Sea Of Sand
A Short Story.
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The world was once filled with water. So much that you could never drink it all. Now the world only had seas of sand and water is a rare find. I was only 10 years old when the rain stopped falling. Now I’m almost forty years old and the Oceans don’t exist anymore. Many say it was because of us that the Oceans died. That greed had made the world mad with never having enough of anything. We drilled and consumed and didn’t care about the damage we were causing.
I think the planet just got tired of us and is trying to kill us all. It won’t succeed shortly after the rain stopped, the most powerful and richest built spaceships and left for a new world in Alpha Centauri. They built the sleeper ships using the latest tech and then took it all with them. That was over thirty years ago. They cut off communication with earth as they were leaving the solar system. No one expects to hear from them ever again.
Another example of excess by the ultra rich. I fill my days with looking for water and food. The grocery stores went empty within a few months. Cows, pigs, and other livestock died off over the course of the next five years. I haven’t seen one in over a decade. Governments tried to hold it all together, but even they collapsed eventually. The third world nations were the first to collapse. Followed by the EU, Russia, and then finally the United States.
I decided that it would be a good idea to live further south for the winter and then move up north during the summer. I traveled at night, and I didn’t stay anywhere for longer than a couple of days. The gangs and the other bandits kill first and then worry about everything else after. I’ve seen them take out whole families just because they wanted what the family had. Mostly it’s the water that makes them go crazy.
Water has become more valuable than anything else. You have to dig for it. It was easy to find at first, but it’s gotten harder over the last few years. If everything dries out then humanity on earth will go extinct. Earth was becoming less and less habitable. Something will have to change soon.
I was walking along what use to be the Oregon/Idaho border. I’ve been walking for the past three days looking for some water. My canteen was almost empty. I used my dowsing rods I made from old wire hangers. They weren’t finding anything. I was so focused on my search that I didn’t notice that clouds were forming overhead.
I looked up when the sun dimmed. I was in shock that there were clouds in the sky. I hadn’t seen a cloud since I was in my twenties. They looked dark, which was a hopeful sign. I didn’t hold my breath. It hadn’t rained in close to thirty years. I kept looking for some water. My dowsing rods started going crazy. They didn’t point at any one area.
I felt something wet hit my cheek. I wiped it away and then it happened again. I saw raindrops on the ground for the first time since I was ten years old. I found some cover in a cave and put out a bowl to collect rainwater. Just as I set the bowl down. The sky opened up, and the rain came down hard. So hard that I thought it would break anything that got caught out in it.
I thought it might only rain for a few minutes. I stayed in the cave for three days. It never stopped raining. As the rain started to let up, the sun came out again. I decided it was time for me to see what things looked like.
What was once brown and starving for water was now starting to turn green again. Bushes came to life. I wondered how long this would last. If the rain was just a fluke. A week later and I had my answer. It rained again, and for three days I waited for it to stop. It was as if the planet was washing itself clean of the human infestation. I heard birds singing for the first time in what felt like a decade. I thought they had all died out along with other animals.
The rain cycle happened another dozen times before it stopped. I stayed in the cave for longer than I’d stayed anywhere in the last couple of decades. It was a wonder to see the rain fall. I was sure it would all go away soon.
I waited a couple of days until I was sure the rain had stopped. Then I packed up and started to move again. Trees that had been brown for years turned green. The green let me know something had changed. I pulled out my wind up radio and gave it a few cranks. Then I listened for anything. I slowly crawled across the FM dial and then did the same for am radio. I heard nothing on the radio but static.
I walked for another day before I checked the radio again and still got nothing. I was relived. I don’t think we should climb the ladder of civilization again. We almost killed the planet last time. I realized after having walked for another week. That It hadn’t rained again. I thought it might never rain again. Maybe that was just a fluke.
Then one night the sky opened, and I didn’t think it would ever close again. It rained for what felt like three weeks. A hard rain that didn’t let up for a second. When it did finally stop. I looked out of my tent and saw something that shocked me. There was a river flowing next to the cave I’d been staying in. “Holy shit.” I said to myself.
I never set up camp in a river bed. I just never trusted that it was really gone. The river rushed by me. Mud and lots of debris floating away with the current. I would have to find a different path to get where I wanted to go. I wouldn’t be able to cross the river. At least not here.
I walked for a few more miles and decided that I would just have to make camp. I opened my backpack and pulled out what at one time was considered to be state-of-the-art tech. A smartphone and it had a map application. I only turned it on when I needed to. It was sitting at a fifty percent charge. I used it to get my barrings. I waited for the phone to boot up. It took a few minutes. Somehow it still had service. I always thought the cell towers would have stopped working by now.
I looked down at my phone and it was doing something new. It had a voicemail. Which was curious because I didn’t know anyone else with a phone. I decided to listen to the voicemail. “Hey. It’s me. I’m alive. I don’t know how I got phone service. Call me back if you can.” Holy shit. She was alive. It’s been years since I had seen her. I thought she had died during the riots back east. My wife was alive. I found her number in my contacts and called her back. I was still wondering how we got phone service. It was a mystery that needed to be solved. I listened to it ring.
“Hello?” Oh shit. She answered. “Maddy? It’s me. It’s Jack.” I waited for her answer. “Oh god. You’re alive! I’m making my way west. Where are you?” I took a deep breath. I’m on the Idaho/Oregon border. I’ll send you my exact location, and I’ll wait for you.” I heard her sigh in relief. “Ok.” My breath trembled. “I love you, Maddy.” She answered back that she loved me too. I opened maps and sent her my location. I guess I wasn’t going anywhere for a bit. Also, how was the phone service working? Did someone hack it so it would work without billing? Money wasn’t something anyone had anymore. Water was the only currency that mattered now.
I couldn’t believe it. My wife is alive. Now I just had to wait. I didn’t know if she was walking or if she had got a car to working. Either way I’d have to wait here for her. Which was dangerous because of the roaming gangs. I thought about the cave I’d spend some time in and decided it might be a good idea to go back there. I’d just have to resend my location to Maddy. I decided that’s what I would do.
It took me several hours to get back the cave. Once I was standing outside of it. I turned my phone on and then sent my new location to Maddy. I could end up spending months here waiting for her. After I turned my phone off. I went into the cave and set up my camp. I explored the cave a bit more. I didn’t find anything else living in it.
I thought the wireless phone system would have completely shut down by now. I haven’t even paid a bill in decades. I don’t know why it’s working now. I was getting hungry. So I took out my stock of food. It wasn’t much just some meat and veggies I’ve stored over the last few months. I would have to go hunting soon. It’s been months since I’ve even seen a deer. Or anything that would be edible.
I waited for Maddy. For my wife. She had been back east when everything went to hell. I sat in the cave watching the sky. The clouds were white and fluffy and floated along at a slow pace. It was nice to see again. I heard a sound off in the distance. It sounded like an engine. I got up and went deeper into the cave. I didn’t want one of the gangs to find me. I didn’t have anything and that would mean death. My water supply was good for the next couple of days thanks to the rainfall. I didn’t want to lose it to some punks that didn’t want to look for it themselves.
I grabbed all my stuff and went as deep as I could into the cave. I waited for the gang to pass. It had only been a few days since I’d sent my location to Maddy. So it couldn’t have been her this soon. I waited in the dark. Listening to the sounds outside of the cave. The engine was getting louder as it got closer. I heard the squeak of the brakes as it slowed down and then came to a stop. “Jack! Are you here?” My eyes widen in surprise. I got up and ran to the mouth of the cave. I saw her as she turned around. “Maddy!?” Her smile made everything worth it.
I hadn’t expected her so soon. “What are you doing here? How did you get here so fast?” She walked up to me and kissed me long and deep. I returned it. My thoughts disappeared with that kiss. It had been so long. I didn’t want it to end. As she pulled away she sighed. “I’ve been traveling for months, and I just used this ATV.” She motioned to the vehicle just outside of the cave. “Where did you get it?” I asked as I looked it over. “It was my parents. They died a few weeks after everything collapsed. I’ve been making my way back here since then. I was looking at my phone. At the pictures I had on it. When I noticed I was getting a data signal. I decided to try to call someone. Just to see if it would work. I called you. I guess your phone was off.”
Well, that answered a lot of the questions I had. I wondered what she had to have experienced on her travels. “Yeah. I’ve had to conserve battery power. I don’t come across too many places that still have power.” Maddy smiled and then hugged me again. After she let me go, she walked over to the ATV and pulled out a bag full of food I hadn’t seen in more than a decade. “About a month ago. I came across a small store that hadn’t been touched. Which I thought was odd. But it had lots of good stuff in it. Including gas for the ATV.” I took the bag as she handed it to me. It had Twinkies, Milky Way candy bars, as well as other food and soda. “Oh god. I haven’t had a Twinkie since I was a kid.” I said as I grabbed one and opened it.
“Maddy. Did you see the rain?” I wanted to see if it was more than just in my area. She nodded. “Yeah, I did. It felt good. I got caught in it.” Well, at least I wasn’t hallucinating. I opened one of the sodas and I let its syrupy goodness coat my throat. It was an indulgence. It brought back memories from my childhood. My father would let me have a soda now and then. He would wink at me and tell me it was a secret between us. I finished my moment of happiness. “We need to get moving soon. Let’s bring in the ATV and let's get deep into the cave. The gangs will be roaming around soon.” Maddy just nodded as we got up and pushed the ATV into the cave. I picked up our garbage and followed her deep into the cave. I wanted to make sure no one could see us.
I waited until the sun went down and then I very quietly went to the mouth of the cave and listened. I heard nothing as I sat there for the next hour. I got up and went back into the cave and saw Maddy setting up a fire. She was taking her time and making sure it was done right. The flame was low and put off very little smoke. I guess it helped that she was a girl scout when she was a kid. I looked up from the flames. “Maddy? Why are you naked?” She turned toward me and smiled. “Why wouldn’t I be naked?” It had been a very long time. My eyes traveled down her body, following every curve. My body agreed that it was very nice. I got up and started to get undressed and then walked over and kissed her long and deep. My hands traveled over her body, and I relished the feeling of her skin against mine.
If this was a dream. I didn’t want to wake up. If I’ve died, then this must be heaven. Our tongues intertwined, and then our bodies. I drank in everything and relished every sensation. It had been years since we had been together like this, and I only hoped that we wouldn’t be apart like that ever again.
I woke up the next morning and I was relieved that Maddy was still sleeping next to me. Last night hadn’t been a dream. I looked toward the mouth of the cave and I could see the morning light just beginning to touch it. I got up and walked toward the light. I began to wonder what else was out there. I heard a distant rumble and saw a flash. I tried to remember the last time I saw lighting. I think I was in my early twenties. The sky was darkening and rain began to fall. I had to wonder if the planet was ready for humanity again.
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