Author: Julian Miles, Staff Writer

There’s a broken statue back against the wall, head and arms missing. Some humourist planted the arms in a nearby flowerpot, mossy hands up like odd blooms. There’s no sign of the head.
Headless… It’s strangely apt for this sodden remnant. England was a little place. Biggest part of an island close to Federat, back when it was called Europe. Before that, it was the seat of some pirate empire. Still holds the record for nearly conquering the world, apparently.
The Sundown War did this place no favours. Nobody predicted the tectonic consequences of a major nuclear exchange. Even now, they’re still studying the minutiae of the effects, trying to define the cause. If the remaining pieces of the nuclear powers were honest, they’d admit most of their budget is being spent on it. They don’t like their terror weapons being too dangerous to use.
The remaining sane people note those same powers didn’t consider the predicted results of nuclear war enough to not use their arsenals. No, it took the fracturing of a tectonic plate, swarms of earthquakes, and worldwide devastation to make them hesitate.
The Uluru Islands are doing surprisingly well, all told. The indigenous tribes have adapted well to the sudden loss of the coastal provinces that comprised Australia as the rest of the world knew it.
The risen Rotorua is likely to become habitable soon, too. Should relieve the overcrowding around Wellington nicely.
“Monty, you with us?”
I wasn’t, but am now.
“Where we goin’?”
“Head towards the big churchy pile, Tone.”
The headless statue on a balcony fades into the evening mist that’s risen while I was daydreaming. I check the image on my phone. We’re looking for an old building, more likely narrow tiles on a collapsed roof. Next door to that is our target.
“Bring us up against the red roof. Give it a thumping, too. See if we can walk on it.”
“We going under?”
“Not likely. Have you seen the water foxes hereabouts? Furry torpedoes the length of my leg. No, we’re staying dry. The roof just makes it easier to unload the place next door.”
After Tone smacks the roof enough times to make us happy, Jonno goes across the angled roof and takes a crowbar to the side of the bay window. It used to give a good view of the street. Now the water laps barely a half-metre below it.
With a dull ‘crack’, the entire south side of the bay comes away from the building, sliding down into the water before toppling forward and sinking.
“That’ll bring a few water foxes to investigate. Let’s get in and get gone.”
Tone hooks the roof, while Emma keeps it steady by alternating running and idling the fan at the stern of the skiff in response to his hand signals.
The centre of the upper floor has fallen, leaving a ring of still, dark water. I’m not a fan of ambush pools, but we’ll have to risk it.
“You watch for ripples. I’ll go to the end and work back.”
Jonno nods, unslinging his repeating crossbow.
The right side is too narrow, but the left is good. I grab the handle of a case and move back. Looks like this upstairs was prepped like the old girl said: her uncle stashed the stock before the evacuation as the sea came in.
The vinyl will be playable even if the sleeves have rotted. Record labels often survive, too. We all hope for favourites, but it really doesn’t matter. Music is always tradeable: the last echoes of a lost world.