Climbing up the Food Chain

In honor of Canada Day, and also my entry in the July SF short story contest on LinkedIn. The theme was a recent news story (past few years), summer and mosquitoes.

The sun had mostly gone down over the western shore of Lake Simcoe.

We sat out on the deck, watching the light fade, swatting mosquitoes. I sipped away slowly at a nicely-chilled pale ale, and my brother Guy poked the barbeque desultorily with a metal rod. I could hear the rest of the family chatting through the sliding door.

The red and green lights of the channel into the marina reflected in the water in the distance. In the other direction, somebody was setting off celebratory fireworks at one of the waterfront mansions along Millionaire Row.

Our family bought this plot of land back in the nineteen-fifties, and built four wooden A-frame cottages on it so that we could all vacation together. No way any of us could afford it now.

There is always a bittersweet side to the Canada Day weekend – every year the offers for our plot of land grow larger. So far we’ve resisted, but selling out would pay for a lot of university tuition, never mind some semi-comfortable retirements.

“What do you think of BitCoins?” Guy asked me.
“Bit Coins?” I asked back, deliberately making it two words. “Sounds like something one of these mosquitoes would be into.” One of them kept dive-bombing my left ear like a Stuka. I swatted it away.
“Bad. Tsk,” Guy mock-groaned. “I bought them high, and now I’m wondering if I should sell them low.”
“Ask our neighbour, he’ll know.”
Guy gave me an odd look. We’d never actually seen our neighbour, who was supposedly some kind of recently self-made wunderkind.
“I looked him up on Wikipedia,” Guy said. “It just says that he made a killing in contrarian bets during the great financial crisis, and that he is extremely reclusive, communicating only via email. Oh, and he claims his methodology is based on ‘Cloud Sourcing’, whatever that means.”
“No kidding, eh?” I said.
“I went over there last month,” he added. “Lights were on, nobody home. He has a bunch of shallow ornamental ponds, and there were so many mosquitoes that I had to beat a hasty retreat.”
“‘Cloud Sourcing’, you think? Maybe there’s just a big swarm of mosquitoes and a Bloomberg terminal,” I said jokingly.
“You’re accusing the fifth richest person in Canada of actually just being a swarm of mosquitoes?” Guy asked.
“That’s got to be a better way to make a living then chasing moose with a spiky proboscis,” I said.
“No blood-sucking financier jokes, okay? Otherwise I’m going to pull out some terrible lawyer ones.” he replied. Guy works in a low-level job in the economics department at one of the larger Canadian banks.

The moment held for a second or two, and then we both burst out laughing. One of the kids popped their head outside to see how the meat was doing, and I went in to grab more beer, carefully closing the screen-door behind me.