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They say that there’s only three certain things in life; death, taxes and the Weather Forecast.

Of course, the difference is, everyone wants to avoid death and taxes.

Ever since I was a little girl, the Weather Forecast has fascinated me. My earliest memory is being in that crowd, held in my mother’s arms as she leaned in to hear the broadcast clearly. I remember the bustle one day when we heard our building was in the line of a Storm, the furore everyone made as they decided what to take and what to leave- I mean, everybody had always talked about it like they were completely prepared, but when the time came, their lists went out the window. One of our neighbours, utterly panic stricken, took her breadbin and forgot her cat.

We never saw poor Mister Mubsy again, but she kept the breadbin with her until she died.

My fondest memories are of the early morning reports when I was a kid; we’d all push through to the front, all the kids that is, all hoping our schools would be on the list and we’d get to stay home. If it was, we’d all cheer. If it wasn’t, we’d all slink off to our apartments to retrieve our books, and sulk our way to our lessons. The voice of the Weather Forecast held complete power over us; she was like a goddess, deciding our future.

It wasn’t until I was older that I realised how serious it really was, that it meant something more than whether we went to school or not. I was fourteen, and I looked up the history of the Weather Forecast for the first time.

Once upon a time, I learned, there was no certainty in forecasting the weather at all. It was at first nothing more than guesswork, then educated guesswork, based on patterns, but still guesswork all the same. Most people listened to it, but nobody relied on it entirely the way we do now.

When the first Black Storm hit, they thought it was an ordinary storm brewing. High winds, torrential rain, hailstones as big as your fist, that sort of thing.

Poor souls. They didn’t have a chance.

Over half a million people died in that first Storm, and they killed almost half as many again before the survivors figured out how to stop them. They say the affected area is still cursed, and nobody knows how to cure it. They put up walls, hundreds of miles long, and tried to forget.

The second Storm was predicted by a teenage girl from a little town somewhere in the Ukraine. Her prediction, to our modern point of view, was vague and unfocussed, and not everyone believed it. Still, somehow word got out, some people believed and they were prepared. The death toll, while still steep, wasn’t so overwhelming, and they were ready for what followed the Storm. The girl was taken in for study, and soon others like her were found. They were gathered together in camps, trained, focussed. Cultivated. The gene was extrapolated and propagated, so that there would be enough Forecasters to cover the entire world.

Forecasters like me.

The Talent wakes up when you’re about fifteen. That’s when they take you from your family and send you to a Studio. From that point on, every word you utter is recorded, and the Editors put together the Forecast from that and broadcast it to the world. Well, your part of it, at least. Nobody uses the old methods any more- the forecast is based entirely on what we say.

The thing is, I think those early forecasters had something. They looked for patterns, and I see patterns. The Black Storms are growing in number and frequency. Last week, in Utah, everybody had just evacuated from the path of one Storm when another was forecast heading straight for their shelter. They evacuated again, and the same thing happened. Almost like the Storm was following them. Hunting them. It got me wondering, what would we do if there was nowhere to run to?

There’s another Storm coming. Be ready to evacuate.

If you can.

© Kari Fay