We Failed This Planet (Sunday Scribbles Fail) #sunscribbles #shortstory

Welcome to Sunday Scribbles!

A very short story this week about an angry planet that fights back, based on the #sunscribbles Twitter prompt, Fail. (Title based on the TV show, Arrow: ‘You have failed this city!’)

We Failed This Planet

Short Story We Failed This Planet

In the days before the incident I was no eco-warrior, but I wasn’t a bad person. I re-used plastic bottles. I grew my own vegetables. I didn’t litter. I cycled when I could. I had solar panels and scribbled my poems in recycled notebooks. I cared about the planet.

But the planet didn’t care about me. It didn’t discriminate when it came to failure. No matter how mild my offences were, compared to those who drove their gas guzzlers and cut down forests, we were all punished the same way. We tortured the planet, and now the planet’s fighting back.

Trees, once static and tall, roam what’s left of the Earth and strangle those who get too close. The volcanoes erupted as one. Molten lava spewed over farms, villages and cities, and the ocean? It rose up in colossal waves and submerged every low lying piece of land.

We can’t seek salvation atop the mountains, now lush with far more greenery than even before we destroyed the rain-forests. Bears, wolves, apes, and other mammals roam, and the strongest trees guard the bases of every hill. Our guns can’t damage their mighty trunks.

We can’t live underwater. The technology that would’ve enabled us to build a base below the sea is gone, and even if it weren’t the waters are overflowing with predators and prey alike. The fish have taken back their kingdom, and they swim freely around our submerged cities. We can’t go underground either. The earth itself would suffocate us in its quest for vengeance.

So we do the only thing we can do: Scavenge supplies and travel, by boat, to the tips of buildings peeking out from beneath the depths of the new oceans. Atop the once skyscrapers, remnants of proud cities, we build colonies and extend bridges from building to building.

Settled on the edge of the shortest skyscraper, toes skimming the water lapping against the walls, I daydream of the past. When I was as young as the children playing with tin cans in the concrete rooftop garden of our colony, I ran through sprawling fields chasing a ball without a care in the world. By the time they’re as old as me, they may not remember such fields existed.

I envy those around me, though, who started families before this began. They have each other: All I have is a tatty recycled notebook and what’s left of my dreams. Still, without the skills I’d learned in my busy career as a surgeon, the reason I’d delayed settling down, I’d have been abandoned long ago. In this new world, most of those over fifty are considered a liability.

Maybe we’ll rebuild, and I’ll meet someone to start a new life with in this new world, but humanity’s been set back centuries. Tidal waves, volcanoes and rising sea levels destroyed our proud civilisation. No one knows what the future holds: If they’ll be more consequences for our failure to protect the planet. Some days I’m not sure I want to be around long enough to find out.

I used to write poetry about the end of the world, scribbled in every spare moment I found on the commute to the hospital, but it never ended like this. It seems we truly are destined to end not with a bang, but with a whimper. We’d failed the planet, but it hadn’t failed in its revenge.

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Thanks for reading!

This was inspired by a university writing exercise which challenged us to think about our character’s relationship with the world, other people, themselves, their memories, and their expectations for the future. I think we were meant to focus on life writing, but somehow mine became an end of the world story with magical elements!

Sunscribbles prompt 24th november fail

Hashtag game details: Sunday Scribbles Prompts
Past stories: Sunday Scribbles Short Stories

Share lines with #sunscribbles every week on Twitter, or write a short story based around the prompt and share a blog link.

Next week? My monthly updates post, where I’ll talk about my first week back at university, and Merlin’s not so pleased reactions to my studying!


  1. I really like this. It is dark and realistic. There are rising sea levels. Climate change is exacerbating fires. And storms and droughts are all over. This is caused by overconsumption of resources and the world is suffering. It’s sad and awful. Yet, it is worsening. And your story reflects how nature would react if it were to unleash its full power – if it were like a powerful magic force.

    Excellent imagery. Nice use of showing vs. telling. Effective use of 1st person POV. I like your prose too.

    I was surprised to see the dark ending to this one given that you like happy endings. But I also saw your comment above about writing a happy ending if you continue this. 🙂 So, I look forward to seeing what you do next with this one.

    Louise, your stories are excellent. You are awesome. You rock!

    Liked by 1 person

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