This serial story is presented in draft (unedited) form. New installments will be posted every Friday, and each installment is available for one week. Creepy reading…
The Dry Rain
William shuffled his feet through the barren field, papery gray bodies floating up with each step to explode in tiny puffs of corpse dust. It had been a week since the last dry rain, and no one knew when the next one would come. More importantly, there hadn’t been any real rain in over a month, and if the crops hadn’t been decimated by the moths already, they would have been dead now for sure. Streams and ponds were dried up, rivers were low, and there had been talk that even the oceans didn’t come up as high on the beach as they once did.
William had never seen the ocean. Hell, he’d never been anywhere else, but right now? He wished he were anywhere else. Or at least somewhere the moths hadn’t gotten to yet.
If there was such a place.
The first time they’d come, he’d been asleep – they all had. Thousands upon thousands of moths had covered every inch of any exposed surface, their paper-thin wings beating fast as they found and sucked the water out of every living piece of vegetation there was. This was farmland, so there had been a lot. Two days later, the moths had all been dead, leaving behind a wriggling mass of larvae in their place.
He wasn’t sure how the larvae survived, but there must have been enough nutrients somehow, because not long after that, thousands of moths had taken to the sky again, only to rain down in big clumps of papery gray waste two days later. Where they’d gone, or where they’d come from, or if these were even the same moths was anyone’s guess, but it was less of a concern than the fact that food was running out, and animals and humans alike were starting to die.
A thin figure stood waiting for him near the gate – one they hadn’t bothered to close since the crops had been devoured. May was getting weaker, and now that the cow had stopped producing milk, he supposed the only thing left to do was butcher it for the meat. They didn’t have any water for her anyways, and every day it was harder to get water out of the well. They’d have to leave soon, and find water, at least. Maybe one of the bigger cities would have supplies until…whatever this was, ended.
“Find anything?” May called out when he drew near. William shook his head.
“Nothing. Just moth-bodies, as far as I could go. The creek is almost dry too.” He took her hand and walked with her back to the house, not sure what else to say. She didn’t want to leave, but it wasn’t a question of want now. It was a question of survival.
“It’s gonna be soon,” he said, hanging his old hat up on a hook as he closed the door behind him. “Can’t survive without water.”
“What about damming the creek?” she said, handing him a cup of coffee – the only one there’d be that day – and then cradling another in her hands as she leaned against the kitchen counter. “We could get the neighbors together, make sure everyone has what they need.”
He shook his head. “Water’s falling too fast. By the time we could get everyone together and get back out there with supplies, it’ll be dry.”
She took a long, slow sip, her face a study in contemplation. She’d always been a thinker, his May. He often wondered why she’d settled for him instead of finding herself one o’ them smart city-boys that were always asking her out in college. Bet she was regretting that now, he thought as she met his stare with a tired, hopeless look.
“So that’s it then,” she said, putting her cup on the counter and letting out a long sigh. “What about Bessie?”
He shrugged. “We’ll take her with us. Might need something to trade for water, depending on how far this thing goes. She’s weak anyways. Probably won’t last much longer.”
May nodded, slowly. “Okay then. Tomorrow?” Tears welled in her eyes, and William went to her, pulling her into his arms. He’d loved her since they were sixteen, and he’d take care of her right up until his last breath, no matter what.