Where the Water Flows – Complete Version


Let’s read the future in order to rewrite it
Irene Iris

Chapter 1: The Water Temple

Water is everywhere.

At least, it is now. A century and a half ago, though, the world was suffering through a tremendous shortage of drinking water, while most of the available water was mistreated and wasted. The inexorable water crisis, “day zero”, and the following water wars of the early-2100s made people rethink and revalue water. This is when a new religion was born.

In one of the hotbeds of this religion, a temple was built. It was erected amidst a gargantuan ice field of one of the few glaciers still remaining. Its location was kept secret but sought by many. Only the most devout, most scientifically privy, and most desperate individuals found their way here.

The structure was anchored in ice and put on stabilization gravity pontoons. The pontoons would allow the edifice to move with the cracky glacial mass yet stay in one piece.

The temple was originally set high in the mountains where the glacier took its root. In the long decades, it has moved all so dramatically to the glacier’s very edge. As the glacier advanced and melted into the lake, the temple inevitably approached the end of its days.

The prophecy says, if this temple stands until the 2200th New Year, humankind will have redeemed its sins to be forgiven by the planet. Not all people believe in the religious prophecies, yet they do believe in the science of glacial movement accelerated by global warming – the plague of the previous century humans are still trying to manage. How well – this temple will show on the first day of the New Year. If global warming has been actually slowed down to a desired safe rate, the temple will stand as a proud testimony to this major achievement. If not, it will collapse into the meltwater lake down beneath, along with anyone who will have come here for the New Year’s Mass.

Achiyaku, the local high priestess, is standing on the open terrace that encircles the temple like a life buoy ring and is looking down at the breathtaking crevice in the ice. She cannot but wonder if it has actually grown bigger since yesterday or it’s just her imagination. This slowly-peeling vertical slab of gradient-colored ice is the last thing that falls into the lake before her temple.

Either it is the bitey mountain air that penetrates her turquoise robe made of lotus silk, or the vision of the glacier that gives her chills, but Achiyaku prefers to come back inside – to the place where water dwells in its liquid, most sacred form.

In this temple, water runs through all the matter of things. It runs around the entire premise, enveloping and connecting everything and everyone. In some instances, it is untouchable inside transparent tubes, while in others it can be touched and even walked on.

Even the doors to the temple are made of water. When people step over the sacred threshold, they come through a symbolic purification barrier – the wall of cold, tiny-fraction water vapor cascading down from the frame atop the entrance gate. Cleansing from sins. Purgatory divider.

Once cleansed, the rare, privileged visitors enter a large hall with an oculus on the rooftop. The oculus allows the sunlight to pour into the inner space and descend right onto the main altar.

The altar is performed in the shape of a round fountain about three meters in diameter. Its translucent hemispherical glass cup has a protruding stand in the center. Water is slowly oozing up and silently out of this pipe that ends in a nozzle with curved edges carefully cradling a multicolor spherical gemstone. It slowly rotates on the cushion of moving water. Twenty centimeters in diameter and heavy with its impressive might, the sodalite sphere rotates fluidly on the water pillow beneath it. The gem bears an immediate and striking resemblance to something familiar to every earthling. The Earth. The central deity in the global religion. Mother Nature. Gaia. The Goddess. The blue-green world.

The sun is at its zenith. The water chalice is lit.

Achiyaku knows it is her time to enter the scene and preach to the ones who have found a way to her temple and want to find a way into a sustainable future. Many who come, stay and become monks. 

The priestess’s name of ancient Quechua origin means “сlearluminous water”. Achiyaku’s mission here on Earth is important – she is an intermediary between people and the planet in the critical century, decade, and the very year that would determine whether the world is going to end or start anew.

The priestess is going to recite from the modern Bible – the Book of Water, extracts from Water Genesis, First Apocalypse, and Regeneration. She comes to the altar, submerges her fingers in the holy altar water, closes her eyes, and preaches:

Water is everywhere. Forever and ever. Since the dawn of time. A universal solvent for stardust. Life dawned in water. Life came from water. And water was life. Water was in all life. It was in every living cell. Every living organism needed water. Forever and ever. And the water was clean, and the water was plenty. […] Then came the human, using and abusing water. Water sustained the human yet the human did not sustain water. Water became filthy, as filthy as the human. Then came big water. In floods, rising seas, tsunamis, hurricanes, and pouring rains the water spoke. And then in droughts, famines, and dust storms it was silent. It taught humans the lesson – the lesson of water, the lesson of life. Water spoke, and the human finally heard. […] And the human became water, one with water, respecting water. The human learned to talk to Earth through water… Forever and ever.

Following the priestess’s voice, people stand in the circle around the altar chalice, close their eyes, and do a collective prayer. Then, each one comes, dips a small cup into the pool and drinks from it. The act of communion. Aside from the symbolic meaning, it practically helps keep the level of the water down, never allowing it to pour over the edge. Yet, Achiyaku knows tomorrow they will all witness something extraordinary, as no one will be allowed to drink from the cup of life…

Tomorrow is an important day – what common people call the New Year and what Achiyaku calls the Judgment Day.


Chapter 2: The Learning

“Water is everywhere…”

Teacher Kabilibili lectures to a group of children aged 4 to 6 sitting on hand-woven banana stem rugs in the all-embracing, refreshing shadow of a gigantic tree.

“…It runs through all the things, living and inanimate, bearing their information traces. The river remembers where it was born. The blood in your body has water that remembers who you are. Water is everywhere, like a universal language. That is how we can read water and communicate via it. Abeba, please proceed reading your sample…”

“I see the reflections of people who stand in a circle around this water, like we sit in a circle right now. And they are calm and happy. So is the water…This is Holy Water,” states a five-year-old child, opening her amber eyes and taking her little fingers off the water tablet.

“Correct,” confirms the teacher, smiling.

“But… Isn’t all water – holy?” suddenly requests a boy sitting nearby.

“That is a good question!” says the teacher. “Yes, it is. Perhaps then, one should use different words. Such as, ‘temple water’ or ‘preached-upon water’… Alright, who’s next to tell their water story?”

Children start speaking out the visions water gives them. Japanese pond. Coral reef. Running mountain rivulet…

After an hour-long class, the teacher checks his water powered wrist watch.

“Ok, I think the time has come for a little lunch break. What do your biological clocks say?”

All children put down the water tablets, jump to their feet, and run to the permaculture garden encircling the open-air classroom.

A boy with red hair snatches a black plum fruit off the tree branch and starts eating it. Doing so, he sees the little girl Abeba expose her face and arms to the sunrays. He snorts.

“How can one eat the sun?” he asks, sceptically. “Don’t you feel hungry in the stomach?”

The teacher has to interfere:

“Ok, ok, we are in an inclusive classroom. Don’t fall victim to eatism, please. There are various kinds of people: vegetarians, vegans, raw-eaters, and sun-eaters. They are all good people. Now, Lwazi, what did we learn yesterday from the visit to the Garden?”

“The CO2-to-O2 Story? But it was about the trees and veggies!” says Lwazi, confused.

“Not only. Just imagine,” the teacher comes closer to Lwazi, “plants use water and sunlight in magical, transformative ways! Water molecules lose electrons, while carbon dioxide gains electrons. Water becomes the oxygen we breathe, and carbon dioxide becomes the glucose that we eat. The tree procures by transforming light into carbon fuel. By eating its fruit, we turn it into energy that runs our bodies… But we can also eat the sun just like we are drinking water! Our bodies are big trees. So, Lwazi, why don’t you ask a less biased question on what really interests you?”

The boy frowns for a second, then looks at the little girl sitting in the orb of nutritious light.

“What does the sun taste like?”Lwazi asks, modestly this time.

“It’s warm,” simply responds the girl, opening just one eye and smiling crookedly.

The boy smiles back, finishing the last bit of his plum. Next thing he does is dig a little hole in the soil with his bare hands and put the fruit core there.

After a fresh, fruity and sunny break, the kids one by one come to “Mister Dew” – a unit that collects water from the humidity in the air. All fill their coconut shell cups and take a fulfilling, life-giving gulp.

Kabilibili sits down resting his back against the mighty tree trunk and smiles to himself. He is proud – of his students, of this place. He is also proud of being the follower of Yacouba Sawadogo, scientifically referred to as one of the agroforestry pioneers but more commonly known as the man who stopped the desert. Initially considered a lunatic, this man managed to turn the African desert into a forest, literally. He was among the first to speak the language of water. He knew how to use water to turn dust and sand into a paradise. All he used was a stick to make holes, some manure, the seeds, and termite labor. The termites made the soil porous, so that it could absorb the rare rainfall water much better. More water meant better growth of the trees from the seeds. The bigger the trees, the more the shadow. The more the shadow, the less evaporation and soil degradation. 

In the first forty years of his effort alone, Yacouba Sawadogo planted 25 hectares of trees. One of them is said to be still alive. It is in its shadow that these children have their classes. The smaller, integrated fruit forest is still young – the one planted by their teacher whose name means “green vegetation”. Kabilibili was an adept of Yacouba’s tree-planting religion, where the knowledge of water played a crucial role. Someday in the future, his trees will also be big enough to give shadow. If there will be the future, that is.


Chapter 3: The Garden

Water is everywhere…

In the air, in the soil, in the roots and leaves of the greenery, in the hydroponic tubes.

On the periphery of the Garden complex, gigantic circular fields rest. They, in turn, embrace the smaller inner concentric circles of mixed fruit tree gardens that hold a diamond at the center – the shiny hemisphere of the Hydroponic Greenhouse.

Most of the outer open fields are planted with barley, cassava, corn and other cultures used to produce biodegradable packaging – an alternative to old-world plastic. One of the tipping points was when, in 2023, humans detected microplastics in the clouds above Mount Fuji. It was one of the first eye-opening events in the chain leading to the eventual ban on the production of plastic that, even centuries after, still plagues the environment in the form of lose ancient plastic waste and microparticles. Nowadays, plastic is substituted by what was once called the agricultural residuals. These “residuals” also fertilize the fields and power the heavy machinery.

The crops in some of the fields are already harvested. Around some, wild animals roam freely. A little bio-fueled open-top “touristractor” with a single trailer car is driving through all this biodiversity.

“Uh… Sir, there are horses grazing in your fields!” comments one of the touristractor passengers, looking astounded.

“Yep. Those are Brumbies,” replies the tractor driver, a suntanned and weather-worn stout man, without even bothering to look.

“Should they be here?” asks the other man, twisting his neck.

“Well, no. They are not endemic animals. They were imported here with the European settlers in the pre-water times.”

“No, I mean, in your fields!”

“Why not? Humans don’t have an exclusive right to life on this earth, you know. Besides, the animals pick whatever harvest is left behind. In return, they fertilize the land for more to grow… I don’t see why not…” says the tractor driver and looks suspiciously at the two passengers in expensive linen business suits. “School children are frequent guests here, but big city corporate bosses… Never in my memory!”

“Yeah, the management board decided that I, as the new boss of the water and land management corporation residing in a high-rise office, am too detached from the ground,” explains the guy slightly acidly.

“Well, those people are kinda right,” points out the farmer. “What is your name and the name of your corporation again?”

The two men exchange looks. This part usually goes uneasy with the ground-level “commoners”.

“Jack Waterson. Groundwater and Agri-Co,” says the man in a suit direly. “And that’s my assistant, Conway.”

“Oh,” replies the driver and sighs.

“Yeah, I get that a lot,” nods Waterson.

“What would you expect, being the heir of the renamed corporation run by one of the richest families in the black gold era who helped destroy the planet by promoting and profiting from the fossil fuel industry? Your ancestors are basically the devil in the new Water religion!”

The two “suits” look uneasy and uncomfortable, being extra sensitive towards the slow-speed tractor vibration.

“Sorry guys, the ride on the actual ground is bumpier than the ride on thin air your fancy city cars do,” laughs the driver.

At this point, the tractor approaches the entrance to the Hydroponic Greenhouse. Waterson catches a glimpse of an eco-commercial infographics. The ad shows a beautiful prehistoric tree, with a timeline of its life measuring a couple hundred years. The next phase shows it being fossilized, with a time marker of a few millions of years. Then, an image of a plastic bottle pops up, with a timestamp “1 day”. Ultimately, the same bottle is shown floating in the ocean, with a marker “200 years, and still pending.” The following sequence shows a pineapple, six months old, its crown being cut and disposed of to be recycled into a compostable plate, used for 1 day, and, when buried in the soil, the seeds compressed in its fabric germinate to give new life. The label says, “Endless life, still pending”. This close, the images and digits on the hemispherical dome screen look crushingly big. Waterson drops his eyes as the tractor enters the Greenhouse.

Unlike the outer, open-air circles of the vegetation planted and growing in soil, the internal garden grows in the air – on transparent tube columns. All imaginable kinds of edible plants are growing here intensely intertangled yet in harmony, creating an elaborate ecosystem that can feed thousands. One can hear pollinating insects fill the air with a busy buzz. Prospering from the perfect year-round climate conditions of Australia, The Garden serves to cover the nutri-needs of the remaining infertile regions and slower-developing nation-states, along with meeting the global educational needs in naturology, sustainability, environmental ethics, agritourism and similar disciplines. Yet still, it is more of an Agrinature Museum than a farm. People nowadays are used to producing almost everything they need locally – in their villages, in their apartments.

“Stop, stop!” suddenly shouts Waterson, making the tractor driver hit the brakes.

The vehicle stops with a jolt, throwing both businessmen forwards in their cart. Steadying himself with the help of both his hands, Waterson then slides from the tractor to step on something he has never experienced before. Something that remembers the traces of his footprint, as if he were some astronaut on the Moon, and puff-billows in the air to finally settle atop his muskin leather shoe. The man squats and makes a trace on his Oxfords with his index finger, then takes a handful of dust and starts examining it.

The tractor driver is observing the scene for a long minute from his seat, then asks, sceptically.

“Why, you city boys never seen dust?”

“We do not have exposed dead areas like this, anywhere,” the businessman replies, sounding puzzled. “All walkways are either paved with thirsty concrete or covered with walk-resistant grass… but this…”

The businessman pulls a refillable bottle of water out of his pocket, unscrews it, and pours some of the liquid onto the dusty pathway. Bewildered, both city dwellers stare at the water, expecting it to be quickly absorbed by the dry thirsty soil… Only this is not happening. The water stays on the surface, ballooning at the edges and coating in a thin dust film.

The tractor driver starts to laugh loudly.

“You’ve just ruined water for nothing. The earth will not take it,” he says, knowingly. “Dust is dead soil. In the age of industrial agriculture, it fell victim to extreme erosion and was abandoned. That’s the mistake many farmers of the previous century made when tilling the soil and killing its microbiome with chemical fertilizers and pesticides.”

“What’s tilling?” the second businessman frowns.

“It’s an archaism. Sorry for my professional slang,” says the farmer and with a hand gesture invites both men back in, keeping the lecture talk as they proceed. “Little did the people back then knew – or cared – that damaging the soil was equally as important a contributing factor to climate change as fossil fuel burning. As soil dies and turns into dust, it releases carbon dioxide and water back into the air… And water in the air is what? Correct, another greenhouse gas… By damaging the soil, people damaged the natural small water cycles. Bare soils heated more. The results were dire. Sand storms, heat waves, less rainfall, famines, spreading dead areas… A vicious circle…”

Hardly listening, Jack Waterson tries in vain to remove dust off his hands and face, thanking destiny he was not born a century ago, when life resembled the end of the world and the world resembled the end of life. Inevitably, his mind drifts off to the anecdotal prophecy of the New Year. The man cannot but wonder if the wheel of fortune will spin back off balance… If today really is the last day of paradise on Earth?


Chapter 4: The Ocean Grave

Water is everywhere…

Samudra’s mind becomes flooded by this single thought, as he is staring at the vastness of the ocean all around him. He was named after this vastness.

People would normally come to the graves of their ancestors. Samudra has come to the grave of his ancestors’ land – the entire island chain of what was once called the Maldives and now lies buried underwater. Samudra’s nation became one of the first climate migrants in modern human history. By the 2100s, the rising sea level made his people flee and seek refuge with other world nations. Yet, even a hundred years later, the new generations still come here on the last day of the year.

Samudra stands in his boat, moved by the scene but not the ocean. His motorless catamaran is not touching the holy water’s surface. It is gliding on thin air above, powered by ether – the long-banned element now reintroduced to the Mendeleev table. According to the Convention of Non-Interference signed by all world leaders in 2101, human transportation means are supposed to leave a minimal ecological footprint. That’s where humans now stand. That’s where Samudra is standing right now, in his air floating boat.

The man bends overboard and touches the ocean. Even though water took away everything his people had had – his homeland – he is not mad. He worships water, like most of the people of the twenty-second century. There are almost no atheists left. Like there is no polytheism left. Everyone believes in one and the same Goddess that gives life and takes it…

As he touches the water fabric and attunes himself via a meditation humming prayer, the man becomes one with the entire ocean. He can see and remember what this ocean remembers, since the dawn of life in it. Samudra retrieves the chapter of the water library dating back a century or so, when the islands of the Maldives were still standing. He opens his eyes, while still maintaining contact with the water surface, and sees them, like a chrono-mirage.

Long minutes pass in retrospection.

Yet, while there is a time to look back, there is also a time to look forward. Samudra turns around to face the future of his nation. He has to squint and shield his eyes from the reflections of the setting sun in the facets of the enormous glass bubble. By three-quarters, the bubble is submerged into the ocean, with only the top visible above the surface. This sphere, made with hexagonal faceted glass panels and surrounded by the floating islands, is his nation’s new home. The New Maldives. Artificial. Recreated. Reimagined.

Such floating city spheres now substitute many sunken islands in the world ocean.

Thirsty under the merciless sun, Samudra reaches out for the cooler. He grabs one of the transparent water blobs, peels off the biodegradable shell made of seaweed, and teases the gelatinous bulb in his palm for a long second. Then, before putting it into his mouth, he holds it before his eyes, at the exact level that it becomes superimposed with the floating city on the horizon. Right now, he feels like he is holding the entire planet in his two fingers.

The buoyant ocean city would be the safest place on Earth in case the new phase of global cataclysms strikes. Notwithstanding, Samudra has another place in mind for the celebration of tomorrow – the historical moment that will either be the end of human civilization or the reclamation of the human right to inhabit this planet.

“Goodbye, great-grands,” whispers Samudra to the water grave. “Tomorrow, I may join you in the great beyond, if Mother Gaia wishes so.”

With eyes watery from memories and sun glitter, Samudra steers his boat towards the nearest Hyperloop port.


Chapter 5: The City Jungle

Water is everywhere.

It wraps the city. It is hard to say what composes the bulk of the cityscape – concrete, steel, glass, or vegetation. The Glass-and-Grass concept of the city. With walls made of living and growing plants, the skyscrapers resemble gigantic Jack’s beanstalks, connecting the ground with the place where water dwells in its gaseous state until condensing into a rainfall. Some of the building tops are lost in the mist this living bio-city generates, cocooned in its own naturally regulated microclimate. Everyone and everything breathes here – buildings, plants, people…

Jack Waterson inhales deeply and loudly. He gazes absentmindedly through the augmented reality windshield as the autopilot is lazily maneuvering his car in the city traffic. The highways are drowning in the mist that usually coats the city jungle around sunsets and sunrises. After the on-the-ground tractor drive, a couple hours in the Hyperloop line connecting Australia and North America and now an hour in a self-driving car seem like hovering in sweet nothingness. The visual music record plays in the air, bringing to life the lines of the retro track “Imagine” by Someone Lennon. The man was a visionary, yet even 200 years later we are still not quite there, thinks Jack and sighs. I wonder if tomorrow’s doomsday prophecy cuts humanity’s plans to get there someday…

Habitually, the young billionaire connects with his fingertips to the Waternet in his car and checks the water index in the stock market. Rising. Ever rising. The most valuable asset in the world, and he is lucky to have inherited a huge share of this new, blue gold. His gold is safely deposited deep underground, in natural banks called aquifers…

Suddenly feeling guilty of his riches, Waterson closes his eyes.

He cannot fathom how people from the past could live in the world where they depleted the non-renewable fossil fuel resources, burnt them, breathed in the fumes and greenhoused the planet, in a vicious self-imposed anthropo-natural cycle… What were they thinking? How could it happen that cars were initially electric, but somehow his great-grandfathers ended up with the oil- and coal-fueled global warming apocalypse on the wheels?

Internal combustion engines are relics of the past and outlaws now, substituted by the new species of vehicles. With the latter, the only pollution they still cause is sound pollution. One can hear their distinctive electronic buzz as they glide by. Some models always come in one color, black – their entire surface is covered in paint that performs like solar panels. Then there are the ether-powered ones, they are the most noiseless and smooth. The most widespread are bio-fuel driven cars. All vehicles have the retractable four-traction wheels they use mostly for land-based routes for in-city movement, switching to hover mode for more mobility, as well as in wildlife areas and green zones with the zero-footprint requirement.

In the meantime, Waterson’s self-piloted two-seater Etherean passes by the water animation theater with a 3D poster of a running water man – a subtle reminder we are 70 percent water… Water…

When finally home, Waterson looks at himself in the watercrystal interactive bathroom mirror. The businessman’s complexion looks pale and dirty. Frantically, he splashes a handful of tap water all over his dusty face and starts rubbing vigorously with the luffa sponge. Watching dirty water going down the drain and pure one pouring out of the tap hose, he sees the hydroloop at work. Used water is to be purified and stored for future reuse in this household’s water treatment no-sewage system. How else? How could it be that two centuries ago, people dirtied clean water and then simply dumped it into the rivers and lakes, from where they then took water for drinking? A vicious circle instead of a sustainable loop…

By observing the filthy contents disappear from the sink, the man sees the sad legacy of his great-grandfathers. Dusty lands and dirty water. Both went down the drain. 

He just cannot live with the blame of dust on his face, forever. If recycled water cannot wash it off, perhaps the holy one will…


Chapter Six: The Judgment Day

Water is everywhere.

Everywhere the eye can see – from mountain to mountain, from the vantage point to the horizon.

For the most part, it is solid, frozen. Thousands of years of history, compressed in glacial ice and once almost lost. Like two mountain rivulets, two thin ether-suspension rope bridges connect the opposing slopes with the edifice at the glacier’s cutting edge – the Temple. From a distance, it looks like the temple is levitating in the act of centuries-long meditation over the abyss, trying to conquer death… or bring back the lost time.

At the temple gate, a man is standing, neck-craned, eyes closed, face towards the cascading wall of water droplets that freeze midway through thin mountain air and end up being iridescent ice particles spraying the man’s face and shoulders. Two more men pass by, one of them – obviously originating from a warmer place – is desperately trying to find comfort in his recycled fiber parka.

Ultimately, everyone is cleansed, barefoot, and in for the most important Mass of the century…

The temple is empty, except for a few devout monks and these three new pilgrims. Each had their own reasons for being here on the Judgment New Year’s Day. One came because he has faith in the new generation he helps educate in line with the principles of eco-consciousness. One came to greet the new era when no island will sink again. The third one came to redeem the ancestral sins. All of them have their lives to cherish and lose, each led by the respective history of the lives of generations before them.

As the sun approaches midday, the water in the sacred sunlit cup of life is coming dangerously close to the edge. One drop-worth can overflow the cup.

The colorless, tasteless, odorless liquid slowly comes up to lick the curved chalice’s edges. For the first time in decades, it is being let to flow over. Free, the water breaks loose and floods the floor. As if having the consciousness of its own, it crawls all over the place, approaching the people’s toes. At the moment of contact, something divine occurs. The creator meets the creation.

The high priestess walks on the water and speaks out:

“On the New Year’s threshold, don’t ask the future for yourself from the planet. Ask it from your ancestors. If you could speak through water and through time, what would you say to your great-grandparents?”

And all the people at the Mass manifest one clear thought each, and then speak it out. The water hears all those mental and sound vibrations, recording them like a phonograph. And thoughts become fluid, and words become liquid. The currents of water become the currents of wishes and manifestations. Water becomes a multi-voice:

Please stop turning land into dust and water into dirt.

Please plant more trees, cut them not.

Please stop before lands sink and you have climate refugees knocking at your door.

Please learn to read water and hear what the planet says.

In the moment of catharsis, somewhere below, under the waterlogged floor, a loud crack reverberates through ice…


No one knows where the water in the temple comes from and where it flows after. Some believe it is timeless and placeless. Perhaps, somewhere, sometime, someone will be able to encounter and read this water, for the end of this human story is written in the water language. If only someone in the distant past learned to read water sooner. If only someone could connect with water and see the visions of the future to start the change on time… That would give the glacier an extra mile to stand, if only the humans of the past agreed for an extra mile to go in saving it. Saving the planet. Saving the future…


Copyright ©️ 2024 Iryna Dihtiarova-Deslypper.  All rights reserved.

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