An underwater civilization of the future faces the environmental consequences of humankind’s actions
The station is crowded, even for a Friday evening. Families mill around, children tiptoeing to press their faces against the portholes in the cement walls. A man taps a glossy shoe on the cool tile, impatiently waiting to retire for the week. Beneath the murmurs of colleagues and parents, the clock ticks audibly.
A dark figure makes its way toward a window slowly. It picks up speed as it approaches, unhinging its jaws to bare rows of sharp, jagged teeth. The children shriek, jumping back quickly. The shark hovers on the other side of the glass, reveling in an illusion of freedom. A five-year-old clutches his mother’s leg. The shark flicks its tail and fades away.
The whoosh of the approaching subway grabs your attention.
You step on, enveloped by a mass of people as thick as a woven mat. The elderly, the pregnant and those carrying infants quickly buckle into the seats, leaving you to stand. You wrap your fingers around a handle, preparing for the jolt that will carry you away from the station. With a soft hum, the subway comes alive, gliding up through the water like a torpedo.
You gaze outside, at the heavy concrete domes, stark against the shattered coral reefs that dot what was once the seafloor, now home to the Colonies. Halfway to the surface is one of the oldest stops. Rumor has it that the early rebels settled here, living in pods they called submarines. Those were the times before the sharks came to see the children behind the glass.
You wonder if those were the times when the water was free of the smoke that now drifts through it. If those were the times when the coral reefs were intact, and the ocean pulsed with more than just the throbbing of the factories as they pumped out gasoline and carbon dioxide.
A school of silvery bluefish darts past. Just as they did two-hundred years ago.
Now, their scales are tinged with the faintest of yellow from orange spills, red from rust, black from each bruise they received for bumping into concrete carelessly. Their scars, a result of humankind’s creations. Still, they are a lively splash of color upon a manmade backdrop.
A single fish spins in the water, zipping forward ecstatically. You chuckle. The fish swims fast enough to leave a trail of clear water in its wake. It streaks through the ever present dust and smoke–just for a second–before it crashes into a glass dome. It freezes, mid-stroke, as it hovers in the water in a final moment of majestic glory.
The clear water that the fish danced through blurs, factory smoke drifting from the biodome’s exhausts to cover up its beautiful memory.
The subway speeds on, just as quickly as the bluefish did. Through the opaque water.