Gem’s final tour in the world-saving vanguard by Lucy Goldring

Flash Fiction, Punk Noir Magazine

Doubtless an article on the six stages of climate denial had the potential to be a little dry. Gemma could appreciate why Debs had asked her to cook up ‘a super-hot take' – though was less sympathetic to the snorts of laughter that followed her boss’s ‘totes unintentional!’ pun. Their readership, supposedly, were seasoned global warming acceptors. However she presented it, they would enjoy smugging their mugs at the dumb-dumbs who hadn’t yet grasped the threat of annihilation. Yep, no probs, Debs could expect a draft by close of play.


Gemma read the wiki entry, rewarding herself with a slurp of coffee after each section. She wrote ‘what’s my hook?’ and ‘how about different animals?’ before drawing three sets of cock and balls of varying artistry.


Getting in the zone was getting to be a problem. Gemma was swivelling wildly on her chair now, making her signature galloping pony noise. The tongue-pony had only jumped a couple of fences before Jasps from Sponsorship cleared his throat from across the aisle. It didn’t matter; Gem already had something. She mouthed a sheepish ‘sorry’ and set to bashing out her concept.   





You’ve clocked a Climate Denier but just what kind of ignoramus are you dealing with? Unbelievably the climate ostrich still lurks among us. Gemma paused to wonder if an electively immobile creature could be said to ‘lurk’. But just how deep have they stuck their head in the sands of denial? Call them out with the help of our fun music-based guide:  


Are they Fleetwood Mac’ed?
 “Greenhouse gas emissions are not actually increasing.”


‘Tell me lies, tell me sweet little lies,’ The Mac famously implored. Encouraged by a handful of climate crackpots, Trump and his ilk have made it more fashionable than ever to ignore the scientists and deny the data. Altogether now: ‘Close your, close your, close your eyes…’



Yes, this is a solid idea, thought Gemma. Will do verr-ree nicely, in fact. Sure, she would need to develop the intro a bit (the ostrich metaphor was a tad laboured) but check out the alliteration on ‘climate crackpots’ not to mention the neat incorporation of the song’s second refrain. Identifying suitable tracks would be the challenge, but she had two hours and, according to Debs – who approached Google as if she were tossing titbits into a crocodile enclosure – ‘an ingenious way with search terms’.



Are they Simon and Garfunkel’ed? 

“Even if CO2 levels are increasing, there’s no evidence of warming.”


Some deniers still conflate weather and climate, refusing to engage with the bigger picture. Like the much-loved duo they may ask us to look out the window because the ‘leaves are brown and the sky is a hazy shade of winter’. Global warming?? It’s bloody freezing out there!


Are they Billy Joel’ed?

“If global warming’s happening, it’s due to natural causes.”


For a small but significant minority, acceptance stops here. Okay, the planet may be warming but like Bill-Bills says, ‘we didn’t start the fire’. Changes in the climate are just part of the natural cycle. You’ve heard of The Ice Age, yer? 


Are they Gina G.’ed?

“Even if some warming is caused by humans, the changes will be minor.”


A surprising number of people seem to have stalled at this point. So, climate change might be ‘(oo ah) just a little bit’ our fault but it will only involve small incremental changes – so what’s the big deal? We can ad’just a little bit’ (sorry – ed.). 



The piece was sizzling now. Debs would almost certainly declare herself supes-excited while doing her wide-eyed rigor mortis grin. She might even describe Gemma as ‘a real wit’, then Gemma would say ‘you mean a twit with a silent ‘t’?’, because she was amusingly self-deprecating like that.  


Gemma looked out the window and saw an Easyjet ad for £24.99 flights to Ibiza. In the other direction Burger King was promoting a £1.99 Whopper Deal. Her stomach rumbled and her mind emptied, as if shaking off the heft of its contents.


Directly ahead, a group of emos filed into Primark. They looked purposeful but wary – like a murder of crows hopping toward a discarded loaf of bread. With each passing year the memory of her own adolescence, with its standard blend of mindlessness and heartbreak, felt more and more like someone else’s dream.



Are they Roy Ayers’ed?

“Even if the climate warms, we can turn it to our advantage.”


Haven’t you heard?: ‘Everybody loves the sunshine’. What’s more folks get down in the sunshine. Many people accept global warming is real but imagine we’re headed for a tropical paradise.  Gemma tried to tune out the sadness humming in her guts. They seem deaf to the catastrophic impacts that runaway climate change will bring for ALL LIFE ON EARTH – FOR THE VIABILTY OF CIVILISATION. 



The use of caps lock was temporary of course. Just a tactical release of pressure, much like screaming into a cushion. The emos were spilling out of Primark now, laughing and shoving each other in a shy but playful way. Any effort to look pained by twenty-first century existence had been abandoned in-store. The black apparel and facial piercings had been neutralised by a profusion of recyclable beige bags.








The ‘workplace de-stress’ meditation had proven quite effective recently. It was short enough for Gemma to accomplish in the toilet without attracting concern. And, although not exactly calming, it snapped her out of it – like giving a dodgy appliance a hearty thwack.



Are they Bonnie Tyler’ed?

“Yes, global warming will be life-changing but we can adapt, innovate.”

 It’s comforting to think we can work it out as we go along, or ‘hold out for a hero’ in the form of new tech. But where climate’s concerned, Bonnie’s appeal to the gods may be more apt. If we don’t get our house in order ASAP, nothing less than divine intervention will save us from 







Gemma wheeled away from her desk. Supposedly, the charity was all about winning hearts and minds, but here she was clearly losing hers in the process. She recalled that two months into the job, an ex-colleague had talked cryptically about ‘the saturation point’.


What was the point of this self-congratulatory bollocks anyway? Shouldn’t they be encouraging these so-called ‘early adopters’ to fly less or something? She hit save and laughed cheerlessly at the idea of Debs having to hang on ‘oo ah, a little bit more’ for her precious article. The realisation that one of her favourite songs was ruined forever layered on further gloom.


Buddy Holly’s ‘Everyday’ tinkled dismally in Gemma’s ears as she exited the building with no destination in mind.  




As a paid-up vegetarian, Gemma was surprised to find herself sitting on the planet’s least ergonomic bench chomping on a thick, meaty Whopper. The strains of ‘It’s the end of the world of we know it’ assaulted her from above as she took in the lurid environs of the mall. Once upon a time, Gemma had experienced this song as a blast of life-loving abandon. Wedging her greasy burger wrapper into the bin hole – a burning-forest-melting-iceberg-plastic-island montage looping in her head – her sentiments could not have been more opposite.


Before REM there was Bonnie Tyler. Striding towards the lifts, Gem thought back to blasting out ‘Holding out for a Hero’ while Mum and Dad were out shopping. How her and Siobhan would compete to emote that titular line as they threw themselves round the furniture. How, with outstretched arms, they would appeal to Superman to save them from some imaginary menace.


Inside the lift, a bright blue poster advertised the escape rooms on level four. They were recruiting for ‘Game Hosts’. Gemma had heard the pay was rubbish but the benefits were out of this world. She pressed the button and it lit up like a black hole.



Lucy Goldring is a Northerner hiding in Bristol. She has been shortlisted by the National Flash Fiction Day (NFFD), Flash 500, Retreat West and The Propelling Pencil and won Lunate Fiction’s monthly flash competition in 2020. Lucy was nominated for Best Small Fictions 2020 by both NFFD and 100 Word Story. She writes a lot about climate angst while trying not to get overwhelmed by her own. @livingallover