The Touch of A Breeze

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Status: Finished  |  Genre: Science Fiction  |  House: Booksie Classic
It's the end of World War III, and for these two veterans, life has never seemed more pleasurable than at its end.

Submitted: November 30, 2016

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Submitted: November 30, 2016

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There was so much work to be done, I didn’t even want to know where to begin. I thought once to just torch the entire place, or maybe just put up the entire place for sale somewhere, maybe find a naive buyer. This would have surely been the more logical thing to do.

But I did neither of those things. I instead decided to call upon my good friend George Manners to assist me in this project. He was an old and wise man who lived down the street from me. I’d only known him through the third world war that we fought in together. He was a veteran, I was a veteran.

We were both a little bit insane.

“Alfred,” he called me on my porch step. “Did you ring for me?”

“I did,” I said, answering the door to let him in. I watched him take off his face mask, allowing me to see the scars that eighty years had done to his face.

“Well what is it? Did you have a radioactive leak inside your house again?” George liked to chuckle at these moments, mostly because that’s really all we could do when we thought about all the nuclear waste that seemed to ooze out of every possible sewer, rain drop, or storm that brewed daily overhead.

“It’s no radioactive material, George,” I said to him. “It's something far worse.”

“Worse?” He chuckled. “What could be worse than the lives we all have to live through now?”

“Getting rid of the lives that are gone,” I said.

“Really?” He seemed to turn serious suddenly. “Did more show up on you porch last night?”

I nodded back to him. “They did.”

“How many?”

“About twelve.”

“Shit.”

“Can you help?”

“Of course. The longer they fester out there, the more chances you have of becoming one of them.”

“That’s the same thought I had.”

I led George to the back of the house, where my porch door was bolted closed. I began to unhinge to locks, allowing us to see just what carnage awaited us outside.

“Grab me the masks next to you, George.”

George grabbed a couple masks, the ones that seemed to be used more often than not these days. They reminded me of the same gas masks that were used back in the days of world war II, back when people would be civil about the way they killed each other.

When the final lock was unhinged from the door, I turned to George. “You ready?”

“Let’s just get this over with.”

I nodded. I couldn’t agree more.

I pried open the door, allowing the filth of the outside air reek through our masks. “Good god,” George breathed. “That smell. It’s getting worse and worse every time I breath it in.”

“But it’s not the smell I’m worried about.”

“Obviously. Just take a look at these poor devils.”

Here, right in front of us, were the bodies of the people who didn’t escape the brutal night before. They were spread out over my porch like fertilizer, their bodies reeking of rotting and radioactive flesh.

They’d all come, usually on nights when the poisoned air was too much for their lungs to bear. They’d come to seek shelter, somewhere that the poison couldn’t reach them.

It was a gruesome death for them all, no doubt about it.

But I had little choice if I offered to help them. If I did let ever let one of them inside, they’d contaminate the place, transfer their poison into my home, my food, my walls, everything and anything. It wouldn’t be long until I suffered their own fate.

They would die eventually, even if it wasn’t on my porch. They’d only live another day or two, before their lungs rotted and their hearts gave out.

“You stacking them in the same spot as usual?” George asked me.

“Yea,” I sighed. “Just be careful.”

“I’m always careful.”

George took the arms of a woman, while I took her feet. We carried her towards the side of the house, where I’d set up a cellar to store the bodies.

It was a durable cellar, one that could handle the horrible toxins. Here is where they all would lay to rest until forever. There were too many of them to ever think that burying them would ever be something feasible to do.

One by one, George and I tossed them all down the steep steps, down into the dark space below my house.

I remember a child being one of them, and I cried underneath my mask.

“You alright?” George asked.

“Yea, no. I’m fine.” I tried pulling myself together.

“This about your boy?”

“I just miss him is all.”

George sunk his head with a nod, understanding. “This life ain’t gettin’ any easier, you know.”

“I know,” I said.

We stood there in silence for a while. Two miserable old men, alone and lonely. We’d never kid ourselves from thinking that the both of hadn’t thought of putting a rifle in our mouths, ending all the misery.

“You know, we could do it right now,” George said to me.

“Do what?”

“Take off our masks. We could do it right now. We’d be poisoned. We wouldn’t have no choice other than blowing our brains out. Take the easy way out.”

The easy way out, I thought. It really would have been that difficult to convince ourselves that it was the right choice. I could even leave the back door unlocked, allowing for the poisoned to find some relief, even it was only for a day or two. I’d finally be able to do some good in the world again, instead of being so selfish and keeping myself cooped up inside the fresh and toxic-free air.

“Do remeber what it was like?” I sighed.

“Remember what?”

“Feeling a cool breeze brush over your face on summer nights.”

“Oh,” George oozed in delight, letting his head fall backwards. “Yes, I remember that feeling.”

“I really do miss that.”

“So do I.”

The both of us just stared at each other again. This time, for a time that seemed too long for us not to think rational thoughts about what we were going to do next.

I found myself smirking suddenly. “Do you feel that?”

“Is that a breeze I feel coming on?”

I reached for my mask, letting the suction leave my face. The alarm bells ringing from inside the mask. Warning. Warning. Warning.

I closed my eyes right then, allowing to finally feel the what I’d simply missed for far too long. My breath was long, deep. I breathed in the world that I once know, the world that I belonged to, no matter what the consequences would become.

“Damn that feels good.”

“Does it?” George smirked. “Now you’re just making me jealous.”

I watched him as he let go his mask, revealing himself back into the cruel nature of what the world had become. “Oh, you’re right,” He breathed deep. “There’s nothing that could beat this right now. Is this really what we’ve been trying to hide from this entire time?” He chuckled a helpless and hopeless laugh. “I think I’m fine trading this feeling for my own life right about now.”

I couldn’t agree with him more.

I decided to walk past him, going back to the back porch, going back inside.

“Where you going?” George asked.

“Back inside,” I said.

“Why? It doesn’t matter anymore. We’re finished.”

“I know,” I said. “But I’ll be damned if I don’t at least write this whole experience down on paper. Who knows, maybe there’s someone out there some day who might read it.”

“They’ll think we’re a couple of idiots,” George laughed.

George was probably right, but I didn’t care. I knew that there was someone out there who’d want to know if living this life was worth it, if we should keep fighting the good fight, to preserve and protect our own species.

And to that person I can only tell that my answer is yes. Keep fighting, keep persevering, keep your dreams preserved and alive. But most importantly, keep indulging in the simple pleasures of life. Because who knows when will be the last time a cool summer breeze brushes right past your face?

 


© Copyright 2017 Michelle Audet. All rights reserved.

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