Mother Earth

Posted: August 19, 2011 in SciFi

It was never recorded for posterity, at exactly what moment the earth’s lithosphere slipped and displaced itself by almost 2000 kilometres. Not that it mattered, as history ceased to exist at that very moment and a new history was born.

Everything ceased to exist. Everything started anew.

Slowly the forces that had held the crust in place for so many millennia were forced to let go. They combined with the energy released by the momentum of the unbalanced polar caps and grew and overcame the initial inertia and gravity to generate a terrible and unstoppable force.

The effects on the planet’s watery surface was not only dramatic, but Apocalyptic, a watery end for most of the inhabitants on earth.

It was however also a fiery Apocalypse. Super volcanoes erupted to create enormous craters spewing forth millions of cubic kilometres of lava, ash, gases and super heated steam. Well-known geological faults ripped open while new faults were created proving how puny the earth’s crust was and also how ancient. Humanity spilled like so many ants into bottomless crevices while whole mountains moved on a slippery surface; the wrinkles caused by the massive upheavals created whole new mountain ranges which would continue to change, waxing and waning for the next millennia; lakes disappeared and new lakes appeared sometimes causing whole cities to sink beneath the waves or triggered by the vibrations of the lithosphere’s movement, to sink into jellified mud.

Whole populations and millions of people disappeared beneath the waters and into the unknown depths of the earth.

The Horn of Africa, consisting largely of Somalia, Eritrea, a part of Ethiopia as well as half of Kenya, a section of the Sudan, Tanzania, the upper part of Mozambique and Malawi broke away from the African mainland all along the eastern geological fault of the Great Rift Valley, to form a small new continent which would drift in a north-east direction and over the next millennia, obliterate small islands such as the Seychelles Archipelago, eventually absorbing the Malaysian Islands to create a new mini-continent. The Ethiopian Highlands, once hundreds of miles from the Red Sea, now formed the North Eastern shores of what was left of Africa.

The great African Lakes with the exception of Lake Victoria disappeared as the waters of the oceans flooded into what was once the Serengeti, taking everything before it.

The Maasai Mara had run its last great spectacle.

The Barabaig tribe in Northern Tanzania joined their ancestors and did not have time to appease them or to find their lost cattle.

The Great Pyramids of Giza, all the Stepped Pyramids, the crypts in the Valley of the Kings and the Sphinx, all crumbled gently and collapsed into the raging waters as the desert sands of the great Sahara fought to absorb the floods.

Thousands of volcanoes, new as well as those formerly considered extinct and dormant, belched out poisonous gasses and billions of tons of molten rock and ash. The ash would encircle the planet for decades, creating a new Ice Age overnight in areas formerly temperate, as the dust shut off the sun. Gigantic tsunamis of steaming magma-mud engulfed entire cities, mummifying whole civilisations.  The Yellowstone super-volcano tore a massive crater into the crust of what was Wyoming instantly vaporising thousands of tourists while the sheer force of the blast knocked down buildings as far away as 2500 kilometres, reaching into Canada and the southern United States.

It exploded so loudly that it could be heard on the other side of the globe, but nobody was listening.

The crustal shift jerked the Antarctic continent out of the Ice Age and into a new age. As it now lay squarely across the equator, it would take only 20 years for the kilometres’ thick ice to melt, raising the sea level across the planet by 55 metres. A new unpopulated continent would rise in the New World.

The rising seas would engulf what was left of low-lying cities such as Brussels in Belgium and the baroque city of Vilnius in Lithuania where centuries’ old gothic, renaissance and other historic buildings would disappear from sight forever. Istanbul and the Bosporus would be covered by water and the Sea of Marmara would extend to Bursa in the East and Greece in the West. The Black Sea would become one with the Mediterranean.

The west coast of the North American continent, stretching from Seattle, down to Portland, Sacramento and Baja California and as far inland as the Cascades and Sierra Nevada mountain ranges broke away from the mainland along the San Andrea and San Bernardino faults and simply sank away beneath the Pacific Ocean taking all the cities, highways, bridges and people with it.

One of the world’s most modern and most densely populated regions disappeared beneath the angry waves; it may have never existed.

The Hollywood Bowl would never host a concert or religious meeting again.

 

The slippage of the crust took roughly 300 minutes. In those fateful minutes, time stood still. They were the last minutes for roughly 95% of all sentient beings on earth.

As the seas rushed in to fill the chasms left by the disappearance of the North American West Coast, gigantic tidal waves crashed against the mountain ranges which now formed a jagged new coastline. These waves, which held within them what remained of Western and Southern American civilisations and together with denizens of the deep, whales, giant squid and other hitherto undiscovered living creatures as well as pleasure yachts and a variety of more serious working ships and military craft, flung their contents high up into the crevices and peaks of the mountains before drawing back into the depths of the Pacific Basin, only to return with renewed fury to continue the onslaught on the continents, shaping new beaches and creating new bays and rivers for centuries to come.

The geophysical profile of earth was a different place; a very hostile place.

 

The sideways movement of the lithosphere virtually emptied the Mediterranean only for the seas to return with incredible speed and force to obliterate the shoe of Italy and the Greek Islands, once the playground of the rich and famous. The sheer force of the waters flowing through the Straits of Gibraltar, first outward into the Atlantic and then sucked back by the empty basin of the Mediterranean, caused the narrow straits between the island at Tarifa in the Spanish Territory and the North African shores near the little village of San Antonio in Ceuta on the small peninsula to erode and deep scour to the rock bed, leaving a channel of over one hundred nautical miles wide at its narrowest point. Nothing was left of the peninsula.

The entire west coast of the Middle East, the Dead Sea, Lebanon, Jerusalem, Tel Aviv, Palestine all disappeared under the onslaught of the massive tidal waves driven by the enormous pressure of the returning waters of the Mediterranean seas. The waves simply rolled into the wastelands and mountains of the Middle-East. The rising waters penetrated the enormous sand dunes of the Sinai desert cutting though to the Gulf of Aqaba as well as the Red Sea and using the Suez Canal effectively splitting Africa from the Middle East and creating a new desert island. The froth of the waves carried with it thousands of years of history, religious artifacts and millions of people. It was Noah’s flood anew.

The city of Rome was submerged under the onslaught of tidal waves and the invading seas; the Vatican City with all its hidden treasures, many with dark and unsavoury histories, was inundated with waters which plunged through the catacombs and vaults beneath the ancient city and its citadels.

The beautiful dome and Basilica of St Peter built on the original site of Nero’s Circus, crashed into the seas taking all the frescoes and statues with it. The Sistine Chapel suffered the same fate. No human eyes would ever again wonder at the beautiful creations of Leonardo da Vinci or of Michelangelo and the many other human works of art the Catholic Church had pillaged, stolen and bought over the centuries. The crypts of hundreds of Roman families, popes, sinners and saints and especially St Peter became so much rubble and detritus, mixed together in a gigantic cauldron with the remains of Rome, both Ancient and Modern.

The great volcanic fields of Harrat Khaybar in Saudi Arabia near Al Madhina, stretching for over 100 kilometres in the desert, rented massively, spewing forth poisonous gases, lava and ashes which within minutes covered the nearby holy city killing virtually all occupants.  To the south the other great holy city of Makkhah was submerged by rising seas and tidal streams which streamed in along the lowlands of the desert, obliterating the harbour city of Jeddah and much of the coast line on its way. The Ka’aba remained standing but waters flooded its interior, and the marble and limestone structure slowly deteriorated and would collapse before the end of the year 2010.

The religious wars, persecutions, inquisitions and jihads were finally resolved.

The oil fields of the Middle East disappeared beneath the waves but not without rupturing vast reserves of oil and gas, spilling their foul contents onto the wild and turbulent waves, destroying the environment for millions of square kilometres and depositing millions of tons of sludge on distant shores.

There was no longer any need for oil and neither was any environmental group watching any longer.

 

Africa swiveled in an anti-clockwise direction with Table Mountain moving eastward to settle roughly at the equator and at 60°E Longitude. The Atlas Mountains moved in a south-westerly direction to settle south of the 30th parallel. The former West African bulge now formed the southern tip of the continent, which lay on its side. Cape Town or what was left of it, was now in the tropical zone of the planet. As the seas rose, Table Mountain and its Twelve Apostles would become isolated and bare rock islands in the New World.

Europe now lay to the west with the bulk of Russia squarely constituting the new North Pole and forming a massive continent under which the ice would never melt. Siberia and the province of Chokutka however now lay along the equator.

Due to its new location, West Africa was immediately gripped in an Ice Age. Within months, the rivers and deltas of Sierra Leone and Liberia were gripped in solid ice. The massive cottonwood trees and other ferns and plants, would in time be buried under kilometres of ice.

Australia and the New Zealand Islands moved towards the north-east to roughly where Japan had been while Japan disappeared beneath the rising and turbulent seas after Mt Fuji, Japan’s most sacred mountain and dormant volcano, erupted and sank beneath the oceans in a fiery and defiant display every Samurai would have been proud of.

North America also moved anti-clockwise and similar to Africa now lay on its side with the former North American west coast below the 40th Parallel while Alaska lay virtually in the tropics.

Greenland in turn shifted to the south-west and lay south of the equator to the 30th parallel south. It created a new uninhabited continent, a continent covered in a massive ice sheet which now rapidly started to add its melting waters to that of the Antarctic- and Siberian melt.

The new South Pole now consisted of separate land masses which included the southern tip of former West Africa and large parts of the North and South American continents. These sub-continents rapidly became frozen over, burying centuries of civilisations from American, African, Inca, Mexican and Mayan cultures. Massive ice sheets would eventually link most of these land masses.

London disappeared as tidal flows rose in the Thames and drowned the city. Most of the British Islands were inundated leaving only the highest points as small islands.

Manhattan Island as well as low lying areas such as Florida, parts of the Carolinas, the Mississippi Delta, New Orleans and parts of Central America were flooded, drowning millions and washing deep into the North American Continent. The high seas and tidal waves marched into Chesapeake, Baltimore and Delaware taking all before them.

The massive Mexico City, populated by some 19 million souls was not spared either. Originally built on an island in the lake Texcoco which was drained over the centuries and is surrounded by volcanoes, it simply sank beneath the heavily saturated clay it was built on as the earth vibrated below, turning the clay into a death trap of soft mud.

The equilibrium had been restored between the North and South Poles. The planet’s exaggerated wobble would continue for many years but eventually settle back into its normal precessional cycle of 25,800 years.

Mike Hailey’s laboratories at Herstmonceux Castle near Hailsham in East Sussex had been obliterated. The last thing he saw as the structures collapsed around him was the smiling family pictures of June and the girls.

 

Four observers watched it all happen from their grandstand seats in the International Space Station, a thousand kilometres away from earth.

Two Russian cosmonauts and two NASA astronauts, the most recent participants of the Russo-American pact on scientific and cultural co-operation, were occupied with their routine duties when all communication with Mother Earth ceased. The only sounds that emanated from the ever-present television and radio communication equipment was a short crackle and followed by a continuous hiss.

Cosmonaut Alexei Volkov was the first to notice it and he called to the others over the intercom.

“We have lost coms, please re-establish,” he called.

Peering out of the observation tower at Earth, he observed the whole planet wobble on its axis in ever increasing circles looking much like a child’s toy top spinning around just before it keels over, only much slower and incredibly, more majestic.

As his fellow space travellers crowded into the observation tower, they watched the earth’s movement in total silence and awe. Then as if being consumed by a monstrous cancerous growth, Mother Earth started to disappear. The normally blue and white surface of the planet was being replaced by a dull grey brown colour from which no light seemed to escape.

The planet seemed to have switched off all its colours and the rays of the sun seemed to have been sucked in by the cloud, which now enveloped the planet.

“What the hell is going on?” exclaimed astronaut John Carpenter to nobody in particular, yet to all mankind. He propelled himself through the connecting tunnel as fast as he could to the command post and flicked the toggle switches of the communication channels to NASA.

“Space station calling Mission Control. Robin, Cathy can you read me? Come in. This is International Space Station calling earth. Please respond. Hello! Is there anybody out there? What the hell is going on?”

There was no response and there would never be any response again. NASA and the Russian Space Authority had ceased to exist. The world was not listening any longer. The world was not able to listen any longer.

The space station would continue circling the planet for another ten years in ever decreasing elliptical orbits as if on a gravity-fed umbilical cord, before it would re-enter the atmosphere to be incinerated in a defiant but spectacular fireball signalling the true end of modern man’s technology. In it would be the desiccated corpses of four highly trained scientists who were never able to figure out what had happened to Mother Earth.

The uncertainty was a torture more vicious and enduring than any sadist could have devised or perpetrated. It lasted for almost a full year and 5 840 revolutions around the silent grey planet. Their oxygen was the first to run out and their deaths, although quick, had been planned and forecast with perfect accuracy. Waiting for it and not knowing what had happened to their wives and children had turned their hair snow-white.

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