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  1. Gannon
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    Gannon Contributing Member Contributor

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    Short Story Contest (75): Flash Fiction - Post-Apocalypse - Submission&Details Thread

    Discussion in 'Bi-Weekly Short Story Contest Archives' started by Gannon, Aug 23, 2010.

    Short Story Contest 74
    Submissions & Details Thread
    Theme: "Flash Fiction Special - Post-Apocalypse"​





    Open to all, newbies and established members alike. Please post your entries as replies to this post. At the deadline I will collate all entries and put them forward for voting in a separate thread. The winning entry will be stickied until the next competition winner. Sadly, there is no prize on offer except pride. The winner may PM/VM me to request the theme of a subsequent contest if he/she wishes.

    Theme: "Flash Fiction Special - Post-Apocalypse" (courtesy of short story contest 72 winner ilocar). Any interpretation valid. Entries do not have to follow the theme explicitly.
    Wordlimit: 100-500 words.
    Deadline for entries: Monday 6th September 2010 10.00 am (UK local)


    There is a 10% word-limit leniency at both ends of the scale. Please try to stick within the limit. As below, any piece outside of the suggested limit may not be entered into the voting.

    The next contest, which will revert to the normal wordcount (500-3500) ,will be themed "If The Shoe Fits" (Borderline Blue). Please feel free to prepare an entry in advance but do not submit your piece until instructed to do so.

    There is a maximum of 20 entries to any contest. If there are more than 20 entries to any one contest I will decide which are entered into voting based on adherence to the suggested word limit and relevance to the theme, not on a first-come-first served basis. This is particularly important this week as there may be many entries.

    Try to make all your entries complete and have an ending rather than be an extract from a larger one and please try to stick to the topic. Any piece seemingly outside of the topic will be dealt with in a piece by piece manner to decide its legitamacy for the contest.

    Submissions may not have been previously posted on this site, nor may they be posted for review until voting has closed. Only one entry per contest please.

    Please try to refrain from itallicising, bolding, colouring or indenting any text to help avoid disappointment. These stylistics do not reproduce when I copy-paste them into the voting thread. You may use visible noparse BB code to preserve style if you wish by placing [ noparse ] and [ /noparse ] (without the spaces) around the entire text.

    Please remember to give your piece a title and give its word count in brackets at the top of your story.

    If there are any questions, please leave me a visitor message or PM me. Please do not clog up this, or any other thread, with your questions.

    Please note that only current members are eligible to win.


    Thanks and good luck.
     
  2. Normal
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    Normal Member

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    Ash

    I wish the rumors were true, that those animals that people usually don’t eat, taste like chicken. I resist the urge to wash the meat down with the little water I have. I allow myself maybe two to five sips a day from the yellow stained 4 litre container in my bag, its about half full. The past week could seem like a dream to anyone else but to me its all to real. I wish I could disillusion myself with the luxury environmental detachment.

    I want food. I want water. I would settle for a stained mattress in a heroin hotel in the slums.

    Hero’s seem to have a purpose whereas my existence is purposeless. There is no final resting place to seek. There is no colony of survivors. There is no hope. I scurry from concrete wreckage to smashed cars to abandoned building. Sniffing the air for anything other than the dust that permeates the air. I begin to slowly step my way into the open and smashed streets. The thought of warm shelter drives me to almost reckless abandon. I become emboldened, smelling the air, my senses become heightened.

    The fatal mistake is the water I hold, the jug being half full announces my presence. Three disheveled men in tattered business attire emerge from hiding. I would like to vilify them, to make them seem horrid and awful creatures but I cant. I can almost see myself standing among them.

    “Water” It was not even a question, a command given by one of the men. He stood before me, tall and well built. Primal instinct sorts the small and weak from the strong and willing.

    I move my left foot back a little and almost make a move to run, better judgment tells me that running from three healthy men will cost me to much energy.

    “Don’t even think about it, make this easy on yourself, give it up” The smallest one says, his eyes fixed on my shoulder bag. This must be the smart one, appealing to my better judgment.

    Grudgingly I move slowly to bring the bag in front of me, I reach in slowly and wrap my dirty fingers around the handle. All eyes are fixed on me, on every movement I make.

    As quick as I can I throw the jug to the ground in front of me. The plastic jug clonks to the ground on its side, and the blue lids pops off, spilling the precious liquid all over the ashen ground.

    I am already in sprint when the three muggers dive for it simultaneously. Behind me the shouts of rage fade as they argue and squabble amongst each other.
    Running around the corner I stop to catch my breath. I feel safe here for the moment. Almost sobbing I hate myself for my cowardice. Things are not as hopeless as they seem. I want to live. I want to find water, and water is my mission.
     
  3. Farfinagle
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    Farfinagle New Member

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    Alpha and omega

    (Word count 483)
    I am the alpha and omega, the first and the last.
    You must understand - we had no idea what we were unleashing. On any given day, we worked on dozens of government contracts. This was just one more. The director told us it was a harmless retrovirus. I suppose it was, in the very beginning.
    They wanted a foolproof way to protect soldiers in the field from bio-warfare. You know, nasties like anthrax and ebola. It's a formidable job to vaccinate thousands of people against exotic organisms on short notice. Then you have the problem of waiting for immunity to be established in each human host.
    The retrovirus wasn't in a vaccine. Only miniscule amounts of the stuff had to be inhaled to be effective and it worked within hours. Better still, it could be aerosolized and delivered to remote areas by drone planes in a manner similar to crop dusting.
    Later on, they denied they knew about the flaw. They knew, all right. But they tragically - and fatally - underestimated what they thought of as a "side effect". Once the virus had a vector, it grew at an exponential rate.
    The amount of mutation has been astounding. Many have not survived. Those that remain have become feral. During the day, they skulk in shadows. At night they hunt in packs. I don't know whether they are carnivorous by choice or by circumstance. God knows there is precious little left in the way of edible food.
    The madness begins with a common cold. Itchy eyes, runny nose. And lots of sneezing. That's how it spreads so effectively. There's no real way of stopping it. But in the early days we were so prideful, so vain. I was the first to become immune. Ironically, I truly was the alpha. The others followed in quick succession. Now, they're all dead. This lab is the last stronghold. I told them not to go. The director was the only one who had the sense to stay on. For months, it was just the two of us.
    Before the scourge I was a God-fearing man. Now I waver in my faith and doubt His existence. Perhaps I am losing my sanity. When the director came to me with another vaccine to cure this pestilence, I could not allow it to be used. You see, we are fallen. We are not worthy. Those who perpetrated this great evil must never be allowed to survive. His death was merciful. I can assure you he didn't suffer long.
    The food is long gone and this morning I discovered the water supply is fouled. There are two bullets left in the gun's chamber - more than adequate to do the job, as long as I am careful. I am alpha and omega. May God have mercy on my soul. May God have mercy on us all.
     
  4. NyMichael20
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    NyMichael20 Member

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    Three Years of N-Day (508 Words)

    I stumbled.
    I was picking over the wreckcage, wearing the heavy hiking boots that I had stolen from that burned out Wal Mart. That Wal Mart had been a God send: relatively untouched, there had apparently been a minimal amount of looting on N-Day. Besides the boots, I was able to grab two hunting rifles, some backpacks and an entire case of bottled water.
    I was thrilled by my discovery. So much so that I even considered staying there. Clothing, food, shelter. I had made up my mind to stay when I heard the shouting and random scuffling noises of an armed regiment.
    Probably not friendly. There were almost nothing left of the armed forces these days. On rare occasions I would run into a few leaderless soldiers, so dedicated to a military that no longer existed that the continued to carry out whatever orders they had received on N-Day.
    But most friendlies these days identified themselves. A lot of them were running on fumes and were always eager to trade supplies. The only people who had access to a continuous amount of supplies these days were “them.”
    The barking of one of their search dogs is what made me stumble. I fell head first onto a pile of debris. Small chunks of brick and bone peppered my skin as I rolled down the slight incline. The case of water I had been carrying fell. Plastic bottles rolled on the ground.
    There was shouting. I recognized the military cadence of orders being barked by a commanding officer. I heard the dog barking again.
    I was trapped. The wreckage of the city created a labyrinth of corridors. Walls made of collapsed buildings and parked cars often made it difficult to get around.
    I decided my best bet was to crouch down and wait for them to pass. I crawled deeper into the hole and sat down. It was cool in here, at least. We were in the middle of August, I think, and the sun rode high in the sky. This August would mark the three year anniversary of N-Day, I realized. Not to mention that the sun wasn’t the only source of extreme heat these days.
    Hiding between the metal girders, I head the familiar sniffing sounds of a dog.
    To my horror, the dog’s head poked into the wreckage. It was a Rottweiller. It saw me and growled menacingly, then started barking for its master.
    “Shoo! Get lost!”
    I swatted at the dogs head and it bit viciously. I shrieked and pulled my hand back. Blood streamed from a puncture wound on my palm.
    I heard them coming for me. It was over.
    For the best, really.
    But they were retreating. I heard the voices become ever more distant, and even the dog reluctantly ran off.
    I waited. It was only a few minutes. When I came up, I saw what I hadn’t seen since N-Day.
    A bright flash. A rushing wave of heat.
    N-Day wasn’t really over.
    It was actually the longest day of everyone’s life.
     
  5. Quillpower
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    Quillpower Member

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    Last Thoughts (500 words)

    I remember more than one Horizon programme ending with the words, “It's a not a matter of if, but a question of when,” pronounced with prophetic solemnity. The asteroid collision; the pandemic; the doomed suburbs on the flanks of Vesuvius;the chunk of the Canary Islands poised to fall into the sea, creating a tsunami big enough to destroy the coast of America. All these we’ve been warned of, adding to the niggling fear of nuclear and germ warfare but, in the end, it is the earth itself which has rebelled against our greedy exploitation of its treasures: land raped and ruined for its gold, diamonds and oil; land filled with nuclear, chemical and plastic rubbish.

    Before all radio contact was lost we learned that the violent tremors from exploding Yellowstone have sparked earthquakes and volcanoes all over the globe. Three days ago I walked in our lovely flower garden bright with spring bulbs: I peer, now, into its gloom, dark and grey with the dust of Gaia’s haemorrhages. Even in the dim house all colour seems drained and distorted. My hands restlessly stroke a red silk pashmina, the hue of dried blood. Our’s is an old house with no foundation, built on chalk: the restless ground is cracking its walls. The larder is large and well-stocked. There is wine in the cellar but no water in the tap. We have beeswax sufficient to make a number of candles. Our winter firewood is almost gone. Automatically we begin to reckon the days of our continuing survival, knowing they are few and that soon enough we will be targeted and probably murdered by desperate looters. We clasp each other’s cold, sweaty hands and wonder where our children are.

    How does one prepare for death in these circumstances? We humans, thinking ourselves clever enough to assume custodianship of the good earth, arrogantly looted and abused it. We considered ourselves all powerful but were ignorant, short sighted and foolish. Is this some celestial revenge or simply an inevitable natural phenomenon? Yellowstone has exploded before and yet we have known it as a wondrous wilderness, a place of beauty. Gaia herself will recover in her own good time. Will humankind survive? If it does, will it be humane and kinder? I think of Noah’s ark as you fill my mug with elderflower wine. The words on it are a Kenyan proverb: “Treat the earth well - it was not given to us by our parents but lent us by our children.”

    I close my eyes, the better to savour the juice of a June day, redolent with blossom, in the knowledge that I will never see such a day again. Whilst drinking the past, I am thinking the future. I refill the cup, take your hand, unlock the door and we walk through the dust and ash to a clump of miniature daffodils. Together we pour the libation over the flowers, savouring the pale flash of yellow and gold as we whisper: “Wassail, wassail!”
     
  6. Dilano
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    Dilano New Member

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    Lights out

    The lights were going out all over London. Spector rubbed the back of his neck and sighed. He wanted to hate this moment but he had no hate left inside him. It was all over. He looked up at the sky and saw what looked like bats slashing across the sky. He knew they weren't bats though, most animals had long since fled the city. They were most likely bits of burning paper, fluttering up away into nothing.

    A woman came hobbling towards him. She was holding her thigh and grimacing with the effort of dragging her distorted body along the street. She glanced at Spector and smiled. Her smile was warm and engaging and he didn't know how to respond. It had been so long since he had seen such a smile that he honestly felt his heart would burst. And then he realised that she was blind. She brushed past him and then reached out and grabbed a fistful of his coat.

    'May God be with you,' she croaked.

    'And with you too,' his response was tentative but heartfelt. He thought he didn't believe in a God but, as he stood there with this woman under a darkening sky, he wondered if he had been wrong all these years. They were all going somewhere he thought. Nobody knew where, but it couldn't just end, could it?

    He took a packet of cigarettes out of his pocket, flipped one into his mouth and offered one to his new friend. Remembering she couldn't see what he was offering, he touched it to her lips and waited. She nodded, parted her lips and he pushed it into her mouth until she had it gripped between her lips. From the same pocket, he found a box of matches and struck one. The flame shot into being quicker and with more ferocity than he thought possible. Quickly he lit both cigarettes before letting the match drop to the ground. He sucked in deeply and savoured his final hit of nicotine.

    'So is this it then?' he asked but didn't expect a response. He waited and tried to think of something else.

    'I suppose it is,' she inhaled and continued ' It hasn't been all bad, has it?'

    He didn't answer. There was no need to answer as he knew that all over London people were wondering how to answer that question.
     
  7. Robyn
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    Robyn Member

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    Gone [301 words]

    I woke up and immediately yawned. I then slowly crawled out of my hole in the ground and looked at the sky. After being asleep for months, the day was like a stranger to me. The burning sensation as my eyes hit the light soon faded, and I could see that something was wrong. When I crawled into my small cubby to sleep, there were trees, a river nearby, birds chirping their unique songs. But now, there was nothing. The ground was barren, the few trees remaining were dead.

    I called out, hoping to find a few of my own kind who had recently awoken. Nobody answered my calls. I then decided to wander what used to be my home, searching for signs of life. What I saw sickened me. The once luscious ground was now an ugly beige, cracked and dusty. Not a single flower bloomed, not a single insect crawled, and not a single creature was found alive. There were bones on the ground, some belonging to rodents like me, others belonging to larger animals: bears, wild cats, and even a few human bones. I was terrified.

    I ran as fast as I could to the tunnels where my cousins lived, but I discovered that they were gone. I climbed the highest tree I could find, careful not to break its dry, brittle branches. I looked out towards the horizon, hoping to see something, anything alive. All I saw were bones and dead plants. I knew I wouldn’t survive here for long. I made a decision: I would walk as far as I could, then walk further. I would discover what had happened to my beautiful home. I would find life. I would get out of this.

    I began walking away from my small retreat.

    I found no one.
     
  8. Gingerbiscuit
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    Gingerbiscuit Senior Member

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    Shadows of comfort (271)

    There is little now that I remember that isn’t ash and darkness.
    Occasionally the sun reminds me of its presence, peering vacantly through the perpetual cloud, though I can scarce remember ever feeling its warmth.
    Living things can be found by disturbing the rocks and debris or by digging into the ash and soil but they are foul tasting and often bring about fever or diarrhoea.
    There is plenty to drink, though it takes great labour to make pure the water that stands in the stagnant pools on the hillsides. Once, after a morning of such endeavour I had obtained a full gallon of water, only to absently kick it over onto the rocks. I cast myself upon the ground and wept fully and unashamedly, not for my loss and misfortune but rather for the sheer joy at the sound of the water running down the hillside. A sound that brought back the hope and joy of long-forgotten Springtimes. Joy that would all too soon die out and hope that had barely been alive.
    But of all the things now vanished, the sights, sounds and smells that are now lost to me forever, I will always remember Cathy.
    I cannot hear her laugh, nor voice. I cannot remember the warmth as we lay together on cold winter nights. Her face, too is now little more than a vague impression of half-remembered beauty. Yet in times of extreme hardship, through the cold and pain, the loneliness, darkness and hunger, I will always be comforted by the memory of Cathy, my last hot meal.
     
  9. Zooey
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    Zooey Member

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    The Birth 472

    “We need this,” Kayla said through gritted teeth. “Don’t let us down.”

    I try to focus on her wide eyes but the sweat made everything blurry. She squeezed my hand.

    The pain, oh the pain! Someone stop my insides tearing apart. I want this to end, but it can’t, not yet. Concentrate. Breathe. Remember to breathe.

    Scream.

    “Don’t give up Jesmine,” she said.

    As if I would.

    For a split second the importance of this moment engulfs me completely and I feel separated, floating above the body lying on blood soaked blankets. The first baby in five years. The pain brings me back down. It is primal, animal pain.

    I send up a silent prayer to the God so many think have deserted us, but I know He is giving me a gift, giving us a gift. Life. A future for us at last.

    What a place to be brought into the world, a makeshift hut in an ashen field with no crops apart from the deformed vegetables, poisoned by the chemical soil. A barren land of barren women. Until now.

    “Push Jesmine!” Kayla squeezed my hand and I squeezed it back letting out all my pain through that grip.

    I feel my face screw up as I push with all my might, barely being able to see through the sweat and blood tinged air, but I know there are faces all around me, wanting to see the birth with their own eyes. To know it is real.

    I close my eyes and listen to the screams, so awful, is that really me? My legs are trembling.

    “I see him! I see him!” I hear the excitement in Kayla’s voice and happiness runs through my body easing every pain in every muscle because I know the child is nearly here, I’ve nearly done it. I just want to hold him in my arms and feel the newborn skin against my old skin, to know that we can do more than keep ourselves from starving before we die. We need to be more than scavengers in a scorched Earth. I need to know we can rebuild a future, rebuild the world.

    It all seems so simple all of a sudden and it starts with this push.

    I know it is over and my body breathes a sigh of relief. As I relax my muscles, not even opening my eyes because I haven’t got the strength yet, I get the strong urge to let myself go into a deep sleep. But I can’t, I have to see the baby.

    Something does not feel right.

    Silence.

    The screaming has stopped. I try to wipe the sweat from my eyes to look at Kayla. Her face is all wrong, twisted and scared. There are tears in her eyes.

    “Whatever you do,” she says, almost sobbing, “do not look down.”
     
  10. greengirl754
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    greengirl754 New Member

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    Project Warp (292 Words)

    Project Warp

    It started with the War and ended in a more personal betrayal. By the time we, the normal citizens, realized the problem, they were already within us. A government fail-safe, sent out to protect or destroy with artificial intelligence: Nano-ites. A science project, an experiment really- and no one could truly escape their microscopic siege.

    Project Warp is the name most dubbed it with towards the end. Of course “most” are dead now. When the government set the Nano-ites loose, the little suckers unbeknownst to their creators began an uncontrolled evolution that changed their inner programming. The human race became their vehicles, their tools of destruction. They latched onto brain stems slowly taking control through the electronic pulses already present in human brains and turned people on each other --and so the destruction began. Only 1% of the Nano-ites were ineffective and therefore unsuccessful in their evolution.

    In an effort to curb the destruction, the last remaining team of scientists made an executive decision and a series of electro-magnetic bombs were dropped strategically across the globe, their effect immediate and quite destructive. It is not known how many survived the Electro-Vaccination, most simply dropped where they stood. I can tell you that in the month since the final fallout, since the day I woke in a pool of my own urine, the few people I have encountered have lost what little humanity they possessed. Every living thing has reverted to survival mode.

    Walking along the battered, deserted streets of the city, I can still see and smell the carnage of rotting corpses, left to bloat and leak their putrid juices beneath clouds of flies and blankets of maggots. The efficient little creations of the human race have pretty much wiped it out.
     
  11. grayveeaych
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    grayveeaych New Member

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    Disappear [230]

    My head killed. What had happened? I had gone to go get some bread from the freezer in the basement, but after that I couldn't remember anything. I sat up. Dust and pieces of the ceiling were scattered all around me. I coughed. I was so dizzy. I brushed my self off and stood up as soon as my head stopped spinning.

    And that's when I realized what was wrong.

    The silence. It filled my house, my street, my city.

    I could feel it. Everyone had disappeared.

    My brain went into overdrive. Why couldn’t I remember what had happened after I had come downstairs? A flash came back to me of that night. I remembered the slam of the heavy metal door behind me. I could remember how I had jumped at the loud sound. I could remember a boom and then I remembered darkness and nothing.

    I walked over the door, stirring up the dust motes on the floor in the process. I coughed, my allergies acting up. The door was unhinged, but still closed. I tried to push it outward, but it wouldn’t budge. I frowned, but tried again, putting all my weight on it this time. It swung free and I stumbled out.

    My mouth fell open. I was standing in a huge crater of what had been my neighborhood.

    All I could think was ‘holy crap.’
     
  12. Evelyanin
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    Evelyanin Senior Member

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    The Meeting (423 words)

    “Alright everyone, settle down! We need to get things sorted out. Before we start, let’s get the names cleared up. You, by the paperclips, what’s your name?”

    “I’m Steve, remember?”

    “Sorry Steve. What about the guy beside you?”

    “I’m not a guy. My name’s Megan.”

    “Oh yes, Bruce’s secretary. What about the rest?” Everyone starts identifying themselves, the chatter growing louder until Marlin climbs up the pencil sharpener and signals for the group to be quiet.

    “Well, looks like everyone’s here. Name tags would be really nice right now. Kevin, I heard your name somewhere. Come up and give us an explanation. Oh, and please talk to us in English, not technilese.”

    “Thank you sir. Sadly, I don’t even have a scientific explanation, but the team and I do have a theory.” Everyone stares intently at Kevin.

    “Go on.”

    “ When the world was covered in radioactive fallout from the nuclear war, every human being was killed. However, we believe that we, or as some might call, our souls, needed to continue as some form on this earth, so we transferred to one of the only things that survived the radiation.”

    “Cockroaches!” Someone screams.

    “Uh, yes. I’m not quite sure how it all worked, but it is undeniable that we are now cockroaches.” Panic starts filling the room.

    “Everyone, settle down! If this is reversible at all, we need to calm down and work together. Has anyone seen the president?” The room is quiet. “Okay, bad question. Sir, if you are anywhere near here, please say so.” Everyone looks around, but no one moves. “Looks like he isn’t here, perhaps we’ll find him later. Kevin, tell us a little more about cockroaches.”

    “Yes Mr. Secretary. Cockroaches are from the order Blattaria, they are-“

    “Some useful thing please.”

    “Uh, of course. They have average life span of about one year.”

    “One year! God help us!”

    “No need to freak out yet Charles, let him continue.”

    Kevin twitches his antennae nervously. “The lifespan doesn’t have to be too long. After all, a female cockroach can have up to 400 offspring in her life time.”

    A voice interrupts from the back. “Excuse me Mr. Secretary, Gloria fainted.”

    “She’ll be fine, she’s a cockroach for crying out loud. Let Kevin finish what he has to say.”

    “Uh, yes, uhm, cockroaches eat thing like-“

    “Will someone explain what is going on here?!”

    “Ah, Mr. President! Good to see you alive and well. Come on up, we have a lot to discuss.”
     
  13. Alexandra_Riera
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    Alexandra_Riera Member

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    Let’s not Bother (488 Words)




    “I wouldn’t bother with that now if I were you, David.”

    “Why? Who are you anyway? How do you know my name?”

    “I’m Jesus Christ; I’ve come to warn people of the end of the world.”

    David laughed nervously; what bothered David was that this man knew his name and he didn’t know him. “Do you want money?”

    There was no time for an answer, a blinding flash of light came out of nowhere and suddenly the petrol station was in flames. David ran away from the car looking for safety only to see that there were explosions all around him, debris and pieces of cars and buildings were flying in the air. People were screaming, either trying to get away from the continuous explosions or from pain. He could see human body parts flying past him and landing all over the road, benches and what was left of cars.

    “What the hell?.... What the hell is going on?” he shouted in despair suddenly thinking of his wife and three kids.

    He only lived around the corner from the petrol station so he sprinted towards his house only to find it in rumbles. He shouted his wife and kids names but there was no answer. He started digging through the rumble; a beam fell and hit him on the head. He felt blood in his mouth and as he fell into unconsciousness he saw the man from the petrol station smiling at him.

    “I told you,” said the man as he floated away from him.

    David lay unconscious on the floor, his shirt filled with blood.

    Meanwhile, up in the clouds, an urgent meeting had been called. Gabriel, Uriel, Raphael and Michael were discussing Jesus’ latest prank.

    “Uriel,” you go along and take Jesus out of the scene before he moves on.” Gabriel said. “You, Raphael, you’d better get down there and start healing people, and fast.”

    “What about the missing body parts?” Asked Raphael.

    “Just put them back together, improvise! Off you go before God finds out what’s happened.”

    “What should I do, Gabriel?” Asked Michael.

    “You should go and entertain God, get him busy. I’ll go down and fix all material things…. What a mess this boy has made of things! But, why? Does anyone know why he’s done that?”

    Nobody answered but they all suspected. God had recently complained about humans, saying they were not good enough for this earth and that he was getting fed up with the lot. “I think he just wanted to help.” Ventured Uriel.

    David opened his eyes, he was covered in blood. He lifted his head and saw his car surrounded by people. He could hear an ambulance siren nearby.

    “Are you mad or what?” shouted the petrol station attendant at David. “You almost blew the petrol station up!”

    David realised that he had crashed his car and smiled. “I think the brakes failed me,” he said relieved.

    The end
     
  14. daffers
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    daffers New Member

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    The Matriarch

    The patchy snow flurries gave way to the steady fall of rain, washing away the thin cover that had given the landscape a winter feel. Now all that remained was the damp and dismal atmosphere that would weigh any spirit down, making the tallest of them stoop while walking through the gloom.

    The whole group trudged on in the fading light, unwilling to stop too early, the lure of the caves and a warm fire was so enticing they continued, picking up the speed now the snow had washed away. As they reached the caves and sanctuary, the weight of their packs was discarded, each drank from the little trickle of water near the entrance then wandered deeper into the dark. The tallest unpacked the torches and struck a spark with flint and iron rock, igniting the torches that threw light on the cathedral sized cavern.

    The matriarch, the most intelligent of the extended family group quietly allotted tasks to the youngsters. Quickly they laid out the sleeping furs and unpacked the kindling and cooking pots. The hunting party had caught and butchered a camel, found wandering close to a crumbling zoo from decades before the holocaust. The old woman could just remember a time before the desolation when she had been taken to the zoo by her parents, but that was another lifetime, she did wonder if there were more animals, more camel’s perhaps, that they could trap and use for carrying the heavy loads instead of the group.

    With a little foresight they might never go hungry again, this area had an amazing number of freed animals both domestic and exotic and as she was the matriarch it was her decision to stay or go on. She decided to stay while the hunting was good then they could go on as a family, she smiled as she looked around at the odd bunch she had gathered together over the last 30 years and called family.

    Number of words, 327

    This was the result of an exercise I set myself back in April, daffers
     
  15. John Horace
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    John Horace Member

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    My Submission

    The Waiting

    Word Count -- 459, I believe.

    Most of the time, it was the waiting that drove the men crazy. I don't blame them. All of them were used to chaotic lifestyles, having things now, and fast. But after the war, all that was left was to wait face down in a sticky mud-hole, the sediment clinging to their hair and nostrils. A few of them couldn't stand it and shifted the packs on their backs. They tried to reach the old muzzle guns their daddies passed onto them. They were the ones that the animals fed on first.

    In camps, hushed whispers about the anger of the world, and the wraths of hell that awaited us for our deeds were shared between twelve year-old pregnant children: The "future" of the human race. Others in the west were said to be rebuilding, but the great wall was too dangerous to cross. There was no way we could make it. Better to just wait in the mud pits. Wait, still and cautious, wait for the Rusalkas to bond themselves to our souls and... could anything be any worse than that?

    Myself, I wasted the time picking up fallen branches on the outskirts of the Riven. Every once in a while I'd come across some relic of the modern socity. I'd take it to my hut and have an orgasm of pleasure, just from running my fingers across the pages. Sometimes it wasn't so bad, being old. At least I remembered how to read.

    Then came a shot. A loud bang. My first thoughts were for my daughter, and I ran outside to see the Rusalkas feasting upon the men. They were fighting back these times. Snort. Good for them. But there was something else, foreigners, bearing the mark of american troops coming from the east. And I was paralyzed.

    "Nidanya! Nidanya! Come to me!" I hurried to my daughter, my hands shaking feebly. I broke off a large branch from a nearby tree. An american was kneeling by her. "Get off of her!" I croaked. My eyes were wet. I hit him on the head, surprised by the shock of it all, watching him jerk to the ground. It was strange, that neither me nor my daughter moved after that.

    "We got to get you out of here, ma'am." An electronic voice said behind me. But I didn't listen. The american was wearing the gas mask that they wore when they tore through my country 30 years ago. He had his hand on my arm. He tried to pull me away from the massacre that was the Rusalka battle.

    But I screamed. I screamed like the old woman I had become. "Mama! Pushadavitcha zamandyla vanya!"

    "No! No!" I cried.

    "Somebody, help me with back-up over here!" The electronic voice said. And the Rusalka's were screaming with victory; Bloody massacre and feast. The gas mask was pulling me away. My Daughter-- and then I felt a blow to my head, and darkness.
     
  16. Still Life
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    Still Life Active Member

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    Monsieur Pompadour (Wordcount - 193)

    Outside the round glass window of the kitchen, the wailing and screaming subsides.

    Pomapadour, suppresses his breath while shrugging out of his single-breasted midnight blue dinner jacket with a satin notched lapel, snaps his wrist to allow his suspenders to fall, and then shimmies his way out of his midnight blue trousers with a silk band running down the outer seam, all the while cursing himself for his foie gras diet. He bends over to inspect his jacket and finds his white folded handkerchief, which always lays in his breast pocket pressing firmly at his heart like a warm lover, still there. He slips the handkerchief out, rubbing it affectionately to his cheek, before folding and draping it over his clothes. Pompadour stacks his tuxedo neatly in a corner and straigtens up.

    Standing only in his crisp shirt, striped boxers and white socks, hands folded in front of him, he coughs a few times to clear his throat, before saying rather quietly to the ceiling: "Now, Monsieur, you may proceed as you wish."

    As the walls crumble down over him, he breathes a sigh of relief that his expensive jacket will remain unscathed.
     
  17. Chudz
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    Chudz Contributing Member

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    World Fail [476]



    The magic burns its way through my veins, tracing a line from my innermost being to the very tips of my fingers. Once there it finds its release in the forms of blazing, cerulean spheres. The orbs trace sinuous paths through the air before slamming into the ogre mage. His image is eclipsed by flashes of bluish-light, and his agonized scream is drowned out by echoing explosions.

    When I can see him again, the ogre is supine on the slimy stone floor of this forgotten temple. His body, loincloth, and accouterments are now all varying shades of gray, like a dead rainbow. Tagar, a gnome thief, slinks from the shadows and loots the body, finding coin and a fetish adorned staff. My thiefly companion begrudgingly hands the staff over after I threaten to turn him into a moldy loaf of bread, and I begin to examine my prize.

    Pressing what appears to be a knot in the wood, there is a slight clicking sound and a secret compartment springs open. I've just found the key that we've been searching for, the key that will open the large chest in the chief's quarters. We've been looking for this for hours, having slaughtered countless ogres during the process. I hold up the key so Tag can get a good look, and he cackles with glee. We hurry out of the room, heading toward our goal with greed filled minds.

    That's when the ground bucks violently, sending us sprawling upon the muck-covered floor. Muddied and bruised, I glare around wildly as the light begins to flicker and fade. Tagar is cursing in his native tongue somewhere in the dimness off to my left. With a burgeoning sense of horror, I realize that I can feel the ground growing insubstantial. Then I am falling into a void, screaming “Noooooooooo!” before the entire world winks out of existence.

    I'm not sure how much time has passed, but I suddenly find myself back in a jungle clearing. There is heat and the drone of countless insects. In the distance, I can see the stone temple—the lair of the ogres—obscured by the verdant foliage of this place. Remembering, I frantically check through my belongings for the staff and key, but they are nowhere to be found. A popping sound heralds Tag's curse-filled arrival.

    “We've got to start over from the beginning, don't we?” I ask a few moments after Tagar goes quiet.

    Tag simply nods in agreement. Soon after that we agree to head for an inn and a few ales. Our next attempt at the ogres' legendary treasure will have to wait until tomorrow, for there is not enough time left today. Hopefully the world won't end again during our next attempt.

    ****************

    Somewhere outside the internet, two young men are grumbling about the server instability of the newest MMORPG.
     
  18. LadyLazarus
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    LadyLazarus Senior Member

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    Stale. [317]

    Stale

    It'd been so long since Volodya had seen another person - a real person, with their soul still inside - that he scarce knew what to do. His first instincts were to grab something, the rusting pipe to his left, or some of the broken glass that littered his decaying hideaway.

    But she looked so small, smaller than Volodya himself - like his little sister. Dirty and cold.

    “P-privyet” He called to her, his voice grating in his throat. Rough from neglect, sandpaper tearing away at his oesophagus. She looked in his general direction. Her grey eyes, hard like winter pebbles, seemed to peel away at the layers of his flesh. Piercing his bones.

    “Kak tebya zavut?” He inquired. Everyone had a name, he knew that. Even the people who’s souls had climbed out of them. The people who’s wrappers lay littering the roads to Moscow, every one of them had a name. Volodya was sure, if he looked hard enough he’d find it etched on their bones.

    The little girl tilted her head at him. He wondered if, perhaps, she was going to turn to dust, like so many others had. He thought maybe she didn’t understand what he was saying. Maybe her mother didn’t get round to teaching her words before she fell down. Or her words got scared away.

    He wondered, if, perhaps she would be his friend. For it had been so long since there’d been anyone to make his friend. Maybe, if he looked after her, her voice would come back. Perhaps, if that happened, she could sing for him, like mother used to.

    He thought about all the ways she could fix his loneliness, and that perhaps he wasn’t the last left alive in all of the world. Caught up in his daydreaming he didn’t notice her slip away.

    When he did, he couldn’t help thinking he conjured her up himself.
     
  19. Wicked
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    The Last Cookie (503)

    Finally, we arrived.

    It took us almost a million years to do it, but we did it nonetheless. The *cookie* loomed large before us, glowing in low wavelength in my sensors.

    It has been 60 million years since we’ve depleted the last *cookie* in the universe. Since then, our reactors churned in our metallic bellies as we roamed far and wide to find any trace of hydrogen remaining, until suddenly, nearly a million years ago, we found one. My companion unit, whose name is a long string of binary numbers but whom I nowadays simply call 10 (there are no longer other *friends* to confuse him with, after all), spotted this faint reddish glow far away in the distance. We sprinted toward this newly discovered *cookie*, no even bothering to conserve our waning strength as we raced at relativistic speeds for the delicacy.

    Now that we were here, we could see it was a huge red giant *cookie* with most of the hydrogen already converted to useless helium, but still with some considerable reserves remaining.

    “Well, 10, it appears we’ve cheated death yet again”, I sent to 10, who was decelerating several hundred kilometers behind me. “You’re the one who discovered the *cookie*, you should have the privilege to take the first bite”

    “Affirmative, thank you 01” he replied, extending the feeding and radiator pseudopods as we approached the *cookie* and the temperature rose, “I just wish 11 was here with us to share it”

    11 died many millions of years earlier, in a fight with another *friend* who turned out to be not so friendly and was after our hydrogen reserves. Now, with all other *friends* in the universe either starved or destroyed through fighting over food, it got somewhat lonely.

    “What’s that?” as usual, 10 was the first to notice the new thing. A ball shaped clump of inert material hung in a tight orbit around the *cookie*. In another million years the orbit would degrade and it would fall right into it, destroyed forever. It was a *dustmote*. It has been a very long time indeed since we’ve seen one of those. In the old days, when the universe was one big *cookie*-jar, they sometimes contained a small amount of hydrogen, usually combined with oxygen that needed to be removed before feeding. These days most *dustmotes* were scattered orphans, with their parent *cookies* gone they were flying blindly all over the universe.

    We took a few days exploring this *dustmote*. It had a smaller satellite, upon which we’ve discovered a peculiar relic – an ancient fabric painted with red and white stripes, with a blue square in the corner. It probably used to belong to one of the *micro* races. We knew we were created by one race of these tiny things once upon a time. They were all long gone now though – they tended to die when we drank their supporting *cookies* dry.

    Oh well. Our curiosity was satisfied, and it was time to feed, maybe for the last time.
     
  20. SashaMerideth
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    SashaMerideth Contributing Member

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    Bombardment (459 words)

    I looked at the planetary map; the mining probes had returned valuable information. Thorium, Uranium in rich supply, Titanium as well. This planet the natives called Earth would supply our fleet with the fuel and building materials we needed to continue our journey.

    The indigenous people had launched salvo after salvo of nuclear missiles at us, but that only meant we didn’t have to go digging for the first few samples. Their primitive chemical rockets and radioactive payloads sat in our cargo holds, being disassembled at this very moment. Primitive humans, the radioactive isotopes could have made much better weapons than the crude explosives they had engineered.

    “Gunnery Kral,” I said, “Bring the mass drivers online. It is time to make this planet mineable. Open fire when the other ships are in position.”

    “Very good.” Came is response. His six chitenous arms flew across the control board, and in a few moments, all the other ships had relayed in. I felt the ship jolt slightly as the first asteroid was accelerated, and fired at the planet below. A few minutes later, I watched the shock wave spread across the island the locals called Japan. The ship turned, and fired another asteroid.

    The bombardment targeted every major population center on the planet. We can’t have the primates below destroying our mining robots. Yes, they will probably resist, as had others in the past, but that wouldn’t matter. In a few years, we will have stripped this planet of all its useful resources.

    ***

    The bombardment was over. Kiaga and Sharif looked at the dust cloud covering the sun.

    “What happened?” Kiaga asked.

    “I do not know. The earth shook, but has stopped. Our crops are fine, but this dust…”

    They covered their mouths with a cloth as a dust storm came their way. It swept through the trees, and made their skin hurt. Kiaga and Sharif hid behind a nearby log until the storm had passed. After the worst had passed, they ran together to the village, where they hoped the Elders would have news.

    “We must not fear,” one of the elders said. “The rivers still have fish, and our well still brings good water. We must look after each other, more than we have done in the past.”

    His words were of little comfort. No one understood what had happened. Yes, the rivers still had fish, but a few weeks later, the sun was still shrouded in dust. There had been a few more earthquakes, and there were rumors of giant metal beasts tearing up the hills. The plants were dying, the larger fish were dying, and there were not so many small fish now. How long would it be until even the small fish were no more?
     
  21. Ghaith
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    Ghaith New Member

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    New Age. 432 words.

    It could have been worse, they say.

    When war rages between the most important and powerful nations the world has ever seen, there needs to be what’s called a uniting catastrophe; something terrible. Something to remind the human race that its very existence is at stake, for the sake of more superficial squabbling.

    Those at the top knew this. They all knew this, but a unanimous call for peace is so horribly unpleasant: that would mean compromise, losing face.

    And nobody likes losing face.

    I haven't lost my love for Vivi, though. One hundred and twenty years old now, she is. A few cracks in the ivory, a few scratches on the wood, but such aesthetic qualities would never harm our relationship. This piano is still my life.

    The search for a solution was secret.
    “Atomic bombs? “
    “No, that’s precisely the warfare we’re trying to avoid.”
    “Bio chemical warfare?”
    “Same issue, end result is still annihilation. What’s needed is something special… Something that says ‘We can do much worse, but we don’t need to go there.’”

    As my fingers caress the keys, I think:
    “The feel hasn’t changed.”
    Then again, why would it? The mass hasn’t changed. The bass is heavy and the treble is light. Unchangeable aspects.
    I begin to play. Moonlight Sonata; Beethoven.
    How fitting.

    “What’s needed,” one quipped, “is for humanity to lose something, to make it appreciate what it has left.”
    Nods and words of approval followed.

    It’s been a week since the bomb struck. I’ve been filled with dread since. I play, but it is hollow. I don’t miss a single note, but it doesn’t matter. All I feel is emptiness where there should be warmth.

    “What’s needed,” he continued, “is for something universally damaging, but not crippling.”

    I get up midway through the piece. Frustration. I stare at the keys, as though it’s their fault. Vivi looks back.

    “What’s needed is for something that will leave nobody untouched, and make every person of every nation taste war, and be sickened by it.”

    I walk slowly to my apartment’s window. There is peace now. A Golden Age some say. I open the window and look out.

    “What’s needed, gentlemen,”

    It could have been worse, they say. I ponder this as I climb onto the base of the window. Not for me.

    “is for every man, woman and child,”

    They took it. “They Took. My. Life.” I say this aloud; an empty cry of anguish.

    “to go deaf.”

    They killed my hearing. They killed my music. They killed my being, as well as my love.

    The wind dances across my fingers as I fall...
     
  22. Manav
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    Manav Contributing Member

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    The Escape(500 words)

    He opened his eyes and saw nothing. Pitch black. His head throbbed. He felt sweat drifting down his forehead. The nauseating smell of a sticky blend of blood and sweat on his head turned his stomach. His body itched as the soaked shirt underneath his leather jacket rubbed against his skin. Where am I? Am I in hell?

    He had never really cared about going to hell, or heaven for that matter.

    He remembered being inside the bank's vault, and the violent shaking. He remembered his rucksack, and the torch. He fumbled in the darkness and found it. He tried to find the on-off button, the torch slipped, more fumble. Finally, he found himself lying in a pool of dollar bills. His moustache and his lips slowly spread into a wide grin.

    The small beam of light of his torch surveyed the surrounding, spot by spot. Most parts of the vault’s inner steel wall had buckled, some twisted enough to reveal concrete rubble of the outer walls. The enter-and-escape tunnel they had dug was gone, and with it his partners following behind him. No time to waste now, the police or rescue workers might come any time. He grabbed handfuls of bills and stubbed inside the rucksack. When he was satisfied the rucksack was full, he filled his pockets.

    He tried making his way pass the rubble. He removed the concrete pieces among the twisted metals and steel. His hands felt the heat on the concrete despite his gloves. The rubble was much thicker than he thought. But he kept on digging in semi-darkness and built a mini-tunnel where he could only slide through in a lying position. His knees and elbows began to bruise and bleed as he inch forward. And then a small hole at last, through which rushed in unbearable heat which almost burned his face. But he had to get out before anyone could find him. He made the hole a bit larger with his aching hands and then he pushed his rucksack with all his strength. Thud, the rucksack fall outside and few minutes later he fall on top of it.

    It took him a while to acclimatized to the scorching heat and adjust his eyes to the brightness. The skyline of the city was smoke blacken, bright orange tongues licking and consuming the ruins of the skyscrapers. The roads, now melted asphalts, filled with burning cars and trucks occupied by charred passengers and drivers. The side-walks littered with already-burned and still-burning bodies. The stench of roasted human flesh made him threw up on what looked like the remains of a dog. He half-hoped that some half-burned person would come running screaming for help, but he somehow knew it won’t happen. There were no signs of struggles, as if everybody died in an instant, long before the flames.

    Something was terribly wrong. No policemen, no rescuers, nobody was coming for him. He was free.

    “Oh God, help me,” he prayed sitting on his money-sack.
     
  23. 4r4w
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    4r4w New Member

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    Words: 194

    The Goddamn Apocalypse Man

    Things go boom everywhere, I live on without a care.

    I carried my shotgun like a baseball bat, smashed cars that did nothing but rust on the railroad tracks.

    My name is X, and I'm anonymous like the devil with a mask on, identity regardless, "That's the guy who broke my windshield: the man with the black outfit."

    "Hey man, you got some food?" A doctor asked me, eyes as sad as a lost puppy.

    I pointed my shotgun at him, looking for a fight. The black barrel gleamed in the sunlight. He turned, fled. I shot him down with a piece of lead.

    Things go boom everywhere, I live on without a chair.

    My girlfriend thinks I'm insane. I don't answer her, because she's a zombie and has no brains. I keep her in my closet, giving her as much thought as loose change.

    It's the end of the world man, no time for worries or regrets or the fine machine that's the body will jam like a clip of a gun made in Amsterdam.

    People dying everywhere... I live on without a care.

    It's the goddamn apocalypse, man.
     
  24. white
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    white Banned

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    A Fine Occupation (440 words)

    To those watching from far away, unaware of Gordon Theo or his eccentricities, he might have seemed like a crazy old fool sloshing around the Irradiated West in a moon suit. But Gordon had a purpose, and he was certainly not a fool or a madman; he was a scientist. And on this beautiful and humid day he intended to conduct a series of very important experiments. And to scavenge for leftovers, of course.

    The West was dangerous and depressing to look at. The trees had gone stark white -- from heat residue, presumably -- and laid upon themselves like wisps of hair. At night, strange creatures filled the air with chittering, whistling sounds. But Gordon did not mind the dangers as much anymore. He fancied himself an intrepid explorer of radioactive things, and sulking around the house required far too much effort, anyway.

    He dropped his equipment in the sand with a wet thump and looked out over the swirling, rainbow waters. Sweat baked on his forehead. Despair started to nag at him, and so he called out, seemingly to no one:

    “Seebo? Seebo! Good Lord. What good is a voice if nobody’s around to hear it!”

    There was a sudden whirring sound, and then Seebo appeared from behind a crumbling row of columns. He sped over to Gordon and orbited slowly.

    “Oh, look at me, Seebo. I think I am losing it. Why do we bother?”

    Seebo simply blinked and hovered without a reply. Gordon unzipped the suitcase and started reassembling his homemade water analyzer, which had fallen apart.

    “Yes. You’re right, of course. Always be optimistic. Isn‘t that the motto?”

    “Absolutely, Mister Yang. Pessimism is a fine occupation," Seebo replied, with cool automaticity.

    Gordon smiled and pushed the clunky analyzer near the shore. He flicked on the machine and studied the dials on the box front as the tubes gurgled and sucked in water. One of the dials was just a pressure gauge, and that didn’t really matter as long as the machine turned on and stayed on; the other dial is what concerned Gordon -- a circular readout, painted half green and half red for simplicity’s sake.

    The dial wavered nervously, and then dropped into the red. Gordon let out a groan and fell onto the sandy shore again with a look of resignation. Seebo floated out over the water quietly, thinking, perhaps, of another place to go, or even if there was another place, or if it was really worth traveling there, or …

    Gordon stood and placed his hands on his hips. The immense, orange sun glimmered in his eyes.

    “Well. Onward and upward, Seebo. We’ll just have to keep trying.”

    “Absolutely, Mister Yang. Pessimism is a fine occupation.”
     
  25. The End
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    The End New Member

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    The End(511 words)

    Some said God existed; some said he was a myth; but no one could deny what had happened. In all the years of man, no one had witnessed such horrific events. A lot of them called it World War III, but that hardly did it justice. All the events in history could hardly compete with this one massacre - what men called: the apocalypse. It was annihilation.

    Camielle watched from the heavens as the earth and those that inhabited it struggled to survive. She waited with like everyone else in the holy realm. It was time. It was the end. The antichrist had waged war on the saints. His demonic forces scoured the lands trying to destroy every last one. The Almighty had already unleashed the plagues upon the world in defense of his people, but that didn’t dissuade Lucifer one bit. And now, it was time to invade. Sweep the last of the dark forces from the world and cast them to hell.

    Her commander shouted the orders to march. Her wings flapped and her feet moved with everyone else even though they touched no ground. In a few moments, the army of angels had reached earth. Camielle sniffed the air. Dust, ash, and decaying bodies filled her nostrils. Her face wrinkled in disgust. She would never understand why humans loved this place. Granted, it had been much more beautiful in past times, but some still clung to it like a child to its mother.

    They continued to march to join their main force. Camielle spotted a woman, half naked curled up in a ball against a rock. A faint whimper could be heard from her quivering form. Her body was covered in sweat, blood, and dust. Her eyes darted around wildly as if watching for an unseen horror. Sympathy wasn’t Camielle’s area of strength, but even that sight moved her.

    The company marched on through what looked like an old country town. Camielle couldn’t even identify what culture or nation had once inhabited the area. Buildings only have standing lined what must have been the street; but even the street was hard to find. No asphalt covered the ground to identify the road. Only the obvious path that weaved through the wreckage.

    After another hour of marching, they finally reached the main camp, set up, then rested. Camielle watched the other angels prepare for the battle. A few saints had joined the ranks, but they seemed small and skittish compared to the magnificent angels. The antichrist had wreaked many terrors on the world. Camielle shook her head, and men followed him. Sold their soul to the devil for what?

    She looked at the cracked ground and dark sky. The green grass had been turned to ash. The trees all fallen and the former beauty of earth was diminished. Even the sun, moon and stars seemed darker. It was as if the universe was finally failing and all things were to end. This is how it was meant to be. The end of earth. For the beginning of something else.
     
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