Daily Flash Fiction Challenge 13: For Her, Anything

This is the eighth in a series of 365 Flash Fiction stories I’m writing from 2nd December 2012 until the 1st December 2013. It’s intent is to keep me writing throughout the year, and not just in November. you can find out more about the challenge here.

For Her, Anything, by Jonathan L. Lawrence, 14th December 2012

Word count: 991

Theme: end of the work. unknown apocalypse, apocalypse, love, survival, violence, humanity

The story:

Dear Sarah,

Are you out there? Are you well? I worry about you and miss you. I was in London when it happened, I was going to bring you something nice. It’s five months later, five months moving from one wretched town to another, always making my way back home.

When the attack happened it hit central London first. I managed to evacuate. The following day, I broke away from the thousand of refugees, I don’t know why I went a different route, I just did. As did several others, dozens of us, guess it just seemed easier than being shepherded by the army to no one knows where.

Whimsy saved my life, you always said by random decision making would be the death of me, it nearly has three times since then, but that time, it saved me. The attack happened at mid-afternoon, we saw it on the horizon. All those refugees.

We moved away. Two days later we came across the scene of another attack on refugees. I lost my lunch, it wasn’t much, a Ginsters pasty and a warm past its best sandwich, (looters had already hit the petrol station, it was all I could find). The things they’d done to refugees just like us was beyond anything I’d dare put into words. It was bad.

The dozen of us that were still together at that point headed North. A guy named Simon had a map, he was keeping us away from civilisation. They target large groups you see.

I lost them in the Midlands, they elected to stay on a farm, nothing would deter me from finding you. Me and two others set off together. One was called A Michael, the other Craig. We took knives – it was a fight for survival out there, you have to fight to keep what you have.

And we did fight. Michael was dead within three days, he succumbed to wounds in a failed attempt to get a van which was somehow still working. We didn’t abandon him though, I’m glad for that, because it’s a piece of our humanity right there.

We skirted too close to Derby two weeks into our long slow walk. The attacks were still happening. We ran for our lives, we did our best to keep away from other people.

The roads started to get busy so we travelled across country, and rested up in a farm for a few weeks. We were joined by a husband and wife and their nine year old son. Lovely people, and amazing that they survived so long. We figured five wouldn’t attract too much attention. We even played an old radio in the evenings, hoping to hear words. The farm had a small generator, though we exhausted the fuel quickly. Guess they hadn’t counted on the end of the world being before winter.

A week further along, we’d exhausted the vegetable garden between us. It was time to move on. We were delayed though by the return of the attacks. We could see the light show in the distance. So beautiful, so very deadly. Another week went by the, the attacks had only stopped two days previous, but we were hungry, so me and Craig headed off.

This time we headed straight for the scenes of the attacks. It was a gamble that they wouldn’t look there. Maybe we were just unlucky, I don’t know.

I got hit first,  the beam, or the creature whatever it is, passed right through my abdomen. It was painful, extremely painful, but it didn’t hit anything vital, since I’m still around to write this letter. Craig wasn’t so lucky, he dived behind a pile of bodies, but it wasn’t enough to shield him. They all attacked him, there must have been a dozen. They growed brighter as they passed through him. He took a long time to die, and I had to lay there and listen.

I daren’t move myself, lest I become a target, I doubted I could move, I thought I was dying. The pain was so bad before Craig stopped screaming, I passed out. When I awoke it was morning again, there wasn’t a lot left of Craig, but I was still alive. I kept pressure on the wound, but it wasn’t bleeding. I stayed just long enough to gather what I could that was immediately close, and crawled out of the killing field, not daring to look back.  I couldn’t have gone faster if I saw them coming at me.

I cleaned the wound with supplies from two different first aid kits, and I did the only thing I could think of to heal it. I sewed it up. I remember films where the main character sews themselves up, it took me a day, and I caused a lot of bleeding during that time. It also cost a bottle of whiskey I’d scavenged from someone’s bag at the killing field. It was infected for a while, but I did my best to keep it clean. Sweated out a fever.

All of this slowed em down, but it never stopped me heading towards you. You were, are the one thing that has kept me going in this insane world.

I made it to Wakefield yesterday, and I’ve looked for you. There’s no one left here, but a few scavengers. Your home, your street, your estate, all utterly destroyed. I hope you weren’t here, I hope you evacuated somewhere, and survived. I don’t know how to find you though, so I’m leaving this letter, and I’m going to head West, I know you had family in Liverpool, and it might be there’s a way to escape this blighted land. I’m not going to leave without you, I’m only there to look.

If we never see each other again, know that I love you, and will always love you. Be safe, live well, no matter what happens to me.

Yours

Eamon Brinn


If you’ve read this far, you’re about to see some of my thoughts on my own work – but I think what I like about flash fics is that writer is leaving a lot more of the work up to the audience than in other forms of literature. Feel free to disregard my own interpretations of my own work, you the reader control what you glean from it.

I know, I did a letter a couple of days ago, and both are based in the apocalypse. But equally both are distinctly different in their themes. Where the zombie was over coming his monster nature, and saving the world, in this fic the character is only concerned with two things survival, and finding his lost love, it’s not imporant to understand the wto/what/where/why for this character, taht will come later if he survives.

Sound familiar? It’s war of the worlds – I wasn’t thinking that when I started off, and even as the attack became mysterious in origin aliens weren’t the key thing. I’m not even sure if the lights are alien, or some kind of weapon – though clearly intelligent since they committed an ambush, and have attacked and destroyed cities. I think they’re alien, but the course of man kind has already brought about weapons that destroy cities without any form of prejudice for whom it hits.

A lot is implied here as well, there’s little or no reference to modern technology, my character is focused on other things, we know there are barely any working cars, yet it’s only weeks not millenia since the attack. That would suggest either EMP or a sophisticated form taht could target a specific kind of technology. People in that world wouldn’t know, and to be honest once you know the parameters of your fight for survival, does it really matter what you’ve lost? Not until you’ve stopped losing I say.

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