Journal Under the Sea: Writings From a Wet Future
2022, Senior, Creative Writing
Entry I: 5/12/2050, slight turbulence around the tank
When I opened my eyes this morning to the spread of ominous dark blue above, I couldn’t believe this was my first birthday underwater. Things couldn’t have been more different since the last time I woke up on my birthday in Hong Kong. So much has changed in the last year, yet the feeling was still the same: emptiness, never anything else. Not that I didn’t care about turning older; it just didn’t seem to matter anymore with nobody to celebrate with. No happy birthday songs from classmates (not that I ever liked them), no homemade ramen with extra pork slices (THAT I liked), and no Instagram stories with birthday wishes to validate my self-esteem. My parents were sent by the government to do rescue work—along with many other adults—tasked with finding victims near the surface. Ever since the whole world basically sank under the sea, social media has disappeared, to the agony of many teens my age. Turns out underwater WIFI isn’t a thing.
Before the world sank underwater, the global epidemic, COUGH-19, caught everyone off guard. Disposable masks littered the oceans, in-person interaction collapsed, economies shutdown… After an arduous ten years, the pandemic was finally contained. The world celebrated our successful “defeat” of the deadly virus. We went on a rampage of overusing resources, reveling in the joyful excesses of “normal life.” “Travel challenge” videos went viral, with celebrities flying their private jets literally everywhere. No wistful indulgence was too small—they’d go to Osaka for a bowl of ramen on their way to a ski trip in Switzerland. Of course, the consequence was an astronomical increase in carbon dioxide, and all the glaciers melted in the poles. Now I’m living in a submarine oxygen tank, like a very boring reality show for a live studio audience of fish. As for me, I only get one channel, the nature channel, and not a lot happens on “Keeping Up with the Crustaceans.”
Entry II: 5/20/2050, small water tornados
A swirl of white and red appeared out of the corner of my eye. I turned to see that small water tornados had formed while I was busy prodding pieces of soggy chicken skin away from my tank. The despicable little twirls inched towards me, taking broken plastic boxes and utensils with them. Being the professional submarine driver that I am, I came up with what was obviously the brightest solution—drive my submarine tank out of this mess.
As I smashed my right foot into the accelerator, a suffocating force pinned me to the back of the seat; a blur of blue and bubbles rushed past my peripheral vision, along with a few random thumps of jellyfish casualties on the front window. The tornados were quickly swallowed by opaque darkness that seemed to stretch on infinitely. I slowed down the accelerator as I took in my surroundings. Complete darkness, no sign of life. I seemed to have gotten lost in a hurry to escape, delving deeper into the sea. I passed by tall buildings in my search for light that may have well been the Empire State Building for all I know. I squinted at the darkness ahead; it seemed it would take weeks, even months, to find my way home, let alone a “not-so-super-market” (my original destination for some birthday treats), which meant that the only solution was to find some food near the surface.
Entry III: 6/7/2050, a terrible leak
I encountered a small problem. Alright, it wasn’t small—it was a catastrophic problem: my submarine had a leak. At first, I didn’t notice the tiny hole; it wasn’t until a powerful streak of salt water sprayed directly into my face while I was sleeping that I realized one of the screws had come loose. My body was still for a whole second, unable to comprehend the situation. But as reality finally kicked in, a rush of adrenaline hit me as I sprang up from bed, looking for a way, any way, to temporarily stop the leak. “Duct Tape!” I thought. The magical product that prevented rain from entering my camping tent, and made fashionable wallets. But then I remembered most plastic products have already been banned from use. A bit unnecessary considering most plastics were already buried under sea, adding to the mountains of waste that replaced modern-day buildings.
Slowly, I felt my socks getting soggy. The water had already formed about an inch above the floor. The only solution at this point wasn’t to find some low-quality tape to cover the hole, but to do the most logical thing—drive the submarine above the surface. Against all odds and laws of physics, my submarine made it to the ocean surface after a good two hours of intense professional driving. At this point, the water had filled up to my waist, accompanied with roughly 500 different species of sea creatures and leftover chemical products floating on the surface. I could feel the heat penetrating through the roof. I glanced at the thermometer: 38 degrees Celsius. There was no accurate way to describe my situation except to say I felt like an ingredient in a pot of seafood stew.
My submarine was now steadily floating on the ocean surface. I twisted a handle to open a window. What I saw was nothing like before—the sky was a dusty orange with no clouds in sight. No animals, no buildings, no airplanes, no life. Sometimes I wonder if humans have moved down into the sea just to ruin everything again. We always find a way to do that to everything anyway.
Entry IV: 6/8/2050, dust, disgust, and disarray
The heat was starting to bother me; not that it didn’t before, but this time I realized I’d started to turn to an ugly shade of red. To prevent myself from turning into Mr. Krabs, I decided to go back underwater as soon as possible, but just as I pulled the handle for descent, I spotted a tiny lump of dark mass floating a few yards away. Knowing full well that satisfying my curiosity would be a suicide mission in such a situation, I chose to fulfill my intrigue. As my submarine loomed closer to the creature, I saw it was floating face down, exposing the entirety of its feathery back to the burning sun, making my heart drop to my stomach. As I stared, the creature did a 180-degree turn, revealing itself to be… a penguin? My jaw dropped, in both surprise and joy, as I poked my head out to look. It returned my gaze with the same curiosity, strangely showing no fear in its black pearl pupils. The penguin opened its beak, attempting to speak, but it couldn’t force a sound out. Instinctively, I stretched my hands out to grab hold of it.
I’ve decided to call my new little companion Icarus Marcellus the Great (or Mikey for short). Mikey is doing great; all his feathers have grown back in place, looking as plump as ever. As hectic as these last couple of days may have seemed, having met Mikey was the best thing that ever happened to me since the world became a self-heating oven. I guess my next birthday underwater won’t be so lonely. For the first time in a long time, I had someone to take care of, someone to cook for, someone to talk to other than myself through this journal… but most importantly, someone to watch “Keeping Up with the Crustaceans” with.
I based a large portion of my writing on my life and my imagining of what the world would become with the increasing severity of global warming. I reflected deeply on the range of atrocities that humans have brought onto the environment. As I researched online, the mass amounts of statistics and incidents regarding pollution in the ocean shocked me. I felt shame and sadness, realizing that I have also contributed indirectly to the build-up that ultimately led to global warming. It was those seemingly small acts of using plastic forks, ordering takeout, and not recycling paper assignments that accumulated into the mountains of trash under the sea. Communicating through humor and satire is certainly an uncommon way to address a serious issue about climate change. However, I found this unique method especially effective in engaging the readers, and I used it to emphasize the consequences caused by human actions. My message to those that have read my writing is to start taking action in everyday life. Start small and be conscious of one’s actions.