Blessed

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It had been years since they had seen rain. The sky was was always clear, icy blue and the black ground dry and cracked. They, the plants and animals survived by the deep holes drilled into the ground and the pumps that let the water come up.

The water was heavily restricted; only two water pots per house a day then additional ones for people with animals and plants. In summer, this was further restricted as the need to make sure the water was saved became a priority.

The look outs, who normally yelled the sightings of travellers and enemies, were the first to spot the cloud back. Only one of them could remember the last time the sky had changed.

The message spread like birds taking flight in a panic. People gathered, faces to the sky then they hurried for anything that would contain the water. The streets became cluttered with pots, bowls, cauldrons and all manor of other things.

With held breath and quietness, everyone waited and after what felt like a life time, the sky became dark and grey. Then the first drops fell, a few spots here and there like a soft cast off of spray.

Then it started pouring down.

 

Postcard Story

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Dear Alma,

Very cold, snow keeps coming. We are in old church, trying to keep warm. It feels wrong to burn fire inside but if we don’t we’ll die. There is little food and water, we are trying best to survive. Must hold out till support and supplies arrive.

It’s wrong to go war with Russia in winter. The people are use to it and know how to survive. We don’t and are badly equipped. I fear I never see you again and this church will become my grave. I hold tight to memory of you and pray all time for saviour.

love, Viktor

Build Again #TaleWeaver

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The island was use to all kinds of storms which was why I had decided to move here to study them. Newly waving my degree and happy to be finally striking out on my own, I was naive to adulthood and the overall consequences of surviving storms.

My first one was an evening thunder and lightening storm out at sea. I sat on the roof of my new bungalow house with my binoculars, camera and notebook in hand, watching and recording the fascinating scene of lightening bolts striking large waves.

After that, there were tropical storms which whipped the wind and rain into a frenzy that crashed down trees and damaged houses. A violent sea storm that causes a cliff to fall and low down houses to be flooded. More thunder and lightening, including one that started a fire in a patch of woodland.

I studied them all, publishing reports and making my wages at the weather station. Of course, I felt some of those storms’ effects but I was never threatened. However, six months in and there came a report from the mainland about a possible hurricane hitting us.

I was the one who picked up the message and brought it to my supervisor to read.

‘Chances are it’ll miss us, like the last two,’ he said then took the report to the boss.

So, no need to worry then.

Throughout the month, more and more warnings came in and with a week to go, the hurricane wouldn’t be ignored anymore. We had been putting out the word, recommending that people prepared for the worse and should think about leaving for safer mainland cities.

I excited, my first hurricane! decided not to bother returning home except to collect somethings then moved into the accommodation next door.

Whilst everyone else was protecting their homes by putting up wooden boards or metal sheets, stacking sandbags, then stocking essentials and either leaving their homes or hunkering down in storm shelters and basements, I was in my element watching the  hurricane growing.

When it hit, something finally clicked in my body and the urge to flee grew so much I had no choice but to go and join the other weather station employees in the shelter. The winds were over 100 MPH causing trees, houses and everything else to be tossed around, I could here these constant sounds of the wind roaring and things crashing. The rain pelted down like stones. I could also make out the sound of the sea in the background, which was swelling around the island as if trying to claim it back.

I don’t know why it took till that moment, huddled on a camping bed under a sleeping bag, wide awake, watching the electric lights flicking then finally dying that true knowledge of my situation kicked in. A million thoughts flooded me and the flight instinct screamed but there was nowhere to go. I reasoned with myself, eyes fixed on the metal door, that if I went out there death awaited whilst in here there was a chance of surviving.

I felt terrified, sick and emotional all at once, shakes racked my body, the noise wouldn’t stop in my head. I bolted up, hands over ears, screaming and screaming. It didn’t help though because I could still hear the hurricane.

Everyone tried to calm me down but I was beyond human contact. My supervisor sat with me, repeated talking. I guess tiredness made me stop in the end. Everything was damp with my tears and loud with my panic. Blinded, deaf and numb, I just remembered, my supervisor getting me to drink water and take some pills.

‘Those will calm you and these make you sleep,’ he explained.

Like the electricity, I was out for the rest of the hurricane.

When I came to, I was alone and silence pressed heavily on me. I got up went to the bathroom, had a shower and brushed my teeth. Dressed, I walked out of the shelter and saw that everything had changed.

Trees broken in to bits, lay across everything and things underneath them; houses, cars etc were crushed into almost unrecognisable pulps. The weather station was gone, blown apart as if hit by a bomb. Most of the other buildings looked the same, as if they had been wiped away. Those that still stood were flooded and only fit to be knocked down.

Boats that been in the harbour were now on land, sticking out from the remains of houses and trees or laying in lakes that had once been fields. Roads had given way, creating dead ends and blockades to places. Rubbish and peoples’ belongs were scattered everywhere that it would be impossible to reunite things when the clean up began.

I walked slowly, trying to pick patches of dry and clear-ish to step. My mind was reeling, I had only seen scenes like this in photos and on TV. There was just too much to take in and I could smell the sea so harshly my nose was sore.

I reached a small group of people, picking things out of the remains of the weather station. My supervisor waved me over.

‘How you feeling?’

‘Okay,’ I muttered.

‘Look at all this!’ he said picking up a piece of twisted metal, ‘oh, well. When we rebuild, more hurricane proofing is needed.’

‘Rebuild? How can you?’ I cried, ‘everything is just…gone!’

‘Not everything. We are still here.’

He had a point.

‘Don’t let this put you off,’ he added, ‘it’s not all bad.’

I nodded and with nothing else to do, went and helped where I could.

From that moment, I give storms greater respect and I made my job more about helping people survive them then just studying them.

 

(Inspired by; https://mindlovemiserysmenagerie.wordpress.com/2019/02/07/tale-weaver-209-rebuild-7th-february/ with thanks).

 

Wood

Mr. Baxter had no choice but to cut the young trees down on the hill at the back of his garden. It was an idea his wife had been suggesting for the last few weeks, but Baxter had been trying to find another solution instead. This morning time had run out though and as his wife had left to drop the children off at school then go to her part time job, she had reminded him about their lack of fire wood again.

Out of options and armed with a small axe plus a pair of gardening gloves, for that was all he had, Baxter stepped out of the back door and avoiding the chicken coop, which give shelter to the three remaining chickens, strolled across his ragged looking lawn. The grass was littered with children’s toys of no real age or gender and many of the toys were broken and weather battered.  His back garden ran straight for twenty paces, then ended under a big oak tree with a crudely made wooden plank and chicken wire fence just before it.

Mr. Baxter struggled to climb over the boundary marker he had made with his own hands and cut off pieces from the chicken coop years ago. As he came to stand on the other side, he surveyed the quickly sloping hill and the row of houses that lay at the bottom. He couldn’t see very much through the wild tangle of bare tree and bush branches. However, he did spot a large and mean looking German Shepherd dog wondering around the neatly trimmed lawn of the garden to the left of him.

Hoping that the dog didn’t spot him and thus draw any human attention upon himself, Baxter selected the nearest young spruce, which for all he knew about trees could have been an endangered native species, and started to swing his axe at the trunk. Luckily, his swing was good, his axe blade sharp and the trunk thin, so after a few moments the tree fell. Smiling to himself, he rested the axe against a fence plank and dragged the tree up alongside it.

Sweat popped on his brow and caused his hands to go slick in the gloves. The tree became snagged on the branches of its companions and Baxter had to put all his energy into shifting it. With a final heave, he threw the small tree over the fence and into his back garden. He paused to catch his breath, for he was very over weight and had a back problem. Wiping his face and forehead, he selected another young tree and attacked it with the axe.

For the rest of the morning he carried on in the same vein, until his wife came home at lunch time and she came out to him with a cup of tea and half a fish paste sandwich. Handing him the cup and plate, she glanced at his hard work and nodded her head.

‘I fear it won’t last us though,’ she said quietly.

‘My benefit payment comes in on Thursday. I’ll try and get some more logs and coal then,’ he answered through a mouthful of sandwich, ‘this’ll be good for kindling though, so I won’t buy any of that.’

‘I’ll go down to the job centre tomorrow and see what else we can claim or if there’s any more jobs I can apply for,’ Mrs Baxter responded with sadness in her voice.

Baxter nodded, feeling he couldn’t say any more about their unfortunate situation.

‘Shall I help?’ his wife asked instead.

‘If you want too. I think I left the saw on the kitchen table.’

‘I noticed you had,’ she replied and left.

He finished off his sandwich and drank his warm tea in a few gulps, before turning back to the tree he had been cutting down. Leaving his things to the side he begin again and had chopped through the trunk just as wife returned. She helped him heave it up into the garden then began to saw the branches and trunk up. Baxter left her to it and moved towards another tree. He left his eyes drifted down the hill and saw that the German Shepherd was now in the garden below him. The dog was right up against the fence and sniffing the air madly.

From where he was, Baxter could see that the fence looked a lot stronger than his as it was made from concrete pillars and had two layers of thick wire in-between. Still though, he hoped there were no gaps that the dog could get through. Getting his footing next to another young tree, he swung low at the truck. The sound of metal striking wood drew the dog’s attention and this time, aware that something was going on above him, the dog started barking.

Baxter paused and looked nervously down the hill. The dog was jumping up against the fence now and barking urgently. Baxter’s eyes flicked towards the house, but he couldn’t see much further into the garden, let alone a back door. He glanced up at his wife, but couldn’t see her, only his fence. Gritting his teeth, he took a few swift swings at the tree and cut it down.

A yelling voice cut through the dog’s barking and the fading sounds of the tree crashing down. Baxter stopped and ducked down to hide as best he could. He heard the sound of the saw stopping and guessed his wife too had paused. The voice was yelling the dog’s name, though he couldn’t be hundred percent sure what it was, maybe Dante? Danta? Danti?

The dog stopped barking and the owner’s voice – a young man- questioned what had started it. Of course the dog didn’t answer and the man made his own conclusion that it was properly just a large bird or cat.

Holding his breath, Baxter slowly peered out of the branches and down into the garden once more. The dog and man had gone. Standing up, he grabbed the tree and hauled it up to his fence where his wife stood waiting. Together, they pulled the tree into their garden and left it beside the others.

‘That was close,’ Baxter muttered.

His wife glared at him, ‘what does it matter?’ she shot back.

Startled, he stared at her, his hand lose on the axe.

‘Do you think he would have even cared or asked? And if he had done, you could have said you were doing some winter pruning and to mind his own bloody business!’ She half shouted.

‘Calm down, it’s alright,’ he said gently.

He let the axe fall to the floor and held his wife tightly. He kissed her head and rubbed her shoulders. Slowly, she uncoiled and let her body lean against his. He heard her sigh and wondered if she was going to cry.

‘We’ll get through this,’ he said softly, ‘It’s only another month or so. It’ll be fine.’

‘I know,’ she sniffed.

‘Hey, there’s still time to sell the children,’ he joked and laughed.

She smiled, laughing lightly and patting his shoulder, ‘I don’t think we’d get much for them,’ she joined in with the joke.

Baxter hugged her tightly, ‘then we’ll just carry on. Now let’s get this wood sorted and inside before it starts to get dark and the children come home.’

His wife nodded and together they want back to work.