Category Archives: Sun

         A short “report” upon returning from another MDS (Mennonite Disaster Service) volunteer stint, this time near Lone Butte (100 Mile House) in the Caribou country of British Columbia, Canada.
This was MDS’ first “contract” in the area.  The reason we were so late starting was due to the roads having been closed because of the fires and it took a while to get the “all clear.”

Thanks to precautions by the owner, such as spreading fire retardant around the buildings and having a sprinkler system going fed by the solar panel array as the power grid was down, some of the buildings and animals survived the fires.  The dogs and horses did not survive.  Though many buildings throughout the fire area were saved that way, the ranchers lost over 30,000 heads of cattle, many of whom had to be put down having their hoofs and legs burned from running through the wildfires trying to escape.
Wildlife, especially the smaller rodent populations that provide food for the larger carnivores, was decimated.  Hungry cougars and other large predators are now roaming ever closer to remaining winter feed lots and even homes.   Children have to be driven inside vehicles to school bus pick-up points though you can see some daring lonely souls, who probably do not have the luxury of a parent at home able to drive them, walking along the roads.  One does not have to wonder long what would happen if they were attacked.
The goal of our 5-man crew was to get as much of the replacement house covered, laying up of trusses, sheathing and if possible, installation of the metal roofing.  We got as far as the tar paper and strapping, which will ensure the building stays relatively free of snow and rain on the inside, barring whatever blows in through doors and windows as yet not installed.  With the onset of winter up there, about 300 miles north of the border, or from Chilliwack which is where I live (practically on the 49th parallel) we probably will not be returning until after spring breakup.  By then there should be several more projects identified and contracted for by our project managers.

Following are some pictures I took the time to snap as the work progressed.  Couldn’t waste much time off the job as the days are short up there – it reminded me of the Peace River country in northern Alberta where I was raised, if a bit warmer and wetter and the mud not quite as sticky as our great plains gumbo.  If the pictures appear fuzzy, it’s because they are greatly reduced from their original format.

Images and captions:  This is the house we worked on.  It may seem large but it has to accommodate a large family.  IMG_0169

House againIMG_0170

… house…IMG_0154

Solar panels and power house.  Behind is the log cabin the family is now using as temporary abode. IMG_0166

…angle consultation.  The man in the black cap is the owner. IMG_0184

This is part of the area the family calls “Elizabeth’s Pond” IMG_0175

A bit more of “the pond” and the “floating fence” which sits on several feet of soft peat and is often under water. IMG_0180

Close up of “floating fence” and edge of pond.  I was told that if someone ventured here they’d sink over their head in peat and mud. IMG_0164

Children’s play area (one of several!) IMG_0153

Log playhouse. IMG_0152

Burned area near the homestead/ranch, and a small lake.IMG_0194

More of burned area – close up.IMG_0189

… and more… IMG_0200

My faithful companion van and mobile tool box,  properly “decorated” with high country mud.  Individual patiently looking out and waiting for me to take my pictures along the forest road is my friend, Vic Janzen, one of MDS’ project managers and project leaders.  We rode up together on this particular project.

IMG_0196

A month ago, this is what our sun looked like at high noon here, 300 miles south of the raging wild fires. IMG_0006

I must say that, as much as I enjoy giving away time and resources to help others it never ceases to amaze me that as a nation people willingly let their pathocratic leaders blow off tax dollars on destroying people and the planet and fail to find it offensive that there is “no money” to help the very people who pay the taxes used to build the military hardware; the military machine and to pay the inflated “salaries” of rich, elitist rulers.  How can a supposed intelligent species be this dumb?  This uncaring?  This unfeeling?  This crass?  This ignorant?  This stupid?  How many of “us” is there for every one of “them”?  Yet we claim to be democratic societies.  Is this what we really want?  If not then why is it that those who propose change are always spurned, scorned, distrusted or even “elimitated” so the sharks can continue to have free range over the planet?  Surpasses my understanding.

As a final note, I saw the full glory of the Milky Way for the first time since leaving the Peace River country in 1964!  Prevailing winds must have “miraculously” blown the smoke away from the area where we bunked.  We seldom realize how much city environments create horribly polluted conditions until we find ourselves far enough up in the mountains, or far enough north that city smogs can’t reach there… yet.

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                                [thoughts from   ~burning woman~  by Sha’Tara]

Given the way global and local events are developing, a serious observation can give but one conclusion: that long-talked about collapse of civilization is going to take place.  It probably will not be tomorrow, or next month, or next year.  It may not happen in ten years, or fifty.  The forces orchestrating the collapse of man’s “great” accomplishments are on the job, so to speak, but not all are totally committed to their task.  With all the moving and shaking, who knows but we may yet enjoy some reprieve, some years of relative calm and peace.  Unlikely but possible. 

That said and out of the way, I’m currently reading a dystopian novel called “The Water Knife” by Paolo Bacigalupi.  It’s centered in the US – namely the states of California, Nevada, Arizona, Texas and Colorado.  The droughts have been severe and finally it’s been realized that water is at a premium.  Acts of sabotage and quasi-civil war take place between farmers, states, and cities fighting for water, and those fighting to keep their water rights: fighting for survival.  It’s a horrible time for all involved, with massive movements of displaced persons or refugees leaving farms, towns and cities that have lost out to the highest or most aggressive bidders and find themselves literally without water. 

It’s not too difficult at this point to see how this could happen, and in a short time.  Even flooding is not a good gauge to use to measure drought: there’s short term and long term, and man should learn to reason and act long term, but so far that ability has quite eluded the creature.

I want to end this with a quote from the novel: [Maria Villarosa, a young girl alone and lost in the chaos] “Why?” she asked, finally.  “Why are you so nice?  It doesn’t make sense.  I’m not your woman.  I’m not your people.”

[Toomie, an old black man] “We’re all each other’s people.  Just like we’re all our brothers’ keepers.  We forget it sometimes.  When everything’s going to pieces, people can forget.  But in the end?  We’re all in it together.  You are my people, Maria.  No question in my mind.”

No question in my mind either, not now.  But it took many years to work that simple addition to arrive at the correct answer.  And even now, having made compassion and service my purpose, my passion, the selfish thoughts and times arise.  Not as powerfully as they once did, but it is still a narrow path from which it is easy to stray and stray too far you won’t find it again.  That is my one fear: that I would follow some will o’ the wisp, some lure, some promise of a short cut and find myself hopelessly lost.  So I gnaw at this compassion bone, and drag it around with me.  If I bury it at the end of the day, I make sure to dig it up again in the morning and drag it along to worry it some more. 

Some might say, why should we care?  You live, you die, case closed.  That works for those who convince themselves that is how it is.  There are some of us, and you may pity us indeed, who happen to k-n-o-w that death is not an end but a passage, and a sort of test.  On the other side there are no “things,” no pretty bodies with seductive smiles to win over the judges, no Olympic gold medals, no Nobel or Pulitzer prizes, no stacks of money, no deeds to any plantation.  Yes, there are deeds, and that’s the problem.  Our deeds, my deeds.  My thoughts.  My words.  These are my judges, after death has done its thing and stripped me of all those physical “things” that don’t mean a thing at the end of the path. 

So yes, it’s going to happen.  In this life, in the next, whatever.  What matters to me is preparedness.  Knowing how to face to chaos when it comes.  Note that I’m not saying the sky is falling, I’m merely saying that we should all take advantage of this warning time to teach ourselves how to respond… properly, as compassionate and caring individuals.  Not as survivors – these die last – but as sharing and giving people, for if I have and my neighbour does not, I’m but half-alive until I share.  Openly, freely. 

Just thought I’d pass that along.  It’s what’s been filling my days (and dreams) lately, while the wild fires continue to burn.  A picture of a smoke-filled sunrise taken a week ago.  The smoke continues… though somewhat abating in the Lower Mainland (B.C., Canada) 

Listening in Time

(short story,  by Sha’Tara)

“I know you are keen, and willing.  Good traits in a researcher.  But you are missing the key ingredients.  You must sit quietly, by yourself, for hours, maybe days, and listen in time.  Listen to the voices of the dead, and the pre-incarnate.  They are in the voices of “others” and in the sounds of the earth: the wind, the cracking soil, the moving grains of sand, the patter of the rain on scrabbly hard-pan soil.  They come on the heat waves.  Sometimes they get playful and paint mirages which tell stories from within your own heart and soul which your tired and bleary eyes will translate into images of desires.  

If you do not learn to listen, all you will accomplish in these places as you sift through dirt and rubble is collect garbage.  It will be recognizable as works of the people but it will reveal no stories, no myths, no history.  These you will have to create from your own imagination and trust me on this, it will not be the same stories as what was, even if the entire world should buy your interpretations.  Honest archaeologists are a rare breed but there is nothing written, either in this desert or in mountains, that says you can not be one of that small group.  When you teach yourself the secret of time listening the people who made and used the objects you unearth, they will tell you their stories.  Some will seem strange and some will be, to your modern understanding, quite unbelievable, but just listen.  It is not your call to re-interpret the lives of others according to your current knowledge: that is sacrilege.  Let the ghosts speak; let them tell their story, and accept it at face value.  It may be that they lie to you, but let it be: do not add insult to injury by adding to the lies.  After all, as you will discover in time, all of your history is lies.  There is no truth to be found on this world, or in this universe.  We know, we’ve been looking for millions of your years and there is no such chimera.”

I was young then, and I’d been experimenting with the local flora under the auspices of a would-be witch doctor who called himself George but whose real name was an unpronounceable Mexican word that sounded like apple-cotle or aptly cotli.  This particular drug induced “time dreams” he had told me, and… “You should only smoke a small amount at sunset.  Sit against a rock, or a tree if you can find one, and set your mind free to roam.  Do not try anything, just let it all go.  It is the time of the spirits and sometimes one of them will notice you and approach you with a story, or some advice.  Just listen and do not try to make any judgment about what you hear, or think you hear.  Put your own thoughts aside and just absorb.” 

I smoked slowly, not eagerly, trying to practice “wisdom” in my folly.  How long I sat against the rock that dug into my back, feeling the sand getting cold beneath me, I don’t know.  Darkness came and the sky exploded with myriads of pin-points of lights: star, planets, meteors, even satellites and flashing lights of planes.  Time passed and I no longer felt the cold, nor the loneliness or that deep fear of the dark unknown.  I “slept” with eyes open, hearing and learning to listen.  I heard small animals squeaking to one-another, some unrecognizable insects repeating endless calls; owls, even one loud shriek of what could only be some wild cat, cougar perhaps.  It didn’t matter.

It seemed as if I’d become a part of the landscape, an extension of the rock I leaned against.  I felt a deep well-being; a thoroughly unfamiliar certainty.  I was “here” and “here” was where I belonged.  This was “home” like nothing had ever been.  “Here I sit, and here I remain,” I thought, against all common sense.  I felt the cold, hunger and thirst but it did not matter to this “me” that was being absorbed by the land, the air, the sky, the universe, the cosmos.  In that time I was no longer a body-centered, or physical being.  I was a member of the cosmic races, with a part of me resting upon a planet called earth – a very small, very strange planet. 

That’s when the voice came to my mind; when I heard the words I quoted above. 

I have been digging up history in this part of the world for almost fifty years now.  I’ve become old and bent.  My skin is like that of a lizard, dry and scaly, with brown spots.  I’ve loved being naked in the sun and it has left its marks on my body but I don’t care.  He was my lover and I cherish his touch still.  I haven’t become famous.  No best seller came from my notes; no following.  People came here to dig with me, and left to seek fame and fortune.  Some managed it, returning to tell me about it.  Some even provided funds so I could remain here, on my wind-swept plateaus digging up ghost stories; me, the crazy Canadian who should have been more at home on the snowy wilds of northern Canada, than here. 

To the local people, I am “loca perdida” or the crazy one, though many come just to be with me, or to listen to my stories.  They come to get me sometimes, either with a jeep, or even a donkey, and take me to a village feast so they can hear some of my stories about their ancient peoples.  They seem to have no difficulty believing me, and I have wondered about that.  Do they also listen in time? They “pay” me in food, or in new blankets for my tents or shelters.  Good people, all of them.  I’ve always felt safe here; not sure I could have managed that in cities where people crowd unhappily together, hardly ever getting to know each other though rubbing shoulders every day.  How sad is that life, I think.

Here I remain.  Here I belong for my body’s time being.  Here I taught myself to listen in time and it is here that I will die so another archaeologist, another time listener, can find bits and pieces of my presence in this place and unearth my own story – a story that will have meaning only to her and the few who carry our vision of living in time.  

How I wish I could express, in words, how blessed my life has been and how much I look forward to new digs out there in the stars, knowing that when I sit down and look up I will see more stars.

The Deer at the Railway

       (a poem – by Sha’Tara)

She stood still as a rock
beside the tall railway fence,
her shiny brown coat sleek
in the harsh noonday sun.
Her ears moved, twice:
she tossed her head,
snorted once,
leapt over the fence
followed by her two fawns
who jumped after her
with such effortlessness
you could sense the invisible hand
that picked them up
and tossed them over.

All three passed the dappled greens
at the edge of the woods
melting like Tolkien elves
into their sylvan underworlds.
Of their passage,
no trace remained.

The goldenrod along the fence
tossed gently but insistently
in the rising breeze.
Along the bright-lit rails
down the line

the faint chitting
of a savanna sparrow
expressed fully
nature’s contentment. 

 

 

Before the Owl Calls my Name

  [a poem by   ~burning woman~  ]

[Explaining the title: According to the Kwakiutl people of the British Columbia coast (Canada) if you hear an owl call your name, your death is imminent.]

The night fills me with its seductive darkness
A moon’s halo slides through thin clouds
All is silent, as silent as the deep of space
And I lie here in the back seat of your car,
Your big old Buick of romantic days gone by
But we are young yet, or almost young
And all that matters now is that you are here
Naked against my own throbbing nakedness
My heart beating in the moment’s madness
Orgasm and death blending so well together.

Hold me and press your maleness into me
But don’t just make love to me, I want more
possess me beyond my dreaming
Devour my longing, my hopeless desire
Eat my flesh
Leave nothing of what I once called me
But the lingering scent of your moaned pleasure
When my body turns itself inside out
To give you all my life in one thrust
Do this to me, do this for me
Before the owl calls my name
And tells me I will not see another sunrise.

 

Take my Hand, Daddy! a short story by Sha’Tara

By way of intro to this short story, first I wish to say “thank you” for all the likes on the other stories, essays, etc. as they tumbled into this place.

I’ve been very busy lately on a volunteer job in the interior of B.C. (Canada), a place called “Rock Creek” where a wild fire roared through a year ago and burned down several homes.  So I went with my friend Vic Janzen, who is with “Mennonite Disaster Services” to help complete a house the organization had taken on in conjunction with “Habitat for Humanity.”  “We” (that is, MDS) supplied the labour and Habitat supplied the materials along with whatever the uninsured home owners could provide.  So the house was built, and this is what it looked like when we left yesterday.  A very pretty, basic, utilitarian house any family would be happy to live in.  If you look closely you can see the scorched dead pines all around the property.  (The pile of bags is insulation to be blown into the attic later.) 

IMG_0148-e-resized

Rock Creek MDS and Habitat house.

And now, the short story: 

Take my Hand, Daddy!           [a short story ~ by Sha’Tara]

Imagine a winter afternoon of this northern hemisphere, by a small town nestled almost silent among dark, brooding mountains.  The sun slips behind a mountain top and a shadow covers the waters of a wide river rippled by a bitter east wind.  A couple of golden eyes land and begin their usual systematic team hunt, diving, surfacing, diving.  These little ducks know their world well, choosing areas near enough to shore to take advantage of gentler, swirling currents, allowing them to dive faster and capture their prey, small fish also using the constantly reforming whirlpools to find food.

The edge of the river is forming ice now, not deep nor wide, but the bite of winter frost is not only in the air: it penetrates into the dark, fast moving waters.  The shore at this place, now cut through by the harsh shadow of a mountain, is made up of round rocks, large at the edge of the water, an edge normally under water – but this is winter solstice and the river is at its ebb.  Further up the shore the rocks change to large round gravel, then up the banks, into smaller, looser gravel.  Remnants of a recent snow fall tuck themselves behind and between the stones and form a dirty white blanket full of tears and holes among frost-burned grasses along the higher banks.  Such a stage leaves no room for doubt as to the time of year being dramatized.

There is a small parking area here where I sometimes stop to eat my lunch, read, or just observe the passing of a time-slice and whatever event it may contain.  I like the quiet of the place and on this day, the weather being bitterly cold with high clouds keeping the air moist, few people care to stay around.  A couple of cars drive in but there is nothing exciting or colorful enough to keep anyone’s attention for long and the damp cold drives them away again.  The pair of ducks, the male a ball of sharp black and white patterns, the female of a uniform brown, are a bit perturbed by the few onlookers and choose to be safe, moving their theater of operations farther away from the shoreline.  

The sun has almost crossed the mountain top and the shadow slides across the river, revealing a lighter shade of water as the incessant chop refracts the slanted, weak, gold-tinged middle-afternoon sunlight.  Far to the east however, no clouds have yet appeared and the sun has unlimited vistas to illuminate.  The higher mountains throw off the glory-glow of their snow-covered spires to grace a clear icy-blue sky.  

There is a wide gravelly path that leads from the parking area down to the river’s edge. While it remains in the gray shadow cast by the mountains, a very large man wearing a black woolen toque, a heavy dark-red mackinaw jacket and faded jeans tucked into unlaced brown work boots begins to descend along the center of the path.  To his right walks a tiny girl child, wearing what looks like dark blue cord pants tucked into white boots.  She has on a pink parka and a pair of pink mittens with small pompoms attached dangling from the coat’s sleeves.  As the couple begins to walk over the loose gravel, the child gingerly extends her short arms to maintain balance.  The heavy-set man, hands pushed deep into the folds of his mackinaw, seems totally unaware of his tiny companion, lost, it seems, in his own thoughts.

The little girl struggles to follow him, obviously with great effort.  Finally, barely able to stand, she extends her left arm to the large man, the reddened fingers of her hand splayed to express her need for help. 

In my mind, the image freezes there, as if someone had pressed the pause button on the TV’s remote. 

The man ignores the child, the child holds out her hand, confident that the man will be moved to help her.  In that slice of time, I sense a re-enactment of billions of such events over history.  I feel the energies involved; the times when they worked and when they did not.  The abandoned, and the re-united.  The dead losers and the restored winners.  I see mankind’s drama endlessly moving up and down, like the tides.  I feel my own helplessness, kicked out of the drama to find my place among the spectators of which we are too many.  

Does the man stop to take the child’s hand?  Does he pick her up in his arms to carry her to an easier place where she can walk without help?  Does he realize it is too cold to be walking there, at that time of day, with a child, and does he return to wherever they came from?  

All I heard in my mind was the child’s extended arm saying: “Take my hand, daddy!” 

 

How Could we have Done This? (a short story)

How Could we have Done This?

A Short Story, by Sha’Tara

“It’s true then, not just a conspiracy theory any longer?”

“I’m afraid so, Mr. President.  It’s happening.”

“There had been dissenting voices, even up to six administrations ago, but they were ridiculed.  After all, we’re not talking about an asteroid cracking up here, we’re talking about the sun… the sun!  It’s so big, so permanent.”

Secretary Rogers shook his head.  “So it seemed.  We obviously could not have been more wrong, could we.”

“Son of a bitch!  We can’t win, we just can’t.  We finally, just, extricate ourselves from extermination through nuclear contamination and we’re on the losing side again?”

Due to exigencies caused by climate change, some of it exacerbated by man’s industrial pollution output; destruction of green belts, dwindling extraction and use of so-called fossil fuels planet-wide, coupled with a steady increase in populations, more power for the planet’s energy grids was created using nuclear fission.  Nuclear power plants proliferated, most of them located along seashores and major waterways.  Convenient for cooling, naturally.

Then the seas began to rise in earnest.  Temperatures continued to rise world-wide and climate change deniers were silenced.  Coastal populations were forced to migrate inland, resulting in millions of refugees.  Disruption of agriculture due to changing weather patterns causing floods and droughts meant famine.  Chaos ensued.  And world-wide violence followed.

But that wasn’t the main problem.  It was those expedient nuclear power plants who would be swamped by rising levels of sea water.  The seas may have been able to absorb one or two plants going under and contaminating the waters, but there were thousands of these facing flooding and their wastes inevitably destroying the planet’s oceans.  Short sighted plans certainly can have long-term consequences.

The best minds in the world were put together to seek a quick and certain solution to the impending doomsday scenario.  The plants all had to be shut down and their stocks of nuclear wastes disposed of in a permanent way.  No way could so much waste be buried on the planet, the risks were too high.  The whole planet could be contaminated and all biological life as known destroyed.  To make a point, someone said, “…and even the billionaires can’t escape this nightmare, not if they remain on the planet.”

Space: that’s where the brains turned to.  The wastes would have to be flung out in space, far enough that their orbits wouldn’t decay and they would come tumbling down out of the sky sooner or later; far enough that they would not accidentally interfere with man’s tiny but increasing space exploration.  Far enough so they wouldn’t be encountered, ever again.

The sun: that’s were the brains turned to.  It was so obvious: fire the wastes into the sun where they could never again do any harm to anyone.

Finally, a solution, if taken from old science fiction books.  Yes, that would do it.  All that was needed was to develop a relatively inexpensive way to package these wastes, drag them far enough that they could be put on a trajectory into the sun.

One thing that can be said about scientists: they’re all a bit mad.  That is, they have to focus on their particular problem and not pay too much attention to possible consequences.  If it works, then the problem is solved.  Will it create a greater problem down the road of time… or space?  Not my problem.  I did what I was asked to do.  I made “that” possible.  The rest is up to, well, the rest.

The engineers took over.  Typically, a space-plane was developed that could take a sizeable payload of nuclear wastes into deep space.  There the load was shifted upon what were essentially guided missiles, or rockets, which took it the rest of the way into the sun’s surface.

There was great celebrating after the first attempt was successfully achieved.  Four and a half tons of nuclear wastes had successfully been driven into the sun’s hell furnace, never to bother anyone again.  Hundreds of space-planes and thousands of rockets flew their missions over the next few years as every fission reactor in danger of flooding was decommissioned and scoured.

Finally, a real success story with no side effects except for the cost of removing the wastes from the planet.  Many other environmentally unsafe dumps of chemicals were also packaged and added to the space-plane payloads before the program was terminated.

That was forty years ago.  Earth people could now concentrate on re-building their shattered economies as the new climate stabilized with higher water levels, expanded deserts circling the equator, almost complete loss of polar ice and the north and south once temperate zones now experiencing equatorial temperatures and conditions such as high winds and monsoons.  Two generations had never seen snow and could not comprehend the concept, except by looking into refrigerators or freezers, or by searching past history on the datasphere, once called the internet.  Two billion people had died in the interim and were already being forgotten.

“What’s to be done, James?”

“This time, sir, man has taken the step at the edge of the bottomless pit; the one he should have had the wisdom and awareness to back away from.  There is nothing to be done, Andrew.  If you believe in God, that is your, our, last option.  We have overstepped ourselves and we have to face that.”

“The apocalypse, James?  Of our own making?  What are they saying at the UN?  Can anything be salvaged?”

“Our waste dumping has triggered the sun to go nova, sir.  Nothing can be done.  We don’t have any capability to launch any “ark” or space ship that could travel out of the solar system and escape the coming fire storm, taking a sample of survivalists aboard.  And if we did, we don’t have ftl or cryogenic technology and anyone on board such ships would die long before they reached any kind of human-friendly world.  There is no escape, no place to go.  For the first time in man’s history he has ignorantly taken the irrevocable step; painted himself into a corner from which he cannot escape.  It’s over, Andrew.”

“We did this?”  He shakes his head as he stares out the window of the oval office.  “We caused the sun to go nova by shipping our bits into it?  How can that be possible?”

“No one realized the fine balance existing within a fusion reactor.  We thought size, you see, because that’s how man thinks.  If it’s bigger, it can absorb something much smaller.  Turns out that is not the case at all.  We triggered a switch, literally knocking a hole in the containment field of the sun’s fusion furnace.  From a military standpoint we should be proud.  Imagine that: the ant kills tyrannosaurus rex.  But the sun was not our enemy, nor was it our personal waste dump.  It was our life.  A bit late in the game to realize this.  I don’t even know how that makes me feel right now.  You know, this is a totally different death than any we’ve ever experienced as a species.  Until now, one died, a hundred, a million, a couple of billions, but there always was a future to look to, a chance at re-building, a chance to re-create.  Now there is nothing.  This solar system is going to be slagged.  Nothing left, nothing at all.”

“How do I tell this to the nation?  What’s my position now?  Should I just go home and forget I was even here, ever a president?  Does anything mean anything?  How much time do they give us?”

“It’s an exponential factor.  They’re working on the math but it’s all new to them.  Probably not very long because of increasing solar radiation.  The heat is about to vaporize the atmosphere and we’ll soon be exposed to solar storms, winds and flares.  They estimate that the earth will be a scorched ball of rock within four to eight years.”

“No chance at all to cut our losses and run, hm?”  He looks at his secretary with a thin, bitter smile.

“None, it’s over.”

The man’s shoulders sagged completely.  “Thanks James.  You should go home now.”