The colorful leaves fall from the trees, dancing to the ground.
I walk through them, admiring the feel of the misty morning on my skin.
Though, it’s just a vision of what once was long ago before the finally war.
The colorful leaves fall from the trees, dancing to the ground.
I walk through them, admiring the feel of the misty morning on my skin.
Though, it’s just a vision of what once was long ago before the finally war.
The humans glanced out of the cage as the aliens passed. Unlike the Earth zoos in which the animals had been behind metal and glass, the last humans were behind an almost clear force field. Nor where they roaming though fields and trees, they had ‘mock’ houses and large gardens styled on what was known to be how the last earthlings lived in.
There were twelve of them all together. An old woman, who would smile and wave at the aliens from a rocking chair. Three children who would play in the gardens and staring questionably back. A baby, who was a fascinated by all, but not when he was crying. The rest were young and middle-aged men and women who lived a quiet life which to them was all they had ever known.
The humans were given enrichment and the aliens watched them in wonder. The children were given toys – stuffed fabric in animal shapes, puzzle games and wooden blocks. The adults were given art supplies, cooking equipment and exercise machines. The keepers wanted them to live as naturally as possible and enjoyed researching old earth pass times.
Today, the last humans had received a mixture of instruments and music players. The adults showed little interested, but the children enjoyed ringing the bells and blowing the trumpets. Finally though, the oldest man took up a guitar and began playing it. The others gathered around and soon form their own band.
The aliens were delighted. Humans were deeply mysterious after all.
Telling myself that I wasn’t stuck, I carefully lowered the screwdriver and balanced it on my chest before trailing my hands down to my heavily pregnant belly. The little voice at the back of my head once again questioned why I was under the spaceship’s main engine changing the last of the faulty power crystals.
‘Because no one can be trusted,’ I spoke.
‘You okay?’ a very distant voice answered me back.
‘Next time, husband, when you meet barbarian traders offering you a too good a deal, walk away!’ I yelled.
Taking the purple, pulsing crystal out, I slotted a new one in it’s place. The red warning light and ringing alarm cut off. I sighed then slowly backed away, dragging my tools with me. Coming out the hatch, I fixed a scowl on my face.
The whole crew were stood in the room, looking worried.
‘I fixed it. Everything should be fine now. Don’t ever mess with my ship again,’ I added to my husband as he helped me up.
Photo prompt provided by Jade M. Wong with thanks.
As I drove out alone, I couldn’t help but think it shouldn’t have been this way. Everyone else was heading the same way I was; to the edge of the planet. All around me, a whole mix of different machines raced by and I gritted my teeth and wondered what was so great about a space bike anyway.
Of course, everything was the only answer and that was why she had left me. I clutched the wheel and felt my Earth car bumping along. It had been some big joke for awhile, but then it had been ‘cool’ and she had loved it. I guess I always knew it wasn’t going to work though.
I pulled up and cut the engine. I was a meter or so away from the edge, but that was good enough for me. I watched a space boat taking off and heading just like every other thing seemed to be towards the eclipsing sun and moon. The view out there must have been good. For me though, the magic had drained out of it.
I looked at the glove box, which was just a small drawer in the dashboard. Even though I knew what was in there, I pushed the button and let it fall open anyway. The black space was empty but for a white square box which I took out. Tonight should have been our night, but she had made the message all to clear.
I went to open the box, decided it against it and threw it back into the drawer. Above me the light was fading fast and I looked up in time to see a huge dark circle being haloed by red light. I lent back in the seat and watched the moon moving away again. I tried not to think about her, but my mind wouldn’t let go.
That’s what had happened to us, I told myself as the moon finally slipped away from the sun. We’d had that moment together and now we were back alone…Well, she was with someone else now, but that didn’t work so well with the symbolism. Still there’d be more girls and more moments, but it wouldn’t be the same.
I started the engine, backed up the earth car and headed for home. The sun was back to normal above me and to my left the moon was returning to it’s route. I began to wonder about them in a strange way, picturing the moon and sun as lovers who could only met during the eclipse.
Perhaps that was just nonsense, but maybe somewhere it was true.
Story prompt from;
I stared at her, puzzlement filling my face as her words echoed inside my head. The urges between my legs faded and I forgot about everything else for a moment. Then reality hit.
‘You don’t know me…Why do you want to?’ I asked.
She shrugged and said, ‘there’s nothing here for me now. My gran…’ she touched the cross at her throat and began rubbing it between her fingers, ‘she died a few months back. She was all I had.’
‘Well, I’m sorry about that…but-‘
‘There’s nothing left here! Everyone will move out soon and I…I don’t think they’ll let me go with them…’
I looked at her again, trying to figure out why she believed that. I looked at how pale her skin was and went for a guess, ‘because you’re sick?’
She turned her head way and rested her chin on her shoulder, ‘yes,’ she breathed, ‘but that’s not the only thing.’
I pulled a face, wondering if she had lied to me, ‘so you’re supernatural then?’ it was the only other explanation.
She nodded, ‘I’m a witch.’
Maybe I should have been more surprised, but I was too busy thinking about how much of a risk her coming along would be.
‘I can’t let you,’ I spoke after a few moments of pause.
She put her hands on her hips. Her breasts sticking out even more and gaining my full attention.
‘Why not?’ she snapped, ‘I know how to fight and I got things to trade for food. My gran and I use to travel all the time. And I know how to forge and I can make healing potions to sell and I can tell real fortunes.’
She folded her arms over her chest. Blocking my view and making me look up at her. Her face was set in determination. There was no way she was going to be talked out of this.
‘That’s all well and good. But why me? Why do you need someone to travel with? Don’t you know it’s easier to be alone?’ I asked.
‘Of course it’s easier, but there’s safety in numbers too. Plus, I have more chance of being left alone if I’m with you,’ she added.
A thought slowly formed in my mind, ‘you want a bodyguard?’
She shook her head, ‘a companion.’
‘I don’t know….’
‘The cards said you’d be difficult,’ she sighed.
‘Look, we need to leave. Come back to granny’s – mine and I’ll make us some hot food. We can talk about it more there.’
I frowned and turned my head to look at the line of trees behind me. My feet wanted to go towards them, I needed to carry on walking. She was right when she said there was nothing here for anyone and yet I couldn’t do it. I turned back and saw that she was already walking away, clutching the edges of her dress in both hands. She was wearing knee length leather boots, so I couldn’t actually see anything of her legs. Still though…
I followed her, casting all my thoughts aside. We walked into the clump of trees that the biker gang had come from and I saw a small house just to the left of us. It was sheltered by the trees and other nature, so if you didn’t know it was there you might miss it. We followed a path of flattened grass and arrived at a gate and fence. It was white, picketed and intact. A plastic red sign on the gate read Healer’s House. Potions and fortune telling.
She opened the gate and walked in. There was a little path running through the front garden and to the front door. On either side plants had taken over and there were little labels sticking up from the ground. I looked around, fascinated at everything that was growing. I heard her unlock the door and go in.
A soft meowing and her muttering voice drew me away. Looking over I saw her holding a small black cat. She was hugging it and rubbing her chin on it’s head. I went over and saw that many things were hanging off the front of the house. There were wind chimes, sun catches dream catches, fluttering bits of paper, ribbon and feathers.
‘Why would you want to leave here?’ I asked.
She shrugged, ‘because it’s time to move on.’
‘The cards tell you that?’ I sneered.
She shot me a warning look then walked into the house. I looked out across the garden then further along the treeline and towards the church tower. My thoughts whirled. Being mean to her wasn’t going to help. My stomach rumbled and I realized how hungry I was. I had become so use to it now though that I just forgot most of the time.
I walked into the house, closing the door which caused a tinkling charm to sound. A hallway ran ahead of me, three doors leading off to rooms. There was a fourth and a staircase to my left. There was so much dark brown wood everywhere it was unbelievable. This place had been untouched by everyone but those living here.
I went into the first room and found a nice, tidy living room. There were handmade cushions and blankets on non-broken armchairs and sofas. An old TV stood in one corner as if just waiting for the kids to come home and switch it on for cartoons. Just like I had seen pictures of and heard stories about. In the far corner was a bookcase, stuffed full of things.
Going over, I felt rugs under my feet and the gentle squeak of floorboard. It had been awhile seen I had seen books. Slowly, I reached out and touched the spine of one.
‘You read?’ she asked.
I half turned, my hand falling away, ‘Barely.’
‘I’ll teach you if you want.’
I glanced back then turned fully to her, ‘this must have taken ages,’ I said indicating the room with my hands, ‘anyone would kill for a place like this. How can you want to leave?’
She looked at the floor and I noticed she had taken the dress off and was now wearing jeans and a loose t-shirt.
‘I must,’ she finally whispered, ‘come into the kitchen.’
She walked away, her footsteps muffled by the hallway carpet. I followed, my fingers unable to stop touching things. The kitchen was warm and bright. She had a fire going in the old stove. I guessed she had light it before going to the church. The cat was curled up on the floor next to it. There was a small table and chairs in the middle of the kitchen and I took a seat.
The curtains were drawn over the windows, but some light still seeped in. Herbs and plants hung above us, drying. There was a collection of small bottles and jars to one side, with recipe book beside them. The air smelled sweet, sugar like, but I had no idea what the cause was.
She made tea and brought it over with a plate of biscuits. Then she went back to the stove and returned with two steaming bowls of stew. She give me a bowl then picked up the teapot.
‘What’s your name?’ she asked as she poured the tea.
‘Elk. What’s your’s?’ I answered then realized I had never asked her.
‘Jasmine. Do you take milk and sugar?’
‘You have them?’
She nodded and held up a small bowl and a jug.
‘How? And yes.’
‘We use to have a goat,’ she said as she handed me a tea cup.
‘I sold it and the sugar gran got ages ago.’
I hummed and picked up a spoon. The stew looked good. I had a small sip and it tasted so rich and meaty.
Jasmine sat down and picked up a biscuit. She dunked it into the tea then began nipping on it. I watched her feeling full of mixed emotions and thoughts. How could I leave this girl behind?
But I knew I just had too.
To Be Continued…
I walked back through the graveyard, avoiding the nearly hidden headstones. Once the grass would have been cut short and and the names would have been readable. I had never seen an old graveyard like that. People didn’t have time to care anymore and the way of dealing with bodies now had to be fast. The mass burning and burying in cemeteries and parks was easier and better to stop the spread of disease.
My boots hit what had been the pathway to the church. I could smell the motorbikes’oil and petrol as well as something else. The biker gang had been smoking something powerful and disgusting. I wrinkled my nose at the possible homemade drug and looked into the church doorway. I couldn’t see anything.
Stepping in, I wondered where she had hidden. The church looked the same as when I had fled from it. Rumble was still on the floor, light was peeking through the window and silence had returned. I started walking to the altar and halfway there give up trying to be quiet. There was just too much shifting rumble.
Climbing on to the altar, I stopped and looked left and right. I could hear the dripping water from the sink and settling stones. If she was still here and alive, she would have heard me by now. There was no way she would come out of hiding unless I called out as she probably thought I was one of the biker gang.
What was I even doing here anyway? Why was I making this matter? I hitched up my rucksack and turned to look down the church. I still felt torn for some reason, but finally I convinced myself to start leaving. Maybe the girl was armed and unfriendly? What if this was some kinda trap?
The voice was soft and wispy, yet it me like a bullet. I spun, my hand reaching down my leg to the hunting knife in my boot. I never made it, because one look at her made me freeze again.
She was pretty, yet her skin was very pale and sick looking. She had bright blue eyes that looked tried and puzzled. Her lips were making a little frown. The blue dress hung loosely off her, that was why it was more floaty then it seemed. It reached down to the floor and pooled around her feet.
I could see the bones in her neck and shoulders starkly. She was wearing a necklace; a small gold cross. Her really light yellow, almost white hair was swept back, away from her face and trailing down her back. Then there were the tops of large breasts, framed by blue lace which did nothing to hide them.
‘I’m not going to hurt you,’ I forced out as I slowly straightened, ‘unless you’re going to hurt me…’
She shook her head and showed me her empty hands. Then dropped them to her side again. I looked her up and down, my eyes lingering on her moving cleavage. She could have concealed something in the dress, even if it was a baby kitchen knife or a needle.
‘Were they after you?’I asked and nodded to the doorway as if the biker gang was still there.
‘In a way,’ she uttered, ‘They like to bully, but they are all talk really.’
‘What are you doing here?’ Now I had opened my mouth I couldn’t stop.
She looked up at the large glass stained window and the hollows. I looked too, but couldn’t see anything there. The window was dark as the sun hadn’t moved around yet. I could make the pictures though; an angel, a man on a cross, people crying.
I looked at her, the next question pressing against my tongue and yet I was worried to ask it. I couldn’t see anything strange about her though, so maybe she was just a normal girl. Still though…
‘Are you an angel or a ghost?’ I asked.
She looked at me sharply, ‘are you?’
I shook my head.
We both stared up again.
‘Why are you here?’ she asked suddenly, ‘I saw you before running from the staircase when the roof give a little.’
‘Oh…I thought there was a cave in…’ I trailed into a shrug.
She looked at me, trying to see the truth in my words and waiting for me to go on.
‘It seemed a safe place to spend the night,’ I added.
She hummed, her eyes going back to the window and though I thought she had further questions to ask me, she kept them to herself.
‘I should go,’ I spoke out.
I made to move, but my eyes met her’s and I stopped.
‘Why did you come back in?’ she asked, her voice still a quiet.
‘I…thought I’d forgotten something, but I hadn’t,’ I answered.
She turned her head and nodded.
I waited a few moments then walked down the altar. I did half want her to call me back, but then I knew the urge to rip the dress off her would be too hard to resisted. I shook my head and tried to clear the images of her away, but they were locked in my memory now. She had stirred me awake.
I reached the door, stepped out and went into the graveyard. Not heading in an actual direction, I walked back through and towards the line of trees.
I spun so fast the weight of my hiking bag almost threw me to the ground.
She was standing at the edge of the headstones, her shoulders moving with the fast breaths she was taking. Her dress and hair settled around her, but seemed to move with a life force of their own. Her hands were balled into fist and there was this indecisive look on her face.
I walked back over. Feeling like I didn’t have much of a choice, but at the same time knowing I could easily carry on walking away. Coming to a stop, my eyes dropped to her breasts. They were heaving against the dress and looking like they were eager to escape. I licked my lips and pulled my attention away and back to her face.
‘What?’ I asked gruffly, sounding meaner then I had intended.
‘I want to go with you,’ she cried out.
To Be Continued…
I had a tent but there was nowhere safe to put it up. Plus, if I had to escape it’d get left behind. I stopped in front of the large window and looked up. The drizzle was falling against a still light evening sky. There was still time for me to go and camp in the woods.
The effort of popping up my two-men tent was too much through. I choice the dry-ish corner next to the blocked up door and began nudging around the rubble with my boots. It was a surprisingly deep pile of wood and plaster. I slipped off my hiking bag and could almost hear my back and shoulders begging me not to but it back on again.
I cleared a wide space on the floor. The work using the rest of my energy to do so. Juggling the glow stick so I could see in growing darkness, from my bag, I took out a sleeping mat, sleeping bag, my water bottle and a zip lock bag of dried fruit. I sat down and rested my head against the cold wall of the church. It was the first time in about six hours that I had sat down.
I sipped some of the nearly clear water that I’d gathered from a trickle of a steam in the woods. Then ate a handful of the dried fruit by putting each piece into my mouth and chewing as many times as I could. Lastly, I sipped some more water and put my stuff away. I settled down, keeping all my clothes on and my hiking bag close to my side.I threw the unzipped sleeping bag over my lower body and shuffled down. I put my hands behind my head and rested against the wall again.
In the background, I could hear the drip drip of the water from the sink. What sounded like an owl screeched and a dog started barking. I put the glow stick under my bag which left me in darkness but meant I couldn’t be so easily seen if someone walked in. Shutting my eyes, I tried to rest. I knew sleep wouldn’t come, my mind was still on alert even though the rest of me was crying out for a solid night’s sleep. I tried to think about other things, especially mapping out the town I was now in.
The dozing came over me in fits. I would fall into a light sleep than jerk awake. Each time, my eyes would snap open and I’d be transfixed with finding the danger that had to be near by. I listened carefully each time, but could hear nothing other the normal night sounds. Sometimes, I would watch the rain falling in through the holes in the roof or coming in through the windows. It seemed to grew heavier each time and everything but my spot became wet.
Waking for the final time, I watched light creeping into the church like a beggar. The rain had stopped for the moment to let dawn in, but drops were still falling. I stretched out, feeling just as exhausted as when I had lay down. My body creaked like an old man’s and for a few minutes I stared up at the ceiling. There was nothing special about it. Not like I had seen in some other churches were the ceiling was nicely boned and sometimes painted.
Even though I was running on little food, water and sleep, my body still demand a normal release. I gathered my things; folding my sleeping bag and sleeping mat up and into my hiking bag. Then I spent a few moments moving some of the rubble back to hide my tracks. the now useless glow stick I hid at the bottom. I picked up my bag and tried to get it on my back, but my arms were too stiff and I couldn’t left it.
I tried again, despite my protesting back and shoulders. Heaving the hiking bag on, I walked like a hunchback to the other side of the altar. The spiral staircase was dark, but I couldn’t waste another light source. I felt my way down, listening to my bag scrapping the walls. Reaching the bottom, I felt out the bathroom and did what I had to do. Strangely the toilet still flushed.
I turned the tap on and washed my hands in what I guessed to be still iron red water. I washed my mouth out then drink a few handfuls. It tasted as it had done yesterday, earthy and rotten, but still sweet. I turned the tap off and wiped my mouth. Walking sideways out I came to a sudden stop as I hear voices above me.
I peered through the arched doorway and saw the stone spiral steps leading downwards but also upwards. I squeezed inside and found it was a tight fit between the staircase column and opposite wall. Going downwards, I felt the rough wall with my hand and listened to my hiking bag scrapping along behind me.
It took me a moment to realise the steps had ended. I shuffled on, hoping to find a light switch or to see another source. The air was cold, almost crypt like, but I could smell no rotting bodies, it was just the scent of dampness still. My hand flew into an empty gap and I stopped. There was a hole in the wall.
Deciding there was nothing else for it, I swung off my hiking bag and put it down. My shoulders and back burned whilst a cold air rushed under my t-shirt and danced on my sweaty skin. I rubbed my back and listened to the dripping of water somewhere close by. Fumbling with straps, zips and buckle clips, I opened a side pocket and pulled out a glow stick.
Dim green light filled my vision as I cracked and shook the stick about. I blinked, refocused and took in my surroundings. Large flagstones covered in dirt lined the floor and just above my head was the ceiling. The doorway next to me led into a bathroom. The dripping water was coming from a sink beside a toilet.
Grabbing my hiking bag, I walked sideward then let the straps go as I inspected the sink. It was hard to tell what colour it had been as rust had now taken over. I shone the glow stick close to the water and watched as a red coloured drop ran passed. I turned the tap. It was stuck fast, but after a few tugs, it come loose and iron stained water rushed forth.
The sound blasted around me, unlocking the silence that had been weighing against my ears. I stole some glances over my shoulder, but could see nothing forming out of the shadows that had claimed their space back. I turned and waited for the water to change colour. When nothing happened after a few second, I placed the glow stick down and saw a shard of mirror had been left against the sink.
Cupping my hands, I put them under the water then took a careful sip. It tasted like old soil in which veg had rotted, but it was strangely sweet. Shrugging I had some more then went back for a few more handfuls. The water filled my empty belly and left a tangy, metallic taste in my mouth.
Picking up the glow stick, I bent and tried to catch my reflection in the mirror shard. I could just see the growing beard on my face and my long ragged hair drooping on my too thin cheeks. Standing up, I patted my stomach through my damp baggy t-shirt and carried on.
There was nothing else down here. Or if there was it had long been sealed up.
Returning to the staircase, the full weight of my hiking bag on again pulling me down, I trudged upstairs. There were more steps going up, but finally I found myself in a decrepit bell tower. The wooden floorboards looked okay, but there was a trap door in the centre that had been under the bell. Looking up into the roof, I could not really tell where the bell had once been attached too. There was no doubt in my mind though that it had been taken away to be used somewhere else or melted down.
The tower was open on all three sides, so cold and now rain could come in. I went to the nearest opening and looked out. In the fast building evening light, I could see the tops of trees and houses. A fire was burning a few miles to my left. I could see the smoke rising and perhaps a flicker of orange. It was hard to tell if it was a beacon or some vandals.
The rain peppered my skin, making me feel more refreshed as I went to the next opening. This one looked over more trees and houses. Chimneys reached to the cloudy, gunmetal grey sky, their bricks darkened by the rain. Was that the railway station? Maybe not, but it looked big enough. My thoughts darted back to last night when I had slept fitfully in a storage room.
Stepping away, I went to the third opening. This one looked out on a small graveyard. The headstones stuck up through the tall grass as if demanding still to be seen. A few trees grew on the edge then spread to create woodland. Most of the trees had to be evergreen because all the others were slowly surrounding to autumn. I could see no further as evening settled in.
Not giving into dropping my hiking bag, I went back downstairs. Coming into the church’s altar again, I looked round and tried to decide where the best place to sleep was.
To Be Continued…
The church seemed too quiet. I paused in the doorway and peered in. A lot of broken wood, plaster and stone covered the floor, making it look highly dangerous. A quick look up and ceiling was holding strong, even though there where a few holes. The place smelt bad; damp, mouldy and animal like. There was no telling what had or was living here.
‘Hello?’ I shouted.
My voice echoed slightly then fade. I didn’t recognise it as it reached my ears. I sounded like some other twenty year old man who was rough and tried from illness and lack of sleep. Well, that was sort of true. The world was now too dangerous to sleep soundly anymore.
I stepped in. Something crunched under my boots. The sounded echoed softer then my voice had. I looked down and saw a pile of yellow bones. They looked too small to be human, but until I’d seen the skull I wouldn’t know for sure. Nudging them with my foot, I couldn’t detect anything further, other then it wasn’t a complete skeleton.
I looked up and around again. Most of the stain glass windows were gone. In their place were loose boards made up wood and metal, however that was only for the lucky few. Weak sunlight was pouring through the rest, causing there to be rectangles topped with arches across the floor. The largest amount of light was coming from the three biggest windows that looked down upon the altar space.
‘Hello? Is anyone here? I come in peace!’ I yelled and held up my empty hands out.
I shuffled into the first patch of light, with my arms up. My shoulders and back ached with the weight of my hiking bag. Some wisps of my too long black hair fell into my eyes and I blew them away with a hot breath. Sweat dampened my dirty t-shirt, not that any more staining would matter. I listened, holding my breath so I could hear more. The church stayed quiet as if it was holding it’s breath too.
I dropped my arms, deciding it was okay for now. Walking slowly towards the altar where I knew there might be some doors leading to backrooms or a basement, my alertness didn’t drop. It was hard walking over the ever shifting rubble, especially because I didn’t want to keep my eyes down all the time.
I reached the first step of the altar which was just visible. There was a dead bird next to my left foot. It looked like a fresh skeleton as it was fully laid out with feathers circling it like a halo. Leaving it, I walked up the rest of the steps and tried to make sense of the space before me.
Churches were apart of the old world now. Though the generation before me had desperately tried to hang on to them and religion, they had been unsuccessful. My generation didn’t care and these ‘holy places’ were just empty meaningless shells now, just liked all the other places.
I craned my neck upwards. Maybe statues had once stood in the hallows above me. Their stony eyes staring blindly down at me in silent judgement. And what would they see? A scruffy, exhausted kid just trying to survive from one moment to the next in a world now gone to hell. Perhaps, their faces would plead with me to save humanity? And I would turn my back on that request, knowing it was an impossible task.
Turning from the wall, knowing I didn’t have to worry about that today, I checked left and right. There was a small blocked up wooden door to my left, possibly an emergency escape. To my right was an open passageway and what looked to be a stone spiral staircase.
To Be Continued….
Gracie walked passed the still robots, eyeing then worriedly. Their huge sliver figures stood off to the side in every public building and street.They were always watching and to Gracie, silently judging. Red, green and blue lights some times flashed on their heads or bodies for seemingly no reason. Then there was the bleeping, whirling and soft wailing sounds that they admitted.
Of course, everyone knew they were for protection against the Terrorists, but no one liked to speak about them. She got onto the train into a middle carriage were there was unlikely to be one standing between the seats. Above her a poster called the robots The Savers Of Earth!
Sitting down, she looked out the windows and wondered what the world was coming too.
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And to the North there dwelled strange creatures indeed...