The Irresistible – Ross Dalglish [Fiction]

The Irresistible

‘I’d like you to leave,’ says Mr Terry. ‘I’m tired of officials.’

The official parts the curtains with a fingertip and looks out to sea. Alpine
waves, vengeful clouds, a soaring gull gives her an uncaring glance. Wind must
be getting up. ‘Mr Terry, I can only repeat what I’ve said,’ she says. ‘It’s critical.
Your house has no structural integrity.’

Mr Terry lifts the chain that binds him to the radiator and shakes it for
emphasis. ‘I’m staying put, right here, until the world listens.’

The official sits in a chair next to him, leans forward, ‘Just suppose, for a
moment, that the Earth is designed to produce an organism that becomes so
successful, super successful, it destroys everything. If not us, Mr Terry, then it
would’ve been some other species. Suppose that’s true – no point resisting.
Might as well enjoy the ride. Another cup of tea?’

‘You’re in denial.’

‘Whatever I am, I’m not easily discouraged – I’m sending for a trained
negotiator.’ A wave bigger than houses slowly races towards them. It falls in
chaos beneath a last inch of garden and smashes into England’s exposed rib-
cage. The official closes her eyes, grabs the arms of the chair, cups tinkle their
saucers.

‘Goodbye Mr Terry. I’ll leave the key here where you can reach it.’

The front door slams. He unlocks the shackles, stands, stretches and picks up
the sandwich she brought for him. Typical, a non-recyclable packet. Can’t eat
that – it might as well be meat. He lights a joint and opens the curtains.
Charcoal snowflakes charge at the double glazing, cling and slide. Acid snow
that, pulsating with gamma rays and neutrons. Catch your death out there. Mr
Terry pulls his collar tight. Don’t put the heating on. Not yet. Save a few last
emissions. Think global, act local. He feels another monster wave pulverize the
archaeology beneath his feet. Walls and roof beams groan. A few more of those and it will all be over. The smell of the sea that he once loved, that first
drew him here, is now a stench of rotting fish and plastic catastrophe. It seeps
up through the foundations, the floorboards and into his body, intravenous,
cellular.

The Wave is already on its way, gathering energy in the shipping lanes and oil
fields. Random distribution of air pressure squeezing the sea, billions of joules
and watts of kinetic energy, fuel injected into one wave, especially for Mr
Terry. And there’s no turning back for either of them. Not for him, not after all
those years of recycling, the low energy bulbs, the extra jumpers, the marches,
the arrests, the trumped-up charges, learning the intricate mysteries of a
planet’s ecosystem, the unpolluted faith in what to do about it all, the punch-
ups with deniers, those politicians, the compost of human wisdom. No, there’s
no turning back. Not now the planet is resisting, not now it’s going to reclaim
his home, not now it’s going to reclaim him. The sea is the Earth’s immune
system, it was the sea all along, and he wouldn’t miss this, no way. What did
the PR man say? The end of the world can’t make the headlines, but self-
sacrifice always has a chance.

The trained negotiator leans into the back of her van and checks her kit.
Megaphone, script, energy bars – it’s all there, quick let’s go. She sets off for Mr
Terry’s place and gets trapped in traffic, always this traffic. But she’ll make it
eventually. When she does she’ll check the map, double-check the address,
before noting in the file: Too Late. She’ll look across the steaming hole where
the house had stood and her gaze will be drawn to the relaxed black waves and
she’ll know, deep down, that it will always be too late. You can’t negotiate with
the sea.

 

By Ross Dalglish

  • You can find Ross in Manchester or over on his Twitter: @twitslit
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