Not Much

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Photo prompt: © Jennifer Pendergast

 

There was nothing left to stay for.

Not much to pack, but still he managed to stuff the duffel with odds and ends. More for feel than for utility.

He won’t be coming back.

The empty cars stood, cooling, on the rails. There was an echo in his bones even with no movement. Even without any sound.

He scanned for danger. One never knew, and he had had enough surprises.

When nothing stirred, he climbed aboard. The metal floor smelled of pee and rats, but at least he’d sleep with a wall at his back tonight, a door barred shut.

 

 

For Rochelle’s Friday Fictioneers

 

 

4T

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Luke eyed the sign ahead.

“I won’t be allowed in,” he sighed.

Sarah scrunched her forehead. “Maybe they won’t notice?”

Luke raised an eyebrow. He was 6’8″.

Of course they would notice. It was a stupid thing to say. She blushed. “I’m sorry, Luke. I mean, it’s just so unfair!”

He nodded. Such rules often were. Still many tended to accept, even embrace, ‘patriotic regulations’ … until caprice hit close to home. Or in his case, on the way back to it.

He had pooh-poohed the risk. What folly.

He wouldn’t be allowed into the City. Even though he’d been born and raised and lived there. Had committed no crime. He was banished. They’d expel him if he were still home.

The militia could shoot him on sight. Neighbors would be expected to report his presence. As of that morning, anyone above 6’6″ feet was considered a 4T security risk – Too Tall To Trust.

 

 

 

For Crispina’s Crimson’s Creative Challenge

 

 

Tomorrow’s Orb

Photo: Sue Vincent

 

” … And that is when the sun became the liquid gold …” Marianna tucked the blanket tighter around the child and bent to kiss the flaxen head. The short soft hairs tickled her lips. She hadn’t yet gotten used to the severe buzz cut. She resisted touching her own head.

“…and in the morning?” the little one murmured, half-asleep.

“It will turn itself back into an orb and rise into the dawn …”

The almost translucent eyelids fluttered open once to rest on the flaming horizon, before closing, heavy, onto the small cheeks. The girl’s breathing deepened and slowed in time with the surf, arms secured around a well-loved doll.

Marianna stared at the reflection of molten lava on the water, listened to the murmured rush of the waves, rocked on her heels, and hugged herself.

At least the weather’s holding.

The child turned. An arm slipped out of the protection of the blanket and Marianna tucked the slim limb back under the covers, securing the doll where it could not be seen. It was a forbidden toy, yet Marianna could not bring herself to discard it. Not when so much had already been lost. She swallowed, and her hand rose of its own accord to feel the expanse of her head, the hair no longer there.

It was the least of it. Better they be seen as male, anyway.

The sun sank, gold, into the sea. She thought of the bedtime story and of the simple acceptance of young minds. Of the trust, the effervescent hope. Her own breath deepened as her daughter’s face at rest loosened a coil of tension in her chest into tendrils of comfort.

They’d made it this far. The beach was secluded. The trees and darkness offered their own respite. She, too, needed sleep.

May morning come, she thought. She lay her head on their pack of belongings and spooned the child against her heart. The last of the light licked the dampness from her cheek. May we safely see tomorrow’s orb rebirthed.

 

 

 

For Sue Vincent’s Write Photo prompt

 

 

Out Focus

Photo prompt: © Ted Strutz

 

He wanted to take the glasses off but it was not allowed.

The penalty was devastatingly permanent.

True Focus was reserved for a selected few. A privilege. Stealing it would result in losing all sight. Both eyes.

He blinked and tried to calm the nausea that came with the distorting lenses. He never got used to the dizziness. Or the headache.

He didn’t think they were meant to.

“Loyalty above clarity; Fealty, not facts.”

It was chanted. It was law.

A disoriented population was the goal.

He grieved for the realities that had been ignored when freedom still had hope.

 

 

 

For Rochelle’s Friday Fictioneers

 

 

A Roof Over Her Head

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Photo prompt: Michael Gaida @ Pixabay.com

 

It looked deserted from the outside, and if someone risked a broken neck to view the inside from the roof, it did not look all that more promising from that angle, either, which was exactly as intended.

It would not do to broadcast the availability of shelter when there were more who sought to ruin what was left than wanted to actually have a roof over theirs.

Better it appeared abandoned and on its last legs already.

The rules were clear: You do not venture out of the pits without permission, and never in daylight. No light allowed during nighttime. Night-vision goggles only. The internal covers at the bottom of pits, which obscured the actual bunker, were to be drawn only after the scopes ensured no one was in the perimeter. The motion sensors were examined weekly. The roof’s latches every other. They could take no risks.

Few had a roof over their heads since the cataclysm, and those who had been fortunate to find or be allowed under one, did best if they kept a low profile or they were certain to lose it. The roof. And the head.

Dingo knew all that.

He also knew that Marlee was out there somewhere, and that the only way for her to find him was for him to plant a signal she would recognize.

How, though, when he was still a Probational and wouldn’t be trusted to come topside without escort for another month?

He tossed and turned on his berth until Steven threw him out, ordering him to go jog on one of the treadmills till he got sleepy.

The common room was empty. The airlock doors blinked slowly to indicate the pit covers had been opened.

It won’t take but a moment to leave Marlee a sign.

 

 

 

For the FFFC photo prompt

 

Left Behind

 

They walked around, eyes wide, not touching anything.

“It’s like a museum,” Lilly breathed.

“Only with ghosts,” Samantha shuddered.

Lilly shot her a warning glance and slid her eyes toward Mikey. As it was the boy woke up screaming every night.

This was the first intact house they’d seen. Well, almost intact. It had a roof, walls, and shutters that had protected some of the windows. It even had a wood-burning stove. They needed the shelter more than any ghost might, and Mikey didn’t need additional terrors.

She forced a smile. “Let’s find some water and make tea, shall we?”

 

 

For Rochelle’s Friday Fictioneers

 

Relative Safety

PHOTO PROMPT © Rochelle Wisoff-Fields

 

“Should be safe to rest here,” Ron lowered Percy’s carrier. The straps left red gouges on his shoulders. The boy was too big to be carried but we had to leave the wheelchair behind.

Ron rolled his neck, glanced at the underpass’s puddle, and reached for the tablets. “I’ll purify some water.”

“Will they find us, Mama?” Percy put words to my heartache. He’d endured silently through miles of jarring terrain.

“We’ve been careful,” I looked into his worried eyes as I massaged the contracted limbs. “Also, new laws or not, we won’t let you be taken by Leave-Only-Abled-Children raids.”

 

 

For Rochelle’s Friday Fictioneers