Hot really doesn't describe this surreal, dizzying weather, more like scorching, the ground is baked so dry that cracks have formed wide crevices in the clay-like earth, a giant jigsaw has opened up as far as the eye can see, scattering cars and broken signs and abandoned things. I have to jump across them, the things and the cracks To move forward. The air is thick, wavy and watery, my skin is soaked with droplets of sweat, they run down my back in random rivulets, like warm tears.
The air is morbidly acrid, my tongue has a ridge of salt crusting along the edge, my lips have cracked with paper thin cuts and are beginning to blister. Where is everyone? I rub my eyes.
I woke up and my house was empty, the door to the garden was wide open, and everybody was gone, my entire family. It's so silent, not even the cicadas hum their insanely beautiful noise. The streets are empty, no car doors slamming, no morning conversation, lawn mowers left mid cut, no normality, no life?
It's devoid of all living things. Apart from my dog Daisy, who is curled up in a tight ball, like a doughnut, tail tucked in, her mouth slack as she snores, the black frill quivering, she's under the wilting broom tree, sleeping so soundly on a soft patch of earth as if she is unconscious.
The shop doors are all open on the high street, I wonder in between the cars looking for signs of anyone, there is nothing but heat and the stench of rot and a million flies blackening powder-blue sky with moving patches like a living sketch.
I take a can of coke from a fridge in the empty store, I guzzle it so fast it drips over my chin and splashes onto the tiled floor. I feel heat behind me, as if someone is pressing a warm hand on my back. I spin around hoping to see someone but instead I see only heat, in oasis-like quivers and an oak tree drooping, dying and bending, its branches dragging on the dusty in defeat.
A distant moan comes from not far away, a distant puncturing cry, a muffled shrill, it seems to grow louder and my head foggy and dull tries to find this voice. I search frantically, twisting and turning to see if I can detect the direction of that welcome voice. It's here, it's somewhere close, it's right here...
“Shauna,Shauna,SHAUNA!... wake up, your breakfast ready!”
I have never been so relived to wake up.