If you’re like me, the absence of characters has seemed far too long even though it’s only been a few weeks since we wrapped up the story snippets that were the heart of this little blog for quite a while. While I’m still working on having an animated story or two to make their debut, I thought a short story would provide a nice break from the typical sort of posts we’ve had since then. Nothing against those slice of life posts and I enjoy those as well but as many people who follow this blog likely initially did so because of stories and characters more so than my own amazing nonfiction musings, I think that should definitely remain the centerpiece.
This particular story is a very short one – it’s a flash fiction piece I actually wrote in a writer’s group back in the days when I still claimed NC as home (oh dear Tar Heel State, you’ll always be my true home, don’t worry). The challenge, as flash fiction goes of course, was to write a story with a 1,000 or fewer words. Clocking in at 554 words, it is indeed short..but still filled with one character’s hopes and challenges. Meet Simon…
A Likely Scavenger
Simon crouched his body down low, trying to remain as still as possible. It felt like a short eternity since he last heard them moving about just outside the shelter but one could never be too careful. After taking a few deep breaths to steady his courage, he crept toward the shelter’s edge, daring a peak outside. Not a sound, not even the wind. It was night now, this was usually when they slept. Sim
on cautiously lurched out to the clearing, knowing he still needed to finish the job he and the rest of the team started. Even if it meant his life.
Breathing was difficult. He searched himself, half-expecting to find a wound he’d failed to realize but knew all too well the true cause of his labored gasps for air. It was the gas. Most deadly of all their weapons. Apparently he hadn’t escaped unscathed from the attack earlier.
When he and his family first came to this place, they thought they’d found paradise. Food was bountiful. Perfect climat
e. But they were here before them. No attempts to live in peaceful coexistence were regarded with anything but death. One of his best friends stood smack in the middle of the clearing a week ago. Not daring to run with everyone else but standing firm on his conviction that if only someone took the initiative, the chance to make them see the differences between their kind were insignificant, they would cease the senseless killing. Simon paused for a moment, lowering his eyes slowly across the spot where his friend’s body once rested. It was gone now, as were all the other remnants from previous battles. He wondered what they did with the dead. Did they have the consideration to bury them or did they just throw the bodies away like useless scrap? Given their actions thus far, Simon couldn’t picture anything other than the latter.
He reached the area that he and his team had been working on just before the attack. Simon knew he wouldn’t be able to bring all the food here on his own but he had to do what he could. The colony’s num
bers were dwindling now and everyone back home desperately needed some relief to make it through to the next day. He could see the faces of his children as clearly as though each of one of them stood before him. It was the only way he pressed on with his task.
No sooner had he turned to begin the first trip back, the clearing became bathed in glaring light. No! That was the first sign they were back! Simon ran as fast as he could back to the shelter, carrying what little food he could in his arms. A shadow loomed overhead and he didn’t need to look up to know de
ath loomed near. Up ahead, the shelter was almost in reach. If he could just make it a little further…
Too late. Noxious fumes filled the air around him, giving no way of escape. Simon collapsed to the ground, his eyes stinging and the world growing dim. His insides felt as though they were melting, as if the gas w
as capable of almost liquefying its victim’s bodies. What horrible weapons they created.
And this thing they called Raid was the worst all.