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Our writing prompt this week was:  write a piece that begins with the line, “I could never have imagined” and ends with the line, “Then the whole world shifted.” In 600 words.

All criticism is helpful and welcome.

I never could have imagined how bad it was going to get, none of us could. Part of our human nature stops us from fully grasping the worst-case scenario, it’s a trick of self-preservation. Retrospectively, all the signs were there. There were certainly voices yelling as loudly as they could that if we didn’t change things we were fast speeding towards an untimely demise as a planet and as a species.  Not enough of us listened.

The food supply continued trending towards monoculture. Monsanto’s genetically engineered seed supply contaminated nearly all natural strains and their insecticide gave rise to super weeds, plants that acted like locusts, destroying huge stretches of land creating wide beige arcs of desert in what was once the green American bread basket. Massive food recalls due to contamination of nearly everything, eggs, beef, spinach, lettuce, apples, alfalfa sprouts at first did little other than function as an inconvenience. Scientists continued mucking about, genetically engineering salmon and pigs and attempting to grow meat ‘in vitro,’ in vats for human consumption with almost no safe guards in place.

Somewhere in our mass consciousness we knew that the worst case scenario was skulking, lurking, plotting, waiting to pounce.  We denied it like most of us deny the Grim Reaper when he too stands near. Then people weren’t just getting sick from contaminated foods, they were dying and not by the hundreds, but the thousands.  Mercifully, it was quick and brutal, life to death in a few short hours.

Eating became a game of Russian roulette and hardware giants like Lowes and Home Depot made a killing when anyone who had any notion how to garden at all flooded their stores buying anything they could get their hands on even with the outrageously inflated prices. That is until the riots started. Once those started the infrastructure in cities took mere weeks to disintergrate.

People naturally fractured into clans holing themselves up with weapons, food, medicine and growers. Growers became the most valuable human currency. They were fought over, used as bargaining chips, traded, and purchased. Despite us, people starved by the tens of thousands. Which shocked some because they had long forgotten that it takes time to grow food, months and months. Long endured fear and hunger leads to madness. Having no real reason to live does the same.

Anything that could be used to grow food in, dumpsters, garbage cans, industrial plastic containers became worthy of battle.  Turf wars broke out over warehouses, parks, and anyplace you could find dirt. There seemed an endless supply of bullets until suddenly there weren’t and people went back to fighting with clubs. You would think that doctors and nurses would have been in high demand, but they weren’t because in everyone’s secret dark heart the wounded meant one less mouth to feed.

I don’t know how long the light had been hanging in the sky before we noticed it. We had been so focused on the ground, literally scratching in the dirt that we had forgotten to look up. Days after we noticed the light that was getting larger and brighter, tremors started shaking the ground but not like an earthquake more like the crust of the earth was trying to free itself and rise up into the atmosphere. All that denying and pretending not to feel or see was useless now. Out of the corner of my eye I saw the Grim Reaper and Worst Case Scenario giving each other a high-five, then the world shifted.