Excerpt: Growing Up in the Climate Shift

Excerpt: Growing Up in the Climate Shift

Earthships: Book 1

During the furnace-like heat in the late afternoon of a June day, our family leaves Arizona by train for Rigby, Idaho, to start a new life where our old life began. The year is 2030 and America is late in leading the race to stop the relentless destruction from climate change. As the world waits, our president, Frank Anderson, warns the nation and the world about the consequences we face by continually subsidizing the coal-burning industry. Leading scientists have written a moratorium on closing all coal-fired power plants. In these scientists’ views, this would be the most effective goal for emissions reduction and give us time to go totally clean and green.

We are seated in a fancy, first-class, air-conditioned train car in comfortable, reclining faux leather chairs. Two chairs face each other, four chairs in a group, each with a folding tabletop that could be pulled up and over one’s lap. The large windows are controlled by voice to lighten or darken the glass. We can travel in style because my father, Forester, is in the Army and a soldier’s family is at the top of the list for first-class travel. We decide not to take the bullet train that travels at 700 miles an hour and doesn’t stop in Idaho Falls. We chose the slower, less expensive, and more classic train.

My name is Laurel Campbell,I have curly flaming red hair, blue eyes, freckles and a slender athletic body. I’m a shy eighteen-year-old girl with high-functioning Asperger syndrome. When I was six, my parents had me tested because I was a handful. People with Asperger’s, victims of a genetic syndrome, usually have poor social skills and may lack empathy and nonverbal communication. I remember some of how I behaved growing up in Rigby, Idaho, in an extended Mormon family of grandparents, uncles and aunts, and lots of cousins. I was a little like a wild animal that wanted to live outdoors. I was too shy for eye contact and not much of a talker but I loved to lay in fields of clover watching the clouds change shapes, to read books, and to collect small animals, like kittens, rabbits and birds. Everyone around me was too busy to pay much attention so I’m lucky to be alive.

A striking young man in a uniform with dark brown hair and light eyestakes the seat next to Grandma Rose. Before he sits down, he introduces himself as Sage Halley, a Marine on leave going home to Idaho Falls. He has such a natural smile and demeanor. Grams welcomes him and introduces us. I feel a spark like an electric shock when we make eye contact for a second and I think that is strange, but I mostly ignore him. He is very attractive and self-confident but somewhat aggressive. He talks about the heat in Libya, where he is stationed. Everyone has to wear special uniforms that use a fabric that, when wet, will not dry out in the heat. I think that is interesting and ask how that works. Sage says it was copied after reptile skin with interior pockets that stay cool and wet.

The lights in the car are dimmed so I find my way to my recliner with the use of my medical wristbands light. The steward placed a small pillow and lightweight blanket on my chair. After I am tucked in for the night, I think about the look of the drones as I drift off to sleep. In my dream, the drones look like hundreds of beautiful fireflies inspecting parts of the bridge in the dark of night.

I wake before dawn and the train’s not moving. I can hear the sand hit the window glass. The sound startles me as I remember last nights vision, like previous premonitions. There are three men in body suits with faces and heads covered, like Arabs. They are working on the tracks on the other side of the bridge. They seem to be digging up the sand between the tracks and dropping a machine in the hole, covering it with sand and laying a slender cable over each track. They can’t see me as I watch everything they do. I listen to their speech but can’t understand the words. One man turns and looks right through me; he senses me. They turn and run slowly against and through the blowing sand. I’m wide awake, alarmed—thinking I must warn the train’s engineer. I’m running through the cars toward the front of the train. People are asleep and I wonder if this is part of my premonition. It feels so strange but my heart is beating so hard in my chest. I see someone in a uniform ahead—he turns toward me with his arms out ready to stop me.

“Please listen!” I say as I crash into him. “I saw some men ahead on the train tracks working to blow up the train.” 

The man grabs me and pulls me into a room and shuts the door. He sits me down. 

“I don’t want you waking everyone on the train. Now what’s the problem?”

“Like I said, something bad is going to happen to the train. I’m feeling very nervous.” 

“No, your words were you saw some men working on the tracks to blow up the train.”

 “I did, I did!”

 “How were you able to see that far away? The train is on lockdown.”

 “Please understand I have premonitions, always have. Maybe its part of my Aspergers.” 

“Your what?” 

“Aspergers, . I’m different, brain wired differently, and I see things sometimes before they happen.”

 “Who are you?” the man asks, removing his cap and running his fingers through his black hair. 

“I’m Laurel Campbell—my family is sleeping in 308.”

He is getting in my face. I like my territory and move back against the chair. I continue.

“Please just have a drone check the tracks on the other side of the canyon. A drone with a camera can pick up the black cables running across the tracks.”

“You have just had a dream, young lady.”

“No, my dreams are different from my premonitions.”

“In what way?” 

“Premonitions are crystal clear and orderly. Dreams are muddled, detailed, but non-sequenced.” 

“I will have to wake my captain,” he says. “Don’t leave.”

I feel like I haven’t slept at all but I’m wide awake and feeling shaky and nauseated. I have the urge to run back to our car and get everyone off the train, but what about the rest of the people? I have to wait.The captain is a tall woman in her forties and very grumpy. I go through everything again. She asks me a lot of questions, like if I have been treated for any of the common mental problems, what prescriptions I’m taking…on and on. Finally, I say to her straight.

 “If you don’t check the tracks on the other side of the bridge before you start the train, I want my family off and if we have to, we will walk to Paige and find another way to cross the desert. I am recording my conversation with you on my tablet.” I remove it from my bag and hold it up.