The Greenhouse Disaster

There was no turning back.

America fell to her knees immediately after the disaster, the sound resonating around the world. It was as if Lady Liberty had fallen on Marilyn Monroe's vent and from under her robes the vermin escaped. The panic and disorganization that ensued left many homes and stores robbed. As the temperature around the globe continued to rise, so did the crime. Our strong government was torn asunder, but our president held his ground.

From day one he began his planning. Tall buildings to house vegetation were built and many luxuries were seized from Americans. Cars were too dangerous; anything that ran on gas was subject to explode. Nobody had heating and cooling systems or phones. We were allowed a radio to hear the news, but that was all.

If you still had your home, you were lucky. Or maybe you weren't. Slowly, everyone was being migrated to large apartment buildings where they could be monitored by the government. It was like being in war time, waiting on your draft notice. Many people protested, but their pleas were lost in the hustle and bustle or our new, fearful lives.

There was no turning back.

It was our fault. The solid methane below the ocean had finally…what's the word? Sub…sublimated! I just know it skipped its liquid stage and now our earth is heating up. A cool day is around a hundred degrees.

There's no turning back.

My wife woke me again. This would be the third time tonight.

"The Allens have a T.V. on!" she whispered as though our neighbors would be able to hear her.

"They would only be watching fuzz, dear. Go back to sleep," I muttered, my words being slung together groggily. I didn't even bother to open my eyes to look at her.

"They have a car! Oh, don't you miss our van, Charles?"

"Their car was taken yesterday. Go to bed," I responded and tried to go back to sleep. My efforts proved to be futile.

"Charles! There's smoke coming from the chimney!"

I groaned exasperatedly, rolling over to look at my wife. She was sitting up, clutching the front of her thin nightgown and gazing, her bright eyes wide, out the window. With a sigh I stood, stretching my tired muscles, before walking over to the window to close the curtains. I looked out as I did so and found the Allen house to be dark and quiet, just like I wished ours was.

"Did you see the smoke?"

"There wasn't any smoke, Lisa."

She looked at me as if I just told her I was actually a rabbit from Mars.

"But I saw it!"

"You thought you saw it, dear," I droned and returned to my side of the bed. I glanced as the clock as I adjusted myself under the covers. It was three in the God blessed morning. I would be up in two and half hours with the other men of our neighborhood to go to work. Everyone worked in the great greenhouses to cultivate food now.

"You know what else I saw? Mary Ellen was eating a hamburger yesterday! I saw right through this very window." Lisa continued, her voice high with excitement, though she continued to whisper it to me.

"There's not a live cow for miles," I replied. It would probably be wise to just stop responding, but in her state it would probably do no good.

"She drove her car to get it!"

I didn't reply this time. She sighed a few times, deliberately to get my attention, but I refrained. She then shifted a few times in bed trying to jostle me. I kept up feign of sleep.

"Charles?" she asked after a few moments of silence.

"Lisa?" I responded, though I didn't sound quite as innocent as she.

"Do we have to go the apartments?" she asked, a note of worry in her voice. "You know Jennifer and Eric are there now. They say it's just dreadful."

"What do you expect?" I asked, rolling over to look up at her. She was mindlessly raking her fingers through her dark hair. Her eyes kept flickering towards the closed window. "The government is trying to hold itself together."

"I heard there's chaos in England!"

"There's chaos everywhere. Where in the world did you hear that?"

"Mary Ellen Allen, why?"

"It's absurd. There's no way you could get that kind of news." What I say is very true. Since the disaster a few months ago all communication has shut down. I can't even get a letter to my parents down in North Carolina. We never even hear news outside of D.C.

"Mary Ellen has everything she wants," Lisa muttered with the intent that I would hear.

I ignored her.

Two and half hours later I left the house, dressed as lightly as I could while still looking acceptable. It was a particularly hot day and I already felt weak and dizzy from the heat.

"Hey, Charlie!"

I stopped and turned to look over my shoulder. Thomas Allen was jogging across the street to meet me. He immediately regretted this and had to lean over, hands on his knees to catch his breath. He had run possibly five yards.

"You really shouldn't run in this heat," I said.

"Nah, nah. I'm all good." Thomas grinned up at me before straightening up. We began to walk down the sidewalk in silence. As we walked other neighbors joined our group like a walking carpool. This happened every morning.

There was Joshua who used to be a dentist, then Michael who sold real estate, and Brian the cab driver. Thomas and I had both worked as janitors at the local school. All the families who had children were sent to live in the apartments first. We walked in silence towards one of the tall, multistory greenhouses. The sun reflected off the glass like a mirror, the light hurting my eyes and only making me feel hotter.

This was our life now. We worked in the greenhouses while the government sat in their air conditioned rooms discussing what to do with other leaders. It really made my blood boil.

There was no turning back now.

"What do they think they can do?" Eric had asked before he, Jennifer, and their son had been sent to live in the apartments. We had been having dinner when the official announcement of the disaster had come over the news. From the very start they called it the Greenhouse Disaster.

"Did all the greenhouses break, mum?" Jennifer's son had asked when he heard the name. The words "methane" and "sublimation" might as well have been Greek to him.

"Yes, dear," Jennifer had told him calmly, though her hands shook as she pushed his blonde hair back from his eyes.

"What idiots," Eric said, standing from his seat and pacing the room. Lisa had sat on the couch, watching the news as she twisted a napkin in her hands. "There's no going back now."

I didn't understand the situation then, so I wasn't worried at first.

Methane is a greenhouse gas, Eric had said. When so much of it turned into gas and entered our atmosphere the Earth became a giant greenhouse and continued to heat up, like someone had let a child play with the thermostat on the planet and he kept turning the knob towards the red.

I stood at the top floor of the greenhouse. It was actually the opposite of a greenhouse as it was slightly air conditioned, but the air was humid. They have recreated the perfect habitat for vegetables and fruits to grow. At each floor was a different biome.

I pressed my hand to the glass, feeling the heat coming from outside. Stretching to the horizon was dust and desert. A small sand storm had blown up to the left of the city and straight ahead I could see the 76 Gas Station on the highway going up in flames from an explosion.

There was no turning back now.

Author's Note: I wrote this for the Young Georgia Author's competition my junior year of high school, inspired by what we had been learning at the time in my AP Environmental Science class (lovingly called "apes"). This story also made it to the semi-finals.