Inviting Disaster by Sarena Ulibarri

Inviting Disaster by Sarena Ulibarri

“Have you ever even been to a city?”

It was the first time she’d asked me anything, and I gaped and struggled for a few moments before I finally spat out, “Only to Kansas City.”

“Mmm.” She turned away. “Not much left, is there?”

I knew from the ruins around the outskirts that it used to be a sprawling metro, but the city was still bigger than anyplace else I’d ever seen, with thousands of people living in a cluster of irregularly shaped skyscrapers and repurposed warehouses. But telling her that would surely make me look even smaller.

“Nah,” I said. “Ghost town, pretty much.”

She smiled at me, and that’s when the siren sounded.

“Again?” Ana said.

“This time of year, it’s every few days.”

I tapped the last of the mud from the drone and set it loose so it could zoom back to its charging station. We headed toward the pods. The warning beacons around their windows flashed like lightning strikes, and one by one, they began to descend into the safety holds.

The wind picked up, roaring against my ears.

Ana tugged my sleeve. “Hey, you should come with me.”

I glanced at my pod. Papa stood at the window. I knew he could see me, but I hesitated only another second before hurrying up the stairs after Ana. Her pod smelled like warm spices. It was much cleaner than ours, but then, she and her dad had only lived there a few weeks.

My watch buzzed with a message from Papa, so I called him back. “I’m going to wait out the storm over here.”

“No, you’re not. Get over here right now.”

I rolled my eyes and hung up…

Sarena Ulibarri is a graduate of the Clarion Fantasy and Science Fiction Writers’ Workshop at UCSD, and earned an MFA from the University of Colorado, Boulder. Her fiction has appeared in Lightspeed, DreamForge, GigaNotoSaurus, and elsewhere. A personal essay on gardening during the pandemic appeared in Strange Horizons, and you can listen to her ranting about solarpunk on about half a dozen podcasts, including Imaginary Worlds, Alan and Jeremy vs SF, and Yale Climate Connections. She has edited two anthologies of optimistic climate fiction, Glass and Gardens: Solarpunk Summers (2018) and Glass and Gardens: Solarpunk Winters (2020). Find more at or on Twitter @SarenaUlibarri.

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