Climate change as told through a peach tree, monkey and girl
A narrow boat drifts across an infinite expanse of ocean. Waves batter at its bright edges like hands, vague ripples form faces, and crests emerge as tortured forms that lurch forward, only to be resubmerged. There are four strange eyes, but no sun. Two glower from the sky with broiling heat. In the water, their mirrored reflections gaze intently at the girl, the monkey, and the peach tree in the boat. They are fleeing from something.
“I remember there were hills,” whispers Gaia. Her belly is swollen and tight. “Green, fertile hills. Big and perfect. Like a hemisphere.”
The monkey peers at her from atop the peach tree, sucking on a juicy fruit.
“And in the sky, there was a sun. Not eyes. It shined on our forests and the leaves shimmered back at it, like an emerald blanket across the earth. And small creatures would roam about, too. From the trees, or the water. Or from burrows in the ground.”
She reaches her hand over the boat, and it is swallowed by the sea.
“We had all that, and we left it to escape from the clockman. And now there is only water. Water — and peaches.”
When night comes, the eyes in the sky and their reflections close, sleeping. Gaia sleeps too. But the monkey stays awake, transfixed on the tree like a medieval gargoyle, its eyes glowing as two unearthly orbs in the black night.
The monkey draws out an indeterminate silhouette, which glints in the moonlight. Behind him, one eye in the sky opens slightly, as if to watch.
A sawing noise fills the night. Then, a splitting crack, and a feral shriek from the monkey.
His face is lit up with the glow of the object he cradles — for the monkey has, at last, discovered the secret of the peach tree. He holds in his arms a shimmering diamond branch, with leaves of gold plated emerald glistening in the ghostly light. The peach tree’s limbs, when severed, turn to precious stones.
The monkey’s face contorts into an eerie and euphoric grin. Slowly, he picks up the saw, and the grating noises begin again.
Gaia awakes to an alien and garish noise. She murmurs, forcing herself to open her eyes, and is astounded to see mounds of rotting peaches carpeting the floor of the boat. Maggots squirm out of the black pulps and flies drone about the wreckage.
In horror, she sees the monkey almost finished sawing off the last branch of the tree, in which nests a single peach trembling within its leaves.
“No! Stop! Stop!” she screams, hurling herself at the monkey.
She collides violently with the animal, tangling with it in a heap. In the struggle, the saw cuts a deep gash in her belly, and she cries out in agony.
They come to, and Gaia gazes restlessly at the mounds of decaying fruit and writhing worms in astonishment. When she, at last, sees the glittering diamond branches, she understands. Fresh tears slide from her eyes.
“The peaches are all we had to eat. Oh god. God. What will the baby eat? What — what —”
Her teardrops drip on the monkey and become pearls. Oblivious to her devastation, the monkey snatches greedily at the scattering jewels, screeching in excitement. He raises the pearls to the sky in primitive triumph, only to be confronted by the oppressive glare of the eyes in the sky.
Yet in the soft morning light, there is something peculiar about the eyes; a ring of gleaming gold and cascading chains decorates its front. They are wearing a monocle!
The monkey’s vision is flooded with monocles, monocles, monocles and it hoots and screams with glee at the shiny metal. It leaps up from the boat and soars up and up until it disappears into a dot in the clouds, wrenches the monocle from the heavens, and plunges down through sky with the ornament in its clutches, smashing into the deck with a resounding crash.
Gaia gapes as the monkey dances with the gold monocle in a frenzy, stamping its feet on the wooden boards and waving its limbs wildly. It puts the glittering hoop over its neck like a necklace of vanity and turns to Gaia with pride.
The band tightens around the monkey’s neck and begins to choke it. The ring levitates upwards, hanging the monkey like a noose. The animal’s eyes bulge, legs flail about, mouth stretches, and chest convulses in violent ripples. With one ultimate effort, it coughs up a squirming, black, oily mass, which falls into the lucid waters.
A single black dot emerges below the monkey. Floating, sinisterly. The mirror-like waters are strangely reflective and contemplative in the deepening dusk. Gently, a dark ink stain begins to bleed across the sea. Fields of ebony flowers bloom across the waters until the furthest horizon. Fish, dirty bikes, waste, bodies, float up and blanket the clouded surface.
Gaia turns to the monkey, her gray face eclipsing like the sea. Clawing at her hair, she bursts,
“What have you done, what have you done? It’s all gone! You disgusting ape! You monster! You kill everything, everything in your lust for jewels! You —”
She cries out in pain and clutches at her bleeding wound, moaning, and crumples on the boat. Deaf and dumb, the monkey blinks and continues mashing the rotting fruit sludge into little cakes and castles.
They freeze when they hear a quiet noise in the distance. An incessant clicking noise. Click, click, click. They turn slowly to look behind the boat. Tik tik tik tik.
TIK TOK! TIK TOK! TIK TOK!
A fiery figure looms over the boat, it glows, its burning claws rip at the wooden boards, the boat is ablaze, the ocean is ablaze, it roars tremendously. In its chest is a burning clock like red coals, its violent hands swing in circles, TIKING, TOKING, attacking, TIK TOK. TIK TOK.
The monkey lunges into Gaia’s arms and she becomes a gem, shining emerald and sapphire and diamond and moonstone and jade and pearls, and pearls, and pearls, the most beautiful jewel on the planet, and she shatters into a million pieces, flying about, stars in the sky, a glittering kaleidoscope of her beautiful hills, of forests, peach trees, and earth.
The ape. For the first time, it learns remorse, and it weeps over her glassy and worthless fragments. The clockman lurches for the animal, seizes it, and where it moves there are tongues of vengeful flames. A grotesque mouth opens in the clock and swallows the monkey whole.
Two eyes in the scorching sky glower at the boat in the ocean. The monkey opens his eyes in absolute terror, and redolent tears drip from them in grief. Gaia holds her belly and she is singing,
“I remember there were hills…”