Bernard was awake. He glanced at the time -- 4:33. His flight wasn't for another few hours. Awake twenty-seven minutes before his first alarm, regardless. He didn't need much time to get ready; his villa in the Bahamas was a twenty minute ride to the airport. He did want to be first on the plane, though. It was a busy time of year for trips to the Southern hemisphere; this he knew.
This *everyone* knew. The spring equinox had passed just three days ago, in another week the island would be largely deserted. Again. The sun is hot. The sand gets warm. The water won't cool you off.
The alarm went off. Bernard sat up and reached for his earbuds, silencing the alarm with his decisive movements. The lights dimmed, then shifted to a warm glow, matching the tone the sunlight would make, when it first stikes the house.
Bernard was wealthy. He owned the local e-bike exchange. His villa was outfitted with the latest in sun capture technology, with enough capacity to allow his A/C to run 24/7, all through the winter. The molten salt battery backup being the largest indulgence, and mostly an indulgence, he had allowed himself here. In the off-season, like most of his solar capture peers, the excess energy he harvested from the sun went to securing his digital assets with the bootleg crypto miners he had bought from a dark exchange a few years ago. That was before miners became hard to come by, before the heat waves and off-season fires decimtaed the factory work forces. Before the national powers consolidated their grip on production, and bought up all excess stock. Before they consolidated their grip on the internet; the exchanges were all incredibly had to get access to these days.
Bernard knew he, like his neighbors, was lucky.
The 5:10 delivery of croissants, dried jerky, and finely chonked pineapple squares arrived, the electric motor hum of the drone passing overhead pulled him out of his shower reverie. He toweled off and started a last minute check of his luggage, prepping the bike for his short ride to the airport.
Bernard traveled light these days -- just his keyboard, headphones, and monitors. He needed it all to log online, to keep track of the production schedules and time lines for his mostly automated machine parts supply company. His contacts in Thailand were particularly good at keeping up with his erratic hours and requests for new prototypes.
Bag packed and breakfast largely eaten, Bernard pulled the concrete barricades down over the villa windows, double checked the electrical connections for the mining gear, and puttered off down the clay-paved road to the airport.
The island was awake -- a few other cars were on the road already this morning. South, that's where they were headed, every single human would be gone, and soon.
ABW was the joke -- "Always Be Wintering". Weird to think that just a century ago summering had been not only possible but fashionable. Bernard preferred the winter days though -- the early sunsets and long nights were without end. He didn't really get credit for it, but Bernard had been the one to coin the phrase, in the late twenties. A blogpost he had written had gone viral. He had written as a wry commentary on his own personal lifestyle, since he'd been a winter nomad for a years already at that point. Not because of the heat, but for the eternal sweater game he could pull. At least, could, then. It was getting a bit too warm these days, at least in the few spots he spent most of his time. His investment in relocating the cotton trade had paid off pretty well in the meantime.
The islands really weren't what they used to be. Bernard owed some of the highest land on the place, but his models showed it all going underwater in the next two years. He was pretty sure a hurricane this summer would wash away another good portion before then. He had already made plans to put his villa up for sale at the end of the summer, the legions of winterers grew every year. He assauged his conscience about selling soon-to-be damaged goods by planning to only sell it at cost, more or less. Minus the miners, of course. These he was moving to his most recent toehold in Greenland, which should be finished at summer's end. He wasn't sure yet how Greenland fit into the ABW lifestyle, the daylight swings weren't something he was sure he could handle for long periods of time.
He had just celebrated his 53rd birthday, happy Aires season. His model showed Greenland was a long game play, for his retirement in twenty years or so. By then, he calculated, he wouldn't care about the daylight patterns affecting his focus cycles so deeply. That was the plan, at any rate.
The plan had been working out so well so far.
At the airport, he checked his electric-bike into the elevated concrete bunker, originally built by JUMP bikes; he had taken over the e-bike's rental system for the island a few years back, when he first moved to the island. The automated attendant refunded his seasonal deposit and swang down the metal rolling door behind him.
Bernard strolled across the clay road, into the rounded, concrete structure that served as the waiting lounge. It had been rebuilt a few decades ago to withstand the high wind storms that were an almost daily occurrence now, in the late fall.
Out the open gateway, he could see the Redontor, erected ages ago by the re-colonizers, as they called themselves. The indigent population had been wiped out in a large storm cycle, an unpredicted week of daily hurricane landings that had decimated most islands in the Caribbean and surrounding Gulf Coast states. There wasn't enough catastrophic aid hands or funds available to reach every island -- a fever broke out and the potable water dried up. Everyone died. A few Bahamanian expats, mostly from the NYC community, came together in the aftermath to rebuild some parts of what was left of the islands. They had erected the state in tribute to their dead past, an echo of the marvelous one still standing down in Rio. Bernard had bought his villa land from one of the original re-colonizers, who moved to the Swiss Alps a few years ago to start another communal movement. This was before ABW came into vogue, when the summer heat had just started claiming full-timers. They got out while they could.
There weren't any full-timers left now. Some had become ABWs, others had followed Chad to the Alps, still more had simply died. People died from heatstroke, from starvation. It was just how things worked themselves out now.
The flight was full, as Bernard had expected. He settled into his window seat and switched his devices to Airplane Mode, which would connect directly to the SatNet once in the air instead of using the local relays.
The plane launched silently into the early morning air, its electric turbines whirring up to cruising altitude through a low, southward breeze. Bernard could see the large storm his models had predicted springing up that afternoon gathering steam on the eastern horizon, as they made their way southwards.
Bernard hoped his neighbors would ge tout in time, before the heat became truly deadly. The storm had small yet significant chance of knocking flights down for a bit if took too much of the electricity grid offline. They needed the sun to recharge the plane, to get off the island.
The ABW lifestyle had its ironies -- the sun was both the enabler of your globe trotting lifestyle; it was also the sum of your ever-threatened demise.
Dec 22, 2019
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