shattered - By Mizeta Moon

The pond was nearly dry but the creatures living close by could still get a cool drink on a sweltering day. Shade from the trees was a comfort in such heat and a playful breeze was a welcome companion as he sat contemplating how to avoid disaster. He was tired from being at the all night protest that was to no avail, and now contractors would be rolling in and destroying this serene little corner of the world within hours. He was hoarse from chanting and his eyes still stung from teargas but he had to sit there one last time and commit its beauty to memory. This property had once belonged to his grandfather and both he and his father had occupied the small house there over the years before it burned down and they decided not to rebuild on the site. By then, grandad was gone, and his father was in hospice, so it seemed pointless to fight the county for a permit, knowing they were going to exercise imminent domain if he wouldn’t accept their offer to buy it. He refused to sell, so they stole the land from him.

So many people were migrating to the Northwest that roads and shopping centers were eating up land to provide for a burgeoning population. With the continued escalation of insufferable heat, tornados, and flooding in the East and Midwest, people were leaving those areas and starting over without considering the impact so much new construction would have on the environment. Everywhere he went, apartments were popping up like weeds. What the county had planned for his acreage was a hotel complex with a waterpark and shopping mall due its proximity to the freeway. He told the commissioners that he would give them the land if they’d leave it wild and designate it a park but that didn’t fly because one of them owned a big construction firm that would benefit from the huge contracts.

Tiredness made his eyes droop after a while, so he stretched out for a short nap while birds twittered in the trees and dragonflies flitted across the pond’s surface. Clouds scooted across the sky as his quiet breathing fell into sync with the life rhythm around him. He might have lain there for hours and woken refreshed but that was not to be. It was a distant droning at first, that soon became a roar as a diesel engine shattered the serenity. He could hear the shrieks of birds as trees fell and their homes were destroyed. Smashing, crashing, the machine approached without mercy. The caterpillar was huge and was packing a giant blade when it broke into the clearing and shoved a huge pile of dirt and debris into the pond. The driver wore goggles and gloves as dust swirled and black smoke poured from its exhaust.

Every manner of creatures ran frightened in all directions as the monster spread mayhem in its path. When the driver saw him sitting calmly under a tree that he planned to destroy, he waved at him to move but he shook his head in refusal. The driver scowled as he put the caterpillar in neutral, then climbed down from the cab and stomped toward him. They argued for a few moments but when he sat resolute the driver said “okay, buddy. You want to become part of the landscape, so be it.” When he climbed back aboard and reengaged the gears, the monster plowed its way forward. It was a very close call when he waited till the last second to roll out of its path and jump to his feet.

Later that evening, while he and his buddies were commiserating at the bar, a lifted pickup with giant tires flying a confederate flag skidded into the parking lot and disgorged four ‘good old boys’ who sauntered in like they owned the place. The sign on their truck said Swamp Water Construction. so this had to be the first crew to arrive. There was nothing to be gained by starting a fight but being polite to invaders wasn’t required. Everyone stood and filed out as the bartender shut everything down and told the men he was just closing. The only thing the locals could do from then on was refuse to intermingle or cooperate and slow everything down, thus making costs soar. Spoiling paradise wasn’t going to come cheap.   

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