This was going to be a post script but I decided to move it up front! Don’t be expecting any consistency in my posts! This is a short story. Sometimes I write about travel. Sometimes it’s divorce. Sometimes it’s about healthy living. Sometimes it’s nice photos.
But it’s always about being me. An old Chook hoping to inspire others.
A few months ago I posted a very short story I had written for the the Australian Writers’ Centre Furious Fiction competition. This, as I said before, is a marvelous competition. Five hundred words, $500 prize in 55 hours. It appears on the first Friday of the month. There is a set of parameters to frame your story. In May 2018 the rules were:
- The story had to begin with the words “A long time ago”
- The story had to include the words “star”, “war” and “force” (or a plural of those words).
- The story had to feature something that flies.
The First Friday in May was May the 4th.
Here is my effort.
A long time ago it would have been different. I would not have had to use force to get the gate open. The bolt would have slid silently; effortlessly, without the grinding screeches the rusting, decayed metal emitted now.
When we had owned this place, we would fly up. Too busy to drive the 600 kilometres to rural-bliss-sea-change territory. The flight was only an hour. It took longer to drive to the airport. Nonetheless, we’d fly. Ironic really. We’d been so worried about climate change we didn’t even think about the Pulse. Now, without power, without electricity; nothing worked.
We had agreed all those years ago, if “it” ever happens, if ever the apocalypse comes, we would meet here. This would be the starting place. No matter if it was war or a nuclear explosion or what, we would meet here. No matter if we were together or apart this is where we’d go. At the time it was a joke. As if! As if the world would end! It had stuck in my mind, so this time, I had walked the 600 km.
It had taken me thirty days to get here. Thirty days walking. Before that, there was thirty days of waiting in disbelief. Was this it? Was this the end? It had happened so quickly. Other people were still waiting. Still waiting to be told what to do. I had to make a choice: get out or stay. Now or never.
My phone was good for nothing but I had decided to keep it in case one day, the grid was back on. For now, the only power we had was our pulsing, troublesome, distant star shining bleakly through the clouds.
I got on the highway and headed north. Past the abandoned trucks and cars, their batteries fried, and solenoids melted. Cargo containers had been torn open and their contents splilled about in messy piles. Clearly others had started out earlier than me. There were enough scraps left over to get a bit of a meal. Things weren’t so bad – travellers were still sharing.
On the last day, I opened the gate, my heart pounding. I breathed as quietly as I could. Would he be here? I hadn’t seen him for over five years. Would he be here with his new wife? Would my daughter be here with her family? Would they remember? Would whoever lived here now let us in? We hadn’t thought of that.
The gate squealed behind me.
There was nothing. No-one.
I’d wait. There may no electricity, but there was time. Plenty of time. I set my pack on the porch. I knocked on the door.
For three more days. Nothing. No-one. Then…
…the gate screeched….