Matt woke to the gentle listing of his boat and the sound of waves through the air vents. He stretched, opening his eyes. Sunlight was streaming through a view port. It was still single digits, according to the windup alarm clock on his bedside table.

He kicked off his sheet and swung his legs over the side of his bunk. Picking his contacts from the table, he slipped them in, blinking the tears away. UV blockers were pretty much vital since The Collapse. Unless you wanted to go blind by his age.

He stood up, scratched his nuts, and lowered another UV screen on the view port before looking out the window. It was probably going to be another hot day.

Matt was 6 when The Collapse occurred some 20 years ago.

He climbed into the shower unit. The water was collected and heated through the solar generators over night. The soap was hand made – bacon flavoured.

***

The ice caps melted and the water rose like everyone knew it would. Millions of refugees – young, old, rich, poor flooded across borders into countries with their own problems. Some refugee camps worked either as nationalist strongholds or desperate attempts to integrate. Most just held the shell shocked, frustrated masses who had no idea how they would carry on. Or where.

And with the over crowding, disease was rife. Local tension was inevitable.

Trouble snowballed. Fighting and riots demanded the national guard on the streets. Bombs exploded inside the crowded camps with tedious regularity and States of emergency were declared. Fear and confusion reigned.

But it was the bird flu that tipped the scale.

***

Shower over he reached for his zinc cream. If he was on show he’d spend time crafting a piece of body art. But at best he was was going topside and working his field or doing a touch of coding. So the grey, ugly kind was the choice of the day.

Finally, he pulled on his work smock and shorts, also hand made.

His mum would have been so proud. He smiled at her face on his communicator.

***

The flu spread like wildfire – the refugee camps were already hosting other diseases and immune systems were at their lowest.

Some places enacted their own safe-guards – “sterilization by fire.” The media were kept away, most feigned ignorance. When word got out the world drew its breath in shock.

And then it screamed.

For months it went on, the anger of ages being vented. Cities burned, blood ran in the streets.

Then the storms came.  Fields were ripped up, houses destroyed – what the fighting and flood hadn’t touched, the storms did. Food, already short, became shorter. Scientists reminded the world that the summer crop had to last through winter.

That announcement stopped the screaming.

***

Matt stepped into his sandals, popped the hatch on his cabin and climbed topside.

He looked out at his flotilla. 15 units lashed together, solar units on 6, hydroponic gardens on most. He waved at his fellow villagers.

He was lucky. His parents died to make sure he was.

Life still wasn’t easy. Summer storms were violent and the winters long and ice cold.

But people survived.

He shaded his eyes and looked at the clear blue sky. Close by someone dived into the water. From the sound of they made, it was still cold.

He smiled. It was going to be a beautiful day.

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