Estimated reading time — 6 minutes
Water is the cornerstone of life. It nourishes us, irrigates our crops and waters our livestock. Water is vital for all known forms of life. We rely on it to wash our cars, clean our food and produce our power. It has an effect on almost every activity in everyday life. Without it, civilisation would cease to function. Governments would collapse, crippled by an undefeatable enemy – drought. It would be a matter of days – no longer than a week – before every living being on Earth perished. In short, we cannot live without water.
Two days ago, we were forced to begin doing just that.
I don’t know how it began. Nobody left alive does. During the initial hours of it, theories ranged from the barely plausible, like a new form of greenhouse gas, to the ridiculous, such as a new type of light, one that only evaporated water. I remember those hours fondly – the true enormity of what had happened had not yet sunk in and hysteria had not yet clutched the human race.
I’ll put it simply.
The first was that every single drop of freshwater on the entire planet evaporated instantly.
I don’t think I can do this event justice, but I’ll try.
Can you imagine every single river, every single lake, every single natural source of water drying up instantly, without rational explanation? I doubt you can, but that’s exactly what happened. It wasn’t restricted to natural sources, either. As far as I can tell, all the bottled water in the world also evaporated, as did that in water tanks and other similar sources. It also disappeared from other substances, including soft drinks, creating foul sugar compounds that would make those that consumed it quite ill. There was not a single drop of freshwater left anywhere on Earth for anybody to drink.
But by far the worst result of the lack of water was the nuclear reactors.
Without pressurised water, most of the nuclear reactors in the entire world – those that utilise purified water as coolant – had no available sources of coolant, and just under half of these had poor or untested failsafe plans. The resulting effect of this led to catastrophic nuclear meltdown in roughly 46% of water-cooled reactors. The world, already reeling from the unprecedented situation, fell into total anarchy.
International communication ceased after almost exactly twenty-four hours after it began.
But there was a second effect.
The saltwater poisoning.
Many people flocked to desalination plants in the first few hours, hoping for salvation.
They found none.
At approximately the same time as the worldwide evaporation, saline increased by fivefold in every sea or ocean on Earth. Desalination plants were able to cope with this load for approximately twenty hours. Then, fuel began to run low – and with the imminent collapse of civilisation thanks to the multiple nuclear catastrophes, no more was delivered. Thus, the last ever drop of freshwater on Earth was pumped out no later than midnight yesterday.
After the drought came the collapse.
With no water available, civilisation soon descended into anarchy. Governments, typical of authority to the very end, tried maintaining order. It didn’t work. Soldiers rebelled, shooting rioters and runners alike. Those who didn’t die were brutally executed moments after. They turned on each other soon enough, with only a few militaries intact from the carnage. The deserters fled, unwilling to stay and watch the extinction of Earth.
But then came the worst, far worse than anything before it.
There was, in fact, one source of water that hadn’t been touched.
I’m so lucky I realised before anyone else in my town.
It was blood.
Blood, which is over 90% water, was the only remaining liquid fit to drink.
And so some did.
At first, I didn’t believe it. It was too horrific.
Animals went first. The desperate drank the blood of cats, dogs, pets and feral animals of all kinds. Many offered too little blood to be of any value. The situation was made worse by the fact that I live in a rather large metropolitan city and beyond domesticated pets and the odd feral animal, there was no animals to catch and drink from. Perhaps those in the country fared better – I have no way of finding out, and frankly I don’t really care.
I knew then that humans were the only other option.
I first saw it twelve hours ago.
An elderly man, dressed in nothing but a torn dressing gown, slowly made his way down the street that ran in front of my house. He called for help desperately, croaking out that his entire nursing home was dead or dying, that the nurses had fled and that he was looking for help. He was so pitiful that I almost opened my door, if only to offer him some respite from the midday sun, and some of my sparse rations.
If I had been a second faster, I would not be writing this.
Before I could open the door, three people – two men and a woman – pounced from the shadow of a nearby tree. The poor old bastard had no chance. They leapt upon him, frenzied in their dehydration, and set on him with makeshift tools. It was the most terrifying spectacle of my entire life. One of the men had a hammer – he set about bashing the man’s joints in, one by one. Crack. Crack. Crack. I retched bile each time the hammer slammed into bone, so sickening was the crunch. The other had a gardening hoe. He hovered above the elderly man, bringing the makeshift weapon down once, twice. The tool cut through the man’s ankles like a knife through a steak.
The metaphor made me vomit. After I did, I looked back, if only to satisfy my own growing horror.
Oh, how I wish I hadn’t.
The woman, who was weaponless save for her own two hands, had straddled the man’s chest. Her hands were spread on the screaming man’s face as her own companions butchered him. Then, even as I watched, she dug her thumbs into his eyes. He howled like nothing I had ever heard before. She dug harder, pushing inwards and outwards simultaneously. When they were pulled free, blood and some even less discernible liquid splattered all over her. She grabbed them and ate them like fruit. I could hear the chewing sounds from my door. They bent to consume the precious blood and I turned away.
I call them the Drinkers.
There’s one thing I want to make very clear about them. They aren’t zombies. Nor are they affected by some external force that forces them to drink the blood of humans, such as a virus or disease. They are entirely human. I suspect that dehydration affects them worse than it does others and this forces them to drink from humans in a form of pseudo-cannibalism or perish. They represent the dark side of humanity. The Drinkers also seem to recognise each other through some subtle signal. Not being a Drinker, I wouldn’t know it.
As fast as I possibly could, I took my meagre supplies, some small comforts, this journal and my .357 Desert Eagle up into my bedroom. I pushed the bed against the door with my rapidly fading strength and piled furniture on it. The Desert Eagle has a full clip of seven, and I have one spare. Enough for thirteen Drinkers and – well, I’m sure you can imagine.
Another six hours have passed. I can really feel the dehydration now. My tongue feels numb and my skin feels like sandpaper. I tried to eat some bread before and I almost choked, with no saliva to moisten my throat. Now I’m hungry as well as thirsty. I don’t even know why I’ve kept writing this. Maybe it’s something to occupy me during the final hours of mankind. Maybe I hold some hope that a solution will be found and somebody in the future will read this and remember what it was like. Maybe I’m just delusional.
It’s getting worse. I’m breathing heavily and becoming more and more lethargic. This room feels like a sauna. I can almost see the heatwaves bouncing across the room, becoming more and more intense until I am literally cooked alive. It’s not a pleasant vision. My pen keeps slipping from the page as I suffer random bursts of weakness. I’m scared I won’t even be able to pull the trigger if the time comes.
I’m so terribly thirsty. The last time I urinated it burned. I haven’t defecated for a long time now. My vision’s fading in and out and my head feels like it’s going to split open from the intense pressure inside. My skin is so dry and leathery. I know I’m dying, but I’ve still got the Desert Eagle. Maybe I should kill myself before I lose the strength to do so. God knows it’s better than dehydrating to death or letting the Drinkers get me.
its dark and i’ve lost the gun
vision almost gone
i’m going mad
somebody’s knocking at the door
they want to be let in
they say the drinkers are coming
i don’t know
maybe i’ll go get a drink.
i’m so thirsty.
Credited to Archfeared.