Tales of You and I: A Collection of Short Stories

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Fire Gone, Ice Will Come

It’s 2052, and the world is breaking.

We were warned. And did we listen? No, we did not.

Scientists have been telling us for decades about the dangers that our planet is facing. Global warming, poaching, factory farming, pollution... the list goes on and on. If I were to list out all of our problems, I would be sitting here until my eightieth birthday. I don’t have that long.

It was only on July 13th, Sunday, 2052, when I truly understood how urgent the situation was.

My name is Alexandra Justice, and this is my story.

It was in the middle of summer, in Malaysia, and it was burning hot. Not just 70 degrees hot. I’m talking about over 100 degrees, the kind of hot that makes you pour with sweat the very second you step outside.

But this was expected. Temperatures had been increasing for the past few years, slowly but surely. It was bound to happen. More and more fossil fuels, such as coal and oil, are being burnt up. As a result, they’re producing heat-trapping gasses that wrap around the earth like a blanket and heating it up. Because of this, some of the heat from the sun’s rays can’t escape--which has now resulted in our planet becoming a sun itself.

Or, at least, that’s what it feels like. My feet burn real bad whenever I step outside without shoes.

And there’s more. Factory farms, the main meat-producing facilities, are dumping their animal waste into rivers, streams and lakes, polluting the water and creating even more unhealthy gasses and poisoning the air. Could things get any worse?

I didn’t think they could. But they did.

I didn’t really think that it was worth worrying about it too much. I mean, there were other people working on it, right? There were those animal activists and organic farmers and stuff. They helped. In the meantime, I had my air conditioned rooms and ceiling fans. Plus, I had TV. Everything’s okay if you have TV.

I wish I could have realized what a fool I’d been, rather sooner than later. But I had to learn the hard way.

As I woke up on Sunday morning, I noticed something felt different. It wasn’t as hot. In fact, it felt almost chilly.

I looked up at my air conditioner, thinking that I had somehow accidentally turned down the temperature. But it wasn’t even on.

Taking a bathrobe from the handle of my closet, I shrugged it on and walked downstairs. Perhaps the AC was running down there. Yes, that was the most reasonable explanation.

Once I reached the living room, I immediately knew something was wrong.

My mom, Mrs. Justice, was sitting on the couch, a cup of coffee in her hands. This was a bad sign. Mama only drank coffee when she had a cold and felt... well, when she felt cold. I glanced at the air conditioner and my heart froze. It was off. So was the fan. I shivered and pulled my robe tightly around my waist. Why was it so cold? Why wasn’t it burning hot, just like always? Even without the global warming, Malaysia was supposed to be a hot country. It was right under the equator, for goodness’ sake!

“Mama?” I said in a small voice. My mother turned around to look at me. There was a certain look in her eyes, something I will never forget. It was a look of pure sadness, of dark loss and grief. I shivered again, this time not from the cold.

“Look outside,” my Mama said in a shaking voice that sounded so jittery I had trouble figuring out what she said. “Look outside, Lexi, and tell me what you see.”

Confused, and slightly fearful of what I might face, I walked towards the front window and peered into the yard.

Snow. There was snow.

I couldn’t believe my eyes. A thick, heavy blanket of snow had covered every inch of grass and greenery, and it was still snowing. A whirling blizzard of snowflakes whizzed all around, and the wind howled in a lonely wail.

I nearly fainted. I felt lightheaded and dizzy. This wasn’t supposed to happen. No, this wasn’t supposed to happen at all. Not once, not in the whole history of Malaysia, had it ever snowed here.

Why? Why?

I turned back to my mother. “It’s snowing,” I said. My voice cracked. “Mama, why is it snowing? Why? Tell me.”

She didn’t answer me. She just sipped her coffee and stared at the wall.

“Go outside, Alexandra.” A sudden voice startled me, and I jumped. It sounded like a man, but there was no one to be seen. My papa was probably still asleep, though I had no idea how the cold hadn’t woken him up yet. Besides, it didn’t sound like him. The voice echoed, sounding as if it was far away yet close to my ear. It was the strangest feeling.

“Mama, did you hear that?” I asked nervously.

Mama looked up. “Hear what?” she said. “All I hear is the wind. The wind...” her voice trailed off and she ducked her head down again, taking another sip of her drink.

“Go outside, Alexandra,” the voice said again, louder this time. I whimpered and covered my ears. “Go outside! Now!” I could still hear it, even with my fingers stuffed hard inside my ears. Who was this man? Where was he?

I didn’t want to go outside. I wanted an explanation. I needed to know what was going on. How could yesterday have been more than 100 degrees, and the next day below zero? It didn’t make sense. Global warming didn’t just reverse like that.

But I never bothered to learn much about it at the time, anyway. Maybe it could reverse. Maybe it happened once every twenty years or something and I just never knew about it.

The voice told me to go outside yet again, so loud that my ears began to ring. I wanted the voice to go away. Maybe if I went outside, it would. I would just go out for a quick second, then go back in. That was it.

I walked over to the front door and opened it, first taking a look at my mother. She didn’t even seem to notice that I’d opened the door, even though the wind got noticeably louder the moment I did. She just continued to sip and slurp at her coffee, her face sad and alone. I would give her a hug once I came back inside.

I stepped out into the front yard. All at once, the cold hit me stronger than ever, crawling through my veins and freezing my blood to red ice. My heart seemed to frost over, until it beat extra fast to try and shake it all off. But it didn’t work. I was as cold inside as I was on the outside.

I shut the door so snow wouldn’t blow into the house. “What do you want?” I called to the invisible man who had spoken to me. “It’s so cold! Why do I need to be here?” My fingers began to turn an ugly color. It was so, so cold. Why? Why?

A tear fell down my cheek, then another, freezing as soon as it hit my skin. I flicked the frozen tear off and turned around. “I went outside,” I said. “I’m going back in now.”

Reaching out a hand, I grabbed the doorknob, which was so cold it felt as if I had gotten an electric shock. Leaning close to my fingers and breathing on them so they wouldn’t freeze, I tried to turn the knob. It would budge. That dang man had locked me out.

I tugged my hand away. “What do you want?!” I yelled. As my voice got louder, so did the wind. “What do you want with me?” I began to cry again, and the wind howled. My tears froze on my cheeks, and soon my face was covered in a thin layer of salty ice. It wouldn’t come off. Every tear made the layer thicker.

“Is this what you want?” It was the voice again, deep and powerful but gentle at the same time.

“What do you mean?” I cried.

“I mean, is this want you want?” the voice repeated. “Do you want to live your life in fire or ice? Fury or loneliness?”

“I don’t understand,” I wept, becoming so cold that I could feel my very bones freezing over. This wasn’t regular snow.

“The world may burn now,” the voice said. “Right now my child, you are in a living hell. Everything is burning. Countries are burning. Trees are burning. Do you want everything to burn?”

“I don’t care!” I screamed, my lungs hurting from the effort. I would’ve dropped to my knees, but they were bare and would freeze quicker if they touched the snow. “People are fixing the burns!” I shouted. “Activists. They’re doing it!”

“And yet you are not,” the voice said sadly. “Yes, the burning will end,” he continued. “But the fire is put out with water, and soon the water will freeze when the winter comes.”

“What?” My voice became smaller and weaker as the cold overtook my brain.

“People will stop the burn,” the voice explained. “The fire and heat will be no more.”

“But it’s snowing!” I exclaimed. “Are you blind as well as invisible? There is no heat anymore.”

“My child, this is merely a vision,” the voice said kindly. “I am showing you.”

“Showing me what?” I said weakly, slowly sitting down on my doorstep after brushing off the snow.

“The future,” the voice answered. “Once the people pour water on the burns, on the fire and the heat, all will be well. Or so it will seem. Soon will come the freeze, turning all the earth to ice and snow.”

“Do you mean...” I looked around me in disbelief. “Global warming will really be reversed after all?”

“Yes,” the voice said. “Fire gone, ice will come. Do not forget this, Alexandra Justice. Never forget what I have told you. Do you promise?”

I nodded, my mind foggy. I wanted to be warm. I had never wanted heat so badly in all my life.

“Carry on my message,” the voice said to me. “Warn the people, for this prophecy is true and will happen. A century or two, or more, I do not know. But it will come. Trust me...”

I sat up straight in bed, my heart pounding and my body covered with a sheen of sweat. I was in my bedroom, and the first thing I noticed was how hot it was. Gloriously, murderously hot.

I remembered it. I remembered the voice and the snow. Running downstairs, I rushed past my surprised (and happy-looking) mother and peered out the window. No snow. Just boiling, boiling hot weather.

“Lexi, are you okay?” Mama asked me.

I shook my head. “Mama,” I said. “Snow is coming.”

It has now been twenty years since I had my vision, and it changed my life as quickly as you could blink. I transformed overnight; I looked up everything everywhere about global warming and pollution. I learned. I educated myself on the dangers our world was--is--facing. I graduated college and became an environmental activist, warning people of the ice and snow that was to come.

And now I’m warning you.

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