First is the beluga whale, a visitor from Greenland. It splashes in the Thames estuary, feeds on bream and gudgeon and scraps thrown from barges.
People read about it on websites, flood in to take pictures and videos, and talk about beautiful sea creatures, the power of nature and how lucky they are to see this in their lifetime.
The whale sings into uncomprehending microphones and ears about lost families, lost feeding grounds, and how the waters are rising.
A silvery harbour seal is next, a pearly flash of sinew and muscle threading its way underneath piers and fishing nets. The Southend Herald runs a sweet story about it following someone down from the Moray Firth.
People stop taking pictures after rumours start of a shadow stepping out of piled up pale grey fur at night. Something swirls in the undercurrents, clogging drains.
A figure haunts the moonlit streets and dreams of Leigh-on-sea, shrieking about lost farms, lost crops, and how the waters are rising.
The many-headed Naga rolls in on a tide that brings news of a flood in Bangladesh, a hurricane in Florida, a landslide in Bolivia.
People flee in waves from Benfleet, Tilbury, Gravesend as it destroys boats with a flick of its tail and the coldness of its eyes. Objects float past, handbags, smartphones, cameras.
It curls up against Tower Bridge, a bulky mass against an enormous sky. The weight of its belly pushes the water to lap against the road, over abandoned cars and bicycles. It basks in the sun it couldn’t feel in its deep cave, where it dwelt before the waters caused it to rise.
Anita Goveas is British-Asian, London-based, and fueled by strong coffee and paneer jalfrezi. She was first published in the 2016 London Short Story Prize anthology, most recently in Lost Balloon and JMWW. She’s on the editorial team at Flashback Fiction, a reader for Bare Fiction and tweets erratically @coffeeandpaneer