My #Fridayflash is an old story I revised into something new. It’s a little sad.
View from a Hill*
Sam did everything he could to save the last proof of their love: this little baby girl wrapped in soiled cloths, his own. Night promised a bone-chilling cold, and yet she survived. A victory in itself, something to be happy for.
Footsteps on gravel, their echo heavy as he abandoned his girlfriend’s body in the field. Covered with wild flowers found by the road, would she be mad at him for letting go of her so quickly, after childbirth killed her? Never forget, never forgotten, always loved. If only he could carve it in a stone with a knife.
The city, its remains a skeleton to detest, to fear. Parts of it burnt, leaning cement towers with black holes, no food, no water, no nothing. The rest was just empty of life, deserted in a hurry. Sam stopped and listened, hoped and cried out loud. Defeated except for the baby, breathing and sticky, but warm in his tight embrace. Where to go? What to do? She would’ve known, pointing to the right direction; she would’ve made it all right. She was gone.
The day they met, the world ended. Invaded, infected. The Others first manifested themselves through pregnant women, through life. The invisible force lurked from every corner, starting with the weak, malnourished, and ending with the rich and healthy. Then, a war between humans. The last to be shuttled had been the homeless habitants of this city, the last convoy to other galaxies in space by now. It had left him behind, to face what they were so afraid of: aliens.
Fog almost let dusk through light, dim and shy, cold and grey. The baby wailed, needing so many things Sam didn’t have. He put her down, not in a damp spot, and took layers of junk out of the way. Rotten food, empty cans, empty bottles, some old electronic devise now rusty and broken. Scavenged and combed by the hungry and desperate, trash hid nothing but Sam’s treasure box.
Condensed milk, way past its expiration date, still liquid and untouched, trapped in dusty cans. What she begged him to bring with them, what she knew could save their baby if she didn’t make it. And she’d been right. Portions, enough for tomorrow and the day after that, portions enough for the baby to not starve without her mother. Sam dipped his scarf into the thick white fluid and opened the baby’s mouth with his dirty finger, pressing the wet cloth to her tongue. Good, she stopped crying and fed.
He reached the edge of town walking down the middle of the highways, litter and cars its only survivors. Then he turned and stared, couldn’t help it, wanting to remember it this way, silent, lonely and sad. He’d hated it from the first moment, finding it cold and heartless, ignorant and irrelevant.
When the wind picked up, Sam ran toward the hill, the city becoming smaller with distance. The baby cried, sensing his fear that the Others were coming. The clouds cleared, less heavy without any combustion to feed them, pollution deferred when humanity moved out. Sam blinked and scratched his eyes, couldn’t believe that right above him, stars shone in the sky.
Small glittering white sparkles in a map of black. Stars, his girl would’ve liked that. But then the flickering lights fell on him and the baby, all around and everywhere. His bones rattled, his heart shook, as the Mothership settled down. They found him, probably sensed his presence on the hill.
As the door opened and light blinded him, Sam recoiled from his coming punishment. He cried about being trapped in this body, confined with this love he’d developed for his mission’s vessel, now a soulless corpse. The baby had never been hers but his people’s, remorse and regrets pierced his Human disguise.
“We’ll name you after your mother,” he whispered to the baby in his arms. “We’ll call you Hope.”
*Marvelous song by The Chameleons UK*