highland cows. Nothing looked right.