These stories are 3,000 words or less: for longer solarpunk eco-fiction stories go to:
The Last Fox
Dr Jack Edward Effron
I’m Meghan. 11 years old. Year 7 Advanced. ID number 03102.
In contrast, the bullies at school call me “Meghan from the Mega”. I say “Yeah, the Mega was named after me” and give them the Bronx cheer. Then I get a punch in the arm and a big purple bruise.
While the teachers can’t do anything, they tell the boys to “feel my pain” and “choose kindness”. If the teachers cause the bullies “stress”, the teachers’ll go to jail. They’ll never teach again. This is 2099, almost the 22nd century: discipline is old hat, out of fashion, just not acceptable!
But the bullies don’t feel my pain. I feel it. I’m gonna annoy all my parents until they get me into the UN’s ICT (Internationalized Computer-Based Telecommunications, the former internet) homeschooling. It’s safer. Mom’s SCC (super-mobile communications centre) can’t punch.
Certainly ‘The Mega” comes from the “Megacity”. It goes from Portland, Maine to Richmond, Virginia.
Also, my teacher says 1 out of 5 Americans live in the Mega. But even if you call it “Megacity”, it’s not completely official. It has no Mayor or City Council or police or schools. The “Megaburbs”, like our Patucket, have all that.
Living all bunched up like this frees a lot of space for nature. So we’ve stopped making animals extinct. It is easier to collect solar power and share it if we’re not kilometers away from each other. We can share underground water and a lot of resources more easily and conserve them.
Also, we lost a lot of cities when the polar ice caps melted. The Mega built a lot of new homes. Providence, our old capital, is gone. It’s under the Narragansett. So is Newport, with the original “Rhode Island”. Patucket has a nice beach now. My Gran says he wished he would have had that when he was a kid.
Nevertheless, we still have our States. There’s something in the Constitution about that. They can never take away our Little Rhody and stick it in a Mega. The Mega has 11 States in it. But usually not the whole State. Big States, like New York or Pennsylvania, are part-Mega. But little Rhody, whatever’s left, we’re all Mega now.
They used to spell our town “Pawtucket” but they’re fixing English spelling now. Who says “PAWtucket”? What we say is more like “P’tucket”. I guess Patucket is close enough.
If you ride the bullet train, like we did on school excursion in one day, from Portland to Richmond, you’ll see: the Mega never stops! One building after another. No farms. No breaks in-between. Planned and planted trees and bushes. So you have to go to the woods to see animals. But in the Mega, you’ll only see dogs and cats.
Great-Grand[dad] says there was a constant battle with foxes in Patucket in the 1900s. That’s what his Great-Grand told him. They used to come and treat themselves to breakfast in the chicken coop every morning. Set traps, nail every hole and crack shut in the coop, spread poison: but they still got in. Damn smart, those foxes! When the chickens were gone, they ate the cats.
And now? Even if you look for a live chicken in the Mega, you won’t find it. You don’t find a live fox either.
But I’ve seen foxes . . . on ICT.
There is a resemblance between me and foxes, so I feel close to them. Long red hair, long face, little eyes, a little cute maybe. But the green eyes and freckles are mine and the little black noses are theirs.
One morning, I couldn’t sleep more. The cool breezes were coming in off the Narragansett, caressing my face. The sunlight was tapping my eyes, as if to say, “Hey, stupid, don’t ya wanna see me?”. Even when I closed my eyes, I still saw colors.
So I stopped fighting it and threw the blankets off. I went to the open window and looked out, as if to say “OK, sunlight, show it off! What d’ya got?”
And it did, too! Little beady eyes reflected the sunlight in a bush.
I didn’t move. Waited for it to move. Like superglued in place.
Then it came out of the bush. It turned to look at me: straight on.
I waved. What a stupid thing to do! What did I think it would do: wave back? It ran.
Maybe it thought I was gonna throw something at it. Many people would: especially bully boys.
Well, I’d seen a fox in Patucket! It hadn’t been done recently.
So I bragged about it in school. Most kids were lit up. The bully boys were jealous and gave me a bruise for my trouble.
“But you never saw one!” I said to them, and got the other arm done.
Then I cried but it was worth it, capping the bullies. “Capping” is what we call giving an answer that the other guy can’t answer. Then he should go away. The bullies go away but they do something first. They really don’t like getting capped!
The day after it was: “Lost your fox, Meg? Didn’t see it again? Where is it? Bring it to school!” and laughing at me. Then the bully boys were ramping: “There was never any fox, poser”. Making people think I was a liar hurt more than 10 punches.
So, I needed proof. The next morning, before dawn, I went into the adults’ room where everybody was asleep. I quietly heisted Dad Tom’s digicam. I’m not a bad thief, if I put my mind to it.
But it is not easy to find a fox if you’re looking. I got dressed, took the cam and went tiptoeing into the garden. It’s no flower garden: it’s a piece of wild America, trees and bushes, that Great-Grand preserved.
Then, suddenly, whoosh! It ran across my path. Again, it stopped to look straight at me.
Certainly, I was like a cowboy: quick draw. Got the digicam up with both hands. “Shot” it: perfect pic!
So then I stuck it up on ICT with the caption “The Last Fox In The Mega: Patucket, Rhode Island. @Meghan From The Mega c/o Tom Dallini World Bank Receipt Code 3976596”. That was so the PPV/Download International Transactions Units (ITUs), what they used to call “money”, went to Tom. Because it was his Digicam.
So like I told you, I’m not a bad thief. I’m fair. Tom’s digicam, Tom’s ITUs.
Also, the World Bank wouldn’t let me have an account or receipt code if I asked. We kids are almost equal to adults in everything in 2099, but not quite.
“The Last Fox In The Mega”. Really? No others, in the whole Mega? I just guessed it. I also guessed right that no one would go out in the early morning hunting foxes to prove me wrong. People in 2099 take life easy.
Above all, the pic went viral. It was only because Foxy was so undeniably cute.
Also, the next day, everybody at school had seen it. I went from zero to hero. The bully boys thanked me for using their handle. If they’d have touched me, the whole class would have killed them. I strutted past them for the first time.
Due to the fact that I had been “raising consciousness about the nature around us”, the Mayor gave me a Golden Tree award. My parents let me do ICT homeschooling from next month.
But where was Foxy? I never saw it again, even after searching for a week. Sometimes in the middle of the night, with a flashlight. Me, myself and I but no fox.
If Foxy really was the last fox in the Mega, the Mega is poorer. Even if we are rich in ITUs, we are poor. ITUs can be replaced but not foxes. Nature gives no second chances. Then my happy little story will be the record of a tragedy.
Finally, good night, Foxy, wherever you are, I hope you’re OK. Even if I don’t see you again, I’ll never forget you. Stop by to visit some time and I’ll introduce you to the Jennings’ cat.
Solarpunk flash eco-fiction story
For more about saving foxes see https://foxesforsale.com/redfox.htm
Cover Photo above: “It turned to look at me: straight on.” is the property of Joshua Mayer under the original title of “Red Fox (Vulpes Vulpes)” in 2010. Published under Creative Commons Licence 2.0.