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It began slowly, only a handful of people disappearing at a time. But within a week of the first reports, these things were popping up everywhere and taking people with them: sinkholes.

They started the size of a car, opening in the middle of construction sites. I remember feeling uneasy, staring at the ground with each step, but convinced it couldn’t happen to me. Then they grew and grew, until these massive sinkholes were opening at random, swallowing towns whole.

Scientists couldn’t explain the new phenomenon. The world was used to ignoring a changing environment—for convenience, or out of laziness, or because capitalist conglomerates were regularly lulling us into a false sense of safety.

But this was something entirely different, something that couldn’t be ignored. The sinkholes became the focus of the 24-hour news cycle, live streamed as they took down new skyscrapers and old schoolhouses with no discernment. The first time I heard the whispers was as I watched Central Park turn into a dark pit from my seat in a crowded Williamsburg bar.

“The Earth takes what she wants.”

Pleas were issued that corporations stop drilling, stop fracking, until we had some sort of answers. These were ignored by governments and companies alike. Then an oil rig was sucked into the depths, sinking into inky waters.

“The Earth takes what she wants,” was our only reply. The thrum of the phrase became a battle cry, a rhythm of our marching, the soundtrack to the revolution.

But even after every oil corporation’s headquarters were destroyed, and plastic plants were abandoned, and the rainforests were emptied of any machinery, the sinkholes kept coming.

There was only one answer: “The Earth takes what she wants.”

Those of us who remained stood at her many altars, appreciating the warmth of the sun on our face or watching the stars twinkle lightyears away. We listened to the sound of waves crashing on the sand or waterfalls bubbling against rocks or birds singing in the trees. We thanked her as she swallowed us up, hoping that with our sacrifice, she could reclaim herself.

On the way down into the darkness I could only hear the chant over the rumbling of the dirt.

“The Earth takes what she wants.”


Sky Sprayberry (she/her) is a DC-based fiction writer. When she’s not writing, she can be found in her garden, trying to get her sleeve unhooked from a rosebush’s thorns. Her work can be found in The Molotov Cocktail, Rejection Letters, and littledeathlit, among others. Say hi on Twitter: @writtenbysky.

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