Taking The Top Off #writephoto

Sue Vincent’s latest #writephoto prompt is 

There is no accurate record of when the land became infertile but certainly before the fifth century when the Abbey records speak of a strip of failure in what was otherwise the most fertile acreage possessed by the St Jerome Monks. Many attempts were made to change the base nature of the soil but ‘dead man’s passage’ it remained for several centuries.
In the second half of the twentieth century, soil samples were tested and, to the surprise of the scientists they were found to have a total absence of any nutriments. In the words of one expert, it was as if a defoliant many times as powerful as Agent Orange, used against the Vietcong had been sprayed across the middle of the field.
In 2021 a satellite image of the area appeared using a new high resolution camera. This revealed a curious feature: the strip appeared to continue under the nearby hills, much as if a trench had been dug and then the hills placed on top. ‘It’s as if it were man-made,’ said one, not bothering to hide the sneer from his voice.
Further detailed study was commissioned. More images revealed the faintest trace of a line spreading across the countryside beyond the hills and towards the east coast. Samples were taken and in each case the land along this line was found to be one of extremes. Either it was utterly barren or so fertile that absolutely anything would grow on it.
When the 2027 unmanned probe to Mars took detailed images of the Earth, using a new ultrasound technique, the men of science were astonished to realise the strip continued under the North Sea and across Denmark into Continental Europe, eventually disappearing under the Alps.
Seismologists opined that it might be the residue of some sort of now redundant tectonic plate edge but most people thought it just one of those things.
When the strip was found to continue in the other direction, across the west coast near Chester and then on beyond Iceland and through the Canadian tundra, interest turned to concern. A multinational probe was commissioned and work began in the autumn of 2031.
There is, inevitably no record of the events that followed the probe’s impact with the base of the strip that occurred on the 15th March 2032. Earth rupture was so sudden, so catastrophic no agency had any time to record the rapidly unfolding destruction of the planet.
The Mars Establishment Team were the last humans to be able to process what had occurred. They had two hours of utter terror and incomprehension before the first wave of debris from the exploding Earth destroyed the surface of Mars and knocked it out of its orbit. Had Jerome McKay been able to describe what he saw that morning on his Earth Watch monitor it might have been something akin to watching a boiled egg rip its own top off. Needless to say his mind was not focused on a food based analogy just then.

About TanGental

My name is Geoff Le Pard. Once I was a lawyer; now I am a writer. I've published four books - Dead Flies and Sherry Trifle, My Father and Other Liars, Salisbury Square and Buster & Moo. In addition I have published two anthologies of short stories, Life, in a Grain of Sand and Life in a Flash. More will appear soon, including a memoir of my mother's last years. I will try and continue to blog regularly at geofflepard.com about whatever takes my fancy. I hope it does yours too. These are my thoughts and no one else is to blame. If you want to nab anything I post, please acknowledge where it came from.
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30 Responses to Taking The Top Off #writephoto

  1. Ritu says:

    Doesn’t bear thinking of!

    Liked by 1 person

  2. I have no doubt some truth lies between the lines in this story.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. A vividly descriptive piece of writing, Geoff.

    Liked by 1 person

  4. Charli Mills says:

    I like the historical perspectives venturing to the futuristic and then ending with a quirky, “no time for food analogies.” 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

  5. And I thought it would just fall neatly into two halves……… I have NO imagination!! I also admire the fact that an exploding Earth can take out Mars too, I don’t think anyone has ever thought about it from that planets point of view before!

    Liked by 1 person

  6. JT Twissel says:

    A new take on global warming! A frightening one at that.

    Liked by 1 person

  7. Michael says:

    Goodness, it’s a horrible thought though I did like the egg analogy.

    Liked by 1 person

  8. Erika Kind says:

    OMG… I don’t hope this ever happens… but we need to start changing our behavior towards the planned sooner than later!


  9. willowdot21 says:

    Excellent as always!

    Liked by 1 person

  10. Could happen. Hope nothing close, though. 😦 Great take, Geoff. 😀

    Liked by 1 person

  11. Pingback: Photo prompt round-up: Between #writephoto | Sue Vincent's Daily Echo

  12. James says:

    The closest Earth and Mars ever come to each other is 54.6 kilometers or about 34 million miles so debris from Earth would have to be traveling at the whopping clip of 26 million kph or 17 million mph which doesn’t seem quite plausible and even interplanetary space is big enough to make it unlikely that more than a meteor or two from former Earth would eventually hit Mars.

    Sorry, it’s a compelling tale, but my brain works in strange directions.

    Liked by 1 person

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