***Warning: Mature Content***
Carl shuddered one final time, and then he rolled off Monique. His breath still came in long gasps as he turned to watch her breathing hard too. Sweat glistened like gems on her bare breasts and slipped down to pool in a hollow on her belly. They could only make love in the evening when it was cooler in Africa. During the day it was too hot for their passion, so they made up for it with repeated, exhausting couplings in the evening. They had to. They were making a baby.
It wasn’t possible any longer in the US. Ever since the runaway greenhouse effect spun out of control, crops and economies—including America’s—had failed. Once the US could no longer feed it’s own populace, a two-child maximum limit became mandatory. Carl and Monique had two kids already, but they wanted more. They immigrated to Africa where many children were legal. With 23% of Africa’s population dead through starvation, war, and disease, African nations were happy to accept anyone who wanted to make more people.
The world was evolving.
In the morning, the husband and wife naturalists donned special suits, complete with airtight helmets, to keep them cool. In 2049, to walk across the birthplace, the cradle of all humankind, it was necessary for humans to wear a spacesuit.
They and hundreds of other scientists watched the wildebeests, zebras, and cape buffalo declining daily. Grasses and trees were failing in the unrelenting heat of the Serengeti. By extension, the grass-eaters failed too. Nothing could be done about it, certainly not in time. Scientists were simply there to witness the death of Africa’s great wildlife.
“Talked with my Grandpa,” said Monique as she scanned the horizon, looking for lions. A polarized lens protected her from the brilliant sunlight. They could go blind in two years without it.
“And?” asked Carl.
“He said…” she imitated him. “‘In my day, nobody left the US for a better life. They came here for that!'”
Carl snorted. The US government collapsed for about 3 years before rebounding with a military regime. It was doing better. Africa was worse off, but at least in Africa they could have all the children they wanted.
The lion population dwindled. In Africa’s current situation, with herbivores dying rapidly, the predator counts should’ve been swelling. The UNEP-WCMC* had dispatched the couple to find out why. “There!” called Carl. “I see one.”
“Three!” corrected Monique.
“What are they doing?” Before AGW, lions preferred hunting in the cooler nights, but in the modern Serengeti heat, it was impossible to hunt by day. The animals must have been starving.
“What are the zebras doing?” said Monique.
“We’re supposed to be watching the lions.”
“But look at them. Have you ever seen zebras with white heads?”
“That IS wierd. Like seeing a black fox. You know, it almost looks like they’re circling the lions.”
“Like a planned attac…oh my god!”
The naturalists looked on shock as a white-headed zebra charged into the stalking lions. It pulled up an instant before collision and kicked with its rear legs. The lion’s neck snapped, and it died instantly.
“I’ve never seen a zebra attack without provocation!” exclaimed Monique. But the zebras weren’t finished. More of them swooped in to attack the lions. The once great predators were baffled by this unexpected behavior, and unable to escape the circle of rampaging herbivores. In minutes, all three lions had been hunted down by the powerful, new species of zebra, and kicked to death.
“Tell me you’re recording this,” said Carl, his voice shaking.
“I am, and I still don’t believe it.”
In this rapidly evolving world, where herbivores had less and less to feed upon…zebras began to eat lions.
The zebras guarded their kills jealously. Vultures descended upon the lion corpses, prepared to feed in the middle of herbivores as they had for millions of years. The naturalists watched as a zebra snatched up one of the huge birds with powerful jaws. It fluttered for a moment, magnificent in its struggle, then wilted and lay still. The couple wrote their reports in silence that night, too shocked to believe their findings. When they finally spoke, they wondered at what other changes the evolving world would bring.
Ten months later, sweat rolled down Monique’s breasts from her efforts. She sighed happily. At last, a sense of normalcy in their rapidly changing world. Their son, Ramsey, was born. She watched his face as he suckled, then recoiled, when a nictitating membrane flicked across Ramsey’s eyes.
Nictitating Membrane is a semi-transparent extra-eyelid commonly found in reptiles and birds, but not in humans. More info here: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Nictitating_membrane
*UNEP-WCMC: is a real organization. The website is here: http://www.unep-wcmc.org/
AGW = Anthropomorphic Global Warming (Global Warming amplified by human activity (e.g., CO2 and Methane)).
The Speakeasy is a weekly writing challenge where many talented writers join to compete for literary bragging rights. This week the sentence, “It fluttered for a moment, magnificent in its struggle, then wilted and lay still,” must be used anywhere in the story. The prompt for this week can be found here: http://www.yeahwrite.me/speakeasy/fiction-challenge-159-open/