“It’s been a long time…”
“It’s been a much longer season, indeed.”
“Do you think this is it? I mean, this time?”
“How can we know? Nobody knows…”
“Of course, we know! When you face Death, you know… maybe, at the very last moment, but you know.”
A few, the strongest ones standing, looked around.
Cities were abandoned after the food was completely consumed (what provoked insane violent chaos), nothing was left in the markets or supermarkets. Water purifiers were still working, so, drinkable water was still available. Unfortunately, on one hand, nobody knew how long the machines would last, on the other hand, solid food was required. Maybe there was still something eatable somewhere else.
Moral values were abandoned too. Selfishness ruled every place, an innate human reaction. Gangs took control of everything in the dysfunctional cities, they were called The Sinners (children of the impious).
Thus, some survivors decided to leave the cities and found each other on the way. Some joined forces based on individual skills that complemented finely… little by little survivors became a new motley tribe, like in old times when the planet was alive.
The ground had become a dry-clay puzzle, but it still had the smell of the precious liquid. The tribe members left were able to almost taste the water… running fresh water in their vivid memories of good old times. However, everything has been used and abused to the maximum, there were cracks in the earth and the sky. There were cracks in their lives, too. Some of those cracks stayed deep inside but blossomed into wrinkles that looked like ruts of a destiny drawn on their faces and bodies.
Dead bushes or dying tree trunks were here and there… current reminders of past human crimes in a war against Mother Nature, and themselves.
Just the wind seemed to be cheerful and playful; however, its warm welcoming hugs were not welcome anymore. Wind and heat had become burning allies that enjoyed torturing those last desperate souls. Living a living hell was not fun at all like it looked like, not at all… but one just realized it when the fire holds one’s hand.
“We’ve been through so many things… We’re not strong anymore. We’re not superiors or the ultimate fighters… Do you think we’ll overcome it or survive it?”
The rest kept silent. No answer was given at that time. Almost everything has died, including many of their own brothers and sisters. Withered plants, and animal and human rotten corpses decorated the empty roads… once in a while, a rusty vehicle make them recall the human power that used to rule any other living being. After all, it was a divine right and a devil’s gift to do so. No regrets. No regrets?!
They continued walking, searching… longing for a gentle fate, a glimmer of naive childish faith that didn’t want to surrender in their eyes. Perhaps, someone spared a field’s (or even a forest’s) life. Their footsteps evaporated into burning dust. The hot pavement was left behind; nonetheless, smoldering rocks were melting their shoe soles, there was no need to check the temperature, feet knew…
Nobody was in the mood to chat, not even a couple of children who used to play traditional games some weeks ago.
There were some things humans couldn’t cope with, lack of food and water was one of them.
“Now I understand them!!!”
“What do you mean?”
“THEM!” The man pointed at some animal skeletons.
“I see… Yeah, we didn’t leave any room for them, did we?”
“The same suffering, right?”
“The same destiny.”
“Yeah, we knew all from the very beginning, but we just made excuses…”
“Time to payback!”
The survivors kept walking, shuffling their feet sometimes. The deathly landscape didn’t inspire anyone, taking away their hope. The road led them to a long-sophisticated bridge that used to be their pride, but whose polluted waters ran under their guilty consciousness. Everyone looked at what used to be crystal-living liquid full of flora and fauna.
“The river looks like a garbage dump!”
“You’re wrong, IT IS a garbage dump. Didn’t you realize it? Don´t you get it yet? We have lived in a garbage dump for a looong time… and the worst part is that we have forced the rest of the planet to live with us, our way.”
They kept walking in silence. There were fewer members left; all kids, wounded, sick, or elderly ones had perished as days went by.
Nonetheless, one day, on a mountaintop, they spotted a tiny valley in the distance. A green hope! The last chance! Energy and life returned and started running through the survivors’ veins.
“We must head there.”
“Maybe, the place will…”
“Do you think it will…”
“Yes, it may sustain life.”
“Can it be?!”
Time has taken their hope away, conditions have taken their right to dream away. Nothing was certain any longer… They had lost everything, and they had accepted it since everybody knew it was their fault, yes, their fault. That was the reason why they stopped praying, stopped believing… they concluded they didn’t deserve anything. They were not worth it. They had lost their right to live.
Providence had a better plan: little by little the sky got dark, and it began to drizzle.
“That is correct: a blessing!”
The drizzle stroked every piece of land, and it became friendly rain. The rain cheered everybody and everything up. Survivors felt their heartbeats and, for an instant, those heartbeats of Mother Earth. It seemed that their mother didn’t forget her children the way they did to her.
After 2 more weeks of an extremely painful hanger, the exhausted survivors arrived in the little valley. Their faces were full of surprise. Some muss and little plants were reborn. And some wild animals were enjoying such a little paradise. For an instance, survivors looked at each other to agree on how to hunt them. They were hungry, literally starving… They looked at each other again, in a different way that time, and they got in agreement without saying a word.
“Aren’t we capable of changing?”
“You’re right. We must create hope for ourselves and other species.”
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"hUnger", not "hAnger"... sorry about that. I was not able to edit it, there's no chance to do so.
This was an awesome story. Loved it. I kept reading in hopes of rain and maybe some will change. Well…. Anyway great job.
Hi Lisa! You're right... hopefully, we'll have some change in our way of living to really take care of our beautiful planet. Thanks for your nice comment. Blessings
I could feel the anguish of these people as I read. This was a very creative description of the drought: "The ground had become a dry-clay puzzle." I've seen what the ground looks like up close after a long drought, and this description is very accurate. Nice work.
Hi Gip Roberts! You are sooo kind! Thanks a lot for your support and feedback. Blessings
Hi Henry, thank you for the likes. I see haven't submitted lately; I hope you haven't stopped writing. Like you, l also haven't submitted lately (finances have taken a beating) but I've kept busy somehow. I also find these prompts are not doing it for me. By the way, I've found this fabulous book that has made a huge difference in my writing now. If you get a chance check it out: Art of Fiction by John Gardner It's an old book, but WOW!!!
Hi Dhenvalence! I hope you are doing great, my friend. Thanks for your kind words and recommendation (I'll definitely take a look at this book). The thing was that, as you expressed, the prompts were not interesting enough for me, or I didn't have any short stories that matched them. I'll keep trying. Writing is an art one can develop little by little. I still enjoy it a lot -still writing. Thanks for your concern. I really enjoy your writing, wow!, your short stories rock! Your creativity, narration, character development, and style are uni...
Hi Henry, Thank you so much for your wonderful words. It means a lot coming from a fellow writer. All the best to you too, my friend.
Thanks. Take very good care of yourself.
Hello there, good story warning of environmental collapse. I would have liked to follow a specific character along the journey. Seeing what they saw, seeing their reaction to everything. Important message. Keep writing !
Hi Rachel! I hope you're doing great. Thank you for your time and feedback. Yeah, I understand your point but I just wanted to have the rain (the prompt) as the magical new start because of, as you explained, the environmental collapse. The story was a call to conscience rather than a formal story format. Thanks again and take care. Blessings.
Hi Henry, that's fair enough. It certainly fit the prompt! Have a lovely weekend.
Thank you a lot for your nice comments and help. Believe me when I say I don't consider myself a "finished product", I have a looong way to learn things, especially, about writing. Have a lovely weekend too. Blessings.