The message rolled out in an orchestrated wave that rose with the sun in cities around the world. It appeared on highway billboards, on hoardings beside city streets, in newspapers, and on radio and TV. Online news sources carried the story, as did the Twittersphere and other social media channels.

The message to worldwide governments was terse. Make concrete progress on reducing carbon emissions in the next forty days or face serious consequences.

Governments responded with bluster. They vowed to track down and destroy the ecoterrorists responsible for the messages and waxed poetic about the wondrous progress they’d made tackling global warming.

An outspoken environmentalist expressed a commonly held view. “I question the secrecy of the person transmitting the message and deplore the implied threat. But they’re demanding governments take action they should have taken years ago. Take their challenge as inspirational, an incentive to do the right thing for the environment.”

They arrested her, charged her with sedition, and she disappeared.

During the morning commute on day forty-one, automobiles in Sydney, Australia, suddenly lost power. Roads became littered with dead cars and traffic ground to a halt. Over the next few hours, the phenomenon hit Asian cities. Ten hours later, when it reached Europe, many avoided the problem by leaving their cars at home. Later still in North America, security forces blocked the highways, only admitting buses, trucks, and electric vehicles. Uncontrolled city streets turned into impromptu parking lots.

Tristan leaned on their apartment’s balcony railing. “Better ride my bike to work.”

“Nothing new,” Hope replied, smiling. “You always take your bicycle.”

He pointed at the snarled traffic. “Definitely something new. Cars abandoned pointing every whichaway with drivers walking away.”

“Is this the threat associated with last month’s mysterious ultimatum?”

“No way! Sabotaging cars everywhere isn’t possible?”

“But it’s happening. Will their ploy work, inspire government action?”

He shook his head. “Inspire? Sorry, I can’t accept inspirational threats.”

“For years, governments provided inspirational statements and precious little action. We need genuine progress.”

“But can we trust an unknown entity with undisclosed superpowers?”

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    Carrie OLeary
    Carrie OLeary(@carrie-oleary)
    2 years ago

    There are probably not many vehicles that a good EMP can’t knock out these days, so I would imagine the scenario to be entirely plausible. Whether or not they could co-ordinate it that well is really quite frightening. Interesting story.

    Eric Radcliffe
    Eric Radcliffe(@eric-radcliffe)
    2 years ago

    Yes, indeed Allen, this is a problem that holds huge implications for Mother Earth – I don’t include its visitors (us). We simply think it will be the next person’s problem. I love the way that you point this out by including every nation. Also, the way you used the name ‘Hope’ for one of your characters. Your story hangs on this word by a thin thread. I remember it being said,… Read more »

    Linda Rock
    Linda Rock(@linda-rock)
    2 years ago

    Definitely food for thought Alan. Governments making all the right noises but taking little action… happens all the time. A well written story, enjoyed reading it.

    Lotchie Carmelo
    Lotchie Carmelo(@lotchie-carmelo)
    2 years ago

    Brings awareness and knowledge to people about global warming and Mother Earth’s current situation. But it brings sadness to me knowing that we cannot trust the government about it. Good write, and thank you for sharing your good ideas.

    Danielle Burke
    Danielle Burke(@danielle-burke)
    2 years ago

    “The message rolled out in an orchestrated wave that rose with the sun in cities around the world.” “Roads became littered with dead cars. . .”

    The imagery you employ allows the reader to have a clear picture of events and also adds an eeriness to the story.

    Marianna Pieterse
    Marianna Pieterse(@marianna-pieterse)
    2 years ago

    Alan, this is a very thought-provoking piece. I liked your choice of names for the characters and Hope definitely brings just that – hope that in the end it will all end well. The vivid descriptions really emphasized the problem that the world faces.

    Christer Norrlof
    Christer Norrlof(@christer-norrlof)
    2 years ago

    I can sense the inspiration caused by my fellow Swedish citizen Greta Thunberg in this story. She also criticizes governments for making promises which sound good but don’t take care of the problems. Can we hope for help from an unknown source? Great writing, Alan!

    Dipayan Chakrabarti
    Dipayan Chakrabarti(@dipayan-chakrabarti)
    2 years ago

    The focus on inspiration is explicit and may inspire the reader to new creative ideas.

    2 years ago

    Nice work Alan! I found this story from a link on the new contest and really enjoyed this quick read. Also cool that one of the main characters was “Hope”, which is something we all need at the moment!

    Reply to  Alan Kemister
    2 years ago

    I looked up the meaning of the name Tristan, and saw it was of French origin, and means “sad” or “sorrowful”. That makes your story even better than I knew initially. The cool thing about your story is some may feel “hope”, while others feel “sad”, and you have subtly covered both of those emotions. About your tech question: yes, I am involved in technology. I checked the link, and it looks… Read more »

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