Bread from Above

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Status: Finished  |  Genre: Horror  |  House: Review Chain

Surviving only on a monthly supply of rations, a lone outpost had to make do with whatever they got.

 

For a while now Emily had been standing on top of the hill gazing at the horizon, the setting sun draping the scene in a warm orange light. She often came up here, overlooking her small settlement in this green little valley. Far in the distance, still well beyond the boundaries of this green oasis several bulbous objects came drifting her way. Each carrying a sturdy crate underneath. A new shipment, finally. This month they had been a little late and the last few meals had been rather meager as a result. From the looks of it though they had compensated for that as the amount of balloons was greater then usual. And as the first balloons started their automated descent towards the docks, Emily went down and headed towards the warehouse.

Bert, head of storage, was already waiting for her in front of the building, a circular dome buried mostly underneath a dirt hill. In one of his massive arms he held a crowbar as he welcomed her with a broad smile.

He handed her the crowbar, “I suspected you might wanted to do the honors.”

She nodded, “About time, I say. I had it up to here with these meals as of late.”

“True that, can hardly wait! The first truck should be here any time soon.”

Sure enough, half an hour later the first truck appeared. By now a group of workers had gathered alongside Emily and Bert to help. And as the first crate got loaded off the truck, Emily strode towards it with crowbar in hand. She pried off the lid in one swift motion and peered into it with a glint in her eyes. A smile spread over her face like she was a kid on christmas eve. The crate was filled to the brim. Canned goods, meat and cheese. There even was alcohol in there. Beside her Bert was also peering inside the crate with an approving look. They locked eyes, sharing a mischievous glance, knowing that tonight there would be quite the feast.

 

...

Another month rolled around and again a new shipment arrived. This time however the shipment was meager. One of the crates had contained a note, explaining they had some problems with the livestock at the main outpost so there was no meat this time around, just some canned goods and fresh vegetables, something they were still trying to grow here to no avail. Emily looked at Bert, the disappointment apparent on his face. There would be no celebratory feast this time around if they were going to hold out until the next shipment.

....

Yet another month had passed and with a hint of despair Emily stared off into the distance, again on the top of her favorite hill. The expected shipment had still not arrived and the remaining food was now strictly rationed. All work in the outpost had ceased and tensions grew high, she didn’t dare to think of what would happen if the next shipment was delayed any longer.

And then she finally saw it, at first she mistook it for a trick of the light. There, in the distance, a balloon, a solitary balloon drifting towards their camp. The sight was more panic inducing then relieving, why was there only one? That would be nowhere near enough to feed the seventy people stationed here. She peered through her binoculars to see better, only for the panic to intensify. It was a miracle the balloon was still afloat, having several punctured holes and the crate hanging underneath almost falling off. Most striking of all was the object on top of the crate. Emily had difficulty identifying it, the low hanging sun fading everything into a black silhouette. The balloon was losing altitude fast, coming down nowhere near the settlement and into the inhospitable badlands. She ran down the hill, towards the warehouse.

They found the balloon a good distance from camp. With a screeching halt the buggy made a full stop. Emily jumped out of the passenger seat and onto the red surface. The air here was still stale and thin, but breathable. This far out everything was still as it had been for millenia, red and dusty, with a lot of rocks strewn about as the terraforming process had not yet taken hold here.

“We best make it quick, if we take too long we won’t be able to get back.” Bert said as he tried to brush of the thick layer of dust that had clinged on the solar panels on top of the buggy. Sure enough the sun was about to set, only a few more hours till nightfall.

Emily went to the crate, which had come down hard and had smashed on impact. Laying sprawling on the ground beside it was the body of a man. His clothes were torn and deep gashes were all over his body. His internal liquids had seeped into the crate and had tinted it a crimson red. There was nothing else here, no supplies, no food. The poor sod had likely tried to use it as a makeshift escape pod. She looked into the distance, into the direction the balloon had come. Maybe the two of them could keep on driving towards the main outpost instead. To see what the hell has happened there and maybe get some supplies for her people. But between them and there was a long stretch of still very hostile Martian landscape, and she wondered if they could even make it with the dingy little buggy. There was a reason they used balloons to ship supplies to the outlying outposts.

She noticed something, right at the edge of the horizon. A massive dust cloud rising up from the ground. She peered through the binoculars and realized with a chilling terror what it was.

It was a stampede, a massive hoard of something, coming directly their way.


Submitted: November 29, 2020

© Copyright 2021 Paul Jagar. All rights reserved.

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Comments

KatV

This was a very creative use of the prompt. I like that you hinted at where they were before telling; "red and dusty with stale and thin air". You engaged me and had me thinking about Mars. You leave me wanting to know what is going to happen to them. I really don't have any suggestions for you other than to watch your spelling and grammar (the same suggestions I always have for my self.). Nicely done. Write on!

Sun, November 29th, 2020 8:41pm

Author
Reply

Hey, thanks for the comment.

If possible, could you point out any errors I made regarding the spelling and grammar?

Tue, December 1st, 2020 1:48am

KatV

Bread from Above

Here are a couple of grammatical changes:

"Prying off the lid in one swift motion and peering into it with a hopeful glint in her eyes" This sounds like an incomplete sentence to me. I may be wrong, but I believe if you change peering to 'she peered". Or keep it as is, change the period to a comma, and combine it with your next sentence like this: ".....hopeful glint in her eyes, a smile spread over her face like she was a kid on Christmas eve."

"Yet another month ... Emily stared of into the distance," "of" should be changed to "off"

Thu, December 3rd, 2020 1:45am

Author
Reply

A bit late, but I finally fixed it. :)

Thanks!

Sat, December 26th, 2020 4:01am

Archia

I feel like increasingly suspenseful is the right way to describe your story, it was very enjoyable to read. I really liked the transition from happy and cheery to despairing and shocking. They're very much at opposite ends but it still seemed very possible that things could change like that in just a few months. I really liked the last line too, it had that bit of tension and suspense of what is this stampede but it also resolved the whole story at the same time.

Tue, December 8th, 2020 4:53am

Author
Reply

Thanks for the comment

Sat, December 26th, 2020 4:02am

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