Approaching Whether

Post-apocalyptic weather divinations gathered by hearsay

The desert is increase. Inward and outward. The oases are being consumed.  Literally disappearing over a matter of days. One former oasis dweller, a hotel owner in Ain Krofra, Abdelkader, has abandoned his prosperous hotel catering to foreigners seeking comfort in Algeria. Gradually, over a week, his oasis town turned into an indistinguishable sand dune. Monday, it felt substantially dryer than usual. He spent half the day sleeping by his well so he wouldn’t have to go far to quench his unceasing thirst. Tuesday, he could hear what he thought was the bottom of his well, a sound not even his great grandfather had heard. Wednesday, he had to lock his doors against the thirsty. Thursday, his one guest fl ed, lips parched. Friday, his well was dry. That night, someone died trying to steal water from his empty well. They did not bother to pull the body up. They were lethargic from the heat. Saturday, they woke up to seven inches of sand. They could hardly open their doors. Not many tried.

Riot ensued for the right to pick the last date in the village—the last food. By the time someone ascended the date palm, after it was agreed its sole remaining fruit would be split forty-seven ways—the cutting, overseen by the town wazir—the date was gone, or it had been altogether imagined.

People slept on their roofs. Woke up with the sun burning their eyes. The sand had risen to a tidal drama of over seven feet. The tallest person in the village, in lieu of any measuring devices, confirmed this.

Water is vanishing. Desert is eating the earth like lava.

It has become the din of the cafes lining the North African capitals and lesser cities. Sitting among the locals, mustachioed, legs crossed, a limp hand grasping a water pipe, you can hear the word “desert” being repeated like a simple power chord in a Beatles song. Indeed if the camels could speak—many an owner claim they can—the din in the khans would sound much the same.

According to scholars in the revered meteorology institute, Der Verruckt Himmel, the desert increase is inversely proportionate to the rainfall. Many respond: duh. The scientific community replies double duh to them. The victims of the growing desert blame the evil of men, excluding themselves.

A California farmer is unafraid. “We will irrigate the desert. That’s all,” he says cheerfully. The undisputed former president of Egypt advises against using irrigation: “If we take water from the Mediterranean like we would a well, it will dry up like a well. We do not want this.” The majority of former undisputed presidents of other North African nations disagree, claiming that Egypt has the least amount of desert and the least say.

Still, this may not come as an alarm to some. The Rockabilly set, who minimize the opulence of everything except the mundane, seem not to notice as they pedal their bikes, filled baskets shaking to the handle bars.

Those on Wall Street assure us there is a market for all this sand: “Sand makes glass, right?” said one hedgefund CEO who insisted on being identified.

Madame Zena may have the best outlook on this. During a recent séance, the editor’s great aunt told her: “When things are to be worried over, you don’t ask if you should worry. You just worry.” This is wise advice. We should be patient and allow the worry to come to us. We will know what we need to know when we need to know it.

—R. Misdary, 2012.

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