Runner Up

By Alun Williams

Alun says: I live in North Wales with my wife. I have been writing for a number of years with several publications in UK and American magazines and online sites. (Nothing in the New Yorker, but I can dream.) 

The birds didn’t go south in the winter. Not that year or the next. They stayed. 

Green fields morphed into the colour of dry sand. We thought it was great, at first. Endless sunshine and no need for foreign holidays. We flocked to the beaches and left our plastic bottles to pollute the ocean. I wrote a message saying, Fuck you, placed it in an empty Evian bottle and threw it into the sea off Brighton Pier and laughed as I watched it float away on the receding tide.

People laughed a lot for the first couple of years. We ignored the warnings. I mean, this was just sunshine, wasn’t it?

In the third year of constant sunshine, average temperatures in the UK reached 45 degrees. The stench of smoke from charred woodland hung in the air for months and we didn’t go out, except at night when it was a cooler 30 degrees. Prices rose and there were riots in the streets. The fourth Prime Minister in as many months pointed to the fact that we were better off than many places, we would prevail. Food became more expensive than heroin. People fought and killed for a loaf of bread and whenever rainfall came, people danced in the streets gathering as much of the scarce precious liquid in plastic containers as they could.

It’s been ten years now. There are no birds anymore. There is little food. The Arctic ice has melted and the oceans have risen. Outside my home, my flood defences are failing. The ocean is part of my furniture. I live upstairs and wonder if I can climb onto my roof. I open my bedroom window and dip my hand into the rising waters. There’s something in the water and I reach out to get it.

It’s a plastic Evian bottle with something inside. It’s a note. I unscrew the top and pull it out. It reads, Fuck you.