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2019-06-27 19:42:30 (UTC)

Prompt 031: Crystal Ball

31. You look into a crystal ball and see far into the distant future. How does the world look? What has changed?


Another "go big or go home" kind of moment...

Imagine being high in the sky, and slowly drifting towards the surface of the planet Earth. There are thick, ivory clouds that obscure your vision, but you sense you are on the descent. The air is warm and moist. Sunlight filters through the upper layers of the clouds, illuminating the hazy, humid air beneath with an ambient haze.

As the clouds part and you come closer to the surface, you see enormous seas stretching across the horizon. Narrow stretches of green, like emerald spines painted onto a blue canvas, can be seen to the west. You slowly descend, checking your map. Where's Washington, DC? Wasn't it supposed to be here? But all you can see is blue, and maybe occasional islands peppered with shrubbery and palm trees.

You descend to maybe 10,000 feet above the surface, and make out more detail. Instead of it being a broad ocean beneath you, it seems to be a series of lagoons or lakes connected to one another. The floor of these lakes can still be seen, with some curious angular shapes underneath. You sink closer to the planet's surface to investigate.

The air surrounding you is oppressively humid, though you were thinking this was the equivalent of the early spring. Why is it so hot and humid here? It feels like the middle of August on the east coast of the US, months ahead of schedule. Those angular shapes catch your eye again, perhaps 30 or 40 feet below the water's surface.

With a gasp you finally recognize the shapes: they're the flat roofs of houses and buildings. Entire cities are underwater, these roofs the only evidence that humans were ever here. How long has the east coast been like this? There's no way for you to know. You don't know what year this is, you can't even tell what time of the year it is, since your sense of the seasons is completely distorted by this vision of reality. Racing back to the location of the nation's capitol, you eventually see a singlular, stark-white obelisk obscenely protruding from the water. This used to be the Washington Monument.

You speed off to the west, only encountering more land as you reach what would be the Appalachian Mountain Range. These now appear to be a string of islands, shrouded in green, with perhaps only its topmost peaks still resembling their former mountainous aspect. Further west, there's nothing but blue for thousands of miles. You eventually reach the Great Rocky Mountains, this range now resembling a thousand-mile-long stretch of green land from north to south.

Exploring more deliberately, you travel far to the north, to see the North Pole. Even here, the air is thick and humid, though perhaps a bit more temperate. Icebergs? Snow? Even floating ice? Nowhere to be seen. After traveling to the southern posts of Antarctica - guided by the spine of mossy rock that is the Andes Mountains - you see nothing of the formerly ice-shrouded seventh continent. Absolutely everything is underwater. There is no ice.

One last place to check. You head north, then far eastward, seeking out Mt. Everest. It must be around here somewhere. But that's when the sea storm interrupts your journey. Titanic waves course about the now-gargantuan Indian Ocean, with no India land mass to interrupt it. The constant winds that buffet you are easily over 150 miles per hour, gusting to perhaps three times that speed on occasion. To preserve yourself, you ascend and escape the tumultuous atmosphere, promising to visit again.

There it is: the "pale blue dot" of Carl Sagan's mythology, now considerably more blue and cloud-enshrouded that ever seen before. But there are no people. Where did they go?