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  • Hunting for fresh meat was getting to be more difficult. The fifty year drought had killed all green plants. And so, with the plants went the animals. No cows, no horses, no pigs, no dogs or cats. All were gone. Except the rats. Somehow they manage to survive the blistering heat and lack of water. Walter was exhausted when he got back home. He didn’t want to disappoint Miriam. She was already depressed. Another set back would push her over the edge.

    Tonight Walter and Miriam would dine on beetles and roaches. Again. Walter wanted to break the news to Miriam gently. He opened the door to their abode expecting to find Miriam slumped over the cardboard boxes in a blue funk. But, she was up and prancing about, cheerfully catching roaches.

    “Hi hun.” she said, “I got three big uns. They’ll be real juicy!”

    Walter knew the signs. He had diagnosed Miriam as a manic-depressive with suicidal tendencies. His mind flashed back to their first session a million years ago when the climate crisis had become evident. Miriam was in her “up” stage. It always amazed him how she looked 20 years younger in her manic state. He was thankful for that.

    There wasn’t much to be thankful for. The alternating droughts and floods caused tremendous upheaval to civilization. Low lying areas along the coasts were flooded forcing millions to higher ground. That lead to famine and wars. Energy production became non-existent. There were children born who had no idea what electricity was.

    With the animals dying and farmlands becoming windswept deserts, some people turned to cannibalism. Humans hunted each other for food. Walter fashioned a crude sling shot to hunt small varmints. He had a .38 revolver but only had two bullets left. One for her and one for him when the time was right.

    Miriam opened her palm to show Walter the juicy cockroaches that she captured. But her hand was empty. “Lookit, Walt, hun. Ain’t they big?”

    Walter looked out the boarded window of their underground bunker. The sky was cloudy but it seldom rained at this time of year. He wanted to cry but he had no tears. He realized that Miriam was hallucinating. Dread washed over him like a tidal wave. He realized that the time had come. He reached for his gun.

    “Good, Mir. Get the skillet, start a fire and we’ll roast dem babies!”

    When she turn away, he fired a shot, point blank, at the base of her skull. She fell into a heap on the floor. Her face held its last smile. He sat on a crate and watched her lifeless body for about an hour. He was sure the maneaters heard the shot. They would come to investigate. Fuckem, he thought. He placed the gun barrel in his mouth and fired.

    Outside the sky grew darker and it rained. It rained steady for 3 days. On the third day the afternoon Sun broke through and produced a magic arch of color in the eastern sky. The maneaters never came but the rats found Miriam and Walter’s bodies and feasted.

    The end of mankind's reign had begun. In ten million years, rats would evolve into the new dominant species.
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