"There Will Come Soft Rains" by Ray Bradbury

In this short story, science fiction writer Ray Bradbury imagines an eerie, desolate world in the aftermath of a nuclear explosion.

Here are links to our lists for other works by the award-winning author: Fahrenheit 451, The Martian Chronicles, A Sound of Thunder, All Summer in a Day, August 2026, Marionettes, Inc., The Black Ferris, The Drummer Boy of Shiloh, The Flying Machine, The Pedestrian, The Veldt
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Activities for this list:

definitions & notes only words
  1. tread
    a step in walking or running
    But no doors slammed, no carpets took the soft tread of rubber heels.
  2. warren
    a series of underground tunnels occupied by rabbits
    Out of warrens in the wall, tiny robot mice darted.
  3. pelt
    rain heavily
    The water pelted windowpanes running down the charred west side where the house had been burned evenly free of its white paint.
  4. silhouette
    an outline of a solid object as cast by its shadow
    Here the silhouette in paint of a man mowing a lawn.
  5. preoccupation
    the mental state of being obsessed by something
    How carefully it had inquired, ‘Who goes there? What’s the password?’ and, getting no answer from lonely foxes and whining cats, it had shut up its windows and drawn shades in an old-maidenly preoccupation with self-protection which bordered on a mechanical paranoia.
  6. regiment
    army unit smaller than a division
    Delicately sensing decay at last, the regiments of mice hummed out as softly as blown gray leaves in an electrical wind.
  7. manifest
    reveal its presence or make an appearance
    Martinis manifested on an oaken bench with egg-salad sandwiches.
  8. cavort
    play boisterously
    Animals took shape: yellow giraffes, blue lions, pink antelopes, lilac panthers cavorting in crystal substance.
  9. waver
    move back and forth very rapidly
    Over this ran aluminum roaches and iron crickets, and in the hot still air butterflies of delicate red tissue wavered among the sharp aroma of animal spoors!
  10. matted
    tangled in a dense mass
    There was the sound like a great matted yellow hive of bees within a dark bellows, the lazy bumble of a purring lion.
  11. bellows
    a mechanical device that blows a strong current of air
    There was the sound like a great matted yellow hive of bees within a dark bellows, the lazy bumble of a purring lion.
  12. patter
    a quick succession of light rapid sounds
    And there was the patter of okapi feet and the murmur of a fresh jungle rain, like other hoofs, falling upon the summer-starched grass.
  13. hearth
    an open recess in a wall where a fire can be built
    In the metal stand opposite the hearth where a fire now blazed up warmly, a cigar popped out, half an inch of soft gray ash on it, smoking, waiting.
  14. tremulous
    quivering as from weakness or fear
    There will come soft rains and the smell of the ground,
    And swallows circling with their shimmering sound;
    And frogs in the pools singing at night,
    And wild plum-trees in tremulous white
  15. whim
    an odd or fanciful or capricious idea
    Robins will wear their feathery fire
    Whistling their whims on a low fence-wire;
    And not one will know of the war, not one
    Will care at last when it is done.
  16. bough
    any of the larger branches of a tree
    A falling tree bough crashed through the kitchen window.
  17. solvent
    a liquid substance capable of dissolving other substances
    Cleaning solvent, bottled, shattered over the stove.
  18. linoleum
    a floor covering
    But the solvent spread on the linoleum, licking, eating under the kitchen door, while the voices took it up in chorus: ‘Fire, fire, fire!’
  19. delicacy
    something considered choice to eat
    It fed upon Picassos and Matisses in the upper halls, like delicacies, baking off the oily flesh, tenderly crisping the canvases into black shavings.
  20. shrapnel
    shell containing lead pellets that explodes in flight
    The attic brain which directed the pumps was shattered into bronze shrapnel on the beams.
  21. capillary
    a minute blood vessel connecting arterioles with venules
    The house shuddered, oak bone on bone, its bared skeleton cringing from the heat, its wire, its nerves revealed as if a surgeon had torn the skin off to let the red veins and capillaries quiver in the scalded air.
  22. scald
    burn with a hot liquid or steam
    The house shuddered, oak bone on bone, its bared skeleton cringing from the heat, its wire, its nerves revealed as if a surgeon had torn the skin off to let the red veins and capillaries quiver in the scalded air.
  23. brittle
    having little elasticity
    Heat snapped mirrors like the first brittle winter ice.
  24. oblivious
    lacking conscious awareness of
    In the last instant under the fire avalanche, other choruses, oblivious, could be heard announcing the time, playing music, cutting the lawn by remote-control mower, or setting an umbrella frantically out and in the slamming and opening front door...
  25. sublime
    inspiring awe
    And one voice, with sublime disregard for the situation, read poetry aloud in the fiery study, until all the film spools burned, until all the wires withered and the circuits cracked.

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