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Prophecy or Science Fiction?
Alice C. Bateman
Anyway, I keep trying to write down what happened way back then. Of course there were no newscasts to let us know. All of a sudden there was no electrical power, and there was somehow a different feeling to the atmosphere. John and I looked at each other with raised eyebrows, rounded up my five younger children - the two oldest were both married and away - and loaded them into his mini-van.
Luckily for us, the gas tank was full. All the computerized gas pumps were shut down. We drove from my little townhouse at the south end of Hamilton down to Concession Street and pulled into the park at the north end of Upper Gage. The kids all piled out and headed for the playground, big ones supervising little ones, but John and I were compelled to walk over to the edge of the park overlooking the lower city.
You can imagine our astonishment when the lower city was no longer there! The lake, usually several miles away on the far side of the busy city, was now lapping up against the rocky ridge, about a foot below where we were standing. Nor could we see the far side of the bay as we always had been able to. Water stretched calmly as far as we could see. All sorts of debris floated on the top of the new lake, stuff that such a short time previously had been the belongings of people who were no longer alive.
We clasped hands tightly, said a prayer for all the souls that were now lost, and then walked slowly back to John's vehicle to turn on the radio. The only station we could find playing was K-Lite FM, whose station was up on what was called "The Mountain," operating on emergency power. They had no real idea what had happened; confusion reigned on the airwaves and everywhere else.
No one seemed to know what actually happened. The radio people were panicked, because all their telephone calls to other Southern Ontario radio stations couldn't be completed. Their own switchboard was dead. I know I'm using words that you're probably not familiar with, since most of these things ceased to exist over fifty years ago, but it's impossible to tell the story without them. I'll try to explain as much as possible before I'm finished.
Eventually, roaming here and there and talking to everyone we could, we were told that the St. Lawrence River, flowing in from the East Coast, had burst it banks from an inrush of ocean water. To the north, Hudson Bay overflowed and covered a great portion of land with water. The Great Lakes rose dramatically, swallowing up all the cities thriving on their shores.
We heard that on the West Coast, the Pacific Ocean rose until it hit the wall of the Rocky Mountains, inundating all the Canadian and US cities along the coast. Someone said the first wave actually smashed over the wall of the mountains and covered most of the settled areas of Alberta before receding a few weeks later and remaining on the western side of the Rockies, settling among the high foothills on that side.
John's own home in Niagara Falls was suddenly gone. The Niagara River, like all the other rivers, was unrecognisable, more like a long flowing lake. Niagara Falls, a beautiful natural attraction and tourist destination, disappeared.
Millions and millions and millions of people were suddenly gone. All the electrical and nuclear power plants were drowned, all the technology man was so proud of creating wiped out in moments.
Naturally, the kids missed their television for quite a while, and I missed my computer, but we gradually learned to live a different and more real life. I was sorry that John lost his home, but it wasn't long until we left my own behind as well. With no heat for the winter months, we decided to head farther south and see what was happening.
In the high hills of New York State (New York City was gone too, of course), we came across a man who explained why he thought the waters had risen. His theory was that the hotter and hotter weather made the polar icecaps melt at a much faster rate than they should. As a result, massive chunks of ice sliding into the northern and southern oceans caused a sudden and dramatic increase in the ocean levels all over the world.
The man we met said he had predicted just this eventuality, but nobody would listen to him. Now there was hardly anyone left to listen if they wanted to. Personally, I think it was a plain and simple act of God.
I forgot to mention that before we headed south my married children found us, and we all decided to travel together. Before the floods there was an incredible system of roads, highways and superhighways, always clogged with endless traffic. Almost every family had at least one gasoline-powered vehicle, polluting the air terribly. I was not unhappy to see an end to all that, but it certainly made travelling anywhere a lot more difficult with most of the highways drowned. And after the gasoline ran out, we had to find alternate transportation.
My older son's (including my son-in-law David) minds were always working, and after we made our way west and south for some time, their ingenuity eventually equipped us with three solar-powered vehicles. We liberated the solar panels from an abandoned house on what used to be a high hill. We couldn't figure out why someone would abandon a house that had solar power to heat their home and water, but eventually concluded that they must have been caught in one of the cities when the floods hit. We contemplated staying there, but our curiosity to explore our new world was too overwhelming.
It was really eerie for a long time, seldom encountering other living people. I'm trying to ignore and not tell about all the dead ones we found, but I have to say it. During the first few months, we had to retrieve endless corpses from the water, and burn them. This made all of us that helped with the job dreadfully sad and sometimes physically ill, but it was a duty that had to be done.
We endlessly questioned why John and I and my family had been spared from what we considered to be the Judgement of God, but all we could do was go on from day to day, doing whatever horrible tasks we had to perform. We all thanked God every day for sparing us, and mourned those who had been lost.
Some of the worst times were when we came upon a family that had survived the floods, only to starve to death in the absence of grocery stores and ready food supplies. Late twentieth century society spent so much time on pleasure and entertainment that they forgot how to survive and take care of their own basic needs. They assumed that their easy, lazy lifestyle would last forever, and food would always be there for the simple exchange of money.
Money no longer had any meaning. We had a lot of people to feed, with my large family, and collected as much food as we could from abandoned places along the way. It was too early in the season for many vegetables to be growing, but when we could we picked strawberries and other fruits in their seasons, and somehow managed to survive that first year.
When we got to the farthest southern point we could and still be on land - Florida was gone, most of Texas was under a blanket of water - we set up a base where we planted our gardens. We by now had a few animals in our little convoy, three milk cows we had acquired along the way, and five horses we'd found running loose about halfway down here.
We didn't stay very long at the base in the early years, although two adults were always left there at any one time, with guns we'd found in different places. Some of the people we met along the way were so desperate for food that they would literally kill to get it, and we had to make sure our place could be defended if it became necessary.
There were always those who would rather take from others than look after themselves, but since the floods, there are so many less. That sort usually stuck to the cities. But desperation makes people do desperate things, and John and I agreed that we'd rather know we could defend ourselves if the eventuality arose.
Amazingly, to my knowledge, we are all still alive and healthy. Most of the children are now living away from us, but we travel around to visit them on a rotating basis, keeping in touch with the various little communities that they have helped to establish.
The air is so much cleaner; it amazes me that we ever managed to live through the pollution of those other days. And the stresses on us are natural ones, not things like how are we going to get that new Nintendo system the kids want, or how we're going to keep up with the credit card payments.
Even the youngest children learned fairly quickly how to get along without the hundreds of toys they at one time considered essential. One thing we don't have to do without is music. I'd invested in a solar-powered CD player just before the world changed, so I still have my favourite music. I haven't been able to record any of the new songs I've written, there's no way to do that, but I do play the guitar we salvaged from somewhere years ago, and I also sing some of my songs for the family. The children have learned them to pass along to their own kids. It never fails to stir my heart and bring tears to my eyes when some or other of the grandchildren sing one or two of my own songs.
I seem to have a knack for writing verse, and even before the floods I had already written over a hundred and fifty poems and songs, many of them trying to remind people to believe in and thank God for their lives and loves. And many about the heartbreak caused by the men in my life before John. Since being with John, I have written about the joy of our love, and since the floods, the few songs I've written are about the sadness and changes that followed. I'll share some of them here with you as we go along.
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