[by Thomas Shelley]
In the deep still of the night Riley's heart was racing. He was gently rocking Sylvia back and forth in a tightly tangled embrace. Sylvia was still sobbing uncontrollably. It was the dream again. It was always the same:
Sylvia is clinging to her mother who is clinging to something. Sheets of lightening illuminate enormous waves and a terrifying sky formed of wind and rain. There is a huge gust, a crashing wave and Sylvia's mother is gone. Sylvia screams, "Mommie, Mommie, Mommie!" Her mother's distant refrain of Sylvia's name is her last word.
Sylvia awakened terrified and screaming at this point in the dream. Riley knows that this will go on for a long time.
Most of the young people that crowd the town are refugees from what is call "The Drowning". The sudden rise of sea level took everyone by surprise. The increase in global warming was supposed to cause a gradual rise of about three feet or one meter by 2100. A series of unforeseen events caused a much more rapid rise in sea level - nearly 50 feet (15 meters) in most places by mid-century. Since nearly 90 percent of the world's population lived at or near sea level in the early 21st Century, the sudden rise in sea level along with other deleterious events contributed to a catastrophic loss of life on a global scale. By 2100 only 680 million souls survived of the nearly 9 billion persons alive prior to "The Drowning". Ironically, or perhaps not, the 7-1/2 percent of the human population that survived turns out to be the true carrying capacity of the Earth.
Sylvia collapsed into a fitful sleep. Riley lie awake, still rattled by Sylvia's recurring dream, wondering what the new day would bring.
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