A deadening heat has blazed the wide-open country around me. Deep hazy gray mist boils from the ground below the earth I stand upon. This year’s rain never came, which has caused the Oconee River to evaporate to the skies above. Over the past four months, the water has been leaving our Georgia lands, and now on August 20th1942, the river’s blossom is dying. My years of farming my land have desiccated slowly. If it wasn’t for my ownership of this farm, I would have lost every drop of home. My wife has lost hers, for she died two weeks ago … from too much fluid in her lungs. Sad as I am about her decease, only adds to the ache over the loss of land beneath our feet.
-Tom Hookins Bradly
A few minutes sailed by as Tom sat in his chair, a half-empty glass of wine held in shaky hands, eyes staring blankly at the open diary, beads of sweat marching uncontrollably down his face in streamed formation. Even though the central air system was set to the coldest frequency, could not stop the four months of heat which made his house feel like a pizza restaurant. This heat was strange. Never has the temperature been above 110 degrees, but the thermostat beside Tom’s head read: 158. ‘Not at all normal’ Tom thought. This heat reminded Tom of how the heat had disabled the dinosaurs. This scared tom, and again reminded him of his wife's departure. A tear formed, but he wiped it away, trying to remain strong. It was hard for many to remain strong. The heavy heated air caused the body to respond more slowly, made the mind week, and took the moisture from the skin, leaving nothing but layers of salty residue that couldn’t be washed away.
Tom creaked tiredly back to his chair after he retrieved the remote to the television, which took a minute to find. He stamped the power on with a slippery finger. Tom was then forced into a wild body tremor as the TV replied in a loud buzz of snowy fuzz. He eased back in the set of normal consciousness as he fixed the volume and floated randomly through the channels. As he finally paged his eyes to a single channel of news, did he find his consciousness moseying in about of his brain, then with sudden forgetfulness, his mind lay down to sleep in full un-dreaming but peaceful rest, and didn’t wake till the sun went down behind the hills. As he rubbed his eyes
awake, Tom annoyingly noted that his dog was barking from the back door.
“What is it now?” Tom yawned a yell and bloated a stubborn but nice grunt, which followed him up on lazy legs as he dragged his tired feet to the door and opened it, the dog jumping on his clean pants. Instantly Tom knew something was wrong. “What is it, boy?”
“All right Pip, take me there.” Pip took off, but came back again, tail held under his hind legs. Something is wrong. Tom told himself.
Little light was left to see in the night. Tom had to grab a flashlight from the workbench in his backyard. A beam of light poured out the face of the flashlight and ran down the slope of dry, crunchy grassland. He could see his dog in the distance; Tom had to run to ketchup with Pip but continued to stay behind Pip’s paw steps. As fast as the dog ran, was as fast as the dog stopped,
thus sending Tom sprawling. Both flashlight and Tom sputtered face first in the muddied earth. Tom could still hear his dog behind him somewhere, but couldn’t see around him, so he struggled frightfully over the ground for the flashlight. After about what seemed ten minutes, did Tom’s hand grope the flashlight’s butt. Picking it up, he turned it back on with a vigorous shake and passed it over the ground to find the growling dog. Tom was taken back and choked on a scream when he saw the body the dog was growling at. The dog began to pull the dead man’s shirt sleeve, and the body’s head rolled over to stare with half-empty eye sockets. Horror flashed his mind at the gruesome sight before him.
Tom yelled with fear, telling himself to get up and run, but himself would not respond. He was so shocked he forgot about the gruesome smell the radiated around him. Then all at once Tom’s brain freed itself from that fear and allowed his legs to run home to call for help.
Daylight hit as the shirr if, Tom, the dog, and the police crew’s horses looked upon the rows of dead men in half-rotted uniforms of ancient war heroes. Two hours later all the dead had been taken to the city morgue to be identified. It wasn’t until the next day when to saw the news forecast of what went on, and so it was said:
“68 civil war soldiers found by local man's dog”
Tom looked from the TV to look out the window … and … it was raining.
Picture Credit: Pixabay