Infernal, a cli-fi story, part 4

in #club50502 years ago (edited)

Hi climate fiction buffs! Here's part 4 of my ongoing cli-fi story, Infernal.

artwork by @iodacasamia.
artwork by @iodacasamia

Part 4 - the street

The weather reports had been warning of a dust storm and the street was buzzing. A faint metallic taste was already in the air. There was no cloud on the horizon or ring around the Sun, just a slow dimming of the air.

The mask vendors were already on every corner peddling cheap, paper masks - gaudy illusions of safety for tourists who, in their panic, could be easily convinced that the cheap, paper and plastic, animal masks from last year's carnivale were able to ward off the worst effects of the fine particles.

Stall owners were pulling down blinds and closing up doors and windows, making themselves as air-tight as possible, while still allowing customers to come and go. Plastic sheeting was hastily taped across any entrance, the flapping sheets nailed, taped or weighted down with anything handy. The entrances were marked in blue.

Nothing really closes here unless it was closed by the police. Business continues non-stop in the dim light of a dust storm or the howling of a typhoon. The only time the street had ever closed was during the outbreak before last and that was because so many died so quickly that the authorities stepped in with a very, very heavy hand.

The worst hit before nightfall, masking the glorious sunset that was ironically, created by the same airborne particles that clogged the lungs of anyone who ventured outside uncovered. It is an odd thing but as the atmosphere becomes more polluted, the sunsets become more beautiful and the less people pay them attention. The storm front wasn't a huge, menacing wall like the old shows on the screen - clearly visible as a relentlessly advancing threat.. These storms blew in low and slow, beginning with a taste, then a haze, rather than a wall,

Store lights flickered as the dust built in the air, momentarily shorting out exposed electrical contacts. The dust eventually reached a point where the street folks moved inside. Vendors pulled into whatever shelter was on offer, wrapping themselves in plastic sheeting and pulling on government issued respirators, if they hadn't sold them. If they survived this one, the trucks would be on street corners giving out new ones.

I made my way to the Ono Cafe. It was crowded now and the owner was clearly glad of the business. The tradition during an emergency was to share out bowls of free food and bottles of water to customers who had taken refuge in a store. The real business was the alcohol and mood enhancers that folks bought on impulse, hoping to get through the event in a good mood. Even the working girls and guys did a brisk trade in the back rooms that had working air filters. Business was good anytime if you had an eye for an opportunity and the balls to take a chance.

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