Tell A Tale in 500 Words

Synthflowers By Robert Grossmith

The new energy field finally came onstream today. I took the kids down to have a look, seeing as how it's such an historic occasion.

'This is the future, guys,' I told them. 'Better get used to it. Soon the whole world will look like this.'

I found myself thinking back to the wind farms of my childhood on the Norfolk coast. What an eyesore they were – noisy too – barely an improvement on the electricity pylons that preceded them, a real blot on the landscape. But I suppose the renewables revolution had to start somewhere. And now, at last, we've rid ourselves of that age-old bugbear, energy dependency.

You've got to admit, the new grid is pretty impressive. Hard to believe the whole town can be powered by just one field of synths. And of course they're so realistic-looking, the way they turn silently to track the sun across the sky, even though real sunflowers don't actually do that, so in some ways the synths are an improvement on nature. We even saw a few birds swooping down to check out the new flora before they realized they contained nothing edible and flew away disappointed.

Needless to say, the protesters were out in force to voice their opposition to the big switch-on. Banners, placards, chanting, token acts of violence directed at the high perimeter fence. What is it with these people? Have they got nothing better to do?

Fair enough, no one wanted to see that stand of ancient woodland destroyed, but don't forget that many of those trees, the ash and beech in particular, were likely as not threatened by disease and probably wouldn't have survived more than another few years. Anyway, as I understand it, there are plans to create a large synth plantation on the outskirts of town, which visitors will pass through when they exit the new uberway, so really, when all's said and done, what is there to gripe about?

In fact I said as much to one of the protesters, a big hairy guy with protruding eyeballs, who was bellowing in my ear and frightening the kids. But he was having none of it.

'Do you really want your children to grow up in a world where they never get to smell a real flower,' he said, 'never get to climb a real tree, never get to hear the buzz of a real honey bee?'

'To be honest I'm not that fussed,' I said, 'long as we've got those new robo-bees to pollinate the crops. At least bots don't sting you.'

I ushered the kids away before it all turned ugly. The last thing I saw, looking over my shoulder as we departed the scene, was a small flock of assault drones circling menacingly overhead.

'Don't worry, they're here to protect us,' I told the kids. 'To nip any disorder in the bud.'

They looked at each other, then at me, with blank stares. 'What's a bud?' they both said.


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