Captain Claw: Making the Hard Choices

Retired sea-captain-turned-novelist Captain Claw lives in the San Francisco Bay.

Started writing straight away this morning, then I noticed: the water was even saltier than yesterday. I wondered if it was just me. Then Johnson stumbled out of his hole dragging his CPAP tank. “Is this your doing, you salty bastard?!”

I set down my pen, helped Johnson put his oxygen tank on a hand truck, and we made our way to the Great Flat to see what we could find. Once there, we met a sturgeon swimming down from Stockton.

“Fresh water… in the Delta,” he wheezed. “So low… I couldn’t make it past Isleton.”

Fresh water has stopped flowing from the mountains? Egads.

“No wonder I feel like I can’t breathe,” heaved Johnson through the tubes coming out of his face.

What a strange paradox. Sea level rising, fresh water missing. More water and less water. What could those insane humans possibly be up to?

An emergency meeting was convened back in Dungeness. The sturgeon delivered his damning testimony. “And what the hell happened to the Delta, I wanna know?” We knew all too well.

“I say we attack the humans now, before it’s too late,” yelled Senator Claus, pounding his claw on the dais.

General LaDuke rose. “Under what pretense?”

“It’s a preemptive war!” answered Claus. But the room was clearly tepid.

Elrod the Elder stood up. “The Great Water will take care of the humans. We need to take care of ourselves. Make the hard choices.”

Everyone knew what that meant. But Dungeness had been here millennia. How could we simply crawl away? Where would we go? Up the coast or down? The Pacific is an altogether different place. Many wouldn’t make the journey. How long until we found another safe harbor? Would things be any different there?

The meeting was adjourned without a clear course of action. I ambled home. There, still on my desk, was the blank page—and my pen, mightier than the sword, so they say.

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{ Illustration of Captain Claw by Jeff Petersen. }
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