Amazonia Phatz—Elaine Bonow
The six o’clock alarm woke her from a fitful sleep and as she turned towards the Catalan Spheres that shaped the glass windows of the Biosphere domes. It was impossible to tell dawn from dusk. Day was just grey night. These days with Earth mimicking the greenhouse effect of Venus, had turned New Seattle’s atmosphere into perpetual warm overcast skies. She looked out of her mosquito netting into the encroaching forest on the other side of the glass office walls and detected a slight change.
Still sleepy she sat up listening for the familiar “skritch” of the cockroaches that usually slithered into darkness with the rising sun. It was too quiet, much too quiet.
Phaty spelled her name with a “PH” instead of the capitol “F” of her youth. She dropped one of the extra tees, proudly embraced her name and chose to keep her weight up at a steady two hundred and fifty two, never less never more. She didn’t look overweight because of her height, which had increased a good sixteen inches since her nickname was bestowed upon her by her great grandma and reinforced from childhood by her entire family.
Her mean-spirited great granny had actually given unfortunate nicknames to everyone in the family. They were like cruel Disney cartoon character names: Dummy, Just Ugly, Scarface, Rotunda, Saggy and Stick Leg. The list went on.
She didn’t mind anymore what anyone called her. People thought Phat might be Vietnamese, like Pho. She didn’t mind because she was one of the few people left inside the city with a job and a place to live. She commanded respect as a security officer equipped with a powerful stun gun and an arsenal of machetes to deal with problem people and unreliable things in New Seattle.
The Amazonian Biosphere was first erected in the year 2017, created as a fantasy office space filled with worker drones and fanciful horticulture to impress the other poor saps working in generic cubicles, the normal workplace of the Twenty-First century.
Phat’s great-grandma told her stories about how Seattle used to be when she was a young girl. How beautiful the Pacific Northwest was when she was a child, with lush waterways, temperate seasons and snow-covered mountains. The old woman even had a name for herself, Bad Dream, that she adopted a few months before dying at one-hundred and three, still full of venom that was now directed to the Empire of Evil instead of her family who lived with the mild moniker, the Unfortunates.
Phat lived in the Amazon Biosphere. This modern structure was the template for thousands that were erected during the first phase of worldwide ozone depletion. It sounded like a great idea at the time, mimicking the Arizona Biosphere 2, an idea that didn’t completely work but these structures erected were not for permanent living, until now.
Life in these days of the late century had taken a fatal turn of which the pundits had warned her parents about, catastrophe, caused by the greed of the clowns in charge of the system that led to this collapse of society.
Some smartass scientist working for one of those unscrupulous chemical companies developed what seemed like a great idea at the time, a magical fertilizer that made the Biosphere plantations grow fast and huge, like something out of a last century teenage horror Netflix. The trees reached maturity in just thirty days, a chemically induced Kudzu blight. In one year the city was strangled. Adding to this disaster, was the acceleration of global warming. Ferns were five feet tall and strawberries were plumped up to the size of peaches. It was an entire new world and Phat was right at ground zero.
Phat pulled on her all terrain jumpsuit and combat boots, exited her tent like room bed and walked spryly to the sealed and locked bathroom for a slash and splash. She hustled to the sealed and locked canteen for some breakfast and to fire up some of the new Seattle Canna, perhaps the best thing to come out of the new world.
She had a job to do. Just because the world was out of order didn’t mean some things could be neglected. The rich bosses were attempting to get life on Earth under control and needed to maintain some structure and Phat was getting rich herself keeping this structure secure from the hordes of wilders who roamed the overgrown city.
She had to keep the vegetation cut back in the domes. She had to exterminate and trap the critters that had created a kingdom of giant pests. The cockroaches the size of mice, were impervious to poison. The ants marched through the biospheres like conquering Goths. The thing they were good at was processing dead vegetation. The Biosphere had created it’s own ecological system the only problem was people.
Phat needed to start her rounds. Her first stop was the forest floor. Deep dark and full of compost, mushrooms that were a foot high studded the rotten branches that had been chopped or had fallen. The space was too dense for animals. When the Biosphere started it had been populated with rabbits, chickens and small pigs, which had all been eaten by Phaty or each other.
The ecosystem that had always stayed the same, somehow this morning seemed to have been subtly altered. She wandered the paths of the three inter connected domes. The ever-moving trail of walnut sized ants was missing. It was here that she first felt a vibration, soft but regular. She climbed the stairs to the second level. Here she was under the canopy near the thick trunks of cedar, spruce, Hawthorn and somehow apple trees flourished their wrinkled apples mixed in no particular order with blossoms and ripening fruit.
The trunks appeared solid but Phaty could discern a faint rumble that came from all directions not that the sound was distinct but it was Omni directional. She was getting nervous and hurried up to the next level where the leaves and branches were actually trembling, a phenomena that didn’t exist in the windless spheres.
She kept going up to the top of the dome. There she had a panorama vista of the overgrown city. Ivy climbed the neighboring buildings blocking all the windows and doors. Phaty often came up here to look out on what might have been. This time instead of a city in stasis, the infrastructure was a tremble.
The sound that had been a faint tremolo continued to increase. The dome was actually swaying. It had only been a little over twenty minutes since she started traveling the sphere. Alone and afraid Phaty could feel her stomach turn in concert with the rumble coming from deep in the earth. She wasn’t a stupid girl. She had read all of the short form Wikipedia articles about the earth. She knew about the possible destruction of the earth.
She didn’t ever think she would experience it. The rumble got louder, deafening in its power. Looking outside she could see the very earth open up and swallow buildings and vegetation. The sky that stayed flat grey started roiling spitting lightening and belching peals of thunder.
The glass snuggled in the Catalan frames cracked and shattered below her while the top most of the dome where she stood waited until the cacophony was unbearable and then collapsed with Phat riding the wave into the yawing pit of New Earth.