Story Sunday: Fire and Ash

 

 

As she stood in the entryway

staring at the black mass in the fiery sky

she wondered

what good did technology do for them

now on the brink of extinction?

Gusts of heated air whipped around her body

as the only thoughts of comfort

were of all the written journals

she’d buried in the deep caverns nearby

in the hope that those pieces of her would survive

while the rest be reduced to nothing

but hot ashes

Story Sunday: The Pocket Watch (Flash Fiction)

the-pocket-watch

 

Rob gripped the steering wheel as he watched a brown leaf roll across the gray hood. His haggard face covered with salt and pepper beard helped conceal the white scar across his right cheek. He stared ahead as he half-listened to the car radio.

“The President is expected to address the nation tonight for the final time.” The radio garbled. “Before leaving with his family to an undisclosed location.”

He leaned over and changed the stations.

“CDC still have no answers as to what is causing the flu-like pandemic, nor are they any closer to an effective vaccine or treatment…”

Another station.

“With the death toll skyrocketing across the country and hospitals completely overwhelmed with the sick, medical personnel are urging everyone to stay indoors in hope of slowing down the spread…”

Yet another.

“Ten more police officers gunned down by looters as they struggle to protect the civilians still in the downtown area…”

The radio went silent when Rob opened the door. He didn’t bother to close it as he staggered into the expansive cemetery. Shadows lurked everywhere yet his own moved with each faltered step. His shoulders slumped forward as he buried both hands deep in the pockets of the ragged trench coat.

He passed rows and rows of old and broken stones until he approached a mangled oak tree. He stooped over a particular headstone, half-buried in yellowed grass. He pulled his right hand out and pressed it on top of the cold stone.

Julie Lerne
Born March 3, 1972-Died November 12, 2010

Craig Lerne
Born April 15, 2008-Died November 10, 2010

He bowed his head, eyes closed. “Jules…three years, Jules.”

He stood still for several moments. A dark lock of hair fell over his left eye as his lips quivered. Rob then deliberately reached into the right pocket, and pulled out a pistol.

“I’m so tired of just surviving.” He mumbled as he shifted the weapon to his left and then back to the right hand. “Everyone’s gone.” He pressed the trigger back. “I don’t want to be alone anymore.” And raised the gun towards his temple.

He suddenly paused midway when the branches of the nearby tree swayed and creaked. A breeze swept over his thin body as his hazel eyes searched each and every stone.

“Jules?” His voice shook.

Everything grew still. Including the shadows.

Rob sucked in a trembling breath as he extended the free hand into the left pocket, and extracted a tarnished, gold-colored pocket watch. He used the thumb to flip the lid open.

“7:15.” He whispered.

He blinked several times. There was something engraved in the lid as he continued to stare at it.

Safe haven
79 S 30 W

A smile slowly spread across his lips. “Dad, you son of a b–” He chuckled as he snapped the lid shut, and dropped the watch back into the pocket.

Rob leaned against the headstone as he pushed the trigger back down.

“There’s something I need to do, Jules.” He muttered with excitement. “I’ll be back to…” His voice trailed off when he turned around.

Crack!

A piece of wood slammed against the side of his head, and he instantly slumped to the ground. As he lied in a heap, his eyes remained open.

They saw nothing.

A murky shadow moved across the earth and enveloped the body, and lifted the watch out of the pocket.

“Whatcha got, Jim?” A scrawny girl in a tattered dress appeared next to the corpse.

The male teen’s crooked smile revealed two missing front teeth as he grasped the ticking object in his grimy hand. “Lunch!”

 

(First published with Asylum Ink on April, 11th 2014)

Writing and the End of the World

Another writer and I were talking about writing and zombies the other day, and he said something that got the wheels in my head churning.  If something happened that destroyed technology (like the EMP storm due to a massive solar flare for an example), he wouldn’t bother with writing anymore.

I said, really?

He continued, what’s the point?  There would be no way to share your work with others, or get near-instant feedback.

I’m like, 0-okay.  What ever float your boat, dude.

Then that wheel started churning fast and furious, and would not stop.  So, here I am with yet another poll and a question for you, my dear readers.

What would you do?

 

The Dying Civilization

bare land

Gray clouds hung low in the sky as a group of teenagers clambered down the street littered with rusted and mangled vehicular bodies.   Houses on both sides of the disintegrating asphalt stood in various wretched shapes.   Woods warped.  Windows smashed or missing. Vinyl sidings bent like painful hang-nails.

The group turned down a graveled pathway which led to a large, crumbling brick-laid building that stood three-stories tall.  A sign stretched across the middle of the structure with words etched in the marble slab: Esmond High

As soon as they crossed the threshold, they turned right and entered into a large room.  Inside, several long tables spread across the dusty tile flooring, each partnered with two deformed metallic chairs.   Large windows lined the far wall of the room, and like the others, many were either missing or broken.  They also provided the only source of lighting.

The younger version of adults sat at the three front tables, and waited in silence.

Moments later, a man shuffled into the room.  Long, wispy white hair hung from his head.  White-black beard partially covered his face, its bottom touched the ragged red and black plaid shirt.

“Good morning, class.”  His voice crackled as he slowly hobbled to the front where a small wooden desk stood.

“Good morning, Mr. Pike.” The teens replied in unison.

He gingerly set down a plastic bag on the desk which wobbled with the weight being pressed on it.  Mr. Pike groaned as he turned his cataract-riddled, hazel eyes to the classroom before him.

“It seems our number is ever growing smaller.” He sniffed.

“Marge’s parents have married her off to the Mableton’s clan so she won’t be coming back.” The sole female in the room spoke in a quiet voice.

“Ethan, Sam, and Levi have been recruited to the front line.” The dark-haired male at the center table said.

“Sal was killed with his parents  by thieves last night.” The smallish boy next to the brunette female muttered.

“Madness.” The old man whispered as he rapped his arthritic knuckles on the wood.  “This is what we’ve been reduced to.  Constant warring with one another.  Servitude and slavery.  Mockery and misery all around us.  All due to stupidity.  Stupidity.”

“Mr. Pike?”  The girl’s voice drifted to his ears.  “Are you alright?”

He shook his head hard and blinked several times as he struggled to regain his focus on the remaining kids.

“Yes, yes of course I’m alright!” He snapped as his hands gripped the plastic bag.  “It’s a bit disconcerting when I see our future being ripped from us, that’s all.”

“What’s in the bag, Mr. Pike?” A petite oriental boy from the table directly in front of him asked.

The elder released his grip on the bag and began to pat it. “Ah, yes.  The bag.  I discovered the content last evening when I was rummaging through a building that was once a library.”

“What’s a library?” The girl asked.

“My dear Oona.” He smiled. “A library was used to house what we called books.  Books were once the foundation of which we built a great civilization. Books were what brought us out of the last Dark Ages.  They enabled us to become highly advanced and educated and enlightened.   They were the glue that held us together.”

“What happened?” The small boy next to Oona asked.

“Man grew stupid, Darrin. “He answered. “We grew so enamored with technology and all our wonderful advances, and decided to get rid of books, which contained everything, to rely solely on digital machines.”

He glanced across the room and saw that all eyes and ears were completely attuned to him, and continued. “Then the storm happened and wiped out all the technology, and with it our heart and soul as a specie.” He raised a hand into the air. “Hence, you see the result all around us.”

“So…” Mr. Pike reached a hand inside the bag. “For the next few weeks, we’ll be reading two of the greatest books ever written, in my humble opinion, by man.”  And pulled out two heavily worn hard-covered books. “Moby Dick and War and Peace.”

“Could we take turns reading them?” Oona breathlessly asked.

“I don’t read too well.”  The oriental boy moaned.

“Don’t worry, Mai, I’ll help you.” She smiled.