Wednesday, August 22, 2012

Story: Drought

The city of Nearville has been hit by a severe drought. Facing tough times, its mayor is forced to look after its people and ensure that the supply of water is secured despite the overwhelming odds.

This story was inspired by the current writing prompt from here, which is drought.

Table of contents: 1 | 2 | 3 | 4 | 5 | 6 | 7

Chapter 1

The queue was as long as the entire city. They all were waiting for one single thing. Their daily allotment of water. It wasn't much, but it was enough to get by. It was a state of misery, but what were the people supposed to do if they wanted to live?

Some of them were very thirsty, others managed to save for worse days, yet nobody's situation was rosy red. The line of impatient individuals was slowly getting shorter, but it seemed that it wouldn't end anytime soon.

Instead, more and more joined, making the queue gain in length rather than shorten. They were weary, but they were aware that enduring was the only way to feel the rejuvenating liquid again.

This sad state of affairs was due to one fact. Drought. It hadn't rained for at least a month already and the land had gone dry. Although many wished for it, their prayers remained unheard.

However, there was also another thing to it. Fatimus Sphere, a man of extraordinary sizes and mass. He was the fattest person walking the Earth, his diet requiring tremendous amount of food.

How dared he stroll around the town on display for the impoverished people waiting in line was a mystery. It was partially his fault that the city's water supply was almost entirely depleted.

In the first days of the drought, he had sneaked into the reservoir and drunk the refreshing blue liquid to the bottom. It is understandable that a person of his weight had had a hard time crawling stealthily, so he had been forced to resort to underhanded tactics once in a while when his clumsy moves had alerted a nearby guard. Eating them had been a trivial matter for Fatimus and it had taken him but a gulp.

"Why did you do it!" people screamed at him hatefully as he passed them by with his usual rolling. They went as far as throwing stones at him, but the flab covering his whole body effortlessly blocked the attacks, making it seem like pebbles were bouncing off a lake surface.

"I was thirsty," he replied without turning his head and looking them in the eye. However, it wasn't a sign of impoliteness, it was because he was so overweight that every movement was a problem for him.

"Give us the water back!" they shouted at him.

"I have none, I'm sorry," he responded and disappeared behind the nearest corner, having been rushing as fast as his legs allowed him.

"I'll beat him!" someone from the crowd yelled angrily.

Yet a woman, possibly his wife, grabbed him by the arm. "It's no use. You'd only exhaust yourself."

The two were at the far end of the queue and it seemed that there were hours in front of them. They had been standing there for at least one already, yet they were hardly halfway through their daily ordeal.

However, the greatest shock was yet to come. It was a scorching hot day and many were kept conscious by sheer power of their will or constant nudges from people around them. Yet there was no way to avoid this situation due to the drought. Or was there?

"Citizens!" echoed a loud voice amplified by a megaphone. It was the mayor himself. "I'm afraid I have bad news for you."

"What?!" some shouted, though most already suspected what the problem was. It was more than obvious.

"We've run out of water," the mayor replied with grimness in his tone.

People were rightfully angry although only within reasonable bounds as their thirst and dizziness prevented them from any significant rioting. Still, there were those that resorted a bit of violence.

"But what are we supposed to do?!"

"My children are dying of thirst!"

"We have the right to drink! What about the others!"

"Citizens, please!" the mayor tried to mend the situation but it was to no avail. "This is unexpected but I trust we will find a way out of this mess."

"Mess?! Mess! There's no getting out of this mess!"

"What gave you the right to decide over the distribution of water?!"

"He's lying! He's hoarding it for himself!"

"Hoarding?! That's nonsense! Can't you see how I'm sweating? I've been standing here since morning and I haven't had a single drop! People, I'm in it with you! And it's important that we are on the same side!"

"You're the mayor, do something!"

"Go ask the neighbouring cities!"

"Neighbouring cities?! Are you mad? They hate us and will kick us out once we appear on their front door!"

"Do we have any other option?!" the people shouted in unison, discovering the power of their voices and repeating the sentence again and again in a chant. The mayor was thus pushed into a corner. Truly, he had no other option.

"Alright, alright!" he said as he walked off the podium where the water had been distributed. He imagined how the neighbours would laugh at him as they showed him the way out of their towns. Nevertheless, it was his job to look after his undernourished sheep and unless he wanted a revolt, he had to do their bidding.

Chapter 2

Why had he accepted the job of a mayor? He cursed at himself loudly as he embarked on the journey. No, there were no cars because they had mysteriously broken down due to the drought and there wasn't anyone to repair them. All of those that knew how to do that were so impoverished that they couldn't even walk.

The first city on the horizon was about five miles away, but it was also one of the most inhospitable. He muttered many rude words as he lamented about his ordeal. His own stupidity had brought him to this situation.

He wanted to be something, to make an impact on the world. To be remembered. That is why he strived to become a productive member of society. He had aimed high and had landed a spot in the town council. Eventually, he had climbed the ladder to its top. He had reached the mayor's position. Now the only way to get up was to jump onto another.

His mother had warned him not to be so foolish and be a farmer instead like his father and his father's father. Digging in dirt and raking in manure was all that a man needed... apart from an occasional shower so that the townsfolk didn't complain too much about the disgusting smell.

He had never shared those beliefs, but since he was neck-deep in trouble, he wished he had listened to her. Pungent remarks at a villager in dungarees munching a straw were nothing in comparison to being showered with insults from large crowds.

But then he realized that if it hadn't been for him, who would now be on the way to beg for water? Perhaps nobody. Perhaps they would have been condemned to death because there wouldn't have been anyone to rise up to the challenge.

So in a sense, he was a hero, or at least he believed as much. Thought it might not have looked like it because it had been his doing and his missteps that alienated most of the cities.

However, he was convinced that he wasn't truly to blame and that it was the evil nature of the neighbours that had isolated them from the rest of the world. Surely such a mistake like misspelling the town Crow's Rudder as Cow's Udder wasn't a reason to spark a series of diplomatic insults.

Or what about the partnership meeting between his city and Mornon? Accidentally addressing the locals as Morons instead of Mornons before a crowd full of them wouldn't anger reasonable people. He couldn't understand it to this very day why they had chased him away with rakes and pitchforks.

It truly baffled him why angry thoughts came into mind when the name of his town echoed in the air. It was hated throughout the entire world and everyone made jokes about it, but there was hardly anything he could have done to change the tarnished reputation. In fact, each of his tries somehow resulted in even more despicable results.

The road was scorching and he sought every tree to hide under and feel the chill of a shadow. However, his duty was to continue and he was aware of it despite the relentless burning of a sun.

He lost track of time after an hour, believing the tiring journey must have taken him at least the whole afternoon. It surely seemed overly long, but that was due to the exhaustion and drought.

Yet he persevered and his patience yielded the much needed fruit. He stood before the fringe of the town of Bulk. It was a moderately sized place with a historical centre. The suburbs were populated by rich people living in villas and estates, choosing to surround their houses with tall walls.

The thirst was blinding him so much that he didn't hesitate to seek the first gate and approached it. The bell was not that loud for him to hear, but it alerted the inhabitants of the magnificent building.

It was a home unlike any other. Shaped like a pyramid, it was sleek and blended well with the environment of cut grass and slim trees. Its owner kept it tidy and nurtured it as much as possible.

However, the mayor, Fred, wasn't there for sights. He was there because of his thirsting people. Their hopes rested on his shoulders. He was the only one that could save the day and avert dehydration.

An elderly man with a receding hairline appeared at the front porch, his eyes gazing through his glasses into the distance where the gate was. He couldn't spot anyone at first, choosing to slowly advance towards it.

"Hello," Fred attempted to get attention, but the man was apparently short of hearing, ignoring his greeting.

"Who are you?" he spoke sternly, his small eyes still trying to properly lock on their target.

"I'm from Nearville, I'm..." the mayor started introducing himself, but was quickly interrupted.

"Nearville?! Go to hell." The response was harsh and the bald individual turned around, heading for his home.

Yet Fred didn't want to give up. "Please! The drought is plaguing us! We desperately need water!"

"Whatever," the last reply was before the door slammed.

"What the hell is this noise?!" a woman living next doors shouted in dudgeon. "Can't we have peace?!"

"Please, madam! I need water!"

"Aren't you the mayor of Nearville?" she yelled as she spotted him, her eagle eyes frowning.

"Yes, our city is in dire condition. The drought hit us hard. We need aid."

"Seek your aid elsewhere, I'm not feeding rude beggars!" she responded angrily and shut the door behind her.

It was hopeless. Nobody would lend a hand. Or at least nobody from the rich quarter. He recalled the words of his mother and realized that farmers were a humble sort. They would always help a person in distress.

Chapter 3

When he circled around the town, he finally arrived at a whole field of barns and huge but neglected houses where bricks were standing naked and various rummage was scattered over the yards.

He knocked on the first door he spotted and waited. A minute had passed, followed by another. He almost gave up and went to the next, yet then it opened and a tall man was in front of him, chewing a straw in his mouth. He resembled a brute and his hands were as large as a baby, capable of crushing someone with a single blow.

"Hello," Fred said.

"Uh-huh," the person responded, briefly glancing at the mayor before his eyes wandered away, their interest captivated by something beyond.

"I'm from Nearville."

"Yes?" the villager replied apathetically.

"We need water. The drought has hit us hard. We are thirsty. Very thirsty. Do you think you could do a good deed and help us?"

"A good deed?" the farmer inquired.

"Yes," Fred remained hopeful.

"Good," the man commented and closed the door.

The mayor wondered whether he had gone inside and would reappear with the much needed liquid, but as he stood there for a little longer, he realized that the individual wasn't particularly hospitable.

Still, he somehow managed to gather enough courage and retry. He knocked.

With anticipation, he expected the returning of the man. And it happened. The door opened again.

"What do you want?" he asked in a bored tone.

"Water. Please. I want water."

"Hmm," he responded and closed without hesitation.

This time, the mayor understood. He wasn't going to get help. His throat was sore and he found it hard to utter a word, but the salvation didn't come yet. Why was he tormented so? Why wouldn't anyone aid the needy?

There was a woman nearby. She was carrying two buckets, walking along a trail in a field, heading towards him. Perhaps she could be of a more gifting spirit. Perhaps she could prove to be the bringer of redemption.

He didn't tarry. He rushed to her, ignoring the protests of his body. She didn't notice at first, but as she heard the steps of someone running, she turned around in curiosity, wondering what was going on.

She spotted him, unable to tell whether the approaching individual was an assailant or not. However, all was answered as he opened his mouth and spoke.

"Help. I need water."

"Water?" she didn't understand.

"Yes. Water. Please, I'm thirsty. I'm the mayor of Nearville. We are thirsty. We have exhausted our supplies."

"Mayor of Nearville, you say," she replied, her mind delving into thought.

"Please," he insisted.

"Alright," she seemed to acquiesce.

"Thank you!" Fred rejoiced.

"Here. It's not of best quality, but it will surely do for the likes of your kind!" she responded with a sarcastic undertone, throwing the bucket she held in her hand at him. A whole gallon of slurry landed on his head, swiftly covering his entire body and making it look like a clogged toilet had exploded on him.

It was disgusting. Although it was cool and refreshing due to the scorching sun, it was also overwhelmingly smelly. The stench was hard to endure, but there was no way he could have washed, which amplified his ordeal.

"Why did you..."

"To hell with you!" she interrupted before disappearing within the bowels of a nearby cottage.

He couldn't understand. Could his mother have been wrong? Even the farmers had turned their backs on him. What was he supposed to do now? Barge in and steal from a water tap? As that idea resounded in his head, it suddenly seemed great.

Just not to get sighted, he reminded himself as he sneaked behind the house of the brute. He didn't think. His instincts drove him, making him forget about the fact that the resident he had the chance to meet wasn't particularly friendly.

He found an opening in the bricked wall. It was situated next to a closed window, but he realized he could squeeze his hand inside and open. He did so and succeeded with ease, allowing him to climb in the house.

Everything went perfectly according to plan that he had to wonder whether some guardian angel wasn't watching over him. He didn't know the place, but he saw a sink nearby in the room that was most likely a bathroom.

There was a hole in the ground completely covered in rust. It might have been a bathtub in the past, but now it hardly resembled anything like it. Besides baskets filled with laundry and towels folded in the corner, there was also his target.

He approached it carefully, leaving muddy footprints on the floor. Not that it would particularly desecrate the already dirty bathroom, but the inhabitants of the building were bound to notice and get angry.

However, if he vanished before their realization, he would receive no punishment. He tried to remind himself of the necessity of secrecy, but when he finally sensed water pouring on his filthy face, he forgot about everything.

It was heaven, he thought. Nothing felt more refreshing than this. It was bliss. He let crystalline liquid rush down in gallons, drinking it by large gulps, filing his stomach to the brim.

His instincts were numb, his mind bathing in paradise. His guard was down and he didn't anticipate any trouble. Yet that was a terrible mistake. The stream suddenly ceased and two strong hands wrapped around him, lifting him into the air and carrying him away from the source of boon.

"You've depleted our water!" the brute yelled out of sheer bewilderment. "What are we going to do now?! Woe to you, Nearviller! You've brought us nothing but ill fate. You'll pay for this!"

He thundered like the god of vengeance, waking intense fright within the mayor's mind. He feared for his own life. However, there was no way for him to escape the death snare and he was aware of it.

"Where are you taking me?" Fred screamed in terror as the hulking man dragged him, heading towards the unknown. Would he be executed?

Chapter 4

They were gathered in the city centre. Like an excited crowd wishing to see a decapitation at the hands of a murderous headsman. He dreaded the event as the brute carried him. He shuttered and shook, but it was of no use.

He was dragged to a podium next to the town hall where his Bulk counterpart stood firmly along with his wife. Or at least he tried to look firm. That facade broke as soon as his spouse nudged him rather violently, nagging him and forcing him to tidy up his tie.

He was clothed in a neat, yet boring suit whilst she was showing off her flamboyant and exotic dress inappropriate for her weight and age. Just by a single glimpse was one able to tell that she had a temper, always having her way.

"Speak, you idiot!" she shouted at him and he swiftly approached the microphone, standing in front of it and searching for words.

He opened his mouth to say something while the farmer held Fred in the air, but nothing came out. He remained speechless until he looked back at his wife and saw her planting both palms against her forehead.

She hurled some insults at him, but they were rather silent so nobody besides the two knew. It certainly kicked the mayor's spirit and provided him with much needed energy. Or fear.

"Ladies and gentlemen of Bulk, I have called this unusual meeting for a reason. As you all know, our water supplies ran dry today. We are aware of this inconvenience and our workers are doing their best to ensure that everything is in order despite the drought.

However, that isn't why you've gathered here. You've gathered here because of one simple thing. Here stands the culprit! And it is none other than our friend. The mayor of Nearville!"

As he finished the last sentence, a volley of agitated suggestions went his way, showing the anger and hatred of the folk towards Fred.

"Burn him!"

"Skin him alive!"

For a while, the mayor of Bulk was unsure. Was he supposed to conform to the citizens of the town? It was apparent that he wasn't really the leader around these parts. He was a puppet instead. His wife was the true boss.

He glanced back at her, watching her respond with a piercing glare and a few comments. They seemed to inspire him again.

"Alright, alright, calm down. We aren't barbarians, let alone Nearvillers! We are civilized and can resolve such a situation peacefully. This man has added insult to injury, daring to show his face after his mockery and now deprives us of our water!"

"It's rather injury to insult," somebody from the crowd shouted. "This is dangerous for the health, but his practical jokes were insulting!"

"It was an accident!" Fred defended himself. "I didn't mean to park the car where your mascot bear stood! And that senior house wasn't my intention either! That new service van just sort of appeared there!"

"Shut up!" the mob screamed.


"People, please!"

They were growing angrier by the second. Some of them even wanted to crawl onto the podium, but the security thankfully kept them at bay. However, the murder and hate in their eyes were scaring Fred.

"Burn him at a stake!"


"Assault Nearville!"

"Citizens!" the mayor helplessly tried to mend the situation. "This filthy man is..."

"He indeed smells exactly like filth! Typical smell of Nearville!" the crowd tirelessly continued at it.

There was no way to calm them. They were like an uncontrollable, panicked herd. They quickly overpowered the security and leapt onto the podium, grasping Fred by every limb he had and battering him like a dog.

It hurt and he defended as much as circumstances allowed him, but he was hopelessly overwhelmed. At first he felt each kick, bite and punch, but eventually his body became so numb that he didn't sense anything. And then he fell unconscious.

Chapter 5

He woke up in a ditch not far from the city slums. His whole body ached, but he was still alive and that was what mattered most. It was hard for him to recover, but the process was hastened when he heard somebody speak.

Fearing that the situation might have been about to repeat itself, he promptly rose up and took to his heels. He was afraid that he wouldn't last another maiming and pummelling. Such death wasn't even honourable.

Not that he was thinking of dying anytime soon anyway. He wished to live. Bringing water home was all that he wanted. Was it really that tricky? Or was it downright impossible to do?

Whatever was true, he rushed to hide in nearby woods, waiting until the coast was clear. When that happened, he sighed in relief and headed to Nearville. Although his mission was unsuccessful, he wasn't going to try his luck elsewhere. He was certain that the results wouldn't be particularly different from the recent ordeal.

It felt like hours, but not because of the temperature. It was his battered state. He was limping and each move caused his whole body to ache. But he had to persevere if he desired water.

He had a plan in fact. He would buy some over the internet. Yes. That was a perfect plan, he thought. The vision of success propelled him, carrying him over hills until he finally stood in front of the city.

Knowing that he had failed his task, he did his best to remain hidden from the eyes of the residents of Nearville. His imagination was wild and it went as far as witnessing his own friends attacking him due to his botched mission.

Thankfully for him, he managed to get into the safe confines of his house and hide behind blinds. So he was alive. Now to buy the water. He switched his computer on and searched the internet for a solution.

The technological marvel had it all. He rejoiced as he spotted gallons of the rejuvenating liquid for sale. He didn't hesitate for even a second, filled his virtual cart and then confirmed his order.

Now to wait, he thought as he revelled in his ingenuity. It was a job well done. He could almost see being hailed as a hero. The man who succeeded against insurmountable odds and stood true despite the seemingly impossible tests.

Yet before he could thoroughly bathe in his resourcefulness, he received a phone call. He eagerly picked it up.


"Is this Fred, the mayor of Nearville?" a female voice spoke unsurely.

"Yes. What do you want?"

"Have you recently ordered water from us?"

"Yes. Is something wrong?"

"Well... err..."

"What is it?"

"Ehm... my boss said to tell you that you are an idiot and he will never sell you anything at all. He also commanded me to inform you that he sent a memo to every other dealer and they have assumed the same stance towards you and your city. Have a nice day and thank you for your customer loyalty."

With those words spoken, she ended the call.

He was boiling in anger, but there was nothing he could have done.

His yearning for a shower remained unfulfilled. How long was he meant to walk around in filth and mud?

He stood up and thought aloud. What to do? He had exhausted his options and the people wouldn't accept failure. But what else was he supposed to do? How to resolve this delicate situation?

He went to the bathroom and instinctively grasped the tap, but then he laughed at himself for his stupidity. There was no water of course. Sorrow and fear took hold of him afterwards. He was doomed.

Somebody rang a bell. Fright overwhelmed him. Angered citizens were at his doorstep and demanded an immediate solution. He didn't have enough courage to face them. His body was covered with painful bruises and he wished to avoid adding even a single one to that collection.

The ring was changed by furious knocking. They were serious. And they wanted to get inside. What if he wasn't safe? What if they were about to kick the door down and pummel him?

He tried hard to push that thought out of his head, but the vision got closer to real with each passing second. It was nearly there. He could almost taste it and it made him shudder in horror.

How about escaping? But what if there were people watching every entrance and window? He was a sitting duck, but showing his face was a certain path to hell. He didn't yearn for that.

His steps led him to his front door. Looking through the peephole, he saw a group of three men. He didn't know them and they didn't seem particularly friendly. What if they were there to kill him?

That notion paralyzed him with anxiety. They knocked again. It was so close and so loud. It felt as if they were battering him. He jumped back in fright, trying to contain his heartbeat afterwards.

"Open up!" they stepped up their threats.

No, he said silently to himself. They were cutthroats intent on ending his life. His imagination carried him as far as his own demise. He didn't want it to happen. That is why he darted to the rear of his house, glancing out of his windows.

"Open the hell up!" they reminded him of themselves, forcing his pulse to jump insanely high again.

There wasn't a soul. It made him sigh in relief and walk the daring move afterwards. Outside. Freedom. He ignored the aching of his body, climbed through and landed on the lawn in his backyard.

He looked into both sides, assuring himself that the way was clear. It was and so he set forth and ran as fast as possible. Hope propelled him, yet his escape ended before it truly started.

They grasped him from behind, knocking him to the ground violently. He couldn't free himself from their strength. They kept him pinned to the soil against his best effort. The trap had been sprung and the game was over.

Chapter 6

When they finally ended dragging him around, he was tied to a chair in a forgotten room. It was below a shed belonging to some unknown people. He had never seen them before in his life.

It was deep underground and there was only a dim light that created a dreary atmosphere. However, it didn't scare him as much as the fact that there were three unfamiliar men standing by.

"Where is it?" the strongest of them spoke intimidatingly.

"Where is what?"

"Don't play dumb. Where is the water, you fool?!"

"Water?" he repeated as ice-cold sweat poured from his forehead.

"Yes. You are an embezzler and a fraudster. The people below are whistling about your treachery against the town. But listen to me. We're not going to let you down if you don't let us."

"You mean..."

"Exactly. You give us some water every now and then and we'll keep quiet. But if you would be so unwise and chose to protest... well... I hope I don't have to continue. Do you catch my drift?"

"I do, I really do, but," he wanted to say the truth, yet decided against it in the very last second. No, he had to play along. He had to stall the threat or avoid it altogether. Death wasn't a plausible option.


"Let me think."

"There's no thinking. It's either yes or no. You'd do best to decide quickly. Come on, I believe we can come to a conclusion."

"I'm not nodding to something before I have insurance," Fred tried to negotiate and thus buy some time.

"Reasonable, but you aren't in a position to make demands. We could just beat the living soul out of you and..."

"Look," he suddenly became emboldened by his recent ordeal. "I've been beaten almost to death, yet I still live. I've endured hell. What makes you think any punishment would force me?"

"Hmm, are you hinting that you do not wish to cooperate?"

"I didn't say that. I merely wanted to convey that I won't be bullied into an unfair deal and let you murder me after I divulge the information you desire."

"You're clever... much cleverer than I thought," the man smiled. "Fine. You have my word that no ill fate befalls you."

"Just your word?"

"I can't offer more than that."

"Are you sure?"

"Don't play a smartass. You know it's the best you can get. I'm a fair man, I honour my deals. So are you going to take the offer or not?"

Tick. Tock. Time was running low. And he still hadn't figured out a solution. Was he doomed to fail? Would they uncover his trickery and kill him? He doubted his decision. He was afraid that this had led him to a blind alley and his lies wouldn't give him precious minutes, but anger his captors to the point of mercilessness.

He prayed for a miracle, yet he didn't believe that any would come. His experience was that it had never happened when he needed it. Yet suddenly, it did. A loud noise went out and it was almost as if the whole structure was about to crash down on them.

"What the hell?"

"Untie me! If I die, the secret dies!" Fred shouted, but nobody was paying attention to him.

"You two, check what's going on upstairs!" the interrogator ordered his comrades and they nodded in agreement.

Before they could disappear within the only door, it opened wide and a figure, or rather its part stood there. It was Fatimus.

"I've heard the word water and I'm thirsty!" he bellowed in his attempts to squeeze through the hopelessly small entrance.

"Good grief, get rid of that fat fool!"

Gunshot followed, but the bullets didn't even make it past the surface layer of flab. It merely grazed the overweight person. He may actually have overlooked the attack on him. His slow but steady efforts eventually yielded fruit as the wall crumbled.

The three were completely shocked, their magazines dry. They began reloading, but before they could have done so, the enormous sphere of fat rolled over them and ate them one by one.

"Thanks a lot!" Fred couldn't show his gratitude enough.

"Water? Where is it?" Fatimus didn't want to hear about anything else but his own interest.

"I don't have any water, I've gone to Bulk and they've kicked me out. Then those three madmen kidnapped me."

"So you don't have any water?" he sounded disappointed.

"No. Not even a drop. Sorry."

"What a shame," he sighed and began the lengthy process of getting out of the narrow confines of the place.

"Wait!" the mayor yelled after him, but it was to no avail. The extremely overweight individual didn't listen.

With his hands tied behind the chair, Fred found it hard to get rid of the bindings, but diligent effort combined with dire need did wonders. The whole room was shaking and it was only a matter of moments until it would bury him.

As soon as he could rise up, he sprang out of his little prison and rushed out during the very last seconds. The ceiling crumbled afterwards, blocking the path back and filling it with rubble.

Now to get Fatimus. Such an ambivalent person. Driven by urges, not caring for others. Yet these urges had actually saved the mayor's life. Grateful or not, Fred had to catch up with him not just to avoid the collapsing of the structure, but also to get answers.

How come he had been near during the interrogation, eavesdropping on the conversation? Had he known those despicable kidnappers personally? It hardly seemed possible, but there couldn't have been another explanation.

Chapter 7

Fred ignored the scent of fresh air and the pain overwhelming him. There were much more important things at stake. As soon as he got out, he wondered which way could the fat man have taken. Thankfully, the choice wasn't that tough as the soil was devastated, the flowers and the grass crushed, creating a hardly unnoticeable trail.

As he glanced to the distance, he noticed him. Slowly rolling away, his goals unknown to the mayor.

"Stop where you are!" Fred yelled, but Fatimus didn't answer. Either he didn't hear or he simply didn't heed the command.

"I said stop!" the mayor demanded obedience, but it was to no avail. The overweight individual wasn't intent on conforming.

Fred wasn't going to give up despite the increasing aches, hounding him through narrow streets and blind alleys. What the escapee couldn't climb over, he crushed like it was made of jelly.

The citizens of Nearville noticed, joining the pursuit. Yet the unstoppable ball of fat didn't care at all. It carried on, rolling over anyone who dared to stand in the way. Was there no end to it?

The outskirts of the town were already in sight and the local swimming pool was a few hundred metres away. It was emptied and dry to nobody's surprise as the drought had truly hit everything and everyone.

There was a whole crowd chasing after the fat man who wasn't willing to give up. It seemed hopeless, but then an intervention from heavens themselves happened. Or rather an oversight on Fatimus' part.

He fell straight into the pool, filling it to the brim and unable to climb outside. He was trapped.

"Please, friends, help me get out!" he begged, but they were aware that he would take to his heels if he was freed. However, it was not within their power to tow him out of the hole. The overwhelming weight of his body was simply too much for the entire city and available machinery.

"Not until you explain some things!" Fred yelled whilst trying to catch his breath. Meanwhile, kids found jumping on the flab funny and enjoyable, almost as if it was a bouncing castle.

"Stop it!" Fatimus shouted out of annoyance.

Yet the children didn't care. They laughed and laughed as they played, their voices deafening the confused debates of the people.

The mayor's effort to be heard was in vain. Nobody paid attention to him, ignoring his presence altogether.

"What should we do?" the baffled citizens wondered, but none could answer as more and more questions appeared. Was it really a dead end situation? Were they doomed to contemplate forever?

However, the solution emerged out of nowhere. As one of the kids jumped and landed on the flab, it exploded like a volcano, but didn't spew out lava. It was water instead. Like a geyser it gushed from the increasing number of holes whilst the children were leaping back and forth.

It was a miracle and the residents of Nearville didn't wait for even a second. They rushed to their homes, bringing buckets and filling them. The rejuvenating liquid was so sweet. Its taste was overwhelming for the senses.

The city was saved and Fred was convinced that it was his doing, but none cared about him. He stood there ignored and alone, confounded that nobody hailed him as hero and saviour.

And while the townsfolk gathered water in gallons, running as fast as they could due to fright that the source would be exhausted soon, he remained. The show eventually ended and the horrifying results of the drought had been negated, but he was still there not moving a single limb.

The day turned to night, making him a shadow. He meditated silently, realizing that the position of a mayor wasn't tailored for him. No. His mother was right. He would do much better if he became a farmer.

And so he abdicated. His successor managed to gain skyrocketing popularity both with the people and with the outside. It was a feat that Fred had never been able to perform. However, he didn't mind. He wasn't jealous or envious. Instead, he enjoyed his new profession. He enjoyed digging in dirt and raking in manure.