Svetlana cracks open one eyelid and twitches her nose. Her second eye opens and her tongue sticks out as she contorts her face in disgust.


Her husband snores peacefully face down with one leg hanging off the side of the bed. Svetlana whips around and wacks him on the butt.

“Cve-NYA! Wake up! What did you eat yesterday?”

Igor rolls over in his usual half-conscious state rubbing his eyes. He takes a few sniffs and rivals his wife’s expression with a theatrical wave of his right hand. “Bawge Moye woman! How much Shchi did you eat yesterday?” He kicks off the bed sheet and heads to the bathroom.

Svetlana stares at his pink butt leaving the room and shakes her head. “I married a pig,” she giggles to herself as she fondly remembers the chocolate pudding fight they had on their honeymoon. She looks up at the skylight and realizes that they forgot to close it last night. It’s not a big deal at this time of year since the evenings are quite warm but storms come up fast and fierce. It is always best to keep the house airtight…just in case.

A cacophony of squawks and chirps draw Svetlana’s attention to the bedroom window. Their farm front seascape is covered in arctic terns diving furiously into the water at an up-swell of krill. Behind them in the distance a green wave of algae is blowing straight for the house. Several birds drop dead from the sky upon resurfacing with their catch and the flock flies closer and closer.

It’s wasn’t the cabbage!

Svetlana lunges for the skylight pole, hooks the window shut, runs to the bathroom, drags her husband down the staircase, and they both slide into the hull. The couple immediately put on their gas masks and secure the hatch.

There is a huge crash and a storm of wings frantically flapping around in circles above them followed by random thuds as the birds hit the kitchen floor. They have no exit and neither does the hydrogen sulphide (H2S) assault streaming into the broken living room window.

The alarm board lights up as the sensors detect knock-out levels of H2S. Igor and Svetlana are trapped below until the wind clears but they have no way of knowing how big the toxic algae bloom is. In the meantime, hundreds of terns are getting trapped inside their ocean farmhouse.

“I have to get up there and open the back shutters,” Igor announces as he grabs a dry-suit and starts gearing up. His wife opens the drain valve in the escape chamber in the ballast and grabs a 50 metre rope. She follows her husband into the chamber, double checks his gear, ties the rope around his waist, and secures the other end to a grip. She then taps him on the shoulder, blows him a kiss, returns to the hull, and seals the door.

A triple knock on the steel door is Igor’s cue to get ready. He grabs an impact wrench and waits for the outer hatch to open. Water fills the chamber and one minute later Igor is climbing the ladder up the outside of their home.

As Igor breaches the ocean surface a tern flies straight into his head nearly knocking his mask off. He quickly checks for leaks then continues up the ladder to the outer deck.

Meanwhile, down below Svetlana has her ear to the ceiling waiting for the sound of drill vibrations coming from the exterior of the back kitchen wall. Windows are a luxury and, as is evident today, a liability on the open sea so they outfitted their home with leak proof modified hatches bolted onto the exterior walls for shutters. Working from the outside of the house will provide a measure of safety for Igor against the swarm of birds.

The drilling starts. Igor works his way across the back of the house carefully unbolting one hatch at a time and pushing them to the inside. The hydrogen sulphide gas and the birds now have an escape route. Igor sits back on the deck and watches the funnels of arctic terns spray into freedom. He pounds three times on the deck to let Svetlana know he is safe.

Svetlana relaxes her jaw. She returns the message by pounding the hull and slides down to the floor emotionally exhausted.

… to be continued in A Tern Of Events.