Duck, Duck, Goose

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Rachel held the binoculars up to her eyes one last time, looking out over the open water.  There were three ducks, a few gulls, and swans but no geese.  Once this lake had been full of geese every summer but now they did not come.  There was a time when people had said the lake would never be empty of geese, but they were wrong.

It wasn’t the hunting that took them.  Sure, in past years, hunters may have been part of the cause for some species going extinct, but not with the geese.  Regulations kept geese numbers high enough to maintain a strong population of geese, and allowed for hunters to assist with keeping the population in check.  No, they couldn’t blame hunters this time.

It was disease.  Disease caused by a rare virus, or at least it was once rare.  It spread with the songbirds, killing off entire populations before spreading to the waterfowl.  Scientists had yet to discover what had caused the disease to begin with, or to figure out how it mutated so quickly.  It wasn’t long before most of the waterfowl were gone too, leaving just a few species here and there.  Next, it spread to the insects and fish, then to the woodland mammals, the amphibians, and reptiles.  It didn’t take long to reach humans.  From there, entire cities began to disappear.  Entire cities.  Rachel had fled to the wilderness, in the hopes that she could escape.

For now, she was safe.  She had no signs of illness and was comfortable in the old family cabin.  Rachel lowered her binoculars down until they rested on her chest.  She began to walk around the lake and felt a sudden wave of loneliness as she recalled years spent on this lake with family and friends, swimming in the water, canoeing from shore to shore, watching the beavers build a dam and listening to the songbirds early song.  It was all gone now.  All of it.

(To be continued.)

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