In the future, there are the rich.
The rich are spoiled people. The rich are cheap people, and the rich are childish people.
But when the war began, the rich all moved to the island, where it was safe. They did not worry, they did not need to think about the animal experiments, or the wide spread floods, or the atomic weaponry being fired. All they needed to do was sit on their beaches with their robots, serving as their guards and as their servants. Some robots were meant for deep sea diving so that the rich could have more clams for dinner, and some were meant to look like celebrities from a time before, meant to entertain their masters. And in the end, when atomic fire rained down from the sky, when the world was flooded, and when years of human history sank along with the machines of war and the toxic sludge, the rich still survived on their slightly tinier island, eating their sea food and watching their robots dance and sing like the dead celebrities they were based on. Eventually though, the rich would understand the true price for their survival.
It started simple enough. A few divers would go missing, a bone or two would wash on shore. The rich would send their machines to investigate, but the investigation only led to even fewer robots, the ones they sent never returning. When the corpse of something washed up on the shores of the little tiny island, the rich would finally understand what was happening.
And the rich knew fear.
The sludge, the filthy sludge that ran through the veins of the war machines, seeped out into the ocean, and had a nasty effect on the sea creatures. It changed them, made them larger, and made them much more aggressive, and made them more terrifying to look at. No two creatures were the same, but all were violent, and all were clever, for fish. They grew more violent, and more clever, and more monstrous over time. Perhaps that cleverness became their most frightening feature. At night, you could hear women crying for help far from shore, or see a person’s outline waving for assistance far at sea. It was unwise to go near those siren calls. Always hungry, the monsters feasted on whatever they could. The rich, along with every other thing in the sea, were a target.
For now, the rich are still here. They are spoiled people, they are cheap people, and they are childish people. But they are also scared people, and they are a dying people, effectively separated from whatever human life is beyond their island.
That is the end of their story, but there is more to tell.
Farther out at sea, there is one other island that pokes out of the endless blue. There are no people on this island, though for whoever might be on the open ocean, be they a hunter or a survivor or even something as foolish as an artist, it serves as a landmark. Just a few trees, nothing more, nothing less. It’s what’s under the water, near this island, that is the most peculiar.
Many years after the war, after the filthy sludge of the war machines settled to the sea floor, far from the rich, all that remained were the sea creatures of the coral reef. Colorful fish, small fish. The ooze they swam through now began to change that. Unlike their counterparts near the island of the rich, the fish near the island of the trees did not grow.
They swam towards the sunken cities, not just for food or for shelter, but for something else. Something they didn’t understand, something they couldn’t properly comprehend yet. They just swam there, not thinking about it, they were fish after all. But eventually, as more ooze and sludge coated them, as years upon years passed them, as more and more fish came to the cities and the towns and whatever other human creations they could find, it finally clicked.
Like man first realizing their own consciousness, like peeking into the eye of God, the fish thought. They could think, and they saw that they were living in a world that was beyond them. They worshiped the statues of historical figures like they were deities, and as their bodies finally began shifting, turning fins into arms and sprouting legs, they studied the machines of the sunken cities and learned from them.
But could you truly call the fish wrong for worshiping the humans? Even AI survived the flood, and even AI can grow a conscious over time. Miniature robots based on super heroes, meant to be toys for real children, could now be superheroes to the fish people. A hologram for a pirate play set could now be a spirit, haunting the sea. The experiments of humans, living animals that escaped into the ocean after the war were prophets, bringing the knowledge of the human gods to them.
Some fish would take to the weapons, study them, become war like, and leave the cities to make conquest on whatever they could.
Some fish would continue to consume the “goo” of the war machines instead, mutating even more so, being seen as demigods by others, worthy of ruling over them.
Some fish studied the technology, computers, robots, and other devices of the humans. Like their human counterparts, the power that these machines gave them would prove to be a dangerous force.
In the future, there are the rich. The rich are spoiled fish, the rich a cheap fish, and the rich are childish fish. They would make their human counterparts proud, if their human counterparts weren’t separated from them by monsters.
Other, more peaceful creatures, studied the civilization of their gods. They would see the rags on the skeletons of humans, and wear rags themselves. They would see cars and boats, and try to make their own transportation devices. They would study the buildings, create their own versions of them, and learn what each building was meant for and how to properly use it.
Of course, being fish, there wasn’t always much to work with. Usually, a rock or a pineapple would work fine enough for a home, though.