Update and a Story

Welcome back. So, things are going well, hit 30k words in my novel and I’m confident I’ll hit both my target date and word count. No more non-zero days has finally developed into a habit that I’m pleased with.

I recently joined up with a Discord group called Writer’s Block. I haven’t had a lot of time to get too involved with my fellow writers there, but I certainly would like to. I will probably try to start off more in the feedback and speculative fiction areas to share my knowledge and ideas, instead of starting off socially in the off-topic area. I think by doing this, I can help them grow as writers by providing reliable feedback and discussion, instead of getting sidetracked with random chatting. Just need more time to spend on there!

They do a weekly writing competition, and I wanted to post my submission. I don’t think it got a lot of votes, but I didn’t work super hard on it so I’m not surprised; first drafts are rarely good. I’ll post the prompt, then the story. It’s a bit melodramatic, but I’m positive I could dial it back in a revision. Feel free to comment if you like!

Here is the prompt:

PromptSmallTOwn

And here is the resulting flash story:

The Last One

She was the first person I had seen still alive. My car idled at the traffic light I somehow still stopped for, and the woman used the crosswalk as if it was still relevant. She glanced at me and nodded, but did not stop. I wanted to open the door and rush to her, hug her, squeeze her…just to affirm that she was real and that I was not alone.

But I stayed in the car.

The deeper part of my brain, the gut, whispered incessantly that I should keep driving, that I should go, leave, get out now. I trusted that voice, but the sight of another human still alive threatened to squash the tiny tickle of my instincts like ants. There weren’t many of those left, either.

The town itself was much like most others…quiet, empty. A fire burned down the street behind me, raging unchecked through the brick stores. Despite that, the power was still on, and the light in front of me cycled to green, then yellow, then back to red again.

Do I follow her? Call out to her? I wanted to so bad, but there was no way I could be sure I would survive. There must be a reason she was not dead like the others, and that reason could cost me my life.

I pulled through the red light and parked next to a red brick building, signs spread across the window and door top that told me the place was for rent if I happened to need an office. No one needed an office any more, and it saddened me more than it should have. This place would be for rent forever, empty until it burned down or crumbled.

The woman had not gone into any buildings, and she still walked as if she owned the place–which, I guess, she pretty much did now. She must have heard me park, but she did not turn to acknowledge me, did not run toward me, arms spread, elated at the joy of human life. Not that I expected that, but it would have made this much easier.

I got out of the car. I don’t know why. 

The acrid smell of burning rubber and wood was strong, and the air thick and heavy. I choked down what air I could. The sound of my coughing was enough for the woman to stop, and she turned to stare at me, silent. I waved, my other arm across my mouth to filter the air. She did not wave back.

As I approached her, slowly of course, she stepped back and I sensed apprehension–not fear, just a wary concern. She held up her hand, palm forward, as if to halt me, and I stopped. My eyes watered from the sting of smoke, but I brought my arm down and smiled at her.

As I opened my mouth to greet her, she pulled up the side of her dress and showed me her legs.

Aw, hell. The disease had already reached stage three, her thighs covered in pustulant sores that would burst in virulent spores if messed with. She was already dead.

And she knew it. I let the tears flow, telling myself that it was the air that did it, that it was the burning remnants of a small town that brought out my grief. Yeah, keep telling yourself that, bud.

I went back to the car, started it, and left.

##

That’s it, friends. See you next time.

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