Barren

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Status: Finished  |  Genre: Flash Fiction  |  House: Booksie Classic
In a baked world we search for some sign of hope.

Submitted: September 01, 2016

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Submitted: September 01, 2016

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Barren

 

It is a desolate and barren place. We have been walking and walking for so long, seeking something, some sign of life. But all we find is more cracked ground – ground that has been baked solid by the unforgiving sun.

 

Our skin has been badly burnt by those unforgiving rays. We have changed colour, becoming red, sore, ravaged. The itching is constant but we have learnt to ignore it, for scratching just leads to blood, to sores, to infection. And we have no doctors or nurses, no medicine to treat an infection.

 

Our clothes are filthy, ragged and torn, in spite of us getting new ones each time we reach a town. We always have to ensure that we have some kind of head covering, even though it makes us feel hotter. It is essential that we keep as much of our skin covered and protected from the vicious damage the sunlight is causing. Our shoes are barely shoes any more, mostly just soles strapped to the bottoms of our feet. The ground would be too hot to walk on bare-foot.

 

There are five of us, all strangers to each other until we met up after the world we all knew ceased to exist. We have all buried people who were dear to us, or at least covered them up. So many bodies. So little life. Buildings, towns, entire cities left without even a single survivor.

 

Most of the water has gone. Lakes and rivers have become deep craters and crevasses in the brown dryness. Any remaining fluid does not really have any similarity to water. A greeny-brown sludge that would burn the skin off you. To drink it would lead to an extremely agonizing death.

 

We drink from the bottles we raid from the stores. There are so few survivors the stocks should last for years. As long as they remain free from contamination, that is. And it’s the same with food. Much of it has rotted by now, but there are tins and packets. We will not starve.

 

All we do is wander from place to place. We find a village, a town, maybe stay for a few days. We’ll seek shelter, look for somewhere to rest, ignoring the decomposing bodies, the skeletons. We never stay in one place for long but stock up and move off, feeling compelled to keep on looking, to keep on searching.

 

What are we looking for? Survivors, I guess. We can’t be the only ones. We can’t be all that is left of humanity.

 

And we are also looking for hope. A sign that things will eventually improve, that one day there will be more than this. Any indication of life would be a positive sign. The trees are bare and blackened, the grass long since burnt away. There are no birds, no animals. At first there were insects everywhere, especially flies, maggots, beetles. But even these are becoming less common as their food supply dwindles.

 

On and on we trudge; and then we see it, a speck in the distance. There is a dot of colour on the ground. We are drawn towards it, almost afraid to see it in detail. A flower – a single, solitary flower. It has white petals, a yellow centre. The green stem is short, thin. There are two tiny green leaves.

 

It is beautiful, breath-taking. Such a small sign of life but the most we have seen for days and days. Is this the hope that we are searching for? I hope not. One of us stumbles, almost falls, their foot landing on top of that tiny bloom and crushing it, squashing it, destroying its life.

 

On we go, step by step. We will keep on walking until we reach the next town. Once there we will rest. We will replace our rags for more clothes that in turn will become rags. And we will keep on looking as we go for another single, solitary flower.


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