for the Back from the Future Blogfest. Friday, March 1st!
Night died unwillingly at Meilori's. The palms by my table stood vigil as their leaves
hissed through the shadows like claws through sand.
Sherlock Holmes scowled over the chess board at me. "McCord, you play a ducedly unpredictable game."
He started as Father Renfield silently appeared to my right, handing me a large shoebox.
"Sam, this was in front of Meilori's. It's addressed to you ...
in your own handwriting."
Holmes studied the address. "It is hand-stamped 2023. Obviously, the future's technology has de-voled."
I opened it slowly. I placed the lid down gently. Holmes plucked out a yellowed newspaper.
He frowned. "The London Times. From the looks of it, the newspaper was produced by a crude printing press, but the date reads March 1, 2023."
Renfield read the headline softly. "LAST EDITION FOR THE LAST DAYS."
Renfield arched an eyebrow at me. "Sam, I've always said
you made life hard for yourself, but this ruddy stunt is going
Paper-clipped to the newspaper was a note scrawled in brown ink. Renfield sniffed the air. "Blood."
In my own handwriting were the words. "These are the only clues I can give you to stop the end of days."
Holmes pulled out a test tube of yellow-green fluid marked: H2O circa 2023. It was wrapped in a green breath mask
He squeezed the bridge of his long nose and said low,
"Thanks to advances in bio-technology, it will become
increasingly possible to custom-tailor a pathogen's lethality.
The 1918 flu epidemic killed 80 million people in those less
densely packed times.
A similar outbreak would now kill 210 million. Such a loss
of life would cripple civilization as we know it ...
much to the delight of no end of terrorists."
Padre gingerly pulled out a charred tourist brochure of
Yellowstone National Park, and I shivered.
"Old Faithful is a time-bomb powered by geo-thermal
energy radiating up from a subterranean plug of magma.
Every 500,000 years or so, this super-volcano explodes,
raining lava and ash for hundreds of miles.
Global air traffic would be stopped for months ...
if not years."
Holmes' eyes glinted in the gloom. "Once again crippling
civilization and isolating fear-crazed humanity."
I peered into the box and pulled out a stained copy of
THE WALL STREET JOURNAL dated March 15, 2019.
There was a strange silicon chip pasted to it. Its headline read:
The tinier headline went on:
THE VERY COMPUTERS
CREATED TO HELP NOW WORSENS GLOBAL
I frowned at Renfield, who loved every new gadget science
spat out, and the Padre murmured,
"Sam, computers are evolving every year until one day, I
would not be surprised if one gained sentience."
Holmes' eyes brightened. "Yes, of course. A non-human
sentience would be just that ... not human, finding concern
not where we would but only in perspectives totally alien
If not foolishly given control by us, they might well wrest it
from us, making life for Man as alien and cold as they."
I muttered, "It just keeps getting better and better."
I dug out an odd metallic glove with a note pinned to it in my
"And we were worried about global warming. We should
have been concerned about Yellowstone exploding."
Holmes drily smiled.
"Yes, fallout from such a super-volcano would hurl enough
debris into the atmosphere to block out much of our sunlight
and plunge surface temperatures.
If our planet was covered in enough ice, most of the incoming
solar radiation would be reflected back out into space,
shivering the planet to an average temperature of -50 degrees
Padre pulled out a strange pair of bulky sunglasses and made
a face. "Why the bloody hell not. Solar storms."
I frowned, and Holmes depressingly enlightened me.
"In 1859, you will recall that during our worst solar storm
ever recorded, the sun's particle currents were so strong
that telegraph lines actually burst into flames."
I went cold to the marrow of my bones and whispered,
"If such a storm happened today, months would pass
And damnation, the world's economy would collapse from
I stiffened as cruel laughter echoed from the now-empty
box. It was the voice of DayStar, the essence of eternal night
and my very own Moriarty.
"Only one of those crises ended life as you know it. It will take
all ten years to stop that one. Choose incorrectly, and all life
delightfully suffers, wastes away, and dies."
DayStar's chuckling was like the breaking of brittle bones.
"Or you could always ask me."
Renfield glowered. "When bloody hell freezes over."
DayStar mocked, "Or when your dung-heap of a world does.
But by then, it will be too late, will it not? Happy choosing,
I tugged down on the brim of my Stetson and looked down at
WHICH ONE WAS RIGHT?
WHAT DO YOU THINK?
WHAT DOES YOUR HEART TELL YOU,
In Amazon's 100 best selling New Orleans fantasy, right under Anne Rice's THE WITCHING
HOUR is #40: THE RIVAL, staring Victor Standish and his mentor, Samuel McCord: