A cliff by the sea is where I stand. On the unkempt wild grasses where our forefathers stood for centuries with the salty breeze in their nostrils. It is in my nostrils too. And the gulls that circled their ruffled skulls, feathery offspring now circle mine. I scramble down the broken stone and chiselled lime onto the shore, the palms of my hands pressing against the icy, wet soil. Crushing ancient insects, compacting fossils beneath the crust by a fraction of an inch. And upon the shore the pebbles grind beneath my feet, chipping dust and reducing those huge boulders of my ancestors by another trillionth of an inch. This coast recoils inward as each rock becomes a pebble and each crag turns to a pile of rocks. It’s as if our great isle is shrinking into its shell. But it suddenly struck me that this has not been one continuum, one age-long retraction. Not at all. For those forefathers asked a contrasting question to mine. Saluting the misty grey-blue horizon, their words were, ‘What does the future hold, my Lord?’ That question is no longer valid under natural skies. No. The question I have for the gulls crying in my ears. For the wet soil under my fingernails. The salty sting in my nostrils. The question is, ‘How long do we have left, digiGod?’
The weather is turning, and murderous black clouds are gathering above me. The gulls are seeking shelter within the cliff face, and I must too. I have romantic notions of a cave and a smoking pit with cooked meats hung upon licking flames. Or a small thatched cottage beyond a knoll with a huge stove of seaweed soup nestled in coals. Mmm, the taste of primitive. But the white device in my pocket is charged. Its coordinates recorded. Petrol. Ignition. Unlock. Hot shower. Plugged in. Curled up. It would be silly to sleep in a draughty cave.
A cliff by the sea is where I stood. But my footprints are no longer there. No. They’re…
Where no fossils cast.