Heat Wave

It was a hazy, hot day in New York. The temperature reached 112 by 1 pm, a new record for the date. The date was January 18, 2108. It was an unusually warm winter people were saying. Usually the winters in NY rarely see the temperature go over 90. 112 was more like the usual high temperatures in May. Experts said the war against global warming was lost when a 21st century president named Donald Trump did not take strong action when there was still time to avert disaster. Instead greenhouse warming spiraled out of control faster than anyone predicted at the time.

Nadine Gordon lined up at her usual watering station according to the current schedule. The line was two blocks long, but moved quickly. When she reached the front the water guard filled her regulation one quart jug to the top. Nadine then pointed to the pint container she had in her other hand. “Do you have a ration card for that?” the guard asked. Nadine shook her head. “You know the rules. No extra water without a card. The reservoirs are almost dry.” She left for the mile long trek back home. There was no use waiting for the bus which would take all day. There were the usual bodies lying prostrate on stretchers along the road, victims of heat stroke, waiting to be taken to the nearest mobile medical unit. When she arrived, her neighbor Edith was already waiting by her door. “Nadine, please if you can spare a little water,” she pleaded. Edith was older, in her mid 50’s, and Nadine did feel sorry for her. But she also knew that her five year old daughter Tamara came first. “Edith, you know I have my daughter to take care of, and they didn’t give me anything extra this time.” “Didn’t they give you a ration card for Tamara?” Edith replied with desperation in her voice. “No, I told you they keep denying my request because she is not at the critical dehydration level yet. But give me your jug. I’ll give you half a glass. I just got an alert that they will open the water for an hour tomorrow morning at 9.” “You know it will not last an hour,” Edith replied. “Last time it only dribbled out for 10 minutes. I barely got one glass out of it. What is the weather forecast for tomorrow?” Nadine look at her watch. “A little good news. Some showers tonight, and the temperature should be under 90 tomorrow.” “Edith wrinkled her nose. “I hate those showers. They just bring more acid rain. If you get caught in them without protection, your skin gets burned. That always happens to me.”

The sea wall was a spectacular feet of engineering. Completed in 2098, it was a 12 foot ring of steel that encircled New York and prevented the rising sea levels from flooding the city. It was forbidden to go within a one mile zone from the wall as there would be breaches during high tides on especially windy days. Now that the project to install a state of the art drainage system was completed last week, residents were permitted to see the great wall if they can get there early enough to get a ticket. Tamara had been clamoring to go ever since her teacher told her it was going to open this month. Nadine and Tamara arrived in lower Manhattan early one Sunday morning in early March before the line got too long. It was a balmy day, with the smog rolling in off the East River, but a little cooler than usual with the temperature barely above 80. The park ranger, a burly man with a walrus mustache, began the tour with a history lesson. “Hurricane Sandy hit New York in 2012 and caused severe flooding in this area. Despite this, the city rebuilt without any consideration of what would happen if another storm hit. An even worse one hit in 2031 called Hurricane Gregory. That storm killed 250,000 people and made large parts of the city uninhabitable for decades. The rise of the sea level and the constant storms coming up the Atlantic made this area unlivable. President Wilson finally authorized building this sea wall in 2036 and it took 20 years to build. Even after it was built, there continued to be flooding until we could secure the funds to build a state of the art drainage system. That proved to be impossible after the great depression of 2060. The money didn’t become available until the Chinese-American prosperity zone was set up in 2086. With Chinese technology and foreign investment, New York finally became livable again and the population returned to peak number of the 21st century of 12 million. However the foreign debt made it necessary to cede Manhattan to China, under the one nation, two systems policy.” Tamara seemed fascinated. “Ma, is that why we needed a passport to go to New Jersey? We are a separate country from America?” “Yes, we have a separate government but the same freedom as our sister city of Hong Kong,” said Nadine. “When I was a kid, we had to climb to the roof when it rained or we could drown. We lived in constant fear. Thanks to China, you don’t have to grow in fear as I did.” Just as she finished, a young man standing wondered out loud if we paid too high a price to end the fear.

They don’t tell you how America gave up our freedom because our 21st century leaders ignored the evidence for climate change and mismanaged the economy.

Yes, but at least we have our independent government

Hong Kong thought they had an independent government too when they were taken over by China. Did you hear about the riots in 2025? Thousands died when the freedom movement was crushed by the army.

Sssh! You are talking too loud. There are police everywhere.

You are making my point. Thanks to our new curriculum, your daughter will soon learn how a decadent, capitalistic society was ruined by greed and how we were saved by the glorious Peoples Republic.

My daughter will be taught to think independently and will make up her own mind.

I don’t doubt you will try to do that, but it’s swimming against the tide when teachers have her for 6 hours a day at an impressionable age.

Thank you for your concern.

He took a miniature American flag on a stick out of his pocket and gave it to Tamara. She looked at it and smiled as a police officer grabbed the man by the shoulder and said, “Come with me now.”

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