Graphic Design, Computer Illustration, and Production Art
Richard C. James Design

Short story 9

Dark Earth.

The deputy chief of staff, Harry Morgenstern, had gone out on a limb for his old college friend. He arranged a meeting with the President of the United States.

The President’s scheduled tour had hit a glitch between Tulsa and St. Louis. The President decided to stay overnight in Tulsa while the problem was fixed. Meanwhile, Harry had violated internal administration protocol when he asked the President to meet with his friend for only 5 minutes. Reluctantly, the President granted Harry’s request.

The man that the President was going to meet was nervous. But he had incredible research findings that must be revealed to the world. Immediate action had to be taken to avoid world disaster. Harry’s friend wondered how he could convey extreme urgency without seeming to be a nut case. This impromptu meeting with the President was his best chance to save the world.

The President was staying at the home of a billionaire friend. He was drinking a “bourbon on the rocks” when Harry’s friend entered the room.

Harry did the introductions, "Mr. President, here is Dr. Harold Harken, professor of Upper Atmospheric Research at Princeton University.” Then Harry turned to his friend and said, “Dr. Harken, the President of the United States.”

The President spoke first as the men shook hands. “Hello Dr. Harken. I have been meaning to talk to you.”

“Pardon me?” Harken was stunned.

“Dave Shields, my science and technical adviser – you know Dave – he says you’ve been stirring up trouble. Would you like something to drink?”

“No thank you Mr. President.” Harken thought about Dave Shields, his arch nemesis. He and Shields disagreed on just about everything. Now Shields had prejudiced the President against him. The meeting was not going well, he thought.

“Normally I don’t do these kinds of things, especially with Dave not being here, but I owe your buddy, Harry over there, a thousand dollars from a late night poker game. He called in his chit, so you got five minutes to make your spiel.” The President explained.

Harken decided to go directly for the brass ring and to be intensely serious about his findings. He decided to use the shock value of exigent circumstances and impending doom.

“Mr. President, I have bad news, the Earth is terminally ill. It has less than a dozen years left. Rapid Climate Change will be initiated within months. The Last Ice age will begin very soon, perhaps today!”

“What the Hell are you talking about, Harken?!” asked the President.

“I ran the computer models hundreds of times, and there is no mistake about the figures. The cooling of the Earth’s surface has been happening for decades. We reached the point of irreparable harm about 6 months ago.” Harken said calmly.

“Wait a minute Harken,” the President was perturbed, “all of your Princeton buddies have been screaming about Global Warming! Are you disagreeing with the entire scientific community? I got a handful of experts telling me that if we don’t cut down on greenhouse gas emissions, there will be massive droughts across the globe! Other scientists are telling me that the Earth will heat up, not cool down!”

“Yes sir I know. They are all wrong.” Harken said flatly.

“Okay Dr. Harken. Why are they wrong and why are you right?”

The President was hooked. Dr. Harken offered his standard elevator explanation, “I suffer from S.A.D., Seasonal Affective Disorder. I must have light therapy everyday. My diagnosis calls for a minimum exposure of 12,000 Lux. That’s a light measurement. Most office buildings provide about 700 Lux. A really bright spring day is about 10,000 Lux.”

The President said nothing but motioned Harken to continue.

“Because of my malady and its treatment I have stumbled on to a psychological epidemic. I believe all human beings can suffer from light deprivation. My colleagues are suffering a phenomenom known as ‘Global Dimming’. Their thought processes have been corrupted by a reduction of natural sunlight. Everybody on the planet is suffering from the effects of less sunlight!”

The President pondered for a moment and said, “Are you telling me that I, Harry, over there, and the whole world are experiencing less sunlight and that this reduction of natural light affects our ability to make decisions; to think clearly?”

“Yes sir, Mr. President.”

The President pointed to the large widows, “Look outside Harken. It’s a beautiful Oklahoma summer day. The sun is shining bright!”

“Yes sir, I know. But sunlight has been steadily decreasing for a half century. The Sun is not as bright as it was in 1956!”

“Is there something wrong with the Sun?”

The President was becoming noticeably annoyed. He was beginning to think that the meeting was a bad idea.

“No Sir, the Sun is okay. The problem is on the Earth. A thin layer of aerosol pollutants in the upper atmosphere, which never fall to the ground, have condensed water vapor to form a reflective barrier several miles above the surface. Twenty-five percent of the Sun’s light no longer reaches the surface of the Earth. It is reflected back into space!”

Harken continued, “This lack of light affects everything, plants, animals, human beings even machines and computers! My research shows an undeniable trend of faulty computations and analysis that matches the decrease in light exposure.”

Harken continued, “The reduction of sunlight has an adverse reaction with the Earth’s electro-magnetic fields. All of our modern machines are electrical. Minute shifting in magnetic polarity has distorted our perceptions of reality. Our brains are electrical, too. And…”

“Well, Dr. Harken, I will take your warnings under advisement and I will have Dave get in touch with you. Thank you for stopping by.” The President decided to end the meeting abruptly.

As Harken was shown his way out of the room, the President asked Harry to remain. When Harken was safely led away. The President began screaming, reprimanding Harry for his lack of judgement.

“Are you stupid or what? That guy is obviously off his rocker! And you let him come in to see me? Did you hear what he said? The sunlight is dimming and it’s gonna’ create a new ice age within the next 12 years! Harry, no more poker games with you!”

“Yes, sir.” Harry said meekly as he looked pass the President to an incredible sight out side the window.

The President continued to rant, “I mean what if the press gets a hold of this? This meeting could give a degree of credibility to his crackpot ideas. My enemies would have a field day with this!”

“Yes sir. But, Mr. President…”

“What is it Harry?”

Harry pointed to the window in stunned silence. “Sir, it’s snowing outside!”

“Snowing? How can it be snowing? The forecast called for a high of 98 degrees today! It should nearly a hundred degrees out there.” the President said.

The President stood at the large portico doors that lead to the double-tiered patio and the expansive gardens beyond. He was amazed to see a snow covered lawn. Menacing dark clouds were replacing what was a beautiful blue sky only moments before.

His personal secretary rushed into the room and turned on the TV display panel. On every channel were news reports of incredible winter-type weather across the country. Meteorologists were stumped for answers. It was July, but nearly two thirds of the United States were experiencing sizable snowstorms and freezing temperatures! City and state emergency taskforces were reporting massive thunderstorms with baseball-size hail, tornadoes rated at F5 or higher, and hospitals that were crowded with hyperthermia patients. People were starting to panic. In the northern areas temperatures had dropped 50 degrees within an hour. Lakes were starting to freeze, leaving recreational boaters and swimmers stranded. Blizzard conditions were causing traffic and transportation problems.

The President, Harry and the personal secretary were amazed at the images on the TV.

“Harry just don’t stand there!” the President commanded, “Get Harken back in here! And get some bright lights in here! Now!”

The end.

©2006 Richard C. James


© 2003 Richard C. James