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*
September 15th, 2011 at 10:32 am
Fantastic story, Anne. Heartbreaking, sad. Thanks for sharing.
September 15th, 2011 at 10:44 am
And thanks for reading (and beta-ing) it, Di:)
September 15th, 2011 at 11:36 am
Wow Anne! Your flash is so amazingly good!
So confident that which you will not speak…will happen sooner than later.
September 15th, 2011 at 11:42 am
Thanks Angie – good vibes, don’t forget. Aaaahhhhh huuuuummmmmmm…
September 15th, 2011 at 12:36 pm
You’re description was great throughout, bleak and relentless. Loved the surreal atmosphere, and that seemingly the only trace of ‘humanity’ left was an alien’s remorse. Nice writing.
September 15th, 2011 at 2:01 pm
September 15th, 2011 at 5:23 pm
Hi there Anne — Blooming heck, that was a whole journey in just one post 🙂 Great descriptions, the baby was well done, sad with the flowers, and a neat twist with the father being one of the Others. Very good. St.
September 15th, 2011 at 5:27 pm
Thanks so much! I got worried, don’t want to seem like I’m obsessed with ufo or anything…
September 15th, 2011 at 7:23 pm
Such a haunting story Anne, and sad. Well written and I loved reading it. 🙂
September 15th, 2011 at 9:08 pm
Thanks so much, Pat:)
September 15th, 2011 at 9:43 pm
Wow…sad, eerie and thought provoking. Thank you for sharing your creation!
September 16th, 2011 at 7:17 am
And thank you for enjoying it, Lisa:)
September 16th, 2011 at 12:23 am
I agree with T. James’s “relentless” comment, though it didn’t wear me down like bleak material might. I made a “hmm” at the ending – liked that. The world needs hope.
September 16th, 2011 at 7:19 am
Yay! My story provoked a sound out of you! Hurray;)
September 16th, 2011 at 5:48 am
Thanks for that Anne, you really do work emotionally aspects into your writing well, add to this that there’s an alien and I like the way that you think that emotions transends Xenos.
September 16th, 2011 at 7:19 am
Ah! Indeed, Gareth:)
September 16th, 2011 at 11:02 am
How haunting. I really enjoyed the twist of an ending. You really are a wordsmith.
September 16th, 2011 at 11:17 am
*gasp* I’ve never been called a wordsmith before. *second gasp* Thanks so much, Jenny:)
September 16th, 2011 at 11:25 am
Had to read it twice which made it twice as nice. 🙂
September 16th, 2011 at 11:33 am
Tammy: woman, writer, poet. Thanks, hon:)
September 16th, 2011 at 3:15 pm
A grim tail, indeed! I really got lost in the moments of the story and what would happen next. Your prose was so fluid.
September 16th, 2011 at 3:31 pm
Oh, thanks so much, WJ:)
September 16th, 2011 at 3:23 pm
Beautiful story, I read it twice and will probably return to read a few more times.
September 16th, 2011 at 3:31 pm
Best. Compliment. Ever.
September 17th, 2011 at 12:01 pm
It is sad, but I love the silver lining of Hope.
September 17th, 2011 at 1:05 pm
September 17th, 2011 at 11:28 pm
Excellent descriptive writiing with a twist I didn’t see in the end.
September 17th, 2011 at 11:42 pm
Thanks so much, Helen:)
September 18th, 2011 at 1:35 pm
Such a lovely use of language, Anne. I was struck by your ability to convey the backstory by using an eyedropper in his POV as well as the startlingly good setting references. A heavy, sad story, lifted several times by his view of and interaction with the baby. The ending is even more endearing. A bright light in naming her Hope. I was sorry it ended. Thank you for posting it.
September 18th, 2011 at 1:51 pm
Thanks so much reading it, JC!