Pangaea – The Smuggler

First part of a writing prompt: all the continents are merged again, describe the consequences for the world and everyday life. You can read the whole thing here.

The cheetah was moving silently in Central Park. Julie watched him sneak up on a squirrel from her apartment six floors above. The reddish moon was barely visible in the sky, not completely round anymore. She had never actually seen it round, nor had her parents. Sipping her coffee, she remembered how her grandmother would tell those stories at each and every family gathering. That is, when she still had a family.

She would tell them how it all started with the moon. The moon station, humanity’s biggest pride. Humanity’s first foothold in space. Nobody knew why it blew up. The explosion took with it a big chunk of the moon, throwing it out of orbit. Geologists, physicists, and a lot of other scientists immediately started studying the phenomenon and built a predictive model of the planetary consequences.

“Well basically, they told us shit was going to hit the fan pretty hard,” Grandma used to say (she was not a scientist). “They made us all move to the Midwest, as far from the coast as possible. People did the same all over the world. It was terrible, earthquakes all over the place, it never stopped! But thanks to that, I met your grandfather, and-” That was usually when Julie would stop listening and run away. That exodus had been the first of many. All over the planet, major and not-so-major cities were being destroyed by tsunamis and earthquakes. The Junction. At least 20% of humanity died during the first year.

The cheetah finally caught its target. The squirrel never even had the chance to realize what was happening. Julie always wondered how the hell squirrels survived the Junction. Or pigeons, for that matter. Maybe they were all too dumb to notice the Apocalypse happening around them.

She smiled, sipping her Moroccan coffee. One of the few good things from the Junction. Lots of past delicacies were much easier to get now that North Africa was a few miles away. That is, if you could handle the Zone. The joined coast of North Africa and North America had been abandoned by both their governments and previous inhabitants. Ten kilometers on both sides of the Atlantic River were now considered a Demilitarized Zone between the United States and the Arabic countries. As an added bonus, the shifting continents had made the local climate one of the harshest on Earth. Temperatures frequently reached a hundred degrees during the day, and dropped to freezing point every night. This was considered one of the worst places on Earth, and nobody sane would ever decide to live there. Julie lived there.

Her mug empty, she grabbed her rifle and darted down the stairs. The dry burning air in the street welcomed her, the way sports car dealerships welcome midlife crisis clients. Idriss was there, in the jeep. It was their first run to the Moroccan side of the Zone in about two weeks, and he looked equally scared and excited. He immediately shifted to the passenger seat, knowing full well Julie would never accept anyone driving her through the Zone. She started toward the car and realized the cheetah was standing right there, a couple yards away from her. His jaw still covered in blood, he watched her, immobile. She stared right back at him. Their eyes locked for one, two, three, four seconds. Julie raised an eyebrow, her lips clenched. The animal lowered its head and ran away, moaning submissively.

That’s what most people got wrong. The toughest thing in the Zone was not its climate. It wasn’t the wild animals, crumbling buildings, or shitty political situation. No, it was the people.

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