Lilian Butterwick's short stories and features regularly appear in women's and other magazines, but every so often her 'darker' side breaks through. Her first novel, 'A Silent World', written for young adults, is set on the bleak Lancashire moors in a dysfunctional near-future after the bees have gone. She is in the process of hatching plans for a second Young Adult novel, set in the Lake District in the distant and bloody past.
“If the bee disappears from the surface of the earth, man would have no more than four years to live. No more bees, no more pollination, no more plants, no more animals… no more man.”
It started with the bees disappearing. Just gradually at first, so that only gardeners missed them delving among the foxgloves and lavender.
Then the heather withered and died, leaving the moors a sadder version of their former selves, round about the same time that bigger and bigger gaps appeared in the supermarkets like giant missing teeth. People still tried to play it down. The crisis with the banks was more important, they said.
I knew different. Just because I’m deaf doesn’t mean I’m brain-dead. If anything, with less distractions, I probably read more than most fifteen-year-olds. Even so, I’d never have guessed how much my life was about to change.
When the situation it did finally make the headlines, the news was guarded, mixed in with the rest. The practiced expressions of newsreaders, as they described barren fields, shortages and food riots across the world, remained neutral. But not those of the signers in the corner. At least, not to me.
I preferred signers to the words running across the bottom of the screen. They told me more. There was one, especially. I called him Clive. Don’t ask me why. It just suited him. Over the last few nights, there’d been something different about him, a kind of wariness, as if he wanted to look over his shoulder but couldn’t because the camera was watching. Maybe you had to “know” him to notice.
Then came the day programmes were interrupted by an announcement.
A dark-suited government spokesman in rimless glasses stood at a lectern and read from a sheet of paper.
“To preserve resources, all rural and other outlying areas are to be evacuated. Citizens will be relocated to population centres in the designated towns and cities for their area.”