With my will to encourage revolution rekindled, I resumed observing the world as it stood, with a renewed vigour, via the press. Unless I read of phenomena that dominated the news on a daily basis, such as politics, finance, war and terrorism, the feeling I had, when reading newspapers, was that once an article had been replaced by a new article, regarding some other subject, in the next day’s newspaper, the concern must have vanished, as though it no longer existed.
I had some trouble following an alarming trend of whales being stranded upon beaches across the world, since articles relating to the topic were intermittent, without any discourse on the subject between their publication.
Below are some links to articles in The Guardian, regarding the beaching of whales;
What I found incredible about the last article, apart from the spelling of Scotland being ‘soctland’ in the link, is that, despite its importance, it had been published in a sub-category of The Guardian – an international newspaper – in Scottish news; a sub-category of UK news.
Here is a short excerpt from the article;
’Scientists have found clear evidence that whales are absorbing high levels of toxic heavy metals, with cadmium found in the brains of pilot whales which washed up in Scotland.
Chemists at the University of Aberdeen said they had found cadmium in all the organs of adult long-finned pilot whales which stranded in 2012, including their brain.
The research shows for the first time that cadmium – known to pass into the brains of infant and unborn whales - had also passed across the so-called blood-brain barrier in adult whales.
They said their findings also suggested that mercury concentrations could be increasing high enough in the seas “to lead to additional toxic stress in the long-lived marine mammals”, with higher concentrations increasing with age.′
I became obsessed by humankind’s disregard for sea and ocean life, which resulted in a short story entitled The Flies.
The human race had dumped industrial, agricultural and residential waste into seas and oceans for centuries. The twelve-mile rule, which allowed cruise liners to dump raw sewage twelve miles from the mainland, seemed symbolic of the world’s government’s lack of respect for sea life – governments didn’t want sewage washing up on shorelines, but didn’t seem to mind if it rotted in the sea.
Governments insisted sewage and other pollutants weren’t causing a problem to the sea’s delicate balance of life, even though a great deal of research refuted their claims, and if governments would have taken the findings seriously, the sea wouldn’t have reached a level of toxicity that resulted in a dramatic change in the balance of species on Earth; perhaps forever.
At first, there were some unusual phenomena, like a whole bunch of fish washing up on a beach, or a school of dolphins, which some scientists claimed had become disorientated as a result of echolocation devices interfering with the dolphin’s sonar navigation.
Governments fell silent when fish started to pop up like corks, dead, upon the surface of every sea and ocean in the world, forming massive rotting islands, miles in diameter – and when beaches were no longer places to sunbathe, since they had become strips of death and decay.
Efforts were made to clear the beaches of the dead sea life, but this soon proved an impossible task. Apart from the problem of vehicles becoming stranded in soft sands, there were far too many corpses to cope with, and when whales started washing up, the problem became insurmountable. The stench of decomposition burnt the throats and nostrils of everyone on Earth, no matter how far inland they lived.
In the beginning, the flies were a nuisance – you were always swatting one off your sandwich or brushing them from your face – but then they became a plague. Every home had a mosquito net hanging over windows and doors, and shares relating to anything that killed them shot through the ceiling.
You had to cover your nose and mouth with your hands, or wear a face mask, because you inhaled flies the moment you stepped outside. And it was difficult to see because they flew into your eyes, so you were constantly blinking, and the air around your head was filled with the relentless zip-zip-zip of their flight.
Pretty soon, each wore a face mask and goggles of some sort, many of which had been fashioned from household objects, since both had rapidly fallen into short supply, and everyone was covered from head to foot with the insects from the moment they left their homes.
The air was grey, at first, until it became almost black, so it was difficult to tell whether it was day or night when it was cloudy. When the sun shone, it looked like an undulating bronze gong hanging in the sky. Shops were soon devoid of merchandise because it was impossible for trucks to deliver fresh supplies – the drivers couldn’t see where they were going; they couldn’t even see roads or signposts.
The elderly started to die first, usually in their homes, but sometimes they fell dead in the street. The stench of rotting human flesh began to mingle with that of fish and sea mammals, so you could hardly breathe, and the flies began to multiply even faster because there were increasingly more bodies where they could lay their eggs.
Before the flies, when the weather was fine, I used to hike up to the summit of Redemption Hill at weekends. In the Spring, the sun would be sitting on the hilltop at nine in the morning, so although I don’t know the date I left my apartment, I do know it was nine o’clock and sunny – or at least I could just see the sun rising through the writhing mist until it sat upon a silhouette of the hill.
I used the sun’s position to navigate my way to the hillside. The journey was slow because I could hardly see through the swarming flies, and had to walk in my memory rather than the real world. The zip-zip-zip had become a solid hum, not unlike the ‘om’ monks chant – the sound which supposedly resonates with the Earth’s heartbeat.
I could barely see the ground in front of me, which sometimes revealed a rotting corpse crawling with maggots. I sucked breath in short gasps and walked slowly; only raising my head occasionally to check the position of the sun, shining dimly in the crawling sky. Eventually, I could sense my footing advancing uphill, so I knew I had made it. I didn’t know what to expect; I only hoped there wouldn’t be so many flies on top of the hill.
I saw increasingly more ground laying ahead, as I slowly rose above the horror, and the sun’s colour passed from a deep bronze to golden brown until it shone steady and bright. When I had almost reached the hilltop I removed my goggles and mask and inhaled a deep breath of air, which tasted of death, but it was not suffocating, as it had been one thousand feet below.
And now I am living on the hilltop. There are others here; I think there are a hundred or so. I don’t know what will happen to us, but I don’t think we will live much longer. We huddle together at night to keep warm, drink morning dew to quench our thirst, and eat grasses and heather to sustain ourselves. There is nothing with which to build a shelter.
Below is only swarming blackness. I don’t know how long it will last – when every corpse has been consumed and every fly has lived its life, I suppose. But I don’t know how much life there is, or was in the sea, or how much of the Earth’s life will perish. Perhaps I am only witnessing the end of the world.
If I am not, and this journal is found, I hope a new world will grow with a respect for our planet I did not observe in my lifetime, for the consequences may be fatal if the same mistakes are repeated. Although I have tried, I cannot find the words to describe the hell our beautiful world has become.