From the author: This story grew out of the weather alerts I got when I lived in Washington, D.C. Given the onslaught of weather disasters -- I was on a train traveling through thunderstorms and floods in the Midwest this summer and just talked to someone who lost things in a recent relatively small wildfire out here in California -- I'm not sure this story qualifies as speculative fiction anymore. But we can hope it does.
Alert 04:25 AM: The National Weather Service has issued a coastal flood advisory. A combination of the tidal effect, the approaching full moon, and higher than normal freshwater flowing down from the upper Potomac will result in tidal anomalies of 1.5 to 2.0 feet above normal for this morning’s cycle of tides. A coastal flooding advisory indicates that onshore winds and tides will combine to generate flooding of low areas along the shore.
Alert 05:05 AM: The National Weather Service has corrected its coastal flood advisory. The tidal anomalies will be 15 to 20 feet above normal. Those living in low-lying areas should evacuate immediately for higher ground. The District government has opened the Reeves Building for refugees. It would also open the District Building, only it’s too close to the river and is likely to end up under water, too. Along with the mall.
Alert 5:37 AM: The National Weather Service has issued a snow advisory for metropolitan Washington and surrounding areas. Snow will begin at 5:17 PM and may be heavy at times. Total accumulation of 1.5 to 2.5 feet is expected. Snow emergency route restrictions go into effect at noon.
Alert 5:42 AM: Floods. Blizzards. Next thing you know they’re going to tell us there’s a wildfire raging down from Pennsylvania.
Alert 5:51 AM: Please ignore that last post. A hacker has broken into our system. There are no wildfires predicted at this time.
Alert 6:18 AM: The tidal anomalies are already at 15 to 20 feet above normal. The National Weather Service has revised its estimate of high tide to 25 to 35 feet above normal.
Alert 6:52 AM: District of Columbia schools are closed today. Arlington, VA, schools are closed today. Alexandria, VA, schools are closed today. Montgomery County, MD, is still debating whether to close schools today.
Alert 7:03 AM: The federal government has announced a liberal leave policy for today. The DC government has announced a liberal leave policy for today. Arlington, Alexandria, and Fairfax, VA, governments have announced liberal leave policies for today. Montgomery County is debating that one, too.
Alert 7:12 AM: GET OUT OF ROCK CREEK PARK RIGHT NOW. THERE’S A WALL OF WATER COMING UPSTREAM!
Alert 7:16 AM: We apologize for yelling in the last message. However, Rock Creek is overflowing its banks and has already covered the road. The National Zoo is releasing animals from their cages to prevent them from drowning. Do not be alarmed if you see an elephant in your neighborhood. Or a gorilla. Or a tiger. Or a panda. Also, do not feed the animals.
Alert 7:31 AM: The federal government is closed. The District government is closed. All Northern Virginia governments are closed. We don’t know what they’re doing in Montgomery County.
Alert 7:37 AM: God is angry at all the fornicators and thieves and murderers in Washington. This is Divine Retribution. Praise Jesus.
Alert 7:45 AM: The Beltway is at a standstill in both directions. Anyone who is not already out in a car should just stay home. Unless you’re in a low-lying area, in which case you’re probably already underwater. BTW, we apologize for that last message. We’ve got another hacker in the system. We’re working on the problem.
Alert 8:02 AM: No, we don’t think the standing water from the flood will freeze when the snowstorm hits. It’s got too much salt water in it. We hope.
Alert 8:25 AM: The tidal wave has crested 10 feet above the 14th Street Bridge. All cars that were on the bridge when it crested have been swept into the Potomac. Emergency crews are on the scene.
Alert 8:27 AM: The emergency crews on the scene are a few lousy helicopters. Nothing else can get close and there’s no place for the helicopters to land. If you need help today you’re shit out of luck.
Alert 8:29 AM: Again, we apologize for the hackers in our system. It’s a crying shame that some people will interfere with emergency operations at a time of crisis. Rest assured that there will be a full criminal investigation into this disruption as soon as the current emergencies are over.
Alert 8:31 AM: I’m not a damn hacker. I work for the Alert system and you’re not telling the people the truth. Emergency services are completely at a loss. The entire mall is flooded, and water is creeping into downtown DC. Old Town Alexandria is completely underwater and nothing can land or take off at National Airport.
Alert 8:33 AM: Stop that. You’re going to start a panic.
Alert 8:34 AM: IT’S TIME TO PANIC! THE DAMN WEATHER SERVICE HAS NO IDEA WHAT’S GOING TO HAPPEN WHEN THE BLIZZARD HITS ON TOP OF THE TIDAL WAVE. WHICH JUST KEEPS GETTING HIGHER, BTW.
Alert 8:57 AM: We apologize for that last outburst. That person has been removed from the system. Please stay calm. Please stay home. Unless, of course, you live in low-lying areas.
This story originally appeared in Flashes of Illumination.
When we started Book View Cafe, I posted a flash fiction every week. About half of them were reprints, but the other half were written on deadline. This collection includes all of them.
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