FICTION: NATURE TAKES HER REVENGE
It started with the elevators. They simply stopped functioning. Wherever they had last stopped that’s where they stayed. It didn’t matter how often you pushed the buttons they simply refused to move.
Naturally, engineers were called in everywhere but they were of no help. All they’d say is that there was no technical reason for them doing this. Everything was normal regarding the electronics and mechanics involved.
It was only later when specialists investigated in minute detail that the reason for their malfunction was discovered. The only way they could describe it was that the metal structure of the elevators appeared to have been affected. Somehow their molecular structure had been altered.
We were mystified and horrified in equal amounts. In three to four-storey buildings, people could take the stairs and it would only mean a slight enhancement to their fitness regime. But especially in the big cities such as New York with their skyscrapers and tall apartment buildings, the net effect was more exhaustion than increased fitness.
Entire buildings were shut down until the entire elevator structure could be replaced.
At that point in time, it seemed to everyone that this was a very strange anomaly but nothing more. Unfortunately, it didn’t end there. It did not end there at all...
People began complaining about their furniture shortly afterwards.
The noise was keeping them awake. It was the creaking sound... it was driving people crazy, they couldn’t sleep, could hardly think for it and couldn’t do anything normal around the home like watch TV for the constant whining that only grew louder. The only thing they could do in the end was rid themselves of every piece of wooden furniture they possessed. This worked for those in modern apartments and homes and was a relatively short if laborious process. This proved to be only a short term solution but for a while, the lives of those in such homes returned to normal.
Those living in older homes where wood was more prevalent had fewer options. Most chose to wear headphones playing loud music while indoors and one or two other devices were quickly brought onto the market to help reduce or eliminate the noise. In a number of deadly cases arson was an unfortunate consequence, either by the owners themselves or their neighbours.
The rumbling in cars came next. It was just a tinkle here and a pop there at first. Those niggly little noises you get with a car which try as you might you can never find the source of to correct. But these noises started to multiply and seemingly in every vehicle according to the nightly news. Grinding noises began to emerge. Some whistling, at first soft like tinnitus, sounds to a sufferer, then graduating up to a host of cicadas in close proximity. Squeaking began, the kind of noise made when a piece of chalk is scraped across an old-style blackboard. In combination, these sounds began to become quite unbearable. Mechanics threw up their hands in frustrated pleas for understanding when having to confront owners with the fact that they could find nothing wrong with their automobiles.
Scientific investigations took place after all such occurrences beginning with the initial elevator event. By the time of the trouble with our transport systems (cars, buses, planes and trains were all affected) they released all their findings.
It seems the molecular structure of the materials in question were changing. They coined the term ‘Molecular Warping’ for what was going on. Strictly speaking, it was people within the media that did that, the scientists had another term for it that wasn’t TV-friendly enough.
One bright spark and nature lover who was also a scientist noted that while he was hiking in the Appalachian mountains there was no abnormal sound whatsoever and began testing wood direct from nature. He discovered a very strange phenomenon, testing living wood from still growing trees showed no trace of warping whereas any piece taken from the tree began to show some slight warping almost immediately.
This caused quite an uproar and was debated heatedly everywhere from everyday conversations to across every form of media.
“What the hell is going on?”, were the words on everyone's lips at each level of society.
Everything was grinding to a halt and of course, this was in more ways than one. Especially when the thing with the stone began. It started with a rumbling sound, a deep throaty growl, quite soft at first, almost like someone not quite awake subconsciously aware there’s a source of irritation nearby and begins to moan in protest. It progressed until it became very much a background sound to all our lives. As it increased in volume the crumbling began, at first only in the case of sandstone. Dust lay on the pavement below such buildings which quite quickly became drifts and then small mounds of sand all along the walls of each building. Then the cracking sounds began. The actual cracks appeared soon after.
By this time we were in panic mode. “What the hell is going on?” had been supplemented with other even more desperate expressions of fear and a much-increased volume.
People were moving out of the cities if they had somewhere else to go. Anywhere but remain in the epicentres of cacophony that place such as New York City, Los Angeles or London had become. But only a very few could do this. Meanwhile, the rest were being driven mad, and due to transport having become less frequently used food was becoming scarce. Supermarkets were closing down left and right.
Just when we believed things had reached their peak it then took a major turn for the worse.
All structures began to heave and sway. Just a little at first, but this was enough to send pieces crashing to the ground. Windows lost their shape and the glass cascaded to the grumbling pavements below. Doors creaked loudly, almost as if screaming in agony. Pipes whistled fit to burst the eardrums of anyone unlucky enough to be nearby. And the sounds... Both the volume and variety rose to new heights. Entire cities were now gargantuan versions of the old carnival favourites from the old times known as ‘Ghost Houses’ where you were treated to every visual and aural horror for your entertainment.
What was happened then was not entertaining. Not in the least.
The roads began to buckle. Bridges writhed as if desperate to escape their shackles. Wherever wires existed they too writhed and eventually snapped whipping around like the hair of a modern Hydra. Television screens burst outward sending their inner workings out in tiny fragments. Carpets frayed before our eyes. Lamposts almost seemed to walk before toppling.
Those of us who had fled the cities to some kind of normality then noticed a phenomenon that had only created slight irritation before, our clothes were changing, sleeves would shorten, waistbands tighten, shoes start to pinch. This increased to the point where it became unbearable. Eventually, it became impossible to wear any man-made fabric and we began to search for alternatives.
Millions had died by this point, most from being buried under collapsing infrastructure, many from being electrocuted by flaying cables or, as became increasingly the case, from hunger. Disease became rife and took most of those who survived previously.
Meanwhile, nature remained as ever, untouched. The wind soughed softly through the trees, rain fell, the sun shone, birds chirped and sang in the treetops. Small groups of survivors huddled in shelters of wood and leaf we had constructed as best they could. By necessity, they drank from streams and rivers and began to hunt.
All electronic communication was ended. Phones had no signal. No laptop or computer functioned past their battery power. There was no TV. No radio. The world virtually came to a halt.
The years passed. The cities became overgrown. Those who ventured into the tangled mess of them reported that their level was reducing as the process of disintegration continued. Eventually, there were only a few traces, then none.
We continued to talk... but increasingly rarely as our subjects for conversation were few, how to gain better shelter, better food, warmer clothing.
It was only at night around our communal fires that other subjects rose like sparks flying from the flames into a pitch-black night.
Our leaders gave counsel on the ways of survival.
Our best storytellers told us their tales of fearsome gods we must placate, those we must fear and those we must love. As the generations passed they wove many stories into one and it told how everything came to be.
We work hard. We raise children. We are one people. We protect us.
And we build... for the future.