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Scorched

A doomsday tribute

By Wingo Published 3 years ago 7 min read
Scorched
Photo by Roman Denisenko on Unsplash

In and out. In and out. I repeated in my head like a mantra as if it would be enough to save me. Focusing on my breathing was the only way to keep me from going insane. It had been 129 days since the world ended. I sat crouched in an abandoned building my heart locket clutched in one hand the other steading myself against the wall. My clothes were filthy and ragged, my backpack comprised of more duct tape than fabric at this point. Most of the building around me had collapsed and I was crouched behind what was left of one wall, a corner of shade protected me from the scorching sun. My legs were starting to cramp from my crouched position, and I could feel the sweat dripping down my back. I needed to decide, run for supplies, or wait till night when it was safe. I decided to wait, rocking back onto my bum I slumped against the wall behind me and propped my legs up on rubble in front of me. Turning the locket over again and again in my hand I relaxed a little. My locket was the only personal possession I had, everything else had a distinct purpose and was necessary for survival from the layers of clothing to keep the scorching sun off my skin to my ragged backpack containing two water canteens, some crackers I’d found at an abandoned store, an umbrella, and a sunburn kit with bandages and plant salve. The locket contained photos of my parents and my best friend, but it served as a reminder of a previous life, before the world had been scorched, before I was alone struggling to survive, and before I’d lost every single person I had ever known. Today was my nineteenth birthday, I felt sad remembering how my dad used to make me pancakes every year on my birthday. I smiled remembering his goofy grin waking me up and usually spilling the syrup on me as he insisted, I had the royal treatment of breakfast in bed. I let myself slip into a daydream, thinking of life before the world ended.

It was the day before the world ended and it was raining outside, little did I know it would be the last rain for a long time. The sky was dark, and I was sitting in the windowsill. My best friend had just given me a birthday present, a small gold heart locket on a long thin chain. I was clutching it in my hand thinking about whose pictures I should put inside. My best friend ,who had given me the necklace, and my mother who had died when I was eight were obvious contenders, but I also wanted to put my father’s photo since he had raised me by himself since mom had passed. I sighed in contemplation when I realized that all three of them were necessary. Jumping up I grabbed some Polaroids from the desk and cut out faces for each of them, after cramming the little faces in, I slipped the necklace over my head. The chain was so long the tip of the heart fell nearly to my bottom rib, tucking it under my shirt to keep it safe I resumed my seat at the windowsill.

BANG!

A door slammed in the wind bringing me back to reality, I sat up looking around quickly to make sure no one was coming and then leaned back against the wall. Since the world had ended it had just been me. My mind flashed images of fire across my eyes and I shook my head like the memories could be shaken off. My head hurt from leaning against the stone and the memories kept pushing to the front of my mind like a wave. Too tired to fight it I let the memories come back, slipping again into a different time.

It had been raining less and less each year till finally my home providence, which normally saw three hundred days of rain each year, was down to just fifty. The lack of water was drying the lands and farming had all but come to a screeching halt. It wasn’t long after the droughts that the winds began to blow up the dirt and create monstrous sandstorms across the planet. The burning of fuels and gases had created a gaseous layer around that earth that could be ignited by a single solar flare.

The day I got my locket was the seventh consecutive day of rain; things were starting to look up. I’d been sleeping when the first flare hit, the flare was so hot it burned everything within 5 miles of it, my house was 5.1 miles from it, the heat radiating from the fires caught my house on fire almost instantly. The ceiling began to collapse in, and my father ran into my room trying to wake me, he grabbed my shoulders shaking violently screaming at me to run. I didn’t have time to put on shoes or grab anything, I was almost out the door of my room when a flash caught my eye. The locket. I raced back across the room and snatched it off the desk before pounding down the stairs after my father. Smoke filled my eyes and lungs; the heat was causing blisters to form on my pale arms almost instantly.

“The dog!” Father yelled.

We don’t have time! I screamed back, but it fell on deaf ears as he dashed into the kitchen where our dog was cowering.

Just as he reached her the ceiling caved in engulfing them in flames.

“DAD! DAD!”

Running into the fire, I grabbed flaming rubble and threw it off him. Through the smoke and flames I looked down into what was once my father’s face. My father was gone, his body black from fire. The flames roared around me, and I knew my only chance of living was to leave right now, but my mind was blank staring into what was once my father’s eyes.

I jumped up from the ground like it was fire and paced in what little shade there was. The memory haunted me like a plague. In and out, in and out. My survival mantra returning, I sat down again and slipped back into the memories.

Running out of the house, down the street panic nearly consumed me. It was hot, hotter than any air I’d been in before. In my traumatized state, something told me to find water. Turning down the next street I ran towards the river, my bare feet slapping the burning pavement, my thin tee shirt soaking with sweat. I was losing steam, the smoke in my lungs was heavy and my pained breaths made my head spin. One more street and then the river would be before me, I could do it. Making the last turn I could see the water in the distance when suddenly a car came barreling down the street, jumping out of the way just in time I smacked into the pavement face first. Blood trickling down my face, I didn’t care where the car had come from or why they nearly hit me. Water. Pushing myself back onto my wobbly legs I kept running finally reaching the river. Crawling down the bank I waded into the water until only me nose stuck out. Lavishing at the cool water my mind raced while I washed the blood off my face and tried to cool my melted hands. I was scared and confused and utterly clueless as to what had happened. My house was gone, my father dead, and all in a matter of moments. It’s a dream, but the water feels to cool, and the pain so real. No, this was not a dream, it was real. I slipped under the water sinking down into the bottom.

Voices.

Coming back from memories I realized I heard voices. Crouching behind the rubble I peered over the corner trying to see where it was coming from. Down the street were three people, laughing and having fun with each other. They carried umbrellas over their heads and covered every inch of their skin with what rags they had. Not wanting to be seen, I edged back into my spot. There were trees about 15 yards from the building, if I sprinted, I could make it into the tree line before they saw me. Peering around the other corner again I watched as the trio stopped to look at something on the ground. Using their distraction as my cue I dashed into the tree line but not quick enough.

“Hey wait!” One of them yelled, “I can see you! Wait up!”

Not looking back, I continued into the tree line keeping up my pace in case they ran after me. After I was sure they weren’t following me, I slowed down to look back, they were still in the street not paying any attention to me. Going deeper into the woods I wondered if human interaction would ever be possible. Before the last set of sun flares the CDC had a radio channel going to inform whoever was left to stay away from others. Brilliantly named the sun plague, the radiation form the flares had caused brain deterioration for most making them violent and unpredictable. It lessened inhibition and fear while increasing aggression and psychosis. Not wanting to find out where someone had the disease or not, I stayed away from all people, my only comfort was the locket around my neck. A reminder of the people I had once loved and of a time where the world wasn’t in chaos and ruin.

Walking along I knew it wouldn’t be long before I too would die, either from the heat or sun plague. Maybe death would be better, walking a scorched earth alone wondering when each day would be my last was torture. I would die alone in a world of death and despair.

Sci FiShort StoryYoung Adult

About the Creator

Wingo

Psychology major

Love the outdoors, dystopian fiction, and depressing music

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