Cities in Time by Rosemary Smith
My breath came in ragged gasps. Sweat beaded my forehead and I felt as though an axe was 
about to be lodged into my brain. Terror swept over me as a deep, urgent voice came through 
the gathering darkness. But what was it telling me? It was important. I knew that, but somehow 
the sounds were muffled. I needed to listen; listen closely, concentrate, concentrate. Dare to 
look.
Slowly my eyes opened, terror fading, as lightness grew and a wonderful feeling of flight and 
weightlessness seeped into my body. I swooped effortlessly, smiling. Now I’d see the view 
from Mount Everest – this was the only time I’d ever do that! I was high above Earth, looking 
down from space. But it was an Earth I didn’t quite recognise. Flying closer, I searched for the 
horizons of outlines I knew from my old geography books. I thought I could see what looked
vaguely like Britain. Evening was setting in so where were the lights of London, Manchester
or Glasgow? Further West still, USA, Japan, New Zealand and Australia yet few signs of New 
York, Tokyo, Auckland or Sydney. 
Panic began to seep through me. Where was I? Where coastlines should have been, now vast 
swathes of ocean swirled over blackened ruins of city skylines that rose eerily above the 
waves. No people remained. All had seemingly vanished into watery depths. But wait, what 
was that tiny flickering light far off in the distance? Approaching closer, men, women and 
children were sitting cross legged around a small fire. I called out a greeting, but it remained 
unheard. They were thin, naked and dark skinned, their features seemingly Aboriginal in 
appearance. Darkness began to grey into dawn. What had happened to civilisation as I knew 
it? Was I looking backwards or forwards in time? After all, Aboriginal groups had survived over
thousands of years, elders passing on survival knowledge from generation to generation. So 
was this a glimpse of a past, or of a future where most of us had failed and fallen into the utter 
desolation that I’d seen below me?
Consciousness began to return. I felt dizzy and sick. Where was I, which reality was I in? The 
hum of an aircraft overhead, a truck rumbling by and the clank of breakfast dishes heralded 
that all was well after all. But what had I just seen in such vivid imagery? What was reality after 
all? Now the memory of that first voice in the darkness was returning:
"You are but a speck in the vast endless Universe. Live your life in harmony and 
kindness to each other in both deed and word. Care for each other and most of all for 
your precious land. I have shown you the alternative, a “before and an after”, a “was
and a will be”: obliteration or survival, peace and happiness……The choice is yours."

March 2023

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