Growing Old – a story

Growing Old

May was the cruellest month, the time when hope still tinged the minds, before we all gave up.

At first we had welcomed the massing clouds. How wrong we were. There was no benevolence to be found in their false promise, they did not offer respite or auger a cure – far from it.

A gale blew out the blackened sky ripping off roofs, wrenching dead trees from the ground, hurling deadly missiles. Rain fell in torrential sheets as if a waterfall. Some titan had overturned her bath upon the world. The water roared off the parched ground, rushing in torrents, rearing into monstrous waves, turning roads into raging rivers, surging through the streets, carrying all before it. Cars and people were swept away. Debris crashed into buildings and then the houses themselves began to collapse before the gigantic force of this tsunami from the heavens.

The storm passed. The clouds dispersed. The sun shone with its usual searing intensity. The water retreated. Steam began to rise.

Survivors emerged from their broken homes, eyes wide, faces frozen in horror, staring around them at the devastation. Moving like robots, not knowing what to do, they began slowly picking through the wreckage, vainly searching for relatives or neighbours. Their town had disappeared. Everywhere was ruin. What had been roads and houses were now heaps of junk. In slow motion they began moving debris, searching for the living, knowing that it was pointless. Some wailed in anguish but nobody comforted them or paid them heed. Most simply worked in methodical isolation, minds buried deep within.

That was the day hope died.

They knew no help would come. The disasters were too many. Theirs had been the deluge. For others it had been the fires, the floods or simply the heat.

The world was beaten.

They buried what dead they could find and salvaged anything that might be of use. The sun had already baked the ground into hexagonal bricks.

They huddled together in whatever buildings were left intact. Nobody talked. There was little to eat. From force of habit they collected water in all containers they could find. They knew the pools would soon dry up. Water was the most precious commodity. The birds and vegetation had already succumbed to the relentless drought that scorched the ground. No livestock had survived, no crops could be grown. Water was worth more than diamonds, yet it had been water that had finally done them in.

Everybody knew that it was over. The future lay before them as an endless torture. Maybe the dead were the lucky ones?

Gradually, the realisation coalesced. They could not stay. There was no future to be had among these ruins. People began muttering together, arguments broke out as the despair and hunger exerted itself.

Nature had turned against them. There was now no welcome cloud to be seen. Stragglers began collecting their scant possessions and trudging off towards London.

How sad to live long enough to witness the end.

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