There used to be a saying about shepherds and skies – do you know it?
I sit awake nights, trying to remember the sky Before.
The nights the wolves grow brave, snuffling round camp with their hollow bellies and frosted eyes. The nights cold shoos the black bears from the mountains and I sit vigil with my rusted rifle, cradling our last shells like a miser with his gold.
Memories of the world Before are slipping from me, you see, turning to dreams, to fictions. Only that rhyme proves the sky wasn’t always red.
Tell me you remember it.
Written for Rochelle Wisoff-Field’s Friday Fictioneers. See the pic and write a tale to suit. Visit here to join in the fun.
‘What about this one, Gamma?’ Solly held out a glossy red berry.
Tan looked up from her own basket of fruit. ‘Bittersweet. Eat a handful of those and you’ll be running to the privy for a night and a day.’
Solly let the baubles fall, crushing them with the toe of her boot.
The sun was high, heat building under Tan’s arms, gathering in the channel of her spine. She closed her eyes for a moment, focused on the breeze, how it carried the scent of the distant shore, the quarrel of gulls.
The lights went out twenty years ago today. How had anyone survived those early days? How had she? The loss of all they’d known, all the comforts they’d taken for granted …
‘This is a funny one, Gamma – all spiky.’
She opened her eyes to find another berry under her nose, Solly’s eyes sparkling like fireworks.
After all they’d suffered, here was her silver lining.
Mads was getting tired now, her boots tearing up the fallen leaves and twigs like miniature bulldozers.
At first Col had scolded her, worried they were leaving tracks the Militia might follow. But as the sun bottomed on the horizon the forest grew quiet and still, every branch snap making him jump, smothering his whispers.
He tried to focus on the plan.
Everyone in HomeState knew the stories. If you cross the Last Freeway and scale the Wall, the Grey City authorities put you in a holding camp until you’re shipped back across the border.
But in the camps they fed you, give you clean clothes … medicine.
Mads coughed, skinny limbs shivering. The rattle was worse. He’d seen the red in her spit, the stuff she’d tried to stamp into the forest floor so he didn’t worry.
One more day, he thought. Just one more.
Written for What Pegman Saw, the prompt that uses Google Street View as it’s starting point. This week, we visit Frankfurt, Germany. See here to join in.
Gregor had scavenged blankets and sheep skins, even a couple of ex-military sleeping bags from when army patrols still made it as far as the Wall. Improvised wooden shutters and squares of tarpaulin kept out the worst of the knife cold wind.
‘Home sweet home,’ he’d said, blind eye shining pale in the torchlight. ‘You’re lucky to have been posted here, man,’ he said. ‘Best watchtower on the Wall.’
That night he showed me how to operate the night vision camera, what to look for in the grainy green image.
‘Always scan the ground,’ he said, drawing deep on a roll-up. ‘They try to dodge the cameras by keeping low.’
A flicker of fear bumped in my chest. ‘They’re clever enough to avoid the camera?’
He flashed a jagged smile. ‘Don’t believe what they teach you at school, Con. These mutts are smart.’
Written for What Pegman Saw, the inspirational prompt that uses Google Street View as its source. This week, we’re in China at the Great Wall. Be inspired, share, read and comment here.
Denny had always been one for drama – every headache was a brain tumour, every stomach ache cancer. But something about the text made Stuart swerve onto the hard shoulder amid the car horns and cursing. His call to Denny failed to connect, the same for their sister Clare. Panic mounted as every number he knew failed, as the bars on his phone dropped to zero.
He was staring at the blank screen as the first blast hit, as the nose to tail cars in front of him were flipped into the air, as the pressure wave disintegrated the windscreen.
Baruti shrugged, sandals slapping on leathery feet. His easy gait and slim frame made Taylor feel huge and awkward, an elephant beside a gazelle.
‘Could be an indicator of how far -‘
A hot wind blew up the valley and there it was – the same sound in Philadelphia, Bologna, Yekaterinburg. A wind chime made of bones.
‘There,’ said Baruti.
On top of the hill, a large hut on stilts.
‘Did he make that?’ said Taylor.
Forester had been an accountant, the least practical man Taylor ever met. But many of the sufferers had developed new skills. The virus’s capacity to construct new neural pathways in the brain was the reason he was there. One reason.
Baruti was already hurrying away, dust swallowing him.
Taylor checked the comforting swell of the Beretta under his jacket and pressed on.
Written for What Pegman Saw, the writing prompt that uses Google Street View as its inspiration. This week, we’re in Botswana. See here to join in, share and comment.