The Sharklings of Anchor Valley
by Kurt Hunt
It rained on Thursday and it rained on Friday and it rained on Saturday until the animals
fled and the crops drowned. Josiah stood ankle-deep in mud, watching the water rise black
against the bright green hills that encircled Anchor Valley.
"We're gonna need to stack 'em higher, Becca!"
Behind him, sandbags encircled the stone house built by his father's father. He'd never
understood how someone could till the fields, raise a family, and build a house all at the same
time. But watching Rebecca, baby in one arm, sandbag in the other, brought clarity. Brick by
brick, bag by bag; what they built, we preserve.
The house they could protect, God willing. But Grandpa's soybean fields--he still thought
of them that way even though the farm had been his for more than a decade--were transformed,
already half-swallowed. The plants floated, listless, stiff brown leaves unraveling like rope. From
the house to the roots of the hills beneath the yawning mouths of abandoned copper mines, every
dip and trench reflected only flat gray--driving rain and storm clouds.
His attention snapped back to a locomotive sound--a crack and a rumbling echo.
A flicker at the horizon swelled. The hills rose up. Frothing darkness rolled toward them
across the valley floor.
"Rebecca. . ."
Water like a wall, taller than the fences. Shattered tree trunk teeth gaped out of its
"BECCA, GO!" Josiah turned to run but the mud sucked at him and he fell into the
wreckage of the row. Against the house, a flash of yellow sundress--Rebecca made it inside. The
baby, too, and the other kids, thank God, thank God--
Cold shock hit him. Knives of debris slashed and cut. Before he could scramble away it
lifted him like driftwood, off the ground, out of his boots, up, up to the spear-tip of the flood.
Dizzy memories of childhood--weightless in strong arms--then the half-built levee took the
wave at the knees and it crested and fell.
Water had already crept underneath the back door, carrying bits of black soil from the
garden. When Josiah hit it, followed by the battering ram torrent, it burst inward.
He managed to regain his feet and pull his head up for air after being swept into the living
room. No sign of Rebecca or the kids. They must have made it upstairs. Maybe even grabbed
some water and food so they could wait it out. A moment of relief.
But the water didn't slow.
It roared through the door, up to his waist now. He struggled toward the stairs but it was
almost impossible to move. Shadows grew behind the windows and the room grew darker and
darker until the shadows shook at the top of the panes and they exploded. Cabinets ripped off the
wall. Chest-high, now, it rose and kept rising.
"Becca!" he screamed. "Get to the roof! Becca!"
Mud and splinter-filled water filled his mouth. Yelling, wide-eyed and frantic, he sucked
it in; his lungs filled like water balloons. There: the bottom of the stairs, totally submerged. He
clawed at them, retching, half-crawling, half-swimming, but the water climbed faster. He had to
find them, had to help them, where were they? Trapped.
When he finally got upstairs, the house had filled. He burned for air, but it was too late.
He relented and let in the flood while he searched.
Rebecca was in the bedroom, floating face-down against the rough, wide-planked ceiling,
her black curls fanned out like a crown of seaweed. In her arms she held all three children and
she sang to them, low and steady like the sound of breath in lungs.