The rains have come, and with them the toads. The pools of the Syncline were full of bright red mud-water, tadpoles and predators. A slim—but no doubt well fed—garter snake with a black head took to the opaque slurry, then poked its head out like a sea serpent.

In a drying pothole were many toadlets so small they looked like insects, not a quarter inch long. They had finished their lightning metamorphosis, but at the bottom of the hole was a gelatinous pudding of polliwogs that hadn’t grown up fast enough. Now and then there was a tiny squirm or shudder from someone in the black mass, a last effort at life.


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