What Pegman Saw : Where the trucks were headed

 

They were housed in an apartment block overlooking the main street into the city.

Morning and evening the road clogged with oily buses and flat-bed trucks spewing dense smoke that oozed along the tarmac, a grey stinking river. Most of the trucks carried munitions workers or mechanics heading for car factories making cheap, boxy run arounds for the home market and – or so it was rumoured – stretch limousines for high-up party members and foreign oligarchs.

The apartment had a balcony, a washing line of twine strung from post to window. When she took in the laundry, she brought the smell of the road in with her, sheets carrying same thick filth that coated the trees and filmed the windows.

Through the long night the road rumbled on, though she knew better than to ask where those trucks were headed.

 


Written for What Pegman Saw, a prompt using Google Streetview as its source. See here to join in and to read the other tales.

 

 

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Friday Fictioneers : The Long Night falls

PHOTO PROMPT © Danny Bowman


 

The sun was low by the time Alison made it out of the city. The streets had been clogged with traffic since the alarm sounded, every lane blocked by dumped cars. In the end, she’d left the Ford and joined a river of humanity drawn to the desert. Beyond the concrete and steel, things felt calmer, voices hushed over the sound of feet stumbling through sand.

A last emerald flash of sunlight and the Long Night fell.

She thought of all those she’d loved as the frost furred her lashes and the cold grew hard. Finally, her heart slowed, stilled.

 


Written for Rochelle Wisoff-Field’s Friday Fictioneers. See here to join in and to read the other tales.

The ’emerald’ sunset refers to a phenomenon called the Green Flash. See here.

 

Three Line Tales : Under the floodlights

three line tales week 79: outside of the MCG; the g

photo by Arnaud Mesureur via Unsplash


 

‘Keep under the floodlights,’ said Mumma. ‘It’ll be warmer under there.’

So that’s where we stood, Polly, Mumma and me – me sandwiched between them, glimpsing the flood of frightened, muddy people. Everybody seemed to be hurt – nobody was bandaged or cleaned.

I hid behind Polly as the fighting broke out around us. Food. It was over food a lady said. I think that’s what she said – she was crying.

Then the floodlights guttered, spat. Went out.

 


Written for Sonya at Only 100 Word’s Three Line Tales. See the pic and write a tale. See here to join in.

Three Line Tales : Think the same, act the same, obey the same

three line tales week 69: Lego heads

photo by Carson Arias via Unsplash


 

My father used to say, ‘Push a child through school and all you get is a million minds that think the same, act the same, obey the same.’

I guess that’s why he took us away, up to the cabin over the mirror lake. Why our school room was the whispering forest, why we read wolf tracks and deer pellets and badger routes instead of books.

It’s why I’m looking over the city now and not dead within its walls.

 


My, I am churning out the dystopia like nobody’s business these days.

This was written for Sonya’s Three Line Tales and how my mind veered from happy smiley Lego men to the end of the world is anyone’s guess. See here to read the other tales and join in the fun.

Friday Fictioneers : What was here?

PHOTO PROMPT © J Hardy Carroll


 

Newt shuffled along the dusty tabletop so Mama could perch next to her.

‘And what was this bit?’ Newt traced the lines on the picture with her finger, the crosscross patterns, the dark bobbles with their raised paint.

‘That was grass, the brown lines are paths. That blue was a lake, the blobs are trees.’ Mama coughed, the sound rattling like dried beans caught in her chest. ‘Let’s go. Dark’s coming.’

As they hurried back to the tunnel and the oildrum fire, Newt tried to imagine Lake, Trees, Grass …

Tried to imagine a world coloured blue and green.

 


 

Written for Rochelle Wisoff-Field’s Friday Fictioneers, the finest flash writing prompt you’ll find. See here to join in and to read the other, wonderful tales.

 

 

Always old fashioned

They sat in Terry’s office on stiff-backed chairs. Two untouched mugs of tea and a plate of soggy Bourbons perched on reams of paperwork on his desk. Terry didn’t like tea, but he always made himself one when visitors came because it seemed to make people less self-conscious than when they drank alone. Now things such as tea and biscuits seemed old-fashioned in this newly made world. But Terry didn’t mind that. He’d felt old-fashioned since he was a small boy.

The surface of the tea had formed a skin,  wrinkling under the air conditioning like geriatric flesh. He thought of mentioning his observation to the man from the Government – Donald was it? Or Dennis? – but his thoughts often made other people feel uncomfortable. Though Janey had never minded.

The Government man’s suit was as creased as his face, as if he’d used the jacket as a pillow. His skin was greasy, grey as the ring of dirt around his shirt collar. Yes, standards had dropped since the beginning of the outbreak.

Donald / Dennis scratched his forehead with bitten down nails. ‘Doctor Goddard, if you can tell me anything about Doctor Faber’s movements over the last few days. Anything at all.’

The man looked exhausted, but then they all were. He and Janey had taken to napping on the chaise longue in the corner of the office rather than bothering to drive home. They were both single. No one missed them. He gazed at the sofa now, at the threads of gold that could only be strands of her hair.

‘Doctor Goddard. Please. This is a matter of national security.’

‘We were trying to find a cure -‘

Donald / Dennis leaned forward, his tie shifting the papers on the desk. ‘A cure funded by the government, with key research and statistics supplied by our departments.’

All Terry knew was that she had been there one evening, peering over her notes, twisting her hair on top of her head with a biro, and gone the next morning. He hadn’t noticed the slides were missing until the phone rang.

The Government man’s jaw clenched. ‘I cannot stress how important it is we regain those samples.’

He didn’t mention Janey’s safety, that she was out there alone, the world dying around her.

When Terry had picked up the phone, her voice had been faint and breathy through the receiver. He thought she might have been running. Or crying. ‘I’m sorry, Terry,’ was all she’d said. ‘I’m so very sorry.’

Donald would take the words as an admission of her guilt, but Terry knew them for what they were. A goodbye.

 


I fancied revisiting Terry and Janey, two scientists caught in the jaws of a catastrophic disease outbreak. To read their first outing, When the time comes, see here.

Three Line Tales : Silent Night

 

three line tales week 66: a pylon with red sunset

photo by Adi Ulici via Unsplash


The electricity pylon still stood, though three lines had broken free during winter storms. The metal chords lay where they’d fallen – half-buried in the swaying grass – giving the tower the forlorn air of a skipper having fumbled the rope.

Jim savoured his last pre-rolled cigarette, the tobacco dusty and bitter on his tongue. The workmen hadn’t come to service the tower since before the TV stations put up their test cards for the last time. Since before the screens blacked out for good.

He crushed the cinder under his boot, listened to his final smoky exhalation. And headed for home.


Written for Sonya at Only 100 Words’ Three Line Tales – see here to join in and to read the other stories.

Another dystopian vision this week – perhaps it’s because I’m reading Justin Cronin’s The Passage at the moment. It’s good, do take a look.