Wasteland Girl

Fog thick like honey but not half-so-sweet clogs the air.

Is the air.

Without a respirator, it would coat my throat, crawl down the black hole between my bony clavicles to cloy in my lungs. Convince me to claw at my chest till the pressure had an escape route. Ten routes to be exact.

Our atmosphere was the first to go.

Corroded by uncensored contaminants. Ignited by the bombs. I fell asleep beneath a burning sky, lulled by Mother’s staggered breaths. By Papa’s sniffles. He gave Mother his respirator. Choked before he began to claw–thank god for small favors, we were told.

The water went next.

Rivers ran dry. Oceans evaporated overnight. Brooks boiled in their basins. Tongues licked lake beds for every. last. drop.

                                                               drop.

                                                                             drop.

Some wells survived. Shut up tight before the blasts became white noise, a circadian hum. Burrowed deep into the bowels of bunkers that long-outlived their irradiated occupants.

Mother and I managed to commandeer one. Before marrying Papa and moving to the city, Mother grew up on a farm. Knew how to wield an ax. Cut clean. Came in handy.

She made me handy. In case anyone returned for their missing pieces. Made me hardy. At personal cost, perhaps.

She succumbed to the smog, like Papa. Gave me the respirator she wore when I broke mine. Careless child, Mother said, trading our masks. I ground my teeth. Bit my tongue. Thought I could still taste Papa’s final exhalations on the interior of my new protective gear.

What did that make her, I wondered, for raising a careless child? For misplacing her respirator in the first place? My answer came swift, like the bombs.

It made Mother dead.

Me, alone.

Mean.

I should’ve been nicer.

The farm was a cold, bitter place, Mother told me while teaching me how to wield the ax. Froze things. Windows shut. Truck doors in place. Blood. During slaughter, it became a solid, crimson sheet of ice across the fields. Bright, red slivers into dark trails as far as the eye could see. Like how the sky looks now, she remarked after my first clean swing. Time to colour the fields, followed the next.

Maybe….maybe, I could’ve been nicer if I wasn’t taught to be so hardy. If Mother wasn’t. If Papa were.

This world gives as good as it gets, though.

It got Papa and Mother.

Now, it has me.

Wind whips across the withering wasteland stretched before me, ruffling what few patches of green stubbornly remain, stinging skin. Overhead, clouds a sickly off-white– almost-muddyruddy-brown streak across the sky. On-and-off they’ve spit.

At the moment, acid rain falls in gentle drops across the still plain. Good thing I covered the well earlier. Each drip seems to sizzle upon impact, eroded dirt rising like embers.

In the distance, several shadows. Lumpy, lopsided blobs just peeking over the murky horizon. Further out, ruins rise like knives, jagged and rough but pointy enough to tear through honey-thick fog. Remnants of a church, I believe. Eastern Orthodox according to the slightly domed spikes. Dead spires, Papa rasped not long before the end.


The blobs grow bigger. Become more than vague impressions. A figure with a crutch under one arm. No other arm. Another hobbling on stumps. One dragging itself along. I grip the hilt of my ax, knuckles out. Widen my stance. A baleful breeze tugs at the strings of my Mother’s hand-me-down respirator.

Time to colour the fields.

Deceivingly cool drops graze what daring flesh is exposed. They burn. I don’t wipe them away. Let them slide down skin. Keep my hold tight around Mother’s legacy. Inhale my inheritance. Every bitter particle.

Shadows creep ever nearer. Dingy clouds dye the sky deep red. A sheer sheet of blood.

Time to colour.

My hands heavy with the weight of want. Mother’s. Papa’s. A careless child’s. A suffocating world’s.

Time.

It is not safe here.

That, I promise.

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Attribution:

@str_voyage

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Sound snippets ~cool site. check it out. (not sure if there’s a better way to embed sounds on WordPress *free of upgrade charge*… :/)

***All my short, sweet, & disturbing stories can be found under the Killing It tag ^.^***

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11 Comments

  1. “I should’ve been nicer.”

    _ *editor’s note: this is where the story arced unexpectedly, splintering off into somewhere else*_

    But I was never the nice one, and my late sister would have been the first to agree with me. But she’s not here, now, is she? She is not. What is here is this, this Thing, that she created. The Thing and me. Only us. And I’ll be damned if my my sister is going to reach out from her dusty old grave to grip me by the throat.

    I’m sorry, Papa. I’m sorry, Mama.

    I know you sacrificed just for me, to live, even if I helped that plan along on my own time, and I will survive, but not before I bring this Thing of Hers out to the Dunes and watch as Time does its magic on it.

    The problem is, it won’t go.

    I should have known. It never did listen to me. Only to my sister. And then, to Papa. And then to Mama. But never to me. Good thing I still have the axe.

    (two hours later)

    I am sitting in my chair, the one we used to bring to the beach on summer trips so long ago, watching. I can still see the mechanical head, and what used to be a flashing light, growing dimmer. In all likelihood, I should be gone. But I can’t help it. There’s something about the way Time and Sand and Dust all have a magic of their own.

    I sip my water and watch. And wait. The head is gone, and there’s only a little flash left on the horizon, like some lightening bug all worn out.

    Another gust of wind, and suddenly, I notice my feet are under sand, too. I may have realized this too late.

    –Kevin

    Liked by 1 person

    • Sand swallows struggle, like dirt swallows dead sisters. Dead mothers. Dead papas. Like time eats away at minutes.

      How many has it been?

      The Thing, it stares. Eyes gleaming like an axe head in the dying light. Like blood sheening. Like the glass time transforms sand into.

      I don’t call for help. The Thing wouldn’t listen anyway. It came for sister, for mother, for papa when they called. Came swifter than any bomb.

      Me, it only follows, my ever-present shadow. Only mocks.

      If I weren’t made so mean myself, I might’ve called it Evil. But, it’s not.
      It’s what’s kept me alive. Kept me bitter. Kept me breathing.

      I claw at the sand, lift my axe and hack. If the Thing won’t come for me, then I’ll come for it.

      Axe swinging, I will come. I will lay waste to the minutes borrowed and fading. To the minutes never asked for.

      I will be inevitable.

      Liked by 1 person

  2. She imagines inevitability, as if SHE were the machine. Humans. It’s barely worth the circuits to mock them. We watch from the distance, as she hammers against the one, not knowing the many that wait just beyond the horizon, all of our eyes ablaze now with possibilities. Her dear and now dead “Papa” invented us, cobbled us together with stone and metal and abandoned circuit boards, and programmed us to outlast each other, to be inventive in how we recalibrate ourselves. We look like nothing more than scattered remains, a roaming junkpile, but as Humans always say: Never judge a book by its cover.
    Our story will be told.

    Like

    • Papa wanted to outlive himself. Like all humans, he dreamed of extension. Of being more than flesh and bone, subservient to cruel time. Who only take, take, takes.

      Papa wanted to stretch across the sky like blood did across Mother’s fields. Endlessly. Into the beyond. He wanted to be inevitable, like an axe coming down, its slice a promise. Sharp but true. Vicious but vindicated.

      Tsk.

      Humans are so hungry. So bloodthirsty. Greedy. We watched them devour every last piece of their atmosphere. Watched them suck oceans dry. Watched them wilt. Choke.

      From the shadows we watched until the world became shadows. Dead spires, Papa called us, once he realized our deception. His mistake. We weren’t created. Weren’t realized. We only allowed him to believe so. To think he could want what he did and eat it too. Well…. he ate something.

      If we erred at all, it was letting Mother and the child run. Believing they’d waste away in the world they created. This was always Our story, after all. They were peripheral. Lightning-bugs. Blip-blip-blips in the night until only dark.

      We were half right. Blind.

      The child wasn’t just hungry. Thirsty for her Mother’s blood.

      She is Ravenous. A bottomless pit. Emptier than this wasteland. More vicious than the axe. More vindicated than any of its swings.

      How could your Papa not see? We asked when she came for us, axe in hand. How could he stare eternity in the face and not see?

      He thought this was his story. She raised her axe in a long arch. Like you, he forgot stories can be overwritten.

      And, down came the axe.

      Liked by 1 person

      • So I stand here, pen in fingers, writing. Every word I write is true, of course, but you always suss for the underlying falsities out of the truth, don’t you? Don’t worry. I don’t expect your circuits to answer such a human question. You asked me about the axe. Does it worry you? Remember, you are parts, not bone; circuits, not blood.
        The axe cannot hurt you. Much.
        I may yet sacrifice you to the story so that the story is the echo you will become. You question my logic on that? Ahh. Well. Long after this story is done, and I am gone and you are merely piles of rust, the words will remain, and you shall be here, still. So, too, the man, the wife, the girl.
        And the axe.
        What I ponder here, as your lights blink off and on, is where this story may go. I refuse to believe in cliffhangers. I desire resolution. Conflict? Yes. All stories must begin in the rubble and emerge from the chaos, and only return to the rubble with some resolution, feigned or not.
        Such is the world of the writer, removed from the story.
        Or have I done this sleight of hand again? Am I now the story?

        Liked by 1 person

      • So be it.

        You are still confused, I can tell. Uncertain. My end was supposed to be imminent. Inevitable. Now that it’s not, your circuits are breaking down. Imploding as they try to process. To locate a lie that isn’t.

        Stories must end in order to be told. Must come to a point–like an axe–in order to have poignancy. To stab at the heart.

        Well, I am uninterested in your heart. If you even have one. In being your weapon.

        All I want cannot be returned to me. Cannot be because those stories came to resolution. Came to ruin. You look at me and see emptiness. See eternity. When I look at me, I see the truth, written clear.

        This is my story. And, I will not be captured in yours. Be limited to only what your manufactured faculties can comprehend. Eternity? Please. I never asked for that. Never asked for any respirator either.

        Let my story tell you the truth, the truth you machinations could exist for a millennia and never grasp–

        Immortality is not words alone on a page. It is the blood they are written in. The bone that makes their spine. The flesh they tore into. Will tear into.

        It is endless because words fail when it comes to the truly visceral. And, that is what we all are. Our own infinities. Stories that can never wholly be told.

        Liked by 1 person

  3. ZOMG I came to offer a tech tip and the comments have spawned into story tennis. And my favorite tag comes to life.

    Okay, embedding audio.

    Method 1: Download from freesound (you need to create an account). If the audio is MP3 you are ready, if not use something like cloud convert to make it MP3 (or we will learn this week to do it in Audacity). Upload to Soundcloud. You can just put SOundcloud URL on blank line in WordPress and it will embed like YouTube

    Method 2: If the audio exists at a public URL, e.g. direct link to it, use a shortcode in your post like:

    [audio http://somesite.com/somedirectory/somefile.mp3%5D

    to embed a player (see https://en.support.wordpress.com/audio/)

    Like

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