Water by Nels Hanson

Let me tell you how we and all the animals and plants almost died and at the last moment we were saved.
First, look up the sky and choose one clear star. Imagine that suddenly light radiates from the bright speck like a gold orange pierced all around with silver needles. For years stand where you are until you notice now that one spoke from ten thousand rays separates and grows slowly larger.
Bend and track through the telescope on the tripod the slender fire approaching. Just when it appears to fall, to set the dying woods ablaze, then turn sharply to target only your town, you see that the flame is a ship — with a smaller ship attached to its belly — that streaks away toward a rising tan light in the east.
Bright fire etches an orbit of yellow fire around the full moon and seconds later descends as you study the strange craft disappearing into a crater on the Marsh of Dreams.
Quickly, in imagination, leap to the moon, into the cavern and through the pilot’s porthole see the walls of a natural amphitheater widen when you drop lower toward a lake of blue ice. The ship levels and hovers just above the frozen still waters and you blink at the red burst of lasers, the solid sea beginning to melt and rock in lines of bluer waves.
Stand again at your telescope and view a vague light leave the crater and start toward the Earth and circle the horizons for a week, lift and fall, lift and fall, twenty times before it returns into the waning gibbous moon.
Once more you see through the ship’s window. A grid flashes across the turning world, a curving zigzag pattern of azure spark flashing across the continents, below and above the equator, then snaps off.
The shadowed captain gives the order to start toward another dying planet and from your front yard you watch the ship’s reflected spot of sunlight dim and fade dark.
The Earth grows even hotter and drier, lakes and oceans evaporate but leave no clouds, leaves wilt and animals look for shade. All the rivers are sand.

Water, people whisper in a growing hoarse roar, like sea in an empty shell. Water.
Day and night, everyday, all anyone and the brown grass and stumbling birds think and feel is thirst until the parched Earth shakes, as if to kindle itself with blue lightning and a strange thunder all ghostly storms have only echoed.
Now the script of blue light like a saving word flickers and burns across the hemispheres without going out and from the moon at last pure rain begins to fall.

About the Author:
Nels Hanson’s fiction received the San Francisco Foundation’s James D. Phelan Award and Pushcart Prize nominations in 2010, 12, and for 2014. Stories have appeared in Antioch Review, Texas Review, Black Warrior Review, Southeast Review, Montreal Review, and other journals, and are in press at Tattoo Highway and The Milo Review. Poems appeared in Word Riot, Oklahoma Review, Heavy Feather Review, Meadowlands Review, Ilanot Review and other magazines, and are in press at Pavilion, Sharkpack Review Annual, and S/tick. A poem which appeared in Outside In Literary & Travel Magazine and one in the Citron Review have been nominated for 2014 Pushcart Prizes.