A short story
*To listen and read along, play the narration video*
The foul stench of death and destruction suffocated the atmosphere as radiation from nuclear war clenched what remained in a mutated state. The hatred that spread between humans swiftly destroyed them as they raged sheer malice on one another. Out of fear of different ideologies, skin colors, cultures, and more, the weak-minded unleashed an evil that hadn't been seen in generations.
A small young girl struggled to breathe under her gas mask as she rested under the bunker alone. The cold stone protected her from the war and aftermath, but it didn't shield her from her churning emotions and inevitable struggles. Unable to understand why it had to become this way, she felt empty and lost as she wandered the long dark tunnels by herself. Around her neck hung a small heart-shaped locket. Every time she felt agony or fear, she would open the pendant.
Inside the beautifully engraved necklace was a photograph of her dead family. Her father had dark skin with handsome brown eyes; her mother was nearly as pale as a ghost with blue eyes and black hair. Despite what many of the sick men, women, and even children said to her and her parents when they were alive, they didn't let the labels others tried to pin on them bring them down.
The war that took everything from her started when dozens of missiles were launched. Several countries had fought for years over resources and societal issues, some slowly conquered by different groups as hatred flourished. Propaganda was spread like wildfire through the media and governments to trigger the fear in all, so they were more easily manipulated into turning against one another.
Her brown skin glistened in what little light flickered in the underground facility she endured within. The power wouldn't last much longer; her fellow man dominated the world above no longer. Her dark curls bounced around her cheeks as she explored for food. Strange noises and cries began to erupt from the surface above. She paused as she felt her heart skip a beat.
"What's out there? They said not to leave… What if the radiation kills me? They said it wouldn't be safe… This isn't a life anyways…" Gripping the locket tightly in her fists, she opened her eyes and darted to the closest latch door that she sealed a long time ago. Her parents sacrificed themselves to get her inside safely in time before the bombs hit.
The young girl's heart raced as she slowly wrapped her fingers around the wheel. She softly exhaled as she started to turn the latch. As she shoved the door open, a loud rumble echoed out into the atmosphere. Overwhelming heat seeped into the openings and rapidly surrounded her. She froze as she stood in the opening with a bright beam of sunlight blinding her.
As her arm fell from covering her eyes, her jaw dropped. All around the barren wasteland, strange mutant creatures turned toward her. Animals and humans who never escaped the tainted atmosphere struggled to survive in their new state as they frantically faced her. Abruptly, pain-filled moans left their deformed jaws as they trudged towards her. The young girl screamed as she closed her eyes and squeezed her locket tightly to her chest.
Suddenly she opened her eyes, and they were gone. Plantlife and creatures flourished all around the young girl as the racket of life surrounded her.
"What?" she breathed, her eyes darting around wide in shock. "I - I don't understand."
A voice called from behind her. She spun around to see a man in a white lab coat. He approached her slowly with a smile as she glared at him. "Who are you? What is going on?"
The man stopped; his bald head shimmered in the brilliant artificial light as his blue eyes glistened with joy. "My name is Doctor Z'las; I am the founder of this lab, this reality. What you've been through, I can't begin to imagine. Here, you are safe," he paused as he walked toward a dark window nearby. The girl slowly crept closer as her eyes wandered.
They were inside a sterile building with advanced technology beyond her imagination. She promptly stopped dead in her tracks as she reached the window he was looking out of. On the other side of the thick glass, Outer space stretched out before them.
The girl gasped as she stumbled backward. The plants she bumped into came to life as they wiggled away from her. She screamed as she crawled away from them, her heart racing. Small critters and bugs bolted away as she scrambled to a corner in fear. As she continued to panic, the doctor causally soothed the plants and animals as he approached her again. He offered her a hand as he grinned.
"I saved you from that dreadful planet. The humans there grew sicker and sicker; it was only a matter of time before they destroyed one another in their illness. I wasn't going to let those poor mutants touch you. After everything you've been through… you are the sole survivor of Earth. Soon we will arrive at my home-world. If you wish to go back, you need only to ask me, because I understand. Just know that whatever you choose, to either go beyond and explore or return to the ruins of the past, it will be your choice."
TO BE CONTINUED...
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About the Creator
Mel E. Furnish
I'm a self-published author, raised on a family farm in Indiana.
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Very well written. Keep up the good work!
Easy to read and follow
Well-structured & engaging content
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