My Words, My World

First drafts – A few pages in the large wilderness of the world of writing

Archive for the category “extinction”

On your own

He couldn’t remember how long he’d been walking. he remembered coming out of the sanitary-white hospital ward, the stench almost too much to bear. The place was littered with bodies, beyond stiffening, and the buzz of flies seemed like a road-drill in the silence. As he left the building he caught a glance of himself in a shattered window. MacQuade was 28 years old. He’d had black hair when he entered the place, now an old man looked back at him, or what looked like an old man. White, fluffy hair stood up from his head and beneath it a face, as white as the hair, drawn and gaunt.

The scene in the ward was replayed outside, but on a much grander scale. Vehicles crashed in the road, bodies on sidewalks, on grass verges, on the road itself. Whatever had happened had happened with a suddenness that took everyone by surprise. Most car doors were still closed, meaning the occupants hadn’t even had time to stop and get out.

“Hello? Hello?”

MacQuade’s voice croaked in his ears but it was the only sound he could here on the four-lane boulevard which lead past the hospital. He stopped and walked over to a grass verge, ignoring the bodies which had been walking instead of driving. He stooped to look at what else lay on the grass. Sparrows, pigeons and even a crow, its eyes open and as cruel in death as in life. Wholesale human and animal fatalities and yet, here he was, alive, here on this green verge, the grass still healthy. The Rhododendrons in the flower beds still full of colour, roaring pink and fuchsia.

That evening he’d found tins of food in a supermarket but everything else had gone over. Christ! How long had he been out? They’d operated on his wisdom tooth on a Wednesday, the 28th July. He’d gone in search of a calendar. Someone had marked off the 28th on the one in the supermarket office. He just had no idea what day it was now. The bodies were skin on bone and that didn’t happen overnight.

He’d found a bottle of whisky in the store and got right into it immediately after the can of tuna flakes. Halfway down it he remembered his wisdom tooth no longer caused him pain. He smiled until he looked out of the window.

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Once green world memory

Where be now the wind
that once blew?
Around the compass, all around;
south, east, west and north true.
Flag flutter memory
just choking on dust.

Where are you now rain,
that once fell?
Down from the heavens, drenching me;
downpour, shower, drizzle.
Umbrella memory
doesn’t dampen dust

You frost, cold and white,
that once lay.
Covering the fields, chilling me;
your kiss hard underfoot.
Winter boot memory
now walking in dust

And you the snow, you
fall no more?
Stinging my face, red cold my nose;
freezing, numbing my hands.
Sheepskin glove memory,
tracing in the dust.

From you the sun, where
can I hide?
From your lofty perch, glaring;
shrivelling, withering.
Once green world memory,
now turning to dust.

 

 

StoryADay May day 3 – Red sister

The prompt from 3 May contained required the use of ‘vermillion’ and ‘musky’.  I think I managed it.  It’s still 3 May in New Mexico, for example so technically I can still squeeze it in.  Well, it was written before my Swiss midnight.

**********

 

Her face looks beautiful in the bright, white light.  Her musky perfume fills the air as we sit on the terrace.  The shadows of her features pronounced in contrast, her nose creating a pyramid-shape and the furrows creating trenches in her forehead as she looked away from the glare; it’s a magical moment but one doomed to pass quickly, as all moments do.  In this early evening dim I am fascinated.

The day had dawned cold but bright, and, following breakfast of espresso and a croissant we decided to take a long walk along the coastal road, up and down the small hills with little traffic to disturb the tranquillity of it.  We must have walked more than 10 miles before deciding to stop for lunch at a small restaurant just off the road, perched on a small cliff overlooking the rock-strewn beach beneath us.  We ordered a Prosecco each from the bar and sat down at one of the small, plastic tables on the terrace, pulled our coats around us and lit a cigarette.

We had a fine lunch of spaghetti with clams followed by a shared lobster – what the hell, it was a special day after all.  The two bottles of white wine went down well, so well in fact I kept nodding off in the taxi taking us back to the hotel.  We stayed in bed for a couple of hours, making sweet love and holding each other close, barely speaking; there was no need.  Finally, as the daylight outside faded in its wintry haste, we took a shower, dressed and went down to the hotel terrace looking over the sea.  I tightened my scarf around my throat while she pulled down her hat and we sat.  Our drinks arrived.

The seagulls were screaming, swooping and diving every time a wave broke and the sound, along with that of the waves, filled the evening.

The western sky still glowed a variety of pinks and one by one the stars appeared but none outshone the beautiful Venus, her vermillion majesty abroad in the evening sky.  Sitting above the now-set sun she took centre stage.

“What’s that low star darling?”  She asked, pointing to it.  “It’s so bright.”

It was in fact enormously bright, even in the frigid winter air.  The hairs on the back of my neck made a lazy, crawling motion.  As we looked, she continued to burn brighter then, suddenly, her light expanded. It continued doing so until it seemed the sun had returned from below the horizon.  Still the light expanded.  The first knot of fear appeared in my stomach.

“What is it Honey?” She asked, holding my arm tighter.

“No idea, well actually I do but it’s not a rational one”

“Tell me!”  It was an order.  She fumbled in her bag for her cigarettes.

VENUS HAS EXPLODED! I wanted to shout.  I didn’t however.  My mind filled with possibilities and ramifications of our red sister disappearing into a million pieces.  My mind asked how, yet I knew the answer, it was obvious.

“Do you remember you read that article in the newspaper the other week about the approach of a couple of asteroids, big enough to do damage?”  I took one of her cigarettes and lit up.  Bloody low- tar were not need at this moment.  I broke the filter off and continued smoking.  I had her attention.

“Well the experts said they would pass within so many million miles of us.  I think that while we’ve been looking out of our porch to see if something was crossing our front lawn, no one told us what would happen if we left the back door open.  We’ve been worrying about a rogue asteroid or a misdirected comet for years but we’ve never considered other planets, I mean, why should we?  I think something has hit Venus and whatever it was was big.”

The light consumed the night sky.  The moon no longer cast a reflection over the calm, black sea.  The only reflection came from an ever-growing light around 100 million miles from us.

“Then we’re OK,” she said, sounding fairly convinced, “I mean what harm can it do us from here?”

She had a point; I mean what was going to happen?  A huge piece of rock had thrown itself into the second planet and by the looks of it had obliterated it, creating nuclear chain reactions and sending a million pieces flying through space.  What harm could it do?  I didn’t want to analyse that question, I didn’t need to.  I knew that somewhere across the gulf of space a piece of our sister planet was heading our way.

We ignored the cold and remained seated outside.  The bowls of olives and peanuts had been consumed; the ashtray had been emptied once and was steadily filling up again.  The light was getting ever brighter, the night sky lit completely, even the birds in the trees started singing, thinking it was daytime.  We continued to sit and watch, entranced.

Her face looks beautiful in the bright, white light.  In this early evening dim I am fascinated.  They told us the world would end December.  I’m now going to order us the most expensive champagne followed by the finest cognac.  I don’t think I’ll have time to pay for it.  I don’t think we’ll be here much longer.

Flash Fiction Friday 132: Where There Is Hope There Is Hunger by Christopher Farley

Spring is now in full swing and I’m still writing with winter as a background. I think I need to see the sea…
As ever, thank you Morgen.

MorgEn Bailey - Editor, Comp Columnist/Judge, Tutor & Writing Guru

Welcome to Flash Fiction Friday and the one hundred and thirty-second piece in this series. This week’s is a 420-worder by Christopher Farley. This story will be podcasted in episode 40 (with two other stories and some 6-worders) on Sunday 25th May.

Where There Is Hope There Is Hunger

The bees were the first noticeable difference. Within just a few years there weren’t any. The pollen must have been modified in the same way the plants had been. The honey stocks fell quicker than a suicidal stockbroker after a Wall Street crash. They told us to be patient and that they would replenish the honey from laboratory stock, which they did. I don’t know what the hell it was made from but it was soft, runny and sweet, so I guess some people were happy. However, honey wasn’t the biggest problem; after all, we had sugar if we had the money…

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Smoke, ash and death to all

His eyes reflected the glowing, boiling mass of cloud, which masked the fear that lay behind them, as the first cracks appeared in the ground beneath his feet. The raining, burning acid ash now found its way to his skin. Confusion, as he looked around.

An hour before, the blue morning sky had been rendered and torn as a distant flash ripped through the atmosphere. The forest he had been looking at from the brow of the hill had danced before his eyes as the very Earth shook and moved on its axis, unable to sustain the blow which punched through its hide of rock and water and deep into the mantle.

He made his way down the gentle, stony slope and came to the first trees of the forest. He had no intention of getting tangled up inside but at the moment the trees offered protection from something as yet unknown but he felt sure of its arrival. His senses were in overdrive. Nothing moved and no animal called, and the only sound was his own reluctant footfalls as he wandered in rough circles, unable to decide any immediate action. Even the ground was silent in its shudder.

A vague, low movement on the horizon caught his attention. In the distance the blue of the morning was replaced by darkness and lightening flashed within the grey, growing veil, spreading over the sky, snuffing out sunlight with every passing second. He knew this was different to the frequent, sudden thunderstorms that marched through the low, wide valley, which were pedestrian compared to the jostling knot of clouds that raced towards him. His reluctance to enter the forest proved wise as huge clouds of smoke started to billow from the green foliage, obstructing his view and making it hard to breathe. He had to move.

Suddenly, from the trees there was movement as animal after animal crashed through the undergrowth and out into the open. Without waiting he followed, starting to run, his burning skin pushed to the back of his mind as instinct took over. The animals bunched together and ran before him as he gave chase, gaining ground with every stride. He was now on the level plain of the valley floor, and the tremors were less obvious now he was moving. The distance between him and his prey continued to lessen until, for no reason he could understand, he started slowing to a walk, the hunt for food no longer a priority.

He looked up at the sky, the seething cauldron of smoke, ash and fire replacing the daylight. He started to run but this time Tyrannosaurus realised that for the first time in his life if wasn’t hunger that filled his belly and drove him on, it was fear. His head filled with sounds of terror and ruin. There was nowhere to hide now.

Yesterday evening I flicked through the channels to find something which would make a good background as I ate my sea-bass.  I tripped over the last 10 minutes or so of a documentary on National Geographic about the last extinction of the dinosaurs, 65 million years ago.  I like the asteroid theory.  An increase in volcanic activity is far too slow, almost glacial.  I like the idea also of T-Rex chasing something, but for the first time in its life not with the idea of eating it.

My T-Rex here is portrayed as ‘he’.  I can do that, he won’t mind, as either by slow volcanic ash or mad meteorite mayhem he met his end a long time ago so I can call him what I want, although Lassie or Fluffy probably wouldn’t suit him very well.  If Thomas Hund hadn’t thought of it first I may have called him Toby. 

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