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This is first three chapters of SEA RISE, a crossover of science fiction and family saga novel of 164,000 words filled with political intrigue, conspiracies and revenge, all set against the backdrop of a world in the midst of change due to global warming and sea rise.

A family is the main character of SEA RISE, and like a true character it grows over the nine hundred year future-history: a faltering child, a rebellious adolescent, an ambitious adult, a prolific progenitor and finally, a benevolent sage.

Most chapters also contain a vignette dealing with the effects of sea rise, large and small, on individuals, families, regions and nations to illustrate the effects of global warming.  These range from the lighthearted, a race from Tallahassee to Savannah through the Florida Straits; to the exploitive, a tour company with exclusive rights for guided tours of abandoned world seaside cities; to the extreme, India using nuclear missiles to stop an invasion by millions of Bangladeshi peasants.

SEA RISE

2161 C.E.

0.92 Meter Sea Rise above 2000 C.E. Norm

 His First Decision

 Whitby Olsen watched the monitor as he thumbed through the public cameras positioned throughout the Settlement.  At this time of the day, the people would normally be moving about, settling their business, buying groceries and generally preparing to go home for the evening.  But no one was moving about; everywhere he looked people were gathered in small groups, talking.  Whitby knew what they were saying, what they were thinking, “What is he going to do? He’s only 19; it’s five decades too soon!

He clasped his hands together behind his head and leaned back, barely stopping himself from joining his tumbling chair.  Then sitting down beside it he started to adjust the spring tension: anything to do other than what he knew he must do.

There was a knock at the door and Whitby called out, “Come in.”

Gunther came in and halted, “Father?”

Whitby popped his head up from behind the desk, “Yes.”

Gunther stuttered a bit, “The…the Cousins on site are waiting in the conference room and those not here are connected by televid.”

Whitby , still sitting on the floor, asked, “Why?”

“We thought you would like to consult with the Grand Counsel about what tack the Family would follow now.”

Whitby smiled for the first time in hours.  He settled down in a more relaxed position on the floor with his legs crossed in front of him, his eyes barely visible over the desk.  “Gunther, this was Father Peter’s chair; it’s mine now.  He liked a loose feel, a soft feel; I like things a bit stiff, more solid.  I think I’m the only one who could adjust the spring to my liking.”

Gunther bowed his head slightly, “Sorry I presumed.”

“Gunther,” Whitby was still on the floor, “Never apologize for taking the initiative.  I can’t be everywhere at the same time; that’s your job.”

When he heard the door close, Whitby lay back on the floor and turning on to his side, he stared at the overturned chair.  He talked to it, “What are you trying to tell me?”  He took a couple more turns on the spring and returned the chair and himself to the upright position.  Then sitting down, he tested the ‘lean back’.  As if he had found the answer to a challenging puzzle, he smiled as he looked around the room; it was all clear to him now.  The large desk with built-in computer linkage able to reach every Family member in any spot in the world was not what this office was about.  And the three walls that were all glass providing a panoramic view of the Atlantic off the Florida Coast was not what the office was about.  The grand table for planning sessions wasn’t it either; even the hand woven carpet that depicted the map of Norway was just a trick to awe visitors.

The office was nothing more than a portal to what was above, up the hidden stairway; only a select few other than the Fathers and Mothers knew of its existence.

He keyed a code in his computer but didn’t key ‘enter’.  Then he walked to one panel on the fourth wall of dark oak and stroked a small knot, the real ‘enter-key’ for that code; a panel slid back exposing the stairway.  He paused and looked back at the desk and chair, “To sit in that chair I need to know how those before me sat in it.”  He started up and the panel closed.

The room at the head of the stairs was made of nothing but old dark oak from the Family’s Great Hall in Norway .  Bookcases completely surrounded the plain table with a chair on one side and a stool opposite.  The light level was high enough to read the spines of the hand bound leather books; another light highlighted the table where an inkwell sat with a collection of nibs on one side and a stack of parchment on the other.

Whitby was the 26th Leader of the Olsen Family, the Father.  As he looked at the hand written journals written by the Fathers and Mothers that came before him, he noted that the bookcases were less than half full.  “What will the Leaders do when the shelves are full?  Microfilm?  I think not!”

Although any member of the Family could read edited versions of the journals on the televid, only the Fathers and Mothers were allowed to read them directly.  Even those slated to become the Leader could not; they were only allowed to sit on the stool and be read to by the Father or Mother.  Whitby walked around to the beginning of the journals, and for the first time he touched a journal other than his own.  He pulled out the first, its spine branded, “958 AD.”

 

958 C.E.

 Origins

 In 958, Jens Gudmundsen stood on the wall walk of the monastery, watching his men urging the monks to carry everything to the long boats.  At a sound behind him, Jens whirled and crouched, his short sword and round shield at the ready.  There was nothing but a slightly open door in the shadows.

He slowly pushed through the door and crept forward as his eyes adjusted to the dim light.  The sound was clearer now, scratchy, unfamiliar.  Then he saw at a small bench and table against a thin window, a diminutive figure hunched over a parchment.  Jens came forward and raised his sword.  The figure said without looking up, “Please, let me finish this.”

The surprise of hearing his native tongue staid the blow long enough for Jens to identify the figure as a tonsured monk.  “And why should I wait to end your miserable life?  You heard the call for everyone to come outside when we arrived. And you have deserted your people and your native land to be here.”

“I need to write what has happened here today.”  The monk turned and quavered slightly at the sight of the scarred face of Jens.

“Why?  No one will be here, and that parchment you are scratching on will not survive the fire.”

The monk seemed to gather a bit of strength and courage, “It may survive and someday someone may find it.”

“What good would that do, you will still be dead.”

The monk actually smiled, “And that is why I must finish this: to tell whoever comes next what has happened here.”  The monk moved a bit too quickly as he got up from his bench, and Jens flicked the sword slightly nicking the monk’s neck.  “This is not the first time I have shed my blood on a scramæsax.”

“It will not be the last.”

“I was just getting a book to show you.”

Jens pulled back the sword, “Be careful, little man.”

The young monk smiled again as he laid an ancient tome on the table so the light would fall upon its pages.  “See.  This was written by Brother Joshua over a hundred years ago.”  He grinned pridefully and turned to the book, translating: We have traveled four days up river and found by God’s Mercy a sheltered ledge with fresh water flowing from a stone, a sign from Moses.  There is an abundance of river stone for building.  A copse lies to the south and east for timbers.  The southern slopes of the hill are gentle and the very soil is pregnant with the promise of grains for our bread and grapes for our wine.  We thank thee Oh Lord for this our new house of worship.

The monk looked up to see Jens in a more relaxed stance.

Jens, scratching his chin, asked, “And this was put down a hundred years ago?”

“Yes, one hundred and seven to be exact.”

“I have heard of such.  South of our fjord, five days sail, there is a big village.  It is said that there are those who could see the meanings of these scratches.”

“Yes, there are many who can read…and write.”  The monk was beginning to show a bit more nervousness than before.

“If you could scratch…”

“Write…”

“…write for me, would those who come after see the meaning?  For hundreds of years?

“Yes.”

Jens approached life as he did fighting, no hesitation, “Take what you can carry; you’ve but minutes before we sail homeward.”

Jens saw the monk turn white as a shadow fell over the door.  Jens turned to the figure holding a fire brand, “Let it stand.  Those who come afterward should know of this place and of these men.”  Jens motioned to the monk as he went through the door.

The monk stumbled after Jens, not wanting to be far from his savior among these vicious men.  He watched as his brothers were forced to their knees; he could not bear to witness what was to come next and averted his eyes.

Jens yelled at the three Norsemen surrounding the eleven monks, “Only kill those who resisted.  Let the men of peace be.”  With that, Jens boarded the ship that had been pulled up on the river sands.

Soon the long-ship was away from the shore, and the little monk watched as the life he had known disappeared with the current.  He strained to burn into his mind the familiar sights as the sea welcomed the long ship to its waves.

For years afterward, Jens and the monk would sit before the fire each night with the monk writing down the stories Jens told him of his own life and what he knew of his father, grandfather, and other ancestors going four generations back.  There were other stories written down, legends and myths of Gods, and battles long lost to all but a few with long memories.  Parchment and ink became required items from the raids across the seas.

Jens Gudmundsen died in 973, and his son Koll Jenssen kept the monk, although he seldom wanted anything written down.  The monk became the favorite entertainment as he read the sagas of Jens.  As years passed Koll’s son, Hauk, would sometimes tell the monk of his own experiences on the raids or trading excursions.  Then in 1002 with the death of Koll, the role of the monk returned to that of a recorder as he inscribed the history of the small village as seen by Hauk Kollsen.

The monk’s life had been relatively easy as a favorite of the village leader, but even that span must end someday, and on a warm summer’s day in 1014 the monk wrote his last.  Hauk named his next son for the monk, Lars Hauksen.

Literacy came to a few in the village in 1154, and once again the old sagas from the leather chest were the preferred entertainment around the great meeting hall.  In 1178, another writer began to add to the history, but that ended with his death in 1193.  Over the centuries an occasional historian was born into the hereditary line of village leaders, but in 1626 Jens Olsen began his journal in earnest and then passed the task to his eldest, telling him that the sword of Jens Gudmundsen was merely rust, but the ink on parchment was still there to read, to take meaning from.   From that year forward the journals became the responsibility for each new generation of Olsen leaders.

The hereditary head of the village slowly became known as Father or Mother Olsen, and after several generations many wondered how many Fathers and Mothers had gone before.  No one knew with certainty; the only record was in the journals themselves.  Years passed with many efforts to draft a family tree that was complete, but no one could agree until Iwona, Mother Olsen, suggested that the count should reflect those who had shown a concern for the future by writing their own journal or having one written for them.

In 1804, Iwona Olsen was proclaimed the 14th leader of the Olsen Family.  An ivory tusk, half a meter long, was carved with the names of the Fathers and Mothers spiraling around it.  When it was presented to Mother Iwona, she ran her fingers over the carved names and then thinking of the first Father, Jens Gudmundsen, she grasped the larger end and brought the flat of it down hard against the trestle table like a gavel; she proclaimed loudly, “By the Hammer of Jens, let it be known!”

 2055 C. E.

 0.33 Meter Sea Rise, 2000 Norm

A Small Trip

 

Jens Olsen hunched over his Captain’s table, plotting the position of the day’s small catch on a coffee stained chart.  There was no doubting it; the fish were moving south.  In the last four seasons, the positions had moved over two hundred and fifty kilometers further from homeport.

Lars Oldervoll, looking more like a troll carved at the tourist shops than the first mate, came in from a blowing spray, sea foam still clinging to his hair and mustache, “Are we turning back?”

“Yeah.  There’s no use going on.  The habitat is changing too fast; the damn catch is moving too quickly.  I’m going to call a meeting; if the whole village takes part in a systematic search, we might be able to map out the new feeding habitats and migration patterns.”  Jens staggered when the fishing boat was hit by another high wave.

“I think you can pull it off.  They all trust you, trust your lineage, and you can talk anyone into doing what you want, anytime you want.”

“You must be talking about my Great Grandfather.  He’s the one who could do that.”

Lars sat down across from Jens, “They say the ocean is getting warmer, rising.”

Jens huffed as he raised the coffee mug and blowing to cool it, sprayed a few more drops on the chart, “What do a bunch of scientists know about the sea?  We were born on it, in it; we’ve salt water in our veins.  There have always been periods, years long, where the seas were high and then they’re low again.”

Lars stabbed repeatedly with his index finger at the line of points on the chart moving southward, “But do the fish move this far?”

“I’ve never seen this, I’ll grant you.”

 

Jens watched as his crew of six pulled the ship tight to the dock.  He yelled down to Lars, “Get someone to drop the dinghy over the side; I’m going to row over to the house.”

“Why?  You haven’t rowed across in years.  I’ll bet you a couple of ales you don’t make it.”  Lars winked at the crew.

“Doreen has the car today down in the city for some shopping, and you can’t claim you won the bet if you wait for the tide to change before I get that dinghy.”

“Oh well, I tried.  It looks like the incoming has about thirty minutes before it turns.”  Lars called out for the dinghy.

Jens hadn’t been out in the fjord for fifteen years; he had settled into a lazy routine of driving around by the Olden Bridge at the fjord’s narrowing.  It was hard pulling the oars through the water, but it was refreshing, feeling the roll of the waves, watching the flash of fins in the corner of his eye, seeing the green of the small farms that held on to the ragged rocks, their ancient roots the only thing stopping them from sliding into the dark waters.

After a brisk workout, he bumped the small boat against the old battered dock.  He tied up, and climbing out, he reached back and pulled out his bag of dirty clothes and threw it over his broad shoulders.  Walking along the dock, he spotted Carls, his son, waving from the front edge of the yard high above him.  When he missed the step up to the gangway, stumbling to his knees, he almost lost his clothes to the water; he thought he had tripped because he was looking up at Carls.

As he gathered his spilt load and started to mount the gangway, he noticed that the end was almost the span of two hands above the dock.  No wonder I tripped.  Haven’t noticed that before.  He put down the bag and carefully examined the gangway and dock. 

He had watched as three generations had driven the four tarred poles deep into the bed of thick silt that had gathered over the centuries behind a ridge of stone.  The dock, made from a small thin barge they had salvaged, was held to the poles with steel loops so the dock could ride with the tides.  The gangway was anchored to the cliff side with great hinges, and its end rolled along the dock on four wheels.

He got down on his knees to examine it, and at the back of the dock, the gangway rested on the edge of the dock almost four meters behind the wheels.  This put the end of the gangway up in the air; the dock was higher than the anchoring hinges of the gangway.

Jens walked up the path to his home, but before he reached the safety of the door, Carls tackled him, yelling, “Father, you’re getting old and slow.”

At that, Jens picked up the eight year old by an ankle and wrist, and swung him high over the yard’s edge to plunk him in the water two meters beyond the dock.

Carls broke the surface proclaiming, “You used to throw me further!”

“You were skinnier.  You should play more outside instead of sitting on your widening butt at your computer!” He went on into the house, and after he dropped his bundle in the laundry, he went straight to the phone and dialed.

“Hello.”

Lars , it’s Jens .”

“What’s up?  Did you forget something?”

“No, but I was wondering about sea rising.  You said…?”

“Well, I said it is.  My sister in-law talks about it all the time; she has a couple of books from her college that have something about it.  Global warming is what they call it; the ice is melting into the ocean.”

“What ice?”

Lars paused and then, “All of it.  Don’t you read the papers?”

“Only the catch reports for the fleets.  Can you bring over those books tonight?  I have something to show you.”

“After dinner.”  Lars hung up.

Carls came in carrying his clothes, dripping wet, “Mom’s going to be mad.”

“Not if you put those up in the shed until they dry; she’ll never know.”

Jens went into the great room and began to flip through the stack of old newspapers by the fireplace.

“What are you looking for?”

“Global warming.”

Carls laughed and motioned for his dad to follow, “Now I’ll show you what you can do with that computer you kid me about.”  The two walked down the hall to Carls’ room, neatly crammed with the debris of an eight year old.   Carls sat down, but soon he got up and motioned for Jens to sit.

Jens looked at the screen and blinked, “What’s this?”

“I ran a search on global warming.  There were too many entries, so I did a sub-search on sea rise and ice melting.  I got the list down to less than eight hundred thousand.”

Jens turned to look at Carls, “Eight hundred thousand what?”

“Father, you are behind; I’ll bet the only computer you’ve ever used is that one on the boat hooked up to the radar and sonar units.”

“It was good enough for my grandfather; it’s all I’ve ever needed.  Now what do I do?”

“This is a list of web sites that people, companies and government departments have put up.”

Jens looked at the bewildering list.

Carls continued, “Take the mouse and move it around and click on any of the links.”  He took the mouse and pointed at one.  The screen blinked and changed to show a dot-gov site entitled, ‘Colder Water Moving South’.

“Once you are here, you can read what they say; when you’re through, you click up here to go back to the list and pick another one.”

Jens tried, and after a few false starts, Carls soon had his father surfing the web; he was at it when Doreen came in from shopping.  She was surprised to find him in front of what he had referred to as an “electronic teat”.  She was even further surprised when he asked for just a piece of meat and bread for supper in Carls’ room.

About an hour after eating, Lars came up with the books; Jens looked at them and proclaimed, “These are outdated.  I’ve read about more recent observations.”

Lars was a bit startled but went along when Jens began to drag him down to the dock.

Jens beamed a flashlight under the gangway, “Look.”

Lars did so but indicated he didn’t see what Jens was getting at.

Jens started in, “Those grooves where the bottom of the gangway has rubbed the edge of the dock.”

“So, at high tide the dock is too high.  You need to move the hinge higher.”

“You don’t understand; it is one of my last memories of my Great Grandfather.  He and my Grandfather argued about how high to make this.  They ended up building it so that there was at least a twenty-five to thirty centimeter gap in the back at the highest tide.   The sea is rising.”

“I told you that.”

“But I didn’t hear you, not really.  Now I know.  The sea is at least a third of a meter higher than in 2000; most of the Nations have signed a treaty to stop it.”

“How can they stop it?  You might as well try to stop a storm.”  Lars crossed his arms over his chest.

Jens said, “It has to do with greenhouse gases.  The more modern Nations have already started reducing what they put in the air, and they have promised the less advanced Nations that they will supply new green technologies so the Third World can catch up without using so much oil and coal.  It is a grand plan.”

“When have politicians ever followed through on any treaty?”  Lars sounded dejected.

The two men started back to the house, and Jens kept talking, “ Lars , what school is Hilda in?”

“The University at Oslo.”

Jens paused, listening to the whispering of the sea seemingly supporting the apex of his decision, and like his ancestral name sake, with no hesitation, he said, “I’m giving you the wheel of the Aurora for a while, a couple of years maybe.  I’m going to Oslo .”

Lars stopped and grabbed at his friend and Captain, “You at University?  You’ve never been in any school.  You don’t even let Carls go to school.”

Jens pointed out to sea, “There is no better school for me to learn to fish from, and you know Carls is reading better than kids almost twice his age.”

“That’s Doreen’s doing and not yours.”

“But it was me who chose her, and only because I knew she was better than the schools.  I read every day, at least one or two books a day.”

“But you can’t just go!”

“Why not.”  The two argued far into the night with Doreen stepping in occasionally.

True to his word, Jens left for Oslo a week later, making a rather large bet with Lars on how soon he would be back; Lars had used the words, “With your tail between your legs.”  Even with that, Lars was the last one to hug the man who was a full fifteen centimeters taller, and whispered to him, “Best of luck to you.  But I still don’t understand clearly why you have to go.”

Jens looked out over his beloved sea, “Because like you, I don’t know of any time when the nations of the world were able to follow through with a treaty; if the sea rise is stopped, it will be by individual men and women, not governments.  We will have to do something.”  With that he got in the car with Doreen and drove toward the nearest airport.

 Admissions

 Admissions didn’t know what to do with Jens Olsen.  He had been there each morning and afternoon for the past ten days, and no one could convince him he couldn’t just enter the University.  On the eleventh day, the staff was relieved to find that the tall, heavily built man wasn’t there.  Relief only lasted for six days; the office of the University President called and informed Admissions that a new special class student would be arriving soon, and they were to let him take any test they saw fit to determine his level of entry.  They had forgotten about Jens but quickly remembered when he turned up as the special student.  The Dean of Admissions asked him into his office.

“Mr. Olsen…”

“Jens, please.”

“Jens it is.  How did you manage this special treatment?”

“I am a fisherman, all my life.  All my forefathers I know were, except when they were raiders.  I decided to fish.”

“Fish?”

“Yes.  When you fish, you put out the bait and wait.  Sooner or later some fish bites and you play it in.”

“I’m not following you.”

“I took some text books I was interested in, brought a bench, and set it outside the door to the President’s offices.  He saw me there several times a day.  He never went in or out when I wasn’t there.  On the fourth day, he asked what I was doing, and I said that I was studying; I was at University.  He is an observant man, and he commented that there were different books each day.  I told him I was through with the old ones and had to bring new ones each day.  He asked how fast I read, and I picked up a book and told him it took over three hours.  On the morning of the sixth day, he asked me in and we talked.”

The Dean poured himself a cup of coffee and gestured to Jens.

Jens nodded negatively.  Good tactics.  He’s taking time to think what to say next.

“What did you say to convince him to let you in without any formal schooling?”

“I asked what was more important, that which is in the mind or that which is in a dusty file folder.  He said he wanted to know himself, which was more important.  He then called you.”

“What exactly do you want to study?”

“Math, physics, engineering, environment and maritime law.  Maybe some other things.”

“Okay, but what is it you want as a major.”

“All of them but none of them.”

“It sounds like you want to major in philosophy.”

Jens smiled, “I don’t want a degree in any field; there is too much wasted time in doing that; I’d have to take courses I don’t want or need.  I want everything you can teach in all of these subjects.”  He handed over a piece of paper.

“And just how long do you plan to study with us?”

“Three years should be enough.”

The Dean almost laughed, “Tell you what, be here tomorrow and we’ll have tests ready to see if you qualify to be here at all.”

“Entry level test.  That will be fine, but could you also include equivalency tests for these classes?”  After handing the Dean another list, two pages worth, Jens got up and left, but he could hear the Dean yelling for someone to get the President on the phone.

Paradise Lost

 The rise of the sea had caused a single man in a small village in Norway to trip, and that trip engendered ever increasing ripples that would pass through the ebb of time; elsewhere, entire populations were being effected by the rise, but their suffering would be mere footnotes in the history to come.

 

Dr. Saunders, on the toilet, stared at the hand written sign on the wall opposite: TWO ON A FLUSH.  He had lived on the Island all of his seventy-three years except for the seven he had spent in medical school.  Today was his last day.

He walked through the now deserted ward where in the last three weeks, over a thousand cholera patients had passed through, some leaving through the front door but most out the back and to the incinerators.

“Doc!  Aren’t you coming?  The last boat is about to leave.  If you don’t go now, you’ll have to come over on one of those damn military helicopters.”

“Yes, nurse.  I’m coming.  I needed to say good-bye.  I’ve known too many who have died needlessly.”

The heavy set Nurse, her dark skin shimmering with the sweat of the hot Caribbean sun, folded her arms and whispered, “It ain’t fair!  Them that lied are healthy and gone for weeks.  They should be dead, not my family and some of yours.”

“Now Joan, that’s not the Christian thing to say.” He patted her on the shoulder as he turned her around toward the front door.

Standing outside, looking down the deserted street toward the last boat, she added, “Maybe this is the time to forget being a Christian and wish a just reward to those that deserve it.”

A Navy Captain came walking up the street toward the Doctor and nurse, “Dr. Saunders, is that the last?”

“Yes.  We’ve cleared it all.  No one…” he turned back to look at the Hospital, and hiding reddening eyes, he put his sunglasses on, “…is left, no one to bury or burn.”  The Doctor spun around, and with a firmer voice, “What will you do when we are gone?  Are you close to capturing the Mayor and his buddies?”

“They’re gone; the records they didn’t shred show they got away with about 25 million plus or minus.  They could have brought in a lot of portable toilets with that.”

“Too late, the deaths had already started.  The pumps that they had installed couldn’t keep the sewage plant operating, and the sea took too much untreated sewage out from the plant and spread it back on the beaches.  We didn’t know how bad it was.  I should have known.”

“Somebody had to have known!” added the Nurse.

The Captain spoke up, “The Mayor and town council, including the plant management, knew.  They planned their departure perfectly; they didn’t leave a dime.  The Attorney General says if we catch them, they will be charged with capital murder, over three thousand counts.”

The nurse looked out to the sea, “All this and the sea risin’ no higher than the Lord’s good cubit.  How can that happen?  It seems like such a small amount.”

The Captain answered, “Those three strong storms in a row did it, back-flushed the whole system.  It was built 130 years ago.  Should have been replaced in 2020.”

As the three walked down the dock to the waiting ship, workers finished putting up the last of the signs fifty meters apart around the whole of the 15 by 22 kilometer island:

   

!DO NOT LAND !

!CONTAMINATION!

BY ORDER OF

PROVINCIAL

GOVERNMENT

 

 

***************

 

And so the first three chapters end.  What follows is a future history that starts in 2055 when a fisherman in Norway trips on his dock because the higher seas have caused a higher step than what he had expected.  This simple accident starts Jens Olsen on a course for his extended family that will end 900 years later when their efforts to "provide a home for their descendants" comes full circle to aid the combined Scandinavian people in protecting themselves from a chaotic world full of warlords, disease and anarchy.

With luck, one day you maybe able to read the rest of the 160,000 words.

Let me know what you think and don't worry, I have a thick hide.  Woody