Elisse Jordan Wright
Ellie sat in the same old Boston rocker in which her father Luke had rocked her 90 years before. Her grandfather had given it to Luke when Ellie was an infant. He said that a noisy rocker was essential to the proper raising of children. No matter how many times Luke had re-glued the chair, it still sounded the same, creakity-creak, creakity-creak. The sound of the chair and the low hum of the 165 year old synchronous alternator behind her gave Ellie a warm secure feeling, though at 90, life itself was a tenuous proposition at best. The rockers had worn thin on the concrete floor of the powerhouse where she had rocked her own children and grandchildren. From where she sat, she could see the length of the dam. It was a glorious spring morning. A persistent mist clung to the weir walls. The sheet of water over the spillway formed a rainbow where it fell splashing in the rising sunlight on the ogee apron of the concrete dam.
Ellie had always been the last person in the house to go to bed. It was a hangover from the crash of the economy and resultant chaos of the late '20's. Even after the imposition of martial law, roving bands of armed and desperate refugees would kill a man for his lunch pail. When her husband and father would leave to work on the farm at night, Ellie would connect through her port implant to her computer to monitor their activities until their safe return in the morning. She was chatting with her husband Tom when he was killed so had experienced his death from his perspective. She was glad to know how surprisingly little pain he had experienced.
Tom had always been the first to rise in the evening. In the years since Tom's death, Ellie still stayed up until the last person in her house was safely home. This morning was no exception and she admonished her youngest grandchild, Josiah of the dangers of coming in so late.
"Jo, the sun has been up for almost an hour now and here you are out and about with nothing but that little parasol. You young ones just don't understand what kind of a risk you're taking staying out so late. Getting caught in that sun just 15 minutes today could kill you five years from now."
Jo wanted to stay to listen to more of his grandmother's stories, but Ellie was tired. She sent Jo to bed with the promise that she would continue in the evening when he got up.
Ellie moved into her abode when she was a girl, and had lived there for 80 some years. It was a motor home that had belonged to her grandmother at the turn of the century when such vehicles were still in use. She called it Rosinante after Don Quijote's horse even though it had not moved or seen gasoline since Luke parked it by the powerhouse in 2008. Her Grandmother had given it the name back when she had traveled on the highways with it. First Luke, then Tom, then Jake and now Josiah had managed to keep the refrigerator, air-conditioning and heating systems going on the hydrogen gas that they made with the generator and sold for fuel.
The drought in the Northwest and the rain forests caused by global warming resulted in massive forest fires. What had been a noticeable increase in death by respiratory disease in old folks and infants at the turn of the century became epidemic by the end of the decade. Her parents had been able to control Ellie's frequent bouts of asthma by keeping the house well air-conditioned. That became impossible as FERC shut down fossil burning power plants in the Midwest and rationed electricity use to just a few hours a day. At the time, FERC, under directive initiated by the Bush administration, was franticly trying to expedite the construction of nuclear power plants. That effort ceased abruptly with the terrorist computer attack and resultant simultaneous meltdown of seven nuclear power plants in 2009. Terrorists simply hacked into the site computers and shut off the cooling water while giving erroneous readings to operators and alarm systems.