3 Once upon a time
There was one trip to the Arctic that was more dangerous than I had anticipated.
I went with a group of environmental scientists who were measuring climate change. They had a hunch (since confirmed) that the poles were warming more quickly than the rest of the planet because they are cooler to begin with. There is nothing difficult about this thought, in itself. However, the meat of the issue is found when the amount of warming is measured. It’s even more than you might expect, apparently. This is due to feedback caused by ice removal.
We upset some people. I won’t tell you which country, because the people we upset are still very sensitive and they are very capable. They had a big boat and were prepared to kill us. Fortunately, we hadn’t found anything that they wanted to keep secret. We lost all our data, and were sent back to port.
It was exciting afterwards, but not at the time. I’m scared to write about it because it wasn’t a nice experience. So, I’m just going to move straight on with this novel, and forget that boat ever existed. My story begins in downtown Southampton in the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland. I am in a standard shopping mall.
Except nowhere is entirely standard. National chains tend to rent shop space in malls because it is convenient for them, and there is a certain guarantee of “footfall”. But each mall needs to do its best to distinguish itself from the local opposition. In the UK at the time of writing there are still high streets, for example, but they are fading fast.
This mall has a major department store, which has a cafe at the top, from where one can look out across the port to the national park beyond.