This Ember Called Earth- Part 1

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Status: Finished  |  Genre: Science Fiction  |  House: Booksie Classic
A massive solar flare, bigger then any scientist could have predicted, raveges earth, leaving survivors to contend with unfriendlies and crazies. A short read as a prelude to more in the future...

Submitted: August 25, 2012

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Submitted: August 25, 2012

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This Ember called Earth-a short story by Lisa DThisEmbercalledEarth-When the Super Solar flare hit, we wern't prepared, not one of us. Oh, we heard all the warnings on the news, the internet, and talked about it on FB and tweeted it and made jokes. But how could we have REALLY known just how bad it would be? The massive electromagnetic explosion triggered power outages around the globe and what followed afterwards were wars, revolutions and riots. The whole event in a matter of 1 yr. influenced impluses and behaviors of populations around the world. As our populations steadily declined, so did our humanity. Survival instincts took over and reduced the human species to what it is today.

My name is Jarrod,I'm 45 yrs old, and this is the year, 2014. Unlike most of the human race, I was semi prepared. With no responsibilities except for myself and my dog, Timber, a very large, clever Malamute, I had time to take things seriously and find a shelter for the 2 of us. We live in the subways of NYC, actually in the basement BELOW the basement. For months before the flare hit, I was gathering supplies. Bottled water, canned food for both of us, bags of dry dog food, flashlights and TONS of batteries. I was lucky enough to find an abandoned little room and stocked that room full, including a cot for me sleep on and a doggy bed for Timber, along with fuel for the kerosine lamp.

ThisEmbercalledEarth- Your probably wondering about my family. Well, I have no family. Born of older parents, both of whom deceased one after the other 5 years ago. No siblings, and no contacts with other members like cousins and such. I am my own man.Except for the company of my best friend, Timber, I really kind of retreated from the human race. Funny how things end up. Here I am alone for real, and now I wish for company. Not much is left up above..The city is in ruins, and the people in the city are dangerous. Every man for themselves, kind of thing.

ThisEmbercalledEarth-When I go uptop, I am armed to the teeth, and ready for anything. Radiation killed off most, and those left are scarred, infested with sores and pathetic. I want to leave here, go south maybe. I heard that the Lincoln Tunnel was impassable, but I'm sure If I really tried, I could find a way through.

Timber, huffing at me impatiently, reminded me that it was time to go uptop. He usually got antsy this time of day, around noon. I grabbed his knapsack with all his supplies, and mine with the basics, like an Uzi, a double edged sword, and a tazor. You know, the everyday basics everyone should have. I think today we're going to scout out the Lincoln Tunnel and see how bad it really is. I live on W. 14th street, so hiking to 10th ave. is nothing.But as dangerous as this city is now, well, it might as well be 100 miles. As we neared the steps to uptop, I thanked God for a companian that had keen hearing and super scent. Though sniffing and marking furiously, he remained alert to any of the Unfriendlies that lived in the area. I got my geiger counter out. Since the flare, the cosmic radiation was a very real threat. The 'hot rock' reading 100mR/yr, which is non-occupational, had long since gone, but there were still hot spots to be wary of.

ThisEmber,EarthAs we reached uptop, the first thing we notice is the sky. The blood red aura still lingered as the earth slowly smoldered. God it was hot. I felt a twinge of pity for Timber, normally a cold weather dog, and wondered how he stood it. We walked towards 10th Ave, ever vigilant for Unfriendlies. Fortunately, they usually stayed well hidden in the daytime hours. As the tunnel neared, a sudden sense of forebording filled my body with dread. Timber stopped and whined, looking up at me for assurance, something I didn't feel at the moment. The tunnel looked ominuous. The dark opening looked ready to swallow us up into mysteries within.

Part 2-The Tunnel

ThisEmberCalledEarth-Part2-TheTunnel Entering the tunnel, my heart was pounding, my body ready for anything. Fight or flight mode. Timber felt it too and the fur along his neck and back rose into a ridge. I clicked on the flashlight and its beam lit up the tunnel to reveal the story of human panic and desperation. Cars littered the tunnel in a way that clearly put a picture in ones mind of what took place in dec. 2 yrs. ago. I swung my light back and forth at the jumble of cars blocking the way and started forward.

Nothing is more frightening then the unknown. As we went forward, clambering over the first of hundreds of abandoned cars, I wondered what lay ahead. The heat from the flare had literally melted the tires off of all the cars, and incinerating those trapped inside to blackened, crusty corpses. Between the smell of melting rubber and the hundreds of pour souls left to burn in virtual ovens, breathing was difficult and disgusting. We forged on, the two of us, making slow progress, but definately gaining ground. Up to this point, about halfway through the tunnel, nothing significant had occured. No Unfriendlies, no major blocks that Timber and couldn't get around or crawl under. Nothing that didn't make me think we wern't home free. Until a small sound, like a shuffling/scrambling made Timber and I freeze in our positions. A low rumbling sounded in Timbers throat as his back and neck hairs rose in alarm. I ducked down, ready for anything. I listened , and there it was again. "Is anyone there?'"Come out!We won't hurt you!" Nothing. Not a sound. "Please, come out, we are just travelers looking for a way out of the city. If your there, show yourself!" About 20 ft. ahead of us, a figure stood up slowly. I just barely caught Timbers collar as he lurched forward. "NO!", I admonished him, "Not yet". I shone the flashlight directely at the fiqure whose back was against the tunnel wall, and almost dropped it in total surprise...a girl, about 19-20, was staring at us, a gun pointed directely at my chest. Shaking, tear-stained dirty face, and wild, long red hair, she looked like a crazy woman. "Stay back!", she yelled, " I know how to use this!"

ThisEmberCalledEarth-Part2-TheTunnel"Whoaaa, girl, I'm just here with my dog, I'm not out to hurt anyone or cause trouble..Put that down, now, and no one has to get hurt".

"How do I know your not one of THEM, the crazy ones!" she asked..

"If you are still standing there and haven't pulled the trigger yet, then you know," I said reasonably. "You know what they do and how they act, does it look like I'm anywhere NEAR one of them?"

Uncertainty crossed her face, and her hands shook as she debated whether or not to believe me. Then Timber decided to take the matter into his own, uh, paws, and put on the old Malamute charm. Walking slowly towards her, tail pinwheeling in delight at seeing another sane human being, he approached her. Gorgeous, blue, Malamute eyes peering deeply into hers. Her expression of mistrust waivered slightly, bless that dog, and she knelt to greet him, much to his delight. He placed a large paw on her bended knee then, and gently licked her quivering, outstretched hand.

ThisEmberCalledEarth-Part2-TheTunnel"His name is Timber', I offered, "He's my traveling companion and best friend, and my name is Jarrod."

Finally, lowering the gun with obvious relief, She spoke.."My name is Brianna," she said. "I started out about 2 days ago when a horde of the other ones, you know the crazy ones, came through here. I hid under a car and just prayed they didn't smell me or see me. When I heard you coming, I thought you were one of them".

I walked slowly towards her, offering my hand as a peace offering, and told her where I was heading, where I had just come from and offered to take her along. "It's just us," I explained, "Just me and my dog here". Her eyes were the most amazing emerald green and when she smiled, Oh My God..On the petite side, I don't think she even reached my shoulders. But her hair was what caught my eyes the most. She had the most wild, beautiful shade of reddish gold I ever saw. Streaked with blond in spots, it fell down to the middle of her back like a fiery waterfall of colors, as if the flare of the sun had imprinted itself as the reflection of her hair. I actually blushed as she caught me staring, and it made her laugh."I didn't think men actually did that", she said. "blush". "I did NOT blush", I retorted gruffily, embarrassed. "Yeah, you blushed" she giggled. I gave her a dirty look. "Let's go if we want to get out of this hell hole.", I said to her. "Do you have any belongings?" She reached down under the car she was hiding under and drew out a knapsack. "Just this, all my worldly belongings". I helped her adjust it on her back and we started off. Timber flirted shamelessly, making her giggle with his attention seeking efforts. I reprimanded him, reminding him of his watchdog duties, and he immediately looked properly ashamed, and calmed down.

We were off again, now the three of us...

ThisEmberCalledEarth-Part2-TheTunnel

Brianna and Timber walked a little ways ahead me. I gave her an extra flashlight and a better gun. Watching her from behind, I noticed that despite her small stature, her arms and legs were sleekly muscled and strong. She carried herself with confidence, and I knew then that if trouble lay ahead of us, she would make a formidable ally. I thanked God for this chance encounter, but had the feeling it was all a part of the 'Big Plan'. I don't believe it coicidence.

The tunnel seemed neverending, hot as hell. Climbing over, under and around the sea of cars was taking it's toll. I was getting tired. But just as I was getting ready to ask Brianna if she wanted to take a breather, Timber suddenly became alert. Stopping in his tracks, eyes pricked up tall, he issued a low, rumbling growl deep in his chest. "Bri!", I whispered loudly, "Get down!".

She immdiately dropped to her knees, weapon cocked and loaded. I knew she had done this before...I gave Timber the signal to drop, and I belly crawled up to where they were. Brianna looked me, and pointed up the length of tunnel. "Unfriendlies, 3 of them", she explained "Got a plan?" I thought a moment. From my experience with these miscreants, I knew that surprise worked best. Though they wern't very strong from being sick, I knew that sheer determination kept them going. They didn't EAT people, like Hollywood always suggested, they just wanted to HURT. "Well, three of them, three of us...are you up to it?"I asked? "Hold it", she said to me, "I have a better idea." She quietly slipped off her knapsack and rummaged inside, pulling a beautiful plastic bouquet of Irises. She almost laughed at the puzzled look in my eyes. "I needed to remind myself that there was once beauty here," she said by way explanation. "Irises were always my grandmas favorite flower.But enough reminicing, and listen up..I want you to circle over to the right of them, and try and come from behind. We want to surprise them. Concentrate on the ones to your left, and I got the other."

This chick was all military right now and I think I just fell in love.

ThisEmbercalledEarthTimber and I crept around the cars farthest from the three ravaged men. They were seated, circled around something, an animal, perhaps. Probably a rat since it was just about the only creature that survived the flare except for the sheltered dogs and a few cats. Their hairless, oozing skulls and burnt flesh was horrible to look at. Just skin and bone, they didn't look like they'd be much to deal with, but combined with insanity, they were unpredictable and fierce. In position, I gave Brianna the signal, and that crazy woman walked into their midst holding out the flower with one hand, and the other hidden behind her back, gun ready.

They all jumped up, and stared with amazement at this gorgeous woman offering them a flower. They looked at each other, unsure of what to do. The larger one, apparently the leader, laughed loudly and approached Brianna. "Well, well, what have we here?" he said gutterally. "Did you come to have some fun? She came to have some fun, boys, shall we give her what she wants?" They all laughed fanatically, eagerly, delighted for this break in their routine of misery. Brianna smiled sweetly, showing her one sided dimple, and batted her beautiful emerald eyes. The leader got closer, murder and chaos in his eyes, and as he reached for her with his claw-like, gnarled hands, Brianna yelled,"NOW, Boys!!" She swung her hidden hand around, and just before she pulled the trigger, she had the satifaction of seeing the creatures eyes widen with recognition at what was about to happen. Swift and sure, she pulled the trigger, the bullet punching a dime-sized hole through his forehead, and an explosion of bone and brain-matter out the back. He dropped like a stone.

ThisEmbercalledEarthHis companians had no clue we were behind them, and when Timber leaped onto the one closest to him, it's shriek of surprise echoed through the tunnel with ear-splitting precision. Timbers razor sharp teeth found their mark as he ripped visciously into it's neck. His scream died out to a gurgle as the malamutes teeth tore out his jugular. My turn, I took out my Krausers combat knife, one of my favorites, and jammed it in the back of his neck, where the spine meets the brain stem, severing it and causing immediate death. Good night...

ThisEmbercalledEarthBrianna, Timber and I made quite the threesome. Whatever lay ahead us, well, I think we'll do just fine. I've never had to kill anyone, even in the Service.But in the past 2 yrs, oh i've killed plenty. It's funny what you do to stay alive. Brianna looked at me with those smoldering green eyes. "Time to go, Jarred..Let's get the hell outta here". Timber whined in agreement..First we searched the corpses for anything useful, but these 3 had nothing. Curiosly,though, the leader had a battered wallet in the back of his tattered pants. I opened it. Inside was 3 five dollar bills, torn and worn, useless now, and a picture. I looked at it and felt a twinge of pity for the poor creature. It was a picture of a child. A little girl with big blue eyes and a pony tail being pushed on a swing by what I assumed was her mother. Another beauty from a time that was lost, an era destroyed and alive only in dreams. Strange how he managed to keep just a trace of his humanity, but for what? A sickening reminder of what he USED to be? What we ALL used to be? Brianna came over, wondering what I was staring at, and when she saw the picture in my hand, I knew she had the same thoughts as me. "What now?" she asked. I knew she didn't mean right now. She meant, what now? What will happen to us? What will WE become? I shook my head slowly. "I don't know." I answered softly. "I just don't know." We looked up ahead at the faint light which signalled the end of the tunnel.What was out there? More people like us roaming aimlessly trying to be human? Will we ever be human again? We gathered our things, each lost in our own thoughts, and once again continued forward. Towards the light. The light at the end of the tunnel. ThisEmbercalledEarth


© Copyright 2017 Riss Ryker. All rights reserved.

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