Gerald looked up at the dark clouds forming on the horizon. With one shaky hand, he clutched a cup that read “World’s Best Door Hinge Manufacturer”, and took a tentative sip of his tea. A big storm was coming, he could feel it. It would be raining cats and dogs soon, and he needed to start preparing the nets. It was nearing the end of Sumbar, and with any luck they would be able to secure enough food for the coming Winbar, if they worked quickly. He hobbled out the door and into the street, a few people were milling about and watching the sky. Minsey, his labrador retriever, bounded after him, or at least, as well as a three legged dog could bound. He found her during the previous storm -the carrot storm of ’76- and felt sorry enough for the poor creature that he decided to give her a home.
As they began the lengthy process of stringing up the large, tightly woven nets above every house and road, the first few clouds began to release their baggage. First was a pomeranian -“SPLAT!”-, next a chihuahua and a siamese -“SMACK!”-, and soon the storm was upon them. They needed to work faster. The nets were already filling up; cats and dogs screaming and whining as they tumbled through the air. One unlucky shih tzu bounced off the net Ms. Darney had strung up above her house, and landed with a splash in her pool; bobbing up to the surface after a few seconds and letting itself be retrieved by a very irritated Mr. Darney and his pool skimmer. Most citizens of Martwan had Mr. Darney’s reaction to the yearly produce storms, as a frustrating -but in the end necessary- part of the survival of the town, and the country of Alkept.
No one really knew what caused the storms, although there were many theories that circulated, ranging from benevolent gods to wormholes. Either way, the storms are the main source of income for the country, as a lot of the produce can be exported. The first wave of the storm began to sputter out, and as the dark clouds shed their last few animals, something new began to fall.
“Cabbages!” Ms. Hamkettle proclaimed -as the head of the Toastmaster club in town, she was well versed in making bold announcements before handing the stage over to someone more capable- while she peered through the binoculars she used for such occasions.
Cheers of joy echoed through the small crowd that was forming, and people began opening up their poculumbrellas.¹ Little Billy Hamkettle and the other neighbourhood children began using a cabbage as a soccer ball, but were soon ushered indoors after Emma Crocksocket, who was distracted by the game, got hit in the head by one of the falling cabbages and subsequently fell backwards, landing on a border collie.
As the storm slowly tapered out, people began hurriedly picking through the cabbages and choosing the best ones to take home. The nets were left up, letting the government vehicles later collect the leftovers to sell on the market. It was good system, Gerald thought, as he watched the large trucks haul the full nets into their semi-trailers. He took a half-hearted bite of his sautéed garlic cabbage² and as his mind wandered, a thought began to form. Gerald stopped chewing, and it suddenly struck him how important this particular thought was. He had done it; he had figured out what caused the storms. Before Gerald could even look around for a pen to write it down, a coconut came flying out of nowhere and smashed into the back of his head, killing him instantly. Somewhere, in the middle of nowhere, an incomprehensible entity let out a sigh of relief. No one should be able to figure it out that easily, after all.
¹A popular device that resembled an inverted umbrella, and served the purpose of catching produce while also protecting the user. The creator, Steven Marscum, was the third cousin of one of Gerald’s friend’s coworker; a fact that Gerold would tell to anyone who made the grave mistake of attending one of his monthly Norhtern-Martwan Communitee Betterment Cocktail Parties (or NMCBCP events as Gerold would lovingly refer to them).
²Which, ironically, didn’t contain any garlic. Gerald had run out recently, so he decided to replace it with cloves. He’d learned a valuable lesson about spice combinations that day.
Thank you to Hanli who gave me the prompts “cat” and “cabbage”.