Major woke that morning as he had every morning, to the screams of the sick, dying and the injured. The sky above him scorched red, a reflection of the burning seas below them. This was the thirteenth camp he'd slept in since the day it rained fire. No one saw it coming, even with all the advances in technology, scientists watching the skies. The asteroid broke up once it hit Earth's atmosphere and scattered to every continent and hit the Pacific, Atlantic and Indian oceans, setting everything a blaze that the impact didn't kill. The last six months had been just as hard as the first six days after it happened. Everyone was cut off from each other, left to their own devices to survive. Countries around the world could barely support their own citizens let alone help anyone anywhere else. As time went on it became more than apparent that help would be little to none until it was just none and they all were on their own. One did whatever was necessary in order to live to see another day.
This camp was better than most he’d seen since he started to look for her. The people were kind and willing to share what little they had. They tried to bring any sense of normalcy back into their existence that they could with what they had at their disposal. As Major made his way out of his tent he was showered with Good Mornings’ as he made his way over to the kitchen for a little something to take the edge off the hunger. It had been two days since he had something more than a hard crust of bread, a couple slices of apple and water in his stomach. He smiled as he approached the middle-aged woman standing behind the makeshift counter. Mary, she was the one who found him on the road the night before. She and a few others from the camp were out hunting. It was getting late and they were headed back to the camp before dark. She immediately invited him to stay with them, if not forever for the night at the very least. They treated him like an old friend, something that was lacking in the present state of things.
“Good Morning.“ Mary said blissfully.
“Good Morning Mary.” He replied through an even wider smile on his lips.
“Hungry? Go have a seat and I’ll bring you a bowl of oats.” She offered.
“I shouldn’t. I have to get back on the road.” He answered. He could see the disappointment on her face.
“So soon? I was hoping you’d stay a little while longer. We could use another pair of hands around here. I personally wouldn’t complain about looking into those beautiful blue eyes of yours for a few more mornings.” She chuckled.
“Now, if you keep flirting with me like that Mary, I may just take you up on it.” He said leaning in closer to her, giving her a wink. “But I have to find her. I won’t rest until I do.”
“Well, I suppose I just have to make sure you keep your strength up for as long as I can. I’ll pack up something for the road.” She said as she rushed off in the back of the kitchen tent. Mary re-emerged with a cloth bundle in her hands. “Now, you take this. Oh, and here, take a few bottles of water.” She placed her hand to his cheek. “Be careful. The world and the people ain’t what it used to be.”
“Yes ma’am. I will.” He replied.
“I hope you find your mom. You’re a good son. Remember, you always have a place with us.” She added kindly.
“Thank you for everything and I will.”
Major headed back out on the road. He was headed for Florida. The last he heard the military had been taking survivors to the Naval base in Jacksonville from Savannah. He smiled as he remembered what it was like that last day. He had gone to Rocks on the Roof on River Street with a few friends. He thought it odd but he remembered having a great time that night. He was completely inebriated and woke the next morning with the worst hangover of his adult life. He’d slept at his mother’s apartment a few blocks away. She was always one to be as close to the hustle and bustle as her patience would allow. He was going to spend the day with her so it made more sense to sleep off his Friday night antics than going back to his apartment across town. Major was thankful he made the decision because as always, his mother had her hangover remedy waiting for him when he finally made his way to the kitchen for coffee. He remembered how without a word she handed it to him as he sat down at the table, her long blonde hair flowing as she moved. He always thought her such a beautiful woman who aged so gracefully people would mistake her as an older girlfriend instead of his mother. He loved her more than anything and he would find her.
He had been walking for hours and it was hot. His shirt was soaked through from sweating and his skin felt like it was on fire from the heat. He was down to three bottles of water and needed to make sure he didn’t waste it on trying to stay cool on his way to Jacksonville. He needed to rest, to eat. He sat down on the side of the road. He sighed as he pulled the cloth bundle Mary had given him out of his knapsack. Peaches, fabulous, he thought as he sunk his teeth into it, the juice dripping down his chin. If only you were cold, he thought. He looked up at the highway sign ahead of him. Jacksonville 80 miles. Major reached into the front pocket of his pants. He opened his hand to see his mother’s locket. She had shoved it into his hand the last time he saw her. The day he put her on that military truck, the day the world changed forever. He studied the intricate design of the water bearer, Aquarius, her zodiac sign engraved on the front and the twins, Gemini, his zodiac sign engraved on the back. She broke the clasp when she ripped it from around her neck as the truck started to move. He opened it up to see a picture in each side, one of him on the Aquarius side, one of his mother on the Gemini side. He smiled as he thought of the day he gave it to her, Mother’s Day. She loved the diamond he had place at the bottom of the water being pour from the jar of the water bearer. Nice touch she said. Mother, he whispered as he gazed at her image in the locket, realizing suddenly that outside of his memories it was all he had left of her. As the tears fell from his eyes, he gathered up his belongings and started walking. He had resolved that he would get to Jacksonville by nightfall.
He was exhausted from walking. The sign he passed a little while back put Jacksonville fifty miles ahead of him. As he continued his thoughts again drifted back to the day the asteroid hit. They were on River Street having a late lunch at Olympia Café. She loved the food there and they knew her by name. Constance the employees would scream as soon as she came through the door. Somehow her favorite table by the window would always be available and she never seemed to have to order her drinks. They sat there talking, laughing then he noticed the look of terror on her face as she looked out the window.
“Oh my God.” She said calmly.
“Mom, what is it?” Major asked as she pointed out the window towards the sky. As he turned to look the first asteroid piece hit. The ground shook, the buildings swayed like branches of a tree on a windy day. It wasn’t until the second one hit that people realized the gravity of the situation. The shock of the second asteroid sent water from the river rushing down the street. Major grabbed hold of his mother. “Mom, we have to move!” He pulled her out of harms’ way just as the water broke through the window, rushing into the restaurant. They had made their way out the back door and the streets were flooded, waist high on his mother, she could barely move her legs. “Are you alright? Are you hurt?” Major asked as he tried to give her a quick look over. He had realized suddenly that he literally dragged her out of the restaurant to some sort of safety.
“Yes. I’m ok. We need to get away from the water!” She exclaimed.
“Let’s head back toward your place. We can figure out what to do next.” He responded.
It was starting to get dark, but Major continued to walk. He had a brief moment of relief when he saw the first palm tree. It was a dead palm tree, but a palm tree none the less and that meant he was closer to Jacksonville. He stopped for a moment to rest a minute, reading the highway sign above his head. NAS Mayport Base exit 45, almost there, he thought. The closer he got to the base the more he thought about her. He wondered if her leg had healed properly. She had gotten a cut in the left leg as they made their way back to her apartment. The water from the flooding didn’t subside until they were about a block away and it was still too deep to really see any debris below. He remembered how deep the cut was and he worried about infection even though he bandaged it as well as he could. When they heard the military coming through three days later it was a God send. It took a bit of pleading but he convinced her to go with them. He remembered lifting her up onto the back of the truck, her suddenly clenching his hand.
“My boy.” She yelled as she ripped the locket from around her neck. “I love you.” She said as she shoved it into his hand. “Come find me.”
“I will. Promise. I love you Mom.” He said as the truck pulled away. He stopped a soldier walking behind the truck. “Where are they taking them?” He asked.
“Mayport Base, Jacksonville. You can meet your loved one there.” The soldier replied.
Major stood in front of the gate. A soldier came to stand in front of him.
“Can I help you sir?” The soldier asked.
“I’m looking for my mother. I was told I could meet her here.”
“Sir, what’s her name?” The soldier asked.
“Constance St. James” Major replied. He watched intently as the soldier scanned through pages clipped to a clipboard.
“Her name is on the list. She’s still here.” The soldier let Major through as another soldier approached. “He will take you to your mother. Welcome to Mayport.”
As Major followed the soldier, he realized he was walking through a miniature town; a hospital, the mess hall, in front of him, lodgings. He stood there a moment his heart racing. He raised his hand slowly, knocking on the door. He could hear her hand on the knob as it turned the door as it slowly opened. He reached into his pocket, pulling out the locket.
“Major.” She said softly as he looked up to see her blonde hair, still flowing like he remembered.
“Mom.” He replied as she threw her arms around him.
“You found me.” She said with a smile.
“I promised.” He said looking down at the locket in his hand. His mother smiled as she placed her hand over his and led him inside.
About the author
Single mother of one, doting aunt and sister. I have been writing since the age of thirteen. I consider myself more of a poet of which my favorite is Elizabeth Barrett Browning. I am in complete love with English prose...