Tainted Meat

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Status: Finished  |  Genre: Science Fiction  |  House: Booksie Classic
Couple wakes up in a dead world, nothing but gray dust and they try to make sense of it. Did they see a distant future or was it something more simple.

Submitted: June 11, 2012

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Submitted: June 11, 2012



Tainted Meatby Rolf Luetcke




This morning I had slept in after the freakish storm of last night.  There had been a crackling sound and hum of electricity in the air.  The lightning had made no sound at all and the red bolts were something quite unusual.  I had not ventured out like I normally did during a storm, this one was somehow frightening and we had both stayed in the house and kept the curtains closed.Both dogs had huddled close and when we had gone to bed they had laid down right by the bed.

When we were both awake we talked about the freak storm last night.  There was an odd silence this morning and somehow the light was wrong.The curtains were closed but the sunlight was not bright and yellow but had a deathly hue.When I looked at the clock by the bed it was not working.  The electricity must have gone off during the night from the storm.I got up and tried the lights, nothing.  I tried the television and there was nothing.

I pulled back the curtain and there was a gray hue to the light, gray hue to the trees, the ground, everything.  The trees out the window looked dead, withered and nothing but stumps.Everywhere I could see things were covered with a fine gray powder.  I couldn’t hear any traffic on the highway and during the day there should have been traffic.

The dogs were not acting normal either.They always wanted to go outside to see what animals had visited during the night.The sat by the bed and didn’t even move.I walked to the front door and called them but they just stood by the door and stared out at the gray. I went back to the bedroom and told Mary that there was something very wrong.  I lifted the receiver on the phone and there was nothing.  We turned on the battery operated radio and there was static on all bands.

We dressed and went out to have a look.Mary hung onto my sleeve, something she rarely ever did.  The air had an odd smell, like chemicals, you could even taste it.  Neither of us felt like taking a deep breath in case the dust in the air was toxic.We had been looking at just our property but as soon as we got out into the open we stopped dead in our tracks.Where there should have been mountain ranges there was nothing but flat.  How could that be?  How could all the mountains have just disappeared? 

As we walked our feet went into the powder of the ground about 2 inches.There seemed to be solid ground beneath but the surface was covered everywhere by this gray powder.It puffed up as we walked.The trees that had been on our land were nothing but stumps and they were covered by this gray dust.We stopped and looked all around and couldn’t figure out any direction because there was no sun in the sky, just this gray blanket.If not for the direction our house faced, we would not have known what was north or south.  The dogs had not followed us outside they stood by the house and whimpered. 

We went back to the house and decided we had to see if any other people were still around.  Our two cars were still by the garage but covered by the same dust.  I walked in to get my keys and when I got the broom and swept the dust off the windshield and opened the door the dogs hopped in happily wagging their tails.They must be hoping we would take them somewhere normal so they could run and follow bunny smells and chase squirrels.

As I put the key in the ignition I looked over at Mary and we both held our breath as I turned the key.The engine started and it was an oddly loud noise in the silence all around.  My VW bus had good ground clearance and I hoped that there were no surprised under the powder.I headed in the direction that our driveway had gone and estimated where it met the highway.We turned toward where we thought Benson should be, three miles to the northwest and slowly headed out.I could see in the mirror that the wheels kicked up a cloud of gray dust as we drove.There were no other tracks and no cars had come this way before us.  The gas tank was nearly full so we had enough gas to look for someone, anyone who could tell us what was going on. 

The driving was smooth with no bumps or holes under the dust.  I kept my speed slow and we squinted into the distance for anything.  When the odometer said three miles there was nothing at all.No town, no people, just the gray dust and no big mountains like yesterday.When we realized there was no more town we talked it over and decided we needed to try and drive to Tucson, our nearest city.There must be something there still.  It was about 50 miles and we had enough gas.

We had no mountains, no hills to give us some point to orient.We drove and we drove but there was just nothing.  We stopped a couple of times and I climbed up on the cars roof and looked all around but saw nothing but the same gray.When we had gone about 40 miles and seen nothing we decided that the only hope was to go back home and wait for someone to find us.  We turned around and followed our tracks back toward home.If those tracks had been gone we never would have found our way back.

The dogs had not been their normal selves as we had been out driving they just lay on the back seat and didn’t even look out the window.Not one sound as they usually did when we went anywhere.  When we got back to our house we were very happy to see it was still there.The dogs got out and walked to the door to go back in. They were as freaked out as we were.

We went in and sat on the couch and just held each other.We didn’t really have much to say, we were lost in our own thoughts. The only comfort was each other.  The dogs had been very thirsty after the drive and as they lapped at the water in their bowls I got up to check if we had water.Nothing came from the faucet.  I opened the refrigerator and although the food was still in there, it was no longer cold and would all spoil in a short time.With limited food and water we wondered how long we could hold out but hoped that someone, anyone would find us before that time.

Both of us started getting tired at the same time.  We had had a lot of stress with what had happened and the emotional strain had drained our energy.  We went into the bedroom and the dogs followed.We lay down and it was not long and we both fell asleep.

When I woke up it was immediately apparent that the light was very bright.I opened my eyes and saw sunlight come through the space in the curtains.  George jumped on the bed and whined and licked my face furiously.  He jumped off the bed and indicated he wanted to go outside.  As I sat up my head hurt and I felt a bit queasy.I sat on the edge of the bed before I felt ready to get up.As I walked out of the bedroom I looked toward the kitchen and saw the dog’s water bowls were empty.  I remembered filling them the evening before and they had never drunk that much water in one night.  I walked to the back door and saw that the sky was blue, the plants in the yard were green and there were mountains in the distance.The joy I felt was nearly overwhelming.I looked out the window and saw that the dog’s water outside was also dry.There were a number of poops in the yard.All got me scratching my head in wonder of what was going on.

I put the empty dog bowl in the sink to fill it up and both dogs jumped eagerly at my leg.I set the bowl down and they drank and drank.The cat even came in the doggie door and joined them at the water.  I suddenly noticed that I was terribly thirsty as well and got a glass and drank a glass of water, then another.  I refilled the glass and took it in to Mary.She was just waking up and was moaning and holding her head.  When I got her to sit up I handed her the water and she drained the glass.

We both got up after sitting and hugging for some time and since we were still in our clothes we walked outside.

There were birds singing in the trees, breezes moving the leaves, traffic on the highway.We stood and basked in the sunlight.  The mountains were all back along the sides of our valley and white clouds dotted the sky.  The strangest thing was that we had both had exactly the same dream.

We tried to think what had happened and the last thing that Mary had said when we sat down to eat the turkey roast that had been in the refrigerator for several days that it didn’t taste right.  I told her I had been sure to heat it up properly and that would have killed anything had it been on the verge of going bad.We both remembered feeling kind of bloated as we went to bed and had both been really tired and gone to sleep quickly.  It must have been tainted and we had been out for not just one night, according to the date, we had been out for four days.Poor dogs, they had run out of water and when we fed them they gulped down their food faster than we had ever seen before.

Mary had made me go through the refrigerator and toss out anything that was more than two days old.She had me do the same with the freezer.She didn’t want us to ever get food poisoning again.

We had often thought about that lost four days and wondered if it had just been the tainted meat or if we had actually had a glimpse into a distant future of our planet or another dimension.


Copyright Rolf Luetcke

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