Trying something different today. A new acquaintance, Melanie Fountain, has her own publishing company: Fountain Blue Publishing. In conjunction, FBP has a blog. You should have a look and see what you think.
The blog encourages guest bloggage and has several opportunities to keep your writerly chops in shape. One is SciFi Saturday.
So I’m giving it a try.
Killing with Kindness
The boots don’t fit. Far from being small, I’ve had to wrap my feet in strips of cloth to keep them on at all, but the wrappings have come loose and bunched up around my ankles and the arches of my feet, possibly the most uncomfortable places they could be. Every fold and wrinkle has become the occasion for a blister, or a pressure sore.
The persistent rains have made it worse, turned the inner surface of the leather into sandpaper. Every inch of skin on my body has pruned. Much longer, and we’ll all have to start worrying about fungus and infection. Not that we don’t already have worse to contend with.
We can’t stop though. There’s no shelter out here on the wide plains that would hold twenty people. We haven’t come across a town with standing buildings in days.
Besides, if we stop, the Radios—the radioactive people—will catch up. As slow as we’re moving, their mutations slow the Radios even more. As long as we keep moving, we’ll be okay. If we stop, we’ll all die.
It’s not that the Radios want us dead. I think they’re just looking for friends, family, mates, but their long exposure and adaptation to the radioactivity that’s killed just about everything else on the planet has changed them, and not just physically. I don’t think they understand that the very thing that saved them will kill the rest of us.
When the shelter doors opened a month ago, the curious Radios flooded in, and though we were preparing to leave, and more than a little horrified by their melted and tumour-riddled appearance, we were curious ourselves as to what had become of the human race on the surface.
The constant pain they lived in had made them kind and amiable sorts, willing to help and learn in exchange for food and warmth. The shelter’s reserves were almost used up, though. That’s why the doors opened. Though there could be no certainty, the scientists had given us as much time as they could to wait out the worst of the fallout and nuclear winter. For better or worse, we would have to see if we could survive on the surface.
The Radios set up housekeeping though, and at first, we didn’t have the heart to leave them.
Within days of the Radios’ arrival, the children and the elderly became ill, over half our scant population. Too late we realized that the people from the surface were still strongly radioactive. How they survived to reproduce, we could only speculate, but now the entire shelter was contaminated and we didn’t have enough anti-radiation medication to save everyone who already showed signs of sickness.
Half of those who remained healthy eschewed the drugs, chose to stay and die with their loved ones. The rest of us took the medication and fled.
If the Radios would only give up, but here on the prairies, we can still see them on the horizon, following like a bunch of forelorn puppydogs, just trying to bring their friends back home.
Now we’re all getting sick from mutated viruses and exposure that the anti-rad drugs are no proof against.
One way or the other, it’s going to end soon.
I don’t know where we’re going, but we’re almost there.
This was actually something I wrote for the Canadian Authors Association Virtual Branch Given Line flash fiction contest. I’m trying to break the epic novel-writer’s mojo and see if I can get a proper short story written one of these days. A friend suggested flash fiction as the fix.
We’ll see how this goes.
Let me know what you think.