In the summer of 2172, the ocean storms had grown too intense for human life to survive on the coast, and the islands had received the Official Outcast Warning. Anyone remaining after September would be beyond the help of the nation. The multi-trillion dollar property would be abandoned; it was a harsh blow to the country as a whole; all the government could offer the property-owners were jobs. And the insurance companies had long ago escaped into their legally fortified castles, with expensive lawyers guarding every bridge across the moats of bureaucratic sludge.
The world was changing. The countries desperately tried to cooperate, but they simply couldn't coordinate their efforts to any degree of benefit. The people wished to rebel, wished to run wild in the streets, wished for action to take place...but they all knew that they were at the mercy of an age-old system of corruption that held a monopoly over food and resources like never before on the planet. And who could have predicted that the ocean would rise two meters in several months? Who could have predicted that the wind would carry a disease into the cattle industry? Who could have predicted that the storms would continue to worsen?
Now, it was the year 2181. I was a field agent for the Technology Sector of the Secret Watch. The organization watches the world and keeps track of every development that could offer a solution to any of the many worldly problems. The Technology Sector is the most important wing of the organization. I recently completed an undercover mission that revealed an underground community beneath what used to be Montana. They were surviving off of a nutrients farm and a geothermal conductor. Sure, they were a secret self-sufficient country beneath the surface of the earth. But that kind of technology has no right to be kept secret. I let them continue their lives without fear of being revealed. But their technology...I brought it to the rest of the world.
I've been living off of that success for the past few months, but I'm going to run out of resources if I don't get on board another mission soon. And then the phone rang at three in the morning.
"Hello?" I tried to say. Only a groggy mumble came out of my mouth.
"Thomas, are you sitting down?" asked an excited voice. "Because I don't want you falling over when you hear this!"
"I am not sitting down," I said. "I'm lying down. What else would I be doing at three in the morning."
On the other side of the line, Peter was hysterical. "We just found some impossible results!"
"Well if they're impossible, then maybe they're wrong."
"No, these are the kind of results you see with your own eyes."
"What did you see?"
Peter paused a moment as he frantically ruffled some papers. "You know the Storm Watch Program?" he asked, stalling even more; he was probably trying to make me feel some suspense.
"Uh, ya," I said. "They watch storms."
"Yes. But their surveillance caught a little more than just a storm."
"Where were they looking? Because you know there are some wind turbines set up on the Fringe. I already discovered them."
"No," Peter said; he sounded really excited, and I actually began to grow rather curious. "They were looking into the heart of the storm. They were looking at the islands."
"You can't even see the islands," I said. "For all we know, they could have been levelled by the waves by now."
"Well they're not. We saw them as clear as day, and we even got some incredible photographs."
"Really?" I asked, sitting up in bed. "Did a regular hurricane form then? Did you see the islands through the eye?"
"I don't know what happened with the weather, but there were a few minutes when the clouds parted..."
I threw off the covers and stood up. The cool tiling sent a lively wash up my legs, and I paced across the floor. This was incredible news. Seeing the islands was near impossible when normally the storms over top were so immense one had to go into outer space to pass over them. "What was it like? Have they kept their original shape?"
"Oh god, Thomas. You have to come down here and see for yourself." His voice had grown suddenly serious as his excitement turned to urgency. "Thomas, the islands..."
I couldn't even speak, but a single gulp into the phone was enough to prompt him to continue.
"The islands..." he repeated. "They're covered in cities."