Those of you who have read comments from me on your blog posts probably know that I wasn’t happy about going to work during the COVID-19 crisis, because there was nothing for me to do at work.
Well, I have to eat my words. Because today, due to a stomach bug, I stayed home. And in some ways, staying home is much worse than going to work.
Because I’m all alone. When my mind isn’t focused on something else, there are no other people around to distract me. And I can’t stop myself from thinking horrible, terrifying thoughts.
Now that we’re undergoing a frightening natural disaster, I keep remembering horrific stories about natural disasters, not real ones, but imaginary ones. Now that there’s a situation going on over which I have no control, I keep picturing even more terrifying scenarios where I have no control.
And there’s no one to talk to about it, no one to distract me from my fears.
I am terrified.
Under the Earth’s frozen, icy surface,
Heat and pressure build up until the ice
Begins to crack, and smoke and lava pour
From underground, erupting volcanoes.
Carbon dioxide fills the atmosphere,
Causing it to trap the sun’s rays again.
The atmosphere absorbs more solar heat,
And more volcanoes push up through the ice,
Releasing even more warming gases.
At last, the ice begins to melt away.
The oceans, streams, and rivers start to thaw.
The life beneath the seas starts to wake up.
Earth’s Snowball phase is ended, and its ice
Has melted, is a distant memory,
When new forms of life begin to appear,
Larger, multicellular, specialized.
Though microbes have survived the long winter,
They share the oceans with new forms of life.
The first multicellular animals
Have now evolved and float throughout the seas,
Thanks to rising warmth and high oxygen.
Soft-bodied animals of many shapes
That drift through the water, much like microbes,
And feed by filtering out nutrients.
All at once, new life forms quickly evolve,
So fast, indeed, that in the far future,
Their appearance will be named “explosion”.
Not a violent explosion, with bright fire,
But one as deadly as a volcano
To the drifting, soft-bodied animals.
These life forms go extinct but are replaced
By distant ancestors of life today:
Ancestors of insects and crustaceans,
Of all worms, spiders, mollusks, and starfish,
And even of chordates. The stage is set
For animals to inherit the Earth.
Of doing nothing
Now rocks absorb the carbon dioxide
From the atmosphere, drawing it downwards
Into the Earth’s crust. As it leaves the sky,
So does the warmth that envelopes the Earth,
Rays of the sun previously welcome
Are now repulsed, now flung back into space.
Bitter winds whistle over the still world,
Bringing snow, a swirling, whirling blizzard
That blankets the whole planet. Piercing cold
Hardens the water: liquid freezes up.
Ice crackles on all water surfaces:
Lakes, streams, rivers, even the mighty seas.
Two massive, looming walls of solid ice
Stand at the poles, reflecting the sun’s rays.
As ice spreads farther, the walls start to move
Crawling towards each other through the deep snow
Until they touch, meet at the equator,
Burying Earth under a huge ice shield.
Ice blankets the water and continents.
Beneath the ice, all sleeps, now motionless.
The little people who lived here before,
All the little microorganisms,
Are still: no longer eat and drink and breathe.
The planet seems bare and lifeless once more.
Yet life is not gone; somewhere far beneath
The thick, crushing layers of deadly ice,
All the little microorganisms
Are huddling, now, deep in their winter beds.
They hibernate, sleep, patiently waiting
For the ice to melt and spring to return.
They wait and wait, but no spring ever comes.
No friendly warmth remains on frozen Earth.
The planet is a ball of solid ice,
A snowball orbiting the useless sun,
Which has no power to break the ice shield
And end the planet’s million-year winter.