The Churning

Image of a house and "waterwheel" sitting on an outcropping of crop land curving downward, in a land's version of a waterfall.
“Landfall” by Erik Johansson

A surreal image for MindLoveMisery’s Menagerie Photo Challenge #363. The creator of it, Erik Johansson, has a video on YouTube that shows what went into creating the image — it’s really neat to check out.


The Churning
by Dave Williams

The Earth had had enough. The planet was taking matters into its own hands.

This time, well beyond the events we had grown accustomed to happening on a somewhat-regular basis. The powerful hurricanes, “ordinary” earthquakes, underwater earthquakes leading to tsunamis, tornadoes, volcanic eruptions.

The ground moved. Some people said it was like a conveyor belt, the belt ending and dropping everything into a pit. Then, miles away from the pit, the land opened and out came the buildings, roads, trees, cars. But all those materials were in pieces. Like a bunch of machines below the Earth’s surface had crushed the materials, chewed them up, and spit out the pieces above ground.

But no machines were doing that crushing and chewing. The Earth had its own devices.

So the people who said it was like a tumbling compost bin were more accurate. The kind of bin where you throw your food waste and yard clippings, then you rotate the bin to stir up all the goodies, aerate them, in the hope they will break down and become lovely, nutricious compost for your garden.

If more people did that in real life, perhaps The Churning would not have happened.

The event occurred randomly around the planet. Scientists said they found no reason why some places were affected while others were not. If the Earth wanted to cause the highest impact, only the big cities would’ve been churned.

And some big cities had been churned. I tried typing the names of those cities for this piece, but I broke down and couldn’t do it. Everything I’ve heard about those cities, the movies I’ve seen where the action took place in those cities. Gone. Gone before I had a chance to visit them. Of course I would not have visited all of them, especially the ones far away from me. But I liked knowing they existed. They were parts of humanity’s tapestry.

That tapestry has been ripped and new patches sewn.

Seeing news coverage was mind-blowing. I didn’t believe my eyes. It has to be a movie, I thought. But no, it was real. I heard the whapping of the helicopter’s blades above the cameraman. I saw the land moving, dropping, a fresh mass reappearing. The Churning.

Then came news coverage of the aftermath. Rubble mixed with dirt. If the Earth wanted renewal, why not keep the human-made stuff underground? Why not replace it with just dirt above-ground? People said it was to remind us of not being more careful. Maybe they’re right.

We were shocked by the horror coming from below us. We’d been scared of aliens attacking us, meteors smashing us. Death from above. But it came in the opposite direction.

And now, as the dust has settled, we have no way of knowing if a second Churning will happen. So people are living as if it will happen at any time, and there’s chaos.


copyright © 2021 Dave Williams

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