Out of this world, into the next.
Are there an infinite number of universes? Possibly, or probably if you’re a quantum mathematician. If you’re a science fiction writer let’s have some anyway.
Two likely lads race up a Macclesfield sandstone knoll known as Tegg’s Nose. It looks a bit like a nose from one side. Tegg might have been a Viking settler and the area was occupied in the Bronze Age. The hill was quarried for its Millstone Grit until 1955. From the summit on a clear day you can see the cathedrals of Liverpool, the Clwyd Range, Beeston Castle and of course, nearby Macclesfield.
The lads have a rough and tumble on a flat rock near the summit and inadvertently press something. Whether that triggers a momentous rift in the sky above them or coincidence I don’t know. Don’t ask. Antonio is clever while his mate, Matt is the practical one. After a blinding light stuns the lads, they eventually awake still on Tegg’s Nose but something has changed.
The air is clean. There are no people. Macclesfield has vanished. The lads are shocked and unconvinced they are not hallucinating. Suppose they are properly awake though, what has happened? Time travel possibly but the fact that Tegg’s Nose is unchanged makes it unlikely. The future is possible except that there’d be ruins of the nearby information centre. Ant suggests they might be in a parallel universe where they are the only people and the world, or at least that area, exists as if humans had never been around to spoil things.
Hence this is a ‘what if’ scenario. What would Britain be like in this decade if there had been no humans? Over the last few millennia people have made huge changes to the environment. Indigenous trees after the last ice age (there have been at least 25) were cleared in the valleys, which were mostly impenetrable swampy, dense thickets. The lads would have to stick to travelling on the ridges and hills where possible.
What animals would they see? No sheep, rabbits, grey squirrels, fallow deer and modern cattle. They’d see lynx, wolves, wild boar, brown bears, early horses and early cattle (aurochs). After the ice age ended around 8000 years ago the North Sea was dry in many areas (Dogger Bank) permitting animals to cross over in herds. Lions also crossed but sheep, rabbits, hens and grey squirrels were introduced by Man much later.
To add another ‘what if’ thread, one of the lads is your average omnivore and so missing his bacon and chicken while the other is vegan. Partly, this is inspired by having read John Christopher’s A Wrinkle in the Skin. This is a post-apocalyptic story of Britain after devastating earthquakes. I love his writing (Death of Grass is brilliant) but he makes the error of believing even in 1965 that to have protein humans must be flesh eaters. Most survival stories assume this too (but not The Martian). To be fair it would be quite difficult for a vegan to forage sufficient seeds, berries, legumes, fungi, fruit, roots, nuts and leaves in the British Isles in winter, even in relatively luxuriant vegetation where humans hadn’t cut most of it down.
The moral here, if there is one, is that researching a ‘what-if’ story can be as rewarding as filling out the characters and playing with the plot.
I’ve titled the short story Tegg’s Nose – unusual enough I think to pique interest. Still in draft mode and yet to be critiqued in the British Science Fiction Association Orbit group.
Other Nelder News
The third book in the Flying Crooked series of SF novellas, Kepler’s Son is due out later this year. I’m now writing Vanished Earth. When descendants of Suppose We return to find their mother planet, Earth, it’s gone! What happened? Is that it hiding inside Jupiter? Loved doing the research for this.
Personal Best anthology in which is my Don’t Bite my Finger… short monk punk story. https://www.amazon.co.uk/dp/B08F6CGF9X
Also published was ALIEN EXIT a science fiction first-contact novel as an ebook only https://mybook.to/alienexit
Revised Xaghra’s Revenge set in present-day and 16th Century Malta and Gozo now retitled as Vengeance Island http://mybook.to/VIsland
Escaping Reality – humorous thriller • http://hyperurl.co/nyjaiv
Hot Air – thriller set in Mallorca • http://hyperurl.co/di4y0h
ARIA: Left Luggage – infectious amnesia scifi • smarturl.it/1fexhs
ARIA: Returning Left Luggage • http://hyperurl.co/tgtid6
ARIA: Abandon Luggage • http://hyperurl.co/26trxv
Incremental – 25 surreal short stories • http://mybook.to/Incremental
Suppose We -science fiction space exploration • https://mybook.to/SupposeWe
The Chaos of Mokii ebook at https://mybook.to/Kaos
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