Green Blood #1 (Science Fiction – Apocalyptic)
In 2050 mankind still believes nature can be conquered.
Until The Devastation changes everything.
Trees develop a powerful electrical system which zaps anything metal, including people wearing it. Young trees sprout up literally everywhere, the rapid growth promising to destroy most man-made structures. In days, the supermarkets are stripped bare.
On Wescara, a small holding on Vancouver Island, a family fights to survive. When the power fails and the technology they once took for granted is useless, the struggle escalates as desperate gangs attack, willing to kill for a morsel of food.
What people are saying:
I found myself so engrossed in this story I felt I was a part of it. It makes one think of how we are damaging our planet and how, some day, somehow, it could fight back!
— Sharon King-Booker
I did not think I would like this type of book, and I ended up reading it nonstop! It was wonderful!
— Susanne B
An excellent and compelling read about what happens when the conveniences we take for granted come to an end and nature takes over. I really enjoyed this book!
— Laura L Langston
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CHAPTER ONE – 2050
The last thousand hectares of old-growth forest on the British Columbia coast basked in April sunshine. Bald eagles, perched on cloud-tipped branches of ancient Douglas-firs, preened their feathers as the morning mist burned away. From time to time, the croaking of ravens scoured the silence. Fir and cedar fronds, tipped with the lush, tender green of new growth, shimmered in the breeze and, in the cool depths of the forest, insects and small birds flitted and soared in a frenzy of breeding and building.
Richard Bonner parked his mud-splattered hybrid Jeep at the end of the access road, well back from the disabled Cat left behind by the P&H crew. He got out, stretched his tall, lanky frame, and craned his neck to look up at the trees towering far above his head. He hadn’t been on a field trip for so long that he’d forgotten how good it felt to be in a natural forest. The peaceful aura settled around him like a protective mantle.
Sunny came from the passenger side to stand with him. He put an arm around her and planted a kiss on top of her head. “How are you feeling?” She’d had the abortion three days ago.
“A little queasy. Nothing serious. But it’s good to get away from work for a day.”
He smiled. “A busman’s holiday, though, isn’t it? In the city, you’d be knee-deep in plants while you redesigned somebody’s front garden. Out here, you’re still surrounded by plants.”
“But these are enormous. And gorgeous. Look at the way the breeze makes the leaves move on that maple; it’s as if they’re dancing. Or talking to one another. I’d love to build a weekend cabin up here. The kids would have so much fun.”
Something in her tone made him lean down to look into her face. There were tears in her hazel eyes. He held her tight against him. “You wanted the baby, didn’t you?”
“Of course I wanted it!” The angry tone told him that she was trying to control the tears. “That law limiting a couple to two kids just isn’t fair. Some couples don’t want any children. Those of us who do want them should be allowed to have extra to make up for that.”
“Sweetheart, world population has increased thirty percent over the last fifty years. A little more than that around here because it’s a prime retirement area. We have to do something to keep it in check until science can find a way to help the earth provide for us in a safe, sustainable way.”
“Oh, Richard, stop lecturing!” Sunny snapped. “I’ve heard it all before a million times, especially from my parents. We’ve got climate change, depletion of resources, pollution, overcrowding, poverty, famine, massive refugee issues, blah, blah, blah. Is one small baby going to make it that much worse?”
“I wish you’d had your tubes tied when Jimmy was born.” He brushed a strand of her wavy shoulder-length hair off her cheek. “I wish you’d agreed to it this time, too. If you have a second unauthorized pregnancy, you’ll be forced to do it or pay a huge fine.”
She moved away from him and ran both hands through her hair. “As long as I have a choice, I’ll say no to sterilization. It has side effects.”
“Mild ones, according to Doctor Kaplan.”
“I don’t believe in messing around with a perfectly normal body. If science could come up with contraception that was a hundred percent effective, I wouldn’t have to.”
“Having an abortion is messing with the body,” he pointed out. Sometimes her reasoning didn’t make sense.
“I know that, Richard. You’re always so damned logical. But going through with the pregnancy would have meant giving up the baby for adoption and I just couldn’t have stood that.”
The racket of half a dozen vociferous crows harassing an eagle interrupted Richard’s attempts to think of something comforting to say. He was good in the lab and the classroom, but when it came to emotions, he never seemed to get it right.
Sunny looked up at the big, sheltering trees. “Is there any way we could build a cabin here?”
“No, I’m afraid not.” He was relieved at the change of subject. “This last chunk of old-growth is meant for harvesting. It took years and a lot of fighting with environmentalists, but Pritchard & Hill finally got the licence for it last month.”
“Greenpeace hadn’t had much luck the last few years,” Sunny said.
“Not surprising. The wood is too valuable for the logging industry to ignore and industry votes are too valuable for the government to ignore.”
“Be happy that you’re a scientist. I hate all the infighting that goes on with politicians and businessmen.”
If Sunny were in charge of the world, Richard thought, no one would ever have arguments. About anything. He refrained from expressing his opinions in public, but Sunny knew he had no sympathy for either faction. Loggers tended to be bullheaded, superstitious rednecks and environmentalists were emotional fanatics. Scientists searched for a truth unsullied by emotion or prejudice. Being human, they never wholly succeeded, but the ideal of pure reason was always worth striving for.
Richard unloaded equipment from the Jeep while Sunny watched.
“What do you think you’ll find?” she asked.
“Probably some clever new ploy by the environmentalists.”
“That story you heard from the manager at Pritchard & Hill was peculiar, though.”
Two days ago, a crew had moved in to start cutting timber. As soon as anyone touched a power saw to a tree, he was knocked unconscious and the motor in the saw was destroyed. By noon, three power saws and a Caterpillar tractor had been so damaged they’d have to be rebuilt or abandoned. Luckily, the men had suffered no physical damage. The manager said the logging equipment had been in perfect condition, which Richard didn’t doubt, since they were starting a new contract. The only explanation the loggers could offer was the spikes they’d found. That proved they were superstitious; no metal in existence could disable both engines and men.
Pritchard & Hill had pulled the crew out, pending a thorough investigation. And, of course, they wanted an explanation yesterday.
Richard picked up a couple of testers and a spike puller. The problem could be a magnetic field but most likely the environmentalists had wired up some complex electrical device. The only explanation for what the men had suffered was electrical shock.
“I think you should stay away from the trees until I find out what’s wrong,” he said.
Sunny shrugged. “Okay. I’ll walk around, see what plants I can identify in the clearcut.” She glanced at her LINC, which hung on a chain around her neck. “It’s time for me to see how the kids are doing, too.”
Richard heard her say, “call home” as he walked toward the impressive Douglas-fir that had caused the loggers so much trouble. The tree was well over seventy meters tall and about twelve meters around the base.
He’d be sorry when the last of these was gone. But thousands of species had died since the earth had formed and millions more would go before the sun cooled. By then man would have conquered new planets and found new ways to feed and shelter himself. He climbed through the waist-high salal surrounding the patriarch until he saw the rusted spike, almost hidden in the rough texture of the bark. A pileated woodpecker, foraging on the trunk above, took off with a flash of white wing feathers and vanished into the dark sanctuary of a balsam fir a few meters into the stand of timber.
Richard set up his first test. When that was done, he’d pull the spike so he could examine it in the lab. Spikes weren’t likely to be the problem but he had to be sure.
As he touched the tree with the metal wand of the tester, his body convulsed and the world went away.
He came to, face pressed into a damp mat of needles and decaying leaves.
“Richard! What’s wrong? What happened?” Sunny was kneeling beside him.
He rolled to his side and tried to sit up, but couldn’t. “Everything aches; my stomach feels like mice have been gnawing at it.” He lay still, hoping the feeling would pass and wishing he’d brought Janice, his assistant, as backup. But the loggers’ story had seemed nothing more than mass hysteria. He’d been sure that a dispassionate scientific approach would quickly resolve the mystery.
“Should I call for help? An ambulance?”
Richard sat up. “No, don’t. I’m feeling better.” A few more moments and he stood up, leaning on a rotting, moss-covered log for support. He half expected the fir to zap him again, but it didn’t.
Sunny’s face was full of concern. “Are you sure? I don’t want you taking chances with a heart attack.”
“I don’t think it was that. It had to be the tree.” When his breathing was more or less normal, he started pulling the duff away from around the base of the trunk.
Nothing there. The decaying matter looked as though it hadn’t been disturbed for a thousand years. The tree could easily be that old. No sign of wires, no evidence that anything had been buried nearby.
He took Sunny’s hand and they walked away from the edge of the forest. When they reached the Jeep, he leaned on the hood. “How, in the name of sweet reason, could a tree have done that to me? Or a spike?”
“I don’t know,” she said, “but it scares me.” The only answer to come from the brooding trees was the unconcerned twitter of birds.
He opened the LINC on his wrist, intending to call Janice, but the time and date display was gone and the pinpoint of red light was no longer blinking. Richard shook his head, annoyed with himself. Before they’d even driven up the mountain, he’d decided the problem was electrical in nature; he should have removed the LINC before he approached the tree. Life Intra Net Computers, the all-purpose miniature units that nearly everyone wore these days, could be recharged anywhere except, of course, in the middle of a forest. He was at least an hour away from the nearest public charging equipment. He’d deal with it later, on the way home. At least all the information on the LINC was safely backed up on the Web.
“Sunny, will you call Janice for me?” Before she could do so, he changed his mind. “No, don’t. I need to do some research, talk to other biologists, before I bring anybody else up here.”
Richard looked up at the Douglas-fir, then along the edge of the stand until he saw an opening into the trees. The loggers had checked out every tree for two or three hundred meters along the periphery and reported a dozen or so rusty spikes, but hadn’t investigated further. If only those trees on the edge had been booby-trapped, it might be possible to get around them, to log everything else in the stand. Pritchard & Hill would be happy with that solution.
But he couln’t bear leaving the basic problem unsolved, no matter what P&H thought about it. There was a force here he’d never encountered or even heard of before. He had to find out what it was, how it worked, how to control it.
“I’m going to walk in a few meters,” he said. “Just to find out if there’s anything unusual that we can’t see from here.”
“I’m going with you.”
“No, I don’t want you at risk.”
“The feeling is mutual. I’m coming with you.”
Ten meters into the trees they found a small cool glade, thick with springy evergreen salal, and young ferns uncoiling to the spring sun. Above, birds sang territorial tunes and busied themselves with nest-building as if nothing else existed. On the far side of the glade was a massive western red cedar, a sure target for the loggers, if they could penetrate this far. Richard forced his way through the foliage and put his hand on the cedar’s fibrous red-brown bark. A shock wave ripped through him and the world vanished again.