Honey, Get the Kids Inside - July, 2032
Geoffrey Miller - Cli-Fi
The twins wouldn’t stop chasing each other around when we first pulled up to our new house. I was pleasantly surprised at how much bigger our rooms were too. Dad had told us his new job was better, but I never imagined it was this much better.
My room was the last one in the hall, which meant I had to navigate the boys playing capture the flag with each other's room. Though I got the room with the big window facing North, so I had no complaints. Just past one neighbour lay nothing but land and sky, all the way North.
‘How do you like the view?’ Dad called from the middle of the hall, mid-way through separating the war zones as a human wall.
‘The stars! You can see for miles out there!’
He simply winked and returned to his peacemaking.
I went back to further investigate this new room. Drawn to the northern window again, I noticed something I hadn't seen before, next to the neighbours house was a small building surrounded by a mass of trays, tables and buckets. I’d never seen that back home. Well, where home was.
‘Dad!’ I called, ‘what’s with the neighbours house? There’s all these tables and things outside.’
‘I don’t know honey, why don’t you ask them yourself?’ Clearly, he had bigger battles to fight.
It only took a day for him to get back to me with an answer. The next night at dinner he sat down with, ‘So I met the neighbours. They’re just like the agent said, lovely people. They want us over for dinner next week.’
Seeing me, he offered ‘All they said was that it was for ‘feeding the hungry’’
I had no idea what that meant.
I didn’t see the truck until I was already halfway down the street. Just behind the neighbours house was a refrigerated truck filled with chunks of meat hanging from the ceiling. I saw the outline of a small body with a few scraps of greyish skin still attached.
My stomach churned. I turned away.
Dismounting, I walked my bicycle down our driveway. I didn’t want to look at the neighbours again, but I heard the woman call out ‘There were prints in the driveway this morning so I figured it was time to get the shipment.’
I couldn’t help myself. I turned back to watch. With a chunk of meat over each shoulder, she trudged into the outhouse. After two quick thud’s, she made her way back to the truck to repeat the process. She was wearing matching yellow gloves, hat and boots, almost like a uniform. She wasn’t a very large woman so it was quite an odd sight. As I made it further down our driveway, the man came into view. With a bucket on each side and a big sponge in hand, he was on his hands and knees scrubbing a silver tray; shotgun lying on the ground beside him. Dad told me people have them to protect themselves from burglars.
‘They must be getting ready for a party’, I thought to myself, ‘I hope we’re invited’.
I leaned my bicycle against the wall and made my way inside.
I was reading when it happened. Thirty pages left to go in the third Game of Thrones book, A Song of Ice and Fire, and it had my full attention. The twins kept asking why I was reading the books when I could watch all eight seasons online.
I told them. They didn’t get it.
It was unusually muggy that day so I was stationed in the small patch of shade in the backyard. I knew it was unusually hot whenever Dad brought home icypoles.
I was onto my third.
The boys were a few metres away. Even they’d given up on their adventures for the day and had settled into their favourite summer pastime; using a magnifying glass to roast unsuspecting bugs in the dirt. There was only ever about a week of hot enough weather to do it so my parents never seemed to care. Instead, content to observe the action from the safety of the back verandah shade.
I started hearing the faintest rumble in the distance; as if there were a highway nearby or a pack of hungry sea lions. We had neither. Slowly, the sound grew as it approached us. Worried, I looked to the back of the house where my parents laid, outstretched. They’d barely moved for hours, clearly quite satisfied with their banana chair purchases.
Nothing to worry about, I guess.
I kept reading.
After a few moments, the gentle buzz quickly became an accelerating roar. I heard a shriek from the neighbours.
‘George, get the meat out! Now!’ The neighbour leapt from her back porch and ran to the outhouse.
‘They’re here!’ She added, urgently.
‘Who’s here?’ Dad asked, without getting up.
‘I don’t know honey,’ mum offered.
‘I saw the neighbours loading meat into that outhouse a few days ago. I think they might be having a party or something?’ I butted in.
‘Meat? Like steaks?’ he asked.
‘No, like the full animal. Maybe they like to prepare it themselves?’ I offered.
He didn’t hear me. He had seen something in the distance past the neighbours house. He seemed to squint for a few seconds then lurched into action. He ran towards the neighbours house, yelling ‘who’s here? Who’s here?’ again and again.
I couldn’t hear what the neighbour answered with, but he came sprinting back.
‘Honey, get the kids inside!’ He urged.
She didn’t move; instead offering a look that said ‘What on earth do you mean?’
‘Now! I’ll grab the shotguns.’
Again, she didn’t move. ‘Roger, what the fuck is going on?’ I’d never heard her use that word before.
‘Polar bears. Dozens of them. Looking for food. That’s who she meant by ‘the hungry’’. He wrapped an arm around the torso of each twin and carried them inside.
‘She said the food will buy us an hour’.
I ran inside, straight to my bedroom window, unsure if I actually wanted to watch.
Written by Geoffrey Miller
Geoff graduated from The University of Technology Sydney last year with a Bachelor of Business with Honours in Economics. He's curious about the nature of economic and social systems, an unapologetic Utopian idealist and, as a self-proclaimed Minimalist, desperate to tackle overconsumption at its core.
Subscribe to our newsletter!
Don't worry, emails will be few and far between. Just the occasional collection of our finest work.
RE:Source Depletion – Thwarting Future Disaster Through New Modes of Dwelling Declan Barnett – Science & Technology A semester’s work for the final design studio of my Masters Degree in Architecture, RE:Source Depletion takes aim at continued global extraction of finite natural resources. To ensure project efficacy, the notion of resources encompasses the broad range…
Fire and the Gadi House – Architecture for the Future Danyon Torpy – Science & Technology The recent ‘Black Summer’ bushfires in Australia, which saw significant loss of life and homes, has brought into question the renewed role architecture can play in dealing with climate change, the severe weather events it will bring, and the…
Alexi Barnstone interviews philosophy Professor Moira Gatens on the power of the imagination.
Serifos is derived from the Greek word meaning barren or fruitless. Whoever gave the island its name must not have seen the land in the dead of March, when poppies grow up between the stones and cows graze in meadows that will disappear by May.
Last spring, there were no Lenten rains. Infertility persisted with only dry bushes of fennel and ironwort to brew into tea as winter stretched on. The reservoir over the mountain ran low and the villagers kept their faucets open for the unpredictable handful of hours there would be running water.