One of the driving elements of the SDC is a heat wave blanketing Farmhaeven, the town in which the story takes place. However, in early drafts, I was profusely verbose on this topic. Here is one such excerpt that ending up on the cutting room floor, but still provides insights to my writing, exposure to the main characters and perhaps an enjoyable, if brief, diversion from your day. Like previous CRFs, this excerpt has not received the excellent editorial excoriation of my alpha and beta readers, nor has it been professionally edited, so consider yourself forewarned and feel free to provide feedback regarding your reading experience!
The unrelenting heat wave continued to take its toll on the plants, animals and good folks of Farmhaeven. Most of the effects of the record-breaking heat were expected, though a few were not. Some were serious, though some were rather comical. How serious or comical often depended on whether you were the one suffering or not.
Less serious effects included crunchy, sun-baked lawns, lost to the ravages of the pervasive heat and droopy trees and plants, still digging deep into the earth for signs of moisture. Plenty of scrawny cats and mangy dogs wandered around town with parched tongues permanently lolling out of their gaping mouths in an effort to shed their internal heat before they got roasted from the inside out.
More serious effects were heat related illnesses. The young and the aging were particularly susceptible. Carefree children were severely sunburned and many suffered through one degree or another of dehydration. There were also reports of heat exhaustion and even cases of heatstroke were off the charts as Farmhaeven citizens wilted like dying flowers in the summer sun. Some ended up in the emergency room, but typically only needed intravenous fluids and a reminder to stay in the shade and drink plenty of fluids. Usually a hospital visit and an intravenous experience was a good enough lesson in and of itself and there were few repeat customers.
Miraculously, there had been no fatalities, despite the significant increase in calls to emergency services. The worst case reported to date was that of an older shut-in discovered by her weekly grocery delivery person from Sandy’s SuperMart.
Eighteen-year-old Blake had knocked on Mrs. Hoffsten’s door, but there was no answer, so he let himself in with his key, announcing himself as he entered. This was not unusual as she often was in a different room or didn’t have her hearing aids turned up. Receiving silence as a response to his greeting, Blake went into the kitchen, set the groceries down on the small table and went into the living room to look for her to sign her delivery receipt.
He found her, but not knitting quietly to game show reruns and definitely not in a position to sign his receipt. She was sitting in front of a non-working window mounted air conditioner—unconscious.
Fortunately, Blake had found her just moments after she had passed out. He quickly called 9-1-1 who responded in record time. Mrs. Hoffsten recovered with no ill effects after two days in the hospital and a steady stream of intravenous fluids to correct her severely dehydrated state.
Scott had even seen a similar case firsthand. Leonard Frye, a retired factory worker (he had been a plush eye specialist at a toy manufacturing plant), lived a few trailers down from Scott. Mr. Frye had been mowing his crispy brown lawn shortly after lunch one blistering warm day with his manual push mower that looked like a handful of rotating kitchen knives. The lawn already looked like the trim haircut of a new Marine recruit, but Mr. Frye insisted on mowing his lawn every week no matter the color of the lawn, its height or the weather conditions.
Scott and his friends had been walking by Mr. Frye’s on their way to the soda machine at the trailer park management office by the disappointingly dry pool. Seeing them, Mr. Frye stopped, wiped his damp brow and waved at the kids with his sweat soaked handkerchief. Raising his arm must have altered his already heat-stressed biological system because his twinkly brown eyes suddenly rolled into the back of his head. He had promptly crumpled to the dry ground in an unconscious pile of nice old man.
At the same time, Rick was driving by on a quick test run of his latest repair/modification to Cammie, his late model El Camino. He slammed on his brakes and squealed to a stop, leaving a fuming streak of hot black rubber on the soft pavement. Jumping out and leaving his car running in the middle of the road, Rick joined Scott, Jeff, Nick and Scout who were rushing over to help Mr. Frye. Rick called 9-1-1 while the kids helped a groggy Mr. Frye to the warm shade of his porch. An ambulance arrived shortly after and took Mr. Frye to the hospital. He returned later that afternoon, having suffered only a mild bout of heat exhaustion. He did not finish mowing his lawn.
Not until the next morning, that is.
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