Clouds billowed in from separate horizons. Black, ashen waves of charred vapor from the west and deep, terra dust pouring in from the east. They met in the middle over an open expanse of broken valley. The ground was cracked with thirst.
I stopped heaving my shovel. I watched the horizon be swallowed from hundreds of miles away, the only witness left. All prey had been picked clean long ago, the scavengers’ blood-thirsty flocks weaned and disappeared. I was all there was left. Droplets began to fall from the maddening sky. Finally, water.
Life was destroyed in three years. By water, the first. Wells ran dry and rivers became no more. All swimming things became parched and consumed by bodies on the land. We drank the water from one another’s essences. The second year, wind uprooted every desiccated plant that gripped the arid, droughty ground. It tore every sign of life from it’s shriveled refuge and left the earth bald, bare, and sapless before it stopped.
On the third year, fire desolated those remaining. It was a slow burn. There were no flames, no brush-fires as there was no longer any brush. Without water, all thirsted. Without wind, life was stagnant, dormant and unbearably hot. There was no shade, no shelter. The sun oppressed our tender bodies and afflicted our flesh. Our own skin turned against us, inflamed and broiling underneath. We burned from the outside in gradually, excruciatingly slowly.
The shovel was heavy in my weakened grip. I looked up overhead at the approaching billows. Droplets began to fall from the maddening sky. Finally, water. But the droplets hit my sun-raw skin, leaving dark red rivulets.
Red fell to my cheeks, to my lips, soaking into my scalp and the caked clay ground. The mounds next to my feet began to scatter to the arising, beckoning wind. I had buried their small bodies in there. Their porcelain faces slack with timeless sleep, their hands not dirty like mine. They would not suffer. They would not endure. I had saved them.
The salty rain pooled in the corners of my eyes and mouth. It tasted warm and like copper. It blanketed my barren body and coated the effete earth. The cycle was renewing. It was happening. The world bled.
I don’t use drugs, my dreams are frightening enough. – M. C. Escher