Fiction logo

The Angels Among Us

Doomsday Diary

By Lori LamothePublished 3 years ago Updated 2 years ago 10 min read
4
The Angels Among Us
Photo by Josep Castells on Unsplash

Nobody can hear a scream in the vacuum of space, or so they say. Not that I imagined anybody on the moon was screaming. Anyway, we had enough to of it on Earth to make up for the silence.

Here's what I wonder though: did they dream echoes of their visits in that pristine peace? Did the cries of the dead curl themselves inside the darkness like waves wrapped inside shells?

We didn’t go to every landing because it was too much. Not for Wyatt. He could’ve cared less about seeing them come off the ship in their Hazmat suits with their M249s. I mean for me. And not because of the crowds and the soldiers and the guns.

By Patrick Perkins on Unsplash

They weren’t shooting much anymore, not like at the beginning when survivors were so thick you couldn’t move, couldn’t breathe. But it was warm back then, which was something. Once a kid went down right next to me. I didn’t even hear the shot. One minute he was shouting and elbowing past me, the next he was on the ground with his chest blooming blood. Those were the only flowers left and I can tell you I’d give those flowers up in a second.

Wyatt used to make fun of everybody who went, for being so stupid—so hopeful, even after everything that happened. The War. The fires, the smoke, the cold. The starvation that hollowed out every face and the sickness that seeped into their bones. But there they were on the first of every month. Watching. Waiting. Thinking that this one time they were going to take somebody back with them. Thinking this time they had come back to save one of us, not just to haul more supplies to the moon. Some lucky little boy or girl. Someone useful. Someone good.

Here’s the worst thing of all: I was one of those hopeful watchers. Am one of them. I tell myself it’s because I miss my mom but in my darkest moments I wonder if I just want to get the hell off the planet.

“To get the hell off hell,” Wyatt said last night when we were camped within sight of Cape Canaveral. By the light of the fire, he looked a little like the devil, with his unruly black hair, thick brows and impenetrable eyes. Sparks crackled and rose into the darkness.

I looked up at where the moon would be. Of course you couldn’t see it anymore. The sky was a gray umbrella, full of holes the size of raindrops. “I’m kind of glad I can’t see it.”

Wyatt nodded. “Elon flooring it on the race track he built up there. In his plaid Tesla.”

“You know we couldn’t see that before, right?” The rain fell onto my parka and sizzled when it hit the fire. “Anyway, I heard they were underground.”

“Gets cold on the moon at night—way colder than here.”

I gave him a thumbs up with my middle finger. He laughed and the sound echoed across the darkness. That was one of the things I hadn’t expected. That there would still be stuff to laugh about. But there was.

In the distance, chain lightning flashed across the horizon. Closer to the launching pad, other fires burned here and there. Other watchers.

Wyatt had a gun and he’d used it once. We didn’t talk about it and we hadn’t had any more trouble since. I knew he’d use it again if he had to. And if he couldn’t, I would. Now that the sickness had come it was better though. Survivors mostly kept to themselves and only moved when they ran out of food.

There was still food and we knew it would run out one day. But people were running out too. Wyatt and I had a bet on which would disappear first. We never said we were talking about us, but we understood that’s what we really meant.

I touched my locket and traced my thumb over the delicate etching on the front. I liked the feel of it because it reminded me there used to be a world where fragile things just went on existing—for years, decades, centuries. We’d found it in the beginning, in an antique shop right after the War when we were traveling South with everybody else. Vandals had smashed the shop's plate glass windows and pieces lay scattered across the sidewalk like a jigsaw puzzle nobody would ever work on. Inside, it was surprisingly full. Most stores were nothing but shelves but this place was almost. . .brimming.

By Alexandre Valdivia on Unsplash

Wyatt said it was because antique was another word for junk. He’d rifled past a badly chipped Santa’s village and found a compass with a needle that still pointed North. He pocketed it and turned toward me. I held the gold, heart-shaped locket in the palm of my hand. With a shrug, he had helped me fasten the clasp. That night I’d used a knife to cut my mom’s old ID small enough to fit inside. It was hard to get the locket shut but I did it.

“Maybe she’ll be there,” I said casually. “Tomorrow.”

Wyatt looked at me, looked at the locket. “Maybe.”

“They say they’re coming back. That they’re going to come back. All of them.” I inched closer toward the fire then added a few more branches. Even with the parka on, it wasn’t warm. It wasn’t freezing either though. I thought of the Chosen Ones on the moon, huddled underground in their antiseptic rooms. I took an ample moment to picture them shivering in their antiseptic space apparel. I imagined Elon Musk with icicled hair and smiled.

“It’s too soon, Em.” Wyatt’s brow furrowed. He got nervous when I smiled like that. “You know that. Ten years at the earliest. More like 20. Or 50. Long after we’re—”

He broke off when he saw I wasn’t smiling anymore. That was Wyatt for you. He didn’t want me too happy—or too sad. The only thing that didn’t freak him out was when my mood was safely in some gray middle-ground that matched the scenery. I’d never noticed that about him before. I suppose I hadn’t really known him, other than as someone to ignore on the bus while I texted.

“Sometimes they take people,” I insisted. “Take them with them. Once I got there it would be easy to find my mom. There aren’t that many people up there.”

“You know that’s a lie.”

“Remember the girl?”

“No.”

“Now who’s the liar?”

He took a deep, shuddering breath and held up a finger. “First, she was not a girl. She was a woman.”

I tried to interrupt him but he held up a second finger and went on talking.

“And two, she was beautiful.”

“Thanks a lot,” I said. “So you’re saying I’m not pretty enough for them to rescue?”

He flushed to the roots of his hair, a blotchy red that made him look about 10 years old. “I’m saying you don’t know why they took her. In two years, she’s the only one they ever took. There had to be a reason and I guarantee it had nothing to do with who she was on the inside.”

Wyatt was right, of course. He always was. She had been a woman, not a girl, though she was thin in that waif-like way you used to see in magazines. Thinner, actually, to the point where her skin had been nearly translucent. Even in the colorless madness of the throng at the entrance to the rocket pad, she stood out in her windblown rags. She’d waited there with the rest as they loaded up the rocket with supplies—boxes and boxes from some mysterious stash. I don’t know if it’s true but it seems to me she almost glowed. A weary, pock-marked woman pointed her out to the child holding her hand. “The angels are among us,” she said. “God has not abandoned us.”

One of the soldiers—the biggest with the biggest gun—turned to stare at her. He must have heard her because he pivoted to see who she was pointing at. “You,” he ordered the waif-angel. “Come here.”

She stared back at him as if she were in a trance.

“Now!” Even through his visor, you could see he was running out of patience.

A few soldiers walked over to see what was going on. They looked unimpressed. Probably all the women on the moon were beautiful. The angel-waif shuffled forward and stood in front of them, her eyes blue and huge and pleading.

“Can I—” she began. Her voice was a reedy as a flute, just what you’d expect.

The biggest soldier gestured toward the ship with his machine gun. “Hurry up. We’re late as it is.”

She’d taken a few steps when he grabbed her arm and shoved her toward the loading ramp at the center of the launch pad. A few minutes later she reached the rocket and disappeared inside. I stole a glance at the woman and her child but they were too far off to read their faces. I wondered what she would say.

Wyatt pushed himself forward so he was closer to the fire, closer to me. We were almost out of wood but it was getting late anyway. We needed to get to sleep if we wanted to make it to the landing in the morning. Time didn’t really exist on earth anymore but it must have been a big deal up on the moon. The rockets arrived on the first morning of every month like clockwork. I had a Timex watch, another antique shop find, and I wound it religiously every night. Sometimes I imagined I was the only survivor who wanted to know what month it was, what day.

I hesitated. “I think she really was an angel, you know.”

“I know.” The corner of his mouth went up. “An angel on the moon racing Elon in his plaid Tesla.”

My hand pushed at his chest. I didn’t feel like kidding around but I liked the idea. I could almost see her with her wings, her enormous feathered wings that gravity couldn’t touch. Leaving Elon behind in an infinite cloud of moon dust. Then I got serious again. “I can’t explain it.”

“It’s not something you can explain.”

“Do you think she was the only one?” I was never religious before and now. . .well. . .enough said. But the weary woman's voice came back to me. I wasn't too keen on God at the moment but angels--wouldn't it be nice to believe in angels? It felt wildly extravagant.

“I don’t know.” Wyatt's eyes met mine. Apparently seriousness was catching. “Maybe they’ve got them all.”

The coals from the fire glowed red in the silence. I looked up at the sky then reminded myself there weren’t any stars, at least none that we could see. Wyatt followed my gaze, both hands shoved into his coat.

“Look—” He removed his hand from his pocket and pointed at nothing. “I think that’s where the Big Dipper would be.”

I rolled my eyes. “That’s the best you can do? The Big Dipper?”

“I never learned the constellations.” He ducked his head and his hand dropped to his lap.

“Same.”

“Maybe we could find a book or something.”

“In an antique shop.”

We grinned at each other. I clutched the locket and fought the impulse to yank it free. I wanted to fling it as far from me as I could and leave it rusting in the radioactive weeds. Instead I let fall back against my chest. I brushed off my jeans and stood up. “It’s late,” I said. “We’d better get to sleep if we want to make it to the landing on time.”

He stood up too. “Don’t forget to wind your watch.”

The wind had picked up. I pulled my hood over my head and Wyatt did the same. All around us at safe distances, scattered fires were dying down, just like ours.

By Toa Heftiba on Unsplash

Short Story
4

About the Creator

Lori Lamothe

Poet, Writer, Mom. Owner of two rescue huskies. Former baker who writes on books, true crime, culture and fiction.

Reader insights

Nice work

Very well written. Keep up the good work!

Top insights

  1. Compelling and original writing

    Creative use of language & vocab

  2. Excellent storytelling

    Original narrative & well developed characters

Add your insights

Comments (1)

Sign in to comment
  • Jori T. Sheppard2 years ago

    Awesome story I, I loved reading it. It’s so creative and well written. Glad you are honing your talent on this site

Find us on social media

Miscellaneous links

  • Explore
  • Contact
  • Privacy Policy
  • Terms of Use
  • Support

© 2024 Creatd, Inc. All Rights Reserved.