The Second Fall

Submitted into Contest #60 in response to: Write a post-apocalyptic thriller.... view prompt


Drama Fantasy

’If you believe in Adam & Eve stuffing up and causing the original ’Fall’, then I guess you’d have to call this episode in time “The Second Fall.” The result of climate change it happened after The Great Pandemic. Here it coincided with the official change of our country’s name to Aotearoa. Both events are required learning for our kids, with the job of teaching now “vested in parents” rather than an institution, In other words home schooling’s become the norm, the government insisting that “Families who learn together stay together.” Families staying together has become an obsession. Except now it’s in what we’re told is a new, ‘sustainable‘ form.’

Pausing Cheryl 101 reread her latest diary entry. This was more than just a personal exercise, Inspired by Margaret Atwood’s classic novel set in the fictional Gilead Cheryl had taken it upon herself to leave something for posterity. An account of what human irresponsibility had led least in the former New-Zealand.

‘I‘m glad our government didn’t appropriate Margaret Atwood’s fictional Gilead. That’s such a beautiful name, originally a place of healing and renewal. Why she didn’t choose a name like Hades for her fictional dictatorship I’ll never know, but that was just a story. This is our lives....

In that other life she’d been Cheryl Wilson, daughter of anti climate change activists Tom and Kat Wilson. Even as weather patterns defied seasons, polar ice caps melted and the ozone hole persisted they dragged her to weekend ’events’. Like anti lockdown protests, and when there were no more lockdowns anti climate change rallies. At the same time climate change refugees were emerging in increasing numbers while bee depletion threatened global food stocks.

Cheryl’s last memories of family life were the 2 years spent off

the grid at her Wilson grandparents’ coastal crib. By then city rents had become prohibitive, with more and more families forced to camp on public land or sleep in their cars. For Tom and Kat it was an opportunity to teach their daughter survival skills. They turned it into an adventure, until a Category 4 storm (the result of climate change) had forced the Regional Council’s hand. Coastal residents were evicted for their own safety. To ensure compliance all structures were demolished. Of course there’d been resistance led by the Wilsons. Tom and Kat’s Last Stand remained the stuff of legend, spoken of in whispers now. They were arrested, the kids herself included placed in temporary foster care and reunited into a world they could never have least not in New-Zealand aka Aotearoa. Then her parents were shipped off, assigned indefinitely to working in the Pacific with climate refugees. Permission for Cheryl to accompany them was denied.

‘Meanwhile bee die-off put a strain on food resources, and people began arming themselves ‘just in case.’ While some joined shooting clubs others chose to skate under the radar, a bizarre version of ‘bearing arms‘ American style.

Along with food rationing patronymics were abolished in favour of numerics. For some reason I ended up with 101. Then assisted dying legislation was passed. Older people were actively encouraged to make the ultimate sacrifice. It would free up resources and ease the country’s financial burden. Families were advised to make estates over to the government. A form of climate change penance ‘for the common good,’

Unlike Gilead suffering wasn’t gender exclusive. All of us had ignored climate change, so we all shared the consequences, Which meant giving up freedoms we’d taken for granted; things like job preference, career choice, work/life balance and the minimum wage. Work was assigned with little down time allowed and “All For One” being adopted as our national slogan. The government made up of smaller Parties who’d never made it into Parliament under MMP declared “Let’s Do This” and “Let’s Keep Moving” to have failed. The result being climate change disaster and the requirement for drastic change to make even a partial correction. It wasn’t too late, but sacrifices were required.’ This is what was meant by a ’new, sustainable’ version of family life. Families lives and routines being micro managed ‘for the greater good.’ Like some bizarre imitation of a Communist model rejected in former times.

This wasn’t her only diary entry Cheryl reflected gazing out the her small fenced garden. You were currently permitted 2 food crops. She’d chosen potatoes for energy and silverbeet for iron. Hardy varieties they produced in abundance. Cheryl bartered the surplus at weekly Kai Awhina or food swaps for jam, relish or home made bread. The set up wasn’t unlike pre pandemic Farmers Markets except that no money changed hands.

Meanwhile this was what Cheryl considered her true vocation, To leave a record of life in post pandemic New-Zealand aka Aotearoa for the benefit of those scholars who would eventually come in search of answers. Having pulled a convincing sickie today there’d be little chance of a repeat performance any time soon. It would be slow going, but as self appointed Scribe she was in this for the long haul. To bear witness and hopefully counsel wisdom on the part of future decision makers.

”Cheryl 101 are you in there?”

Engrossed in her diary Cheryl had missed her Street Coordinator’s footsteps on the path, There would’ve been no warning knock, because locking your front door these days meant something to hide. Closing the exercise book she hurriedly pushed it into the narrow space between her wardrobe and the wall. Leaving just enough time to remove her shoes and jacket, climb between the covers and pretend to have just woken as the Street Coordinator popped her head around the door jamb.

”Sorry to wake you,”, she exclaimed.

”It’s ok.”, replied Cheryl wishing she could be around when those future scholars first sited her testimonial. ‘The Second Fall’ - First Hand Account of Life In New-Zealand aka Aotearoa following The Great Pandemic and during the initial penance for Climate Change,

By Cheryl Wilson daughter of Tom & Kat

‘How’s that for mud in your eye Ms Street Coordinator? Not to mention your controllers. I believed it‘s always been more about petty revenge for them over unlived parliamentary dreams than the climate. I must bide my time for now, but the last word will be mine and I’ll find my mum and dad.’

September 23, 2020 12:06

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Anna Rogers
22:23 Sep 24, 2020

Thank you for such positive and encouraging feedback Zion. I'm glad it's resonated with somebody, because dystopian/post apocalyptic is not my preferred genre and at first I was going to flag it. Then I decided that I was up for the challenge. So I drew on "The Handmaid's Tale" for this, so credit in part to Margaret Atwood. It certainly helped in imagining what a post apocalyptic/dystopian New-Zealand could be like....hopefully not.


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Zion Hintay
00:36 Sep 24, 2020

Wow what a wonderfully well thought out story. It's scary that all that is a possibility in the world we live in today. You reminded me that I should give Atwood a shot lol. I've never gotten around to reading any of her books. Your attention to detail was great. From protests to police states. I like how you had this whole story meant as a memento to the future and her quest to find her parents. Also, I personally worry about the bees myself. Very good work, Anna.


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