Below is an excerpt from Convergence: A Novel of a Catastrophic Future by Paul Boerger. The novel deals with a global collapse due to climate shift, endless wars and a global pandemic “converging” to end civilization. The piece below is a version of the book’s Chapter 1 condensed by the author for Transition Voice.
2220 CE Post-convergence, North American survivor enclave
“It appears,” said secular historian Jules Grogan, “that although humanity was well aware of the dangers, they were simply unable to act in time to save themselves. They had the means to avoid the catastrophe, but it appears they could not fully comprehend what was upon them.”
The assembled scientists, philosophers, department representatives, mechanical specialists, outworlders, and farmers stirred in their seats, and Grogan, standing at the podium, knew he had hit a nerve.
“Example!” cried a Peace Department representative.
Grogan hesitated. Knowing the question would come up, he had agonized over which approach to use.
“The gap between rich and poor offers an excellent example into the culture of the early twenty-first century. Remember, we are two hundred years from the catastrophe. With so few people now, it seems impossible to imagine the gap between rich and poor as it was then,” Grogan said. “That the basic need to sustain life was tied to an artificial method of determining individual worth seems unbelievable to us now. But in fact, where people had money, they lived; where they did not, they died.”
Grogan stepped back from the podium and sat down. The audience seemed satisfied for the moment, but only he knew that there was more, far more, for them to hear before they truly understood what had caused the greatest cataclysm the world had ever known and the coming crises in the post-catastrophic world.
2020 CE Pre-convergence, US Army Specialist Thomas Frederik
US Army Corporal Timothy Spellman ducked as another rocket came screaming in from the Iraqi village across the field. Peering over the edge of the wall, Spellman fired off several three-round bursts, and then sat down to put a fresh magazine into his M-32 rifle.
“Move up, move!” he heard his sergeant yell.
Spellman jumped the wall and started across the field. As he reached the first house at the outskirts of the small hamlet, an insurgent appeared in a window and fired a burst from his AK 62, hitting him in the face and body.
Spellman’s electronic tracker set off a red alert diode in the mission command center. Based on his bio readouts, they knew immediately that he was dead. The casualty counter clicked to reflect his death. Above the large computer console, the casualty numbers read: Middle East Mission to Date: KIA 14,642; Wounded 456,874.
And Afghanistan is even worse, Specialist Thomas Frederick reflected, with no let up in combat since the initial invasion nearly twenty years ago. Assigned to the Middle East command center to monitor casualties because of his double below-the-knee amputations from a roadside bomb, he no longer had to patrol.
At twenty-six years old, Frederick had been only nine years old when the first Iraq mission launched in 2003. The objectives had changed frequently through the years, and Frederick thought the current mission of stabilizing the inner cities in Iraq was a complete waste of time. This has been done before, he thought. Many times.
2020 CE Pre-convergence, Centers for Disease Control researchers; Atlanta, Georgia headquarters
Senior Centers for Disease Control researcher, Sandra Stone, looked up from the microscope she had been glued to for the last five hours and shook her head in disbelief.
“Oh god no,” she breathed. “No!”
Stone picked up the desk phone and pushed a button.
“I need to see Masterson immediately,” she said. Hearing the answer, she yelled into the mouthpiece. “I don’t give a damn what meeting he’s in. Get him out! I’m on my way down.”
John Masterson, Stone’s boss and assistant director of lab operations, was just sitting down at his desk as Stone raged into the room.
“Sandy, what—” he managed to get out before she interrupted.
Stone tossed the card onto his desk.
“Look at it. Now. It’s the latest tests from the China virus.”
Masterson reluctantly took the card and put it in the overhead projector. He quickly noted the time between the photographs.
“Oh Christ,” Masterson choked out. “Oh, my god.”
2020 CE Pre-convergence, Sub-Saharan African family
Maleeta Mubuti picked up the two five-gallon jugs of water she had just filled, joined the long snaking line of women who had come for the same purpose, and began the ten-mile walk back to her village. There was no other source of water, and without it her two children would die.
As she did many times a day, she wished fervently for her husband, Batu, to somehow return home. Only old and disabled men were left, the rest gone to fight in the wars Maleeta neither understood nor cared about.
The women didn’t hear the scream of the jets until it was too late. As automatic canon fire began to stitch the column, they fled from the road into nearby ditches. Maleeta dropped into the protection of the dirt trench, hugging her precious water jugs. Three times the warplanes strafed the group before roaring off into the distance. As quiet returned, the women slowly continued on the road, leaving behind many bodies massacred by the jets.
2020 CE Pre-convergence, United Nations Climate Watch Team
Climatologist Jason Winters paused for a moment at the satellite video feed, and then turned to his colleague, Mary Fortius.
“Looks like we are going to be out of a job,” Winters said. A tall man with a long mane of blonde hair and sparkling blue eyes, Winters had been at the Arctic Ocean research station for two years. The station was dedicated to monitoring melting trends at the pole and surrounding areas. The Arctic Ocean was free of ice, and Greenland was the next to completely lose its solid water cover.
“Probably just as well,” Fortius replied. “The Russians have been making threats for weeks. I don’t want to be here when it spins out of control.”
Fortius walked to the video screen.
“Let’s make the pickup call before it’s too late,” she said.
As the pair watched the screen, a huge sheet of ice slid from a rocky promontory, floated lazily in the sea for a moment, and then disappeared. Greenland was now free of ice.
“Put on the news,” Winters said. Fortius turned on the wide screen television and flipped through the stations until a warship appeared.
“Russian, American, and Chinese destroyers and cruisers continue to shadow each other in the Arctic Ocean near the North Pole,” the news reader said. “Tensions have risen dramatically as these nations maneuver for the last great deposits of fossil fuel.”
“Make the call,” she said.
2020 CE Pre-convergence, from the diary of eight-year-old Mary Summers; Mount Shasta, California
Dad says we’re very lucky to live in the United States, but I hear him and Mom talking late at night when they don’t think I’m listening. Can it be as bad as they say? Mom seems to think we should stay where we are and that god will provide. Dad is wondering how many people will come north when the water runs out. Mom tells me not to worry, but I know Dad often checks our emergency food supply and has bought a lot of bullets for his guns.
Homepage slideshow photo: Ironchefbalara/Flickr.
— Paul Boerger, Transition Voice