“There’s something not quite right about the whole situation, Sally,” Boris explains as he examines a Nunavut berry under a microscope. He slices a thin film off it, places it inside a vacuum sealed container, and starts the DNA test. Melissa and Nathan are mesmerized by the image they see on the computer display. “Ewe…That’s what’s inside the berry?”
Sally teases her. “Would you like one?”
Melissa scrunches her face and sticks out her tongue shaking her head. Sally laughs.
“Looks perfect! You have amazing connections, lil’ sis.” Boris takes the bowl, spreads the berries out on a rack, and instructs his assistant to store them in the solar drying room. He turns to the kids: “Want to see the greenhouse?” They scream in unison: “Yes!!!”
The four of them walk down the glass hallway bisecting the orchard towards the south end of the estate as Boris continues his earlier discussion with his sister. “They claim my operation is non-essential so they keep taxing the hail out of me, quite literally. My water bills have quadrupled. I have measured the CO2 coming this way after their so-called weather management events and it’s way beyond the levels humanly acceptable.”
He reaches for kid-sized gas masks hanging outside the greenhouse entrance and slips them on his niece and nephew. They make growling and scary monster faces at each other. Sally and Boris mask up next.
“I can re-engineer the BeachBuster to make it more robust and you can start a free cleanup service. They hit a different area every week so I’m sure you can at least service the orchard with the water.” Sally pipes in.
Boris calls over the head gardener and sends the kids off with her for a lesson about the natural world humanity has all but destroyed. Their eyes are ripe with curiosity and wonder at the beautiful fruit trees, vegetables, and their very favourite— the honeybee hive. Boris brings a jar to them whenever he visits and always recounts a tale of the Queen and her loyal subjects complete with videos.
Once they are out of earshot, Boris gets more serious. “Sally, the Mayor is on the take. And so is the Chief of Police. I still don’t know who is bankrolling them but I have a hunch that it’s the same corporation who is secretly bankrolling me. It’s like I have an angle-of-death investor. They’re just waiting to pounce the minute I default once.”
“You don’t think— ” Sally gasps.
Boris doesn’t need to answer. His face tells it all.
The corporation that supplies the cloud seeding service for the city buys their dry ice from Boris. They also provide the kickbacks and the anonymous funding to Boris’ bank. They heavily seed the outskirts of the city first to create intense hail storms, otherwise extreme rainfall would cause massive flooding. Then they proceed to the city itself. The atmosphere is so humid that any slight coaxing opens up the skies. The winds then carry the resultant CO2 from the ice melt his way which is too much for his orchard to handle without proper irrigation. The orchard is already processing CO2 from global sources. They know this so this is their plan:
“Greed.” Boris continues. “If they can eliminate me as the middleman, they can create their own incestuous ecosystem. They also own the chemical neutralizing company that cleans up any sky fallout and the pharmaceutical company that provides the cancer treatments…One big happy family!” He leans over and whispers: “Also…I’ve been secretly collecting data to bury them. We lost Sean to the Corporate Weather Machine. Who’s next? You? Me? The kids?”
Those are just a few of the reasons they are trying to shut him down. They also want their hands on what he is growing in the greenhouse. The very survival of the GMO food patenting industry is at risk as well. And guess who owns that?
The kids run back full of energy and excitement. Nathan declares proudly: “A bee said hello to me.”
Melissa pulls on her uncle’s shirt. “Uncle Boris, can we see the orchard. Are they special apple trees?” He crouches down to her level and explains solemnly. “No, sweetie, they are artificial. Their job is to clean up the air so that one day you won’t have to wear this mask.” He wiggles the nose of it.
“Where does all the bad air go?” Nathan asks.
“Inside the tree. But they need water too just like real trees so I can keep them healthy and capture the bad stuff for recycling.”
They all exit the greenhouse and stow their masks.
As they walk back to the main building in silence, Sally stares out into the plastic orchard from the safety of the glass prison and thinks to herself: “How could we have come to this?”