They’d never seen the grass turn yellow before. It was the first sign of the change. The next were the bush fires in Manchester, home of red hot football now also the home of red hot grasses in the peak district.
The first wave of heat fevers started after thirty days without rain, without the temperature gauge dropping below 30 °, even at night. Tarmac had melted, you really could fry an egg on the pavement. Sometimes the car temp gauge touched forty. Initially the Brits did what they always do, carry on. Sport’s days continued oblivious, country strolls and park runs carried on despite the evidence the sun was trying to present. When the temperatures in the highlands matched the rest of the island, a few people furrowed their brows but most shrugged and said, “Oh well, it’s nice that summer has finally arrived.”
Then news reports came in showing Russia experiencing heats as warm as countries on the equator, Siberian summers a warning sign for sure. The blackbirds hopped frantically across the yellow straw lawns looking for the worms that had been cooked in their earthy beds. Yet businesses still used their power hoses to clean their storefronts, no thought given as to whether water might soon be in short supply.
Livestock started dying, a farmer found a cow dry as a husk, covered in dehydrated flies, feeding off the cow but also each other. Then the birds began to drop out of the sky. And as people walked in the sun they could feel the heat, punishing, unforgiving, burning if you dared stand too long. The Government, busy back-biting and arguing over Brexit arrangements, were slow to react. They hadn’t given any consideration to water reserves or contingencies, they were overwhelmed and underprepared. The crops shrivelled and the first signs of civic unrest occurred. Someone had beaten someone half to death after an argument over spring water. All this was caught on the supermarket’s CCTV and reported with bemusement on the six o’clock news.
Day sixty brought with it the first proof that things had unravelled beyond the point of no return. Too late people realised that the gift of the land was one that needed better care. And as the forests blazed and the streets cracked, so did the people. Chaos and insanity crept from the shadows and into the limelight. It was as if the sun had decided to scorch all memory of humankind from the face of the earth.
The survivors did what survivors do, survive. In any way they could.
The first life giving rains, the hungry arid earth gasped for the sustenance. The people who thought themselves infallible and masters of all now knew that the earth and the universe were dazzlingly more powerful than they had ever imagined. They now knew that they could be plucked out of existence in a microsecond. To realise that a whole way of being could change in such a short space of time was humbling. For the survivors the rain was a chance for re-birth, as the droplets pelted their dry sore skin they were baptised into a new life and thus they named themselves the children of the rain. These hopeful souls had been given a second chance and were determined to build a new life in the here and now, respecting nature and their place in it.
© John de Gruyther 2018