HCE received a lot of high-quality submissions for The Green Issue – sadly, too many to fit inside the magazine! So we offered some writers and artists who’d sent in work the chance to be published here on the website. Keep an eye on our social media for more great work like this, in the run-up to the release of The Green Issue


Penny Blackburn
The Government Advises (2030)


They keep telling us to “stay indoors if you can” but that’s no use to those of us who need to go to work. Every aspect of that is so difficult in the heat – from lifting the damp cotton sheet off my sweaty body, to crossing the blistering tarmac of the car-park. 

Inside, there’s no respite. I pull down the blinds on the office window but the shaded gloom feels even more oppressive and the breathless air hangs heavy over the desk. We’re not allowed electric fans. It’s too costly to run them these days – financially and ecologically. 

I think back to aircon, how I used to moan about the overly icy blast that raised my skin in goosebumps and had me reaching for a cardigan. Aircon – that technological irony of a machine which cooled us down while making the world burn.

Some days I think I would give my right arm for a quick burst of that frigid loveliness.

My right arm? I’d give my immortal soul for just a few tiny, tearlike drops of rain.


Penny Blackburn lives in the North East of England and writes poetry and short fiction. Her publications include pieces online in Bangor Literary Journal, Atrium and Ink, Sweat & Tears and in print with Paper Swans Press, Reader’s Digest and Maytree Press. She is on Twitter and Facebook as @penbee8.