It was the grasslands that made it; most of the forests had burned. For all their planning and preparation, no one expected that the Big One would have done most of their work for them. Some had dreamed it, prayed it. But when it finally hit, everyone realized that the land was in charge.
The initial deluge was bad enough, as the dams on the Columbia fell like dominoes. And no one even spoke of the ones the terrorists had got to first. But the aftershocks that set off the volcanoes one by one were enough to vanquish all hope of having it our way.
Some had begun to expect what was coming when the animals’ behavior had begun to change so dramatically. Ravens had darkened the skies over most of the cities. The prides of mountain lions had baffled the scientists while parents forbid their children to play outdoors. The wolves had fled most of the continent in the course of the year leading up to it, all gathering west of the Rockies in eager anticipation. Coyotes had been systematically raiding groceries stores, even in the cities.
Then it hit. Portland sank. Seattle slid. Vancouver washed away. No one knew why the diseases that followed seemed to be so selective. Slowly but surely, the ones who weren’t singing would catch fever, their skin erupt with the pox. It would happen so fast. Most still couldn’t hear it, but when you asked them, they said they were just singing along. Singing the same song as the mountains. No one even tried to put the fires out.
The herds followed the fires. And while so much of the rest of the planet had turned to dust and desert, the rain fell here more than ever. Fire. Rain. Grass. Elk. Pronghorn. Caribou. Grizzlies. Packs of Grizzlies.
The beaver made short work of the creeks. And the rivers boiled. No. That was just the salmon. No one had even seen a Coho in 30 years. But then there they were. A few people had died trying to catch the June Hogs at Celilo. Sockeye filled the high mountain lakes. And eventually trees sprouted again. Some not seen since the Pleistocene.
People ate, and argued about what “the State” was. They argued in Lingít. Xaat Kíl, Secwepemctísn. Nsyilxcen. Ichishkíin Sɨ́nwit. Klamath. Karuk. And some crazy old men told jokes in Irish.