Apocalypse Now

This week’s writing prompt is inspired by the book I’m reading at the moment, which is very easily becoming my favorite book this year. Hollow Kingdom by Kira Jane Buxton is a humorous novel told from the point of view of a domesticated pet crow who is determined to save humanity from an apocalypse. This premise was so unusual that I had to pick the book up. 

Creative Writing Prompt: Apocalypse Now

Write a story or scene set during an apocalypse. What does the world as we know it look like when it faces certain doom? What unlikely heroes step in to save it? What obstacles do they have to overcome?

Post your response (500 words or fewer) in the comments below.

For more writing inspiration, read Kira Jane Buxton’s essay on letting go of all outside expectations to write the story that is bubbling inside you.


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78 thoughts on “Apocalypse Now

  1. Avatarcosi vs. don

    Sheila sat in the corner of what used to be an alley, waiting for the rain to fall. She looked up at the sky.

    Clouds.

    Thick clouds waited in clumps across the sky. They had been there for so long, but they never changed. The rain never came.

    The air was heavy. Just like before.

    She remembered heavy-aired summer days that would break with the rapid release of rain. But that was then. It rained then.

    It didn’t rain now.

    People had tried their best to keep the disaster from happening. So many people had rushed about in their big vans with all of their big plans and big actions.

    Sheila had not been one of those people. She had been just a kid. A kid who was happy with her family and video games and TV and…and…

    So many things were gone now. The disaster had come and swiped everything away.

    Sheila leaned her head back against the shattered wall. “I wish it would just rain.”

  2. AvatarMike M

    The hottest July sun beat down relentlessly on Meg Reardon’s car. Sweat ran down her forehead and blurred her vision. Her sedan was among the vehicles backed up on the Ohio Turnpike as far as the eye could see.

    Meg’s air conditioning had stopped working a long time ago, and the gas gauge was a hair above empty. A cacophony of honking horns and shouts from motorists filled the air with anger.

    Meg reached to the dashboard to try the car radio again. Through the static produced by federal jammers, she could make out bits of a clandestine broadcast. “Global pandemic.” … “More crops destroyed by the heat…” “Automatic weapons distribution will continue…”

    She turned up the volume on the radio and tried to find a clearer station. Suddenly, the president of the United States’ raspy voice filled the sedan — with no static:

    “So do not listen to the fake news. There is no global warming. These other apocalyptic reports are fake, too. That’s why we shut down all news outlets and restricted the Internet, because they lie about me and…”

    Meg turned off the radio. The slight, blonde woman resolutely picked up her shoulder bag briefcase, stepped out of the sedan, and began walking between the lanes of cars. The office was about three-and-a-half miles away, and she had to be there by 2:30 p.m., about two hours.

    She stepped up her pace as she heard the president’s voice on some car radios: “You need to re-elect me for a fourth term, because I alone can solve it.”

    Meg stopped when a dark-skinned man jumped out of his car several yards ahead of her and opened the door behind the driver’s seat. “Help,” the man yelled to everyone . “My wife, she’s giving birth.”
    No one moved to help. One man shouted, “Go back to where you came from.”

    Meg rushed to the man tending to his pregnant wife lying on the back seat. The wife was breathing heavily and moaning.

    “What can I do?” Meg said.

    The husband stammered while trying to remove his wife’s panties.

    “Here,” Meg said, “I got that.” She directed the man to move to the other side of the car to comfort his wife. Meg poked her head out of the car briefly to yell, “Can someone call a doctor?”

    There was no answer. Meg did not expect one, because many phones were confiscated in the president’s previous term.

    Soon, a baby girl’s cry surfaced on the turnpike. The father, mother, and Meg were the only ones who cheered.

    Meg toweled off, picked up her briefcase, and jogged. She was a mile or so away from the underground newsroom. The computer in her bag contained an editorial that began:

    “Of all the disasters facing our nation and planet, the two biggest ones may be the demise of truth and the destruction of empathy. Without truth and empathy, there is no hope or realistic way forward.”

  3. AvatarSpool53E

    The world had changed drastically in the last fifteen years. It was about to change again.
    In North America, the United States had merged with Canada to become the United States of North America. President Trump’s wall had been completed, much to the chagrin and angst of most of the nation. It was now, however, a welcome sight. It served as a buffer between the USNA and the Wildlands created by the cartel wars of Central and South America. Country boundaries had ceded to cartel territories south of the wall. Lawlessness, anarchy, and survival of the fittest had become the norm throughout the land. The only benefit of this decay of society was the rain forest making a comeback, reclaiming territory it had once lost to the development of land for real estate. No one intentionally went there anymore; cities and their populations collapsing as the rest of the world turned a blind eye, concentrating their efforts to within their own borders.
    Africa had become similar to Southern America in that territorial warlords had gained power after the Great Ebola Epidemic of 2032 had eradicated most of human life from the vast nation. It too was a wild and lawless place. The jungle and all its great beasts encroaching on that which had once encroached upon them. Cairo became the capital of the entire continent, acting as a chokepoint for legal entry, or departure, from the continent. Smugglers worked the entire coast bringing all manner of contraband in and out of the coastal cities. The interior region was only for the foolish, or the extremely brave soul.
    In Europe, the European Union had morphed into the United European States, country boundaries giving way to state boundaries and all falling under a ruling council of former EU leaders along with the royal families from nations that still had them. The King of England held a prominent post within the ruling council, but it was a democracy first and foremost.
    Russia and all of Asia had also suffered setbacks. The limited nuclear war between Russia and China in 2033 had vaporized a preponderance of the Chinese population and a significant number of their Russian neighbors. Evacuations from the area were strictly controlled to prevent contaminated material from crossing into an already weakened infrastructure.
    Mother Earth was hurting. She had taken some major hits in the last decade and a half, but was about to be dealt a huge blow to her landscape, and her native humans.
    It began as what was thought to be an epic meteor shower. It was far more. News traveled slowly and by the time major cities had heard they were coming, the Wraiths, as they were called, already had a huge footprint on the planet. Hydrogen based sentient beings, using technology and weapons unseen and unheard of before, razed lands and were overrunning populations like water from wide open floodgates. Mankind was now in a fight for its very existence. The Apocalypse, drew nigh.

  4. AvatarLaedschen1980

    The old Chinese lady, who you see walking down the streets almost every day and who’s name would be unfamiliar for your tongue to say it correctly, is walking down the empty streets as usual. Pushing her old, repaired trolley behind her, she finds her way through the debris.
    The dusty red clouds, which seemed to become a permanent resident of the city, have not stopped her daily routines. In the beginning, she had to cough tremendously because of the air quality but weeks have pasts, and the air seems to be fresher now than back in the days when she had to sit next to her chain-smoking husband in the AC-controlled car.
    The wind swipes an OK-looking plastic bag to her feet, she picks up and stores in her trolley for later. Just a new thing she will be able to use to catch water to drink when it starts raining again.
    She walks uphill, the dry leaves, which fall from the brown, dead trees, crunch under her feet. Sweaty, she stops at the open corner store and grabs a can of sparkling water, a stale bread and the pennies left on the counter. She further walks up to the hill, and her trips end at the big city park, overlooking downtown. She sits down at the bench she cleared for herself. She opens the can and sips slowly on it, remembering at the craziness happen here. All the young people, which came to the park to party, ensured that she was able to increase her small retirement by collecting cans. Now the park is as empty as the rest of the city. Sitting on the bench, she looks at the leftover of the city’s sky scrapes, which stopped smoking a few weeks ago. She has the feeling that they become less and less every time she comes here, and she would be able to see the bay already. She opens the pack of bread and has a few bites before she starts feeding the rats that are waiting in front of her feet. The creepers and cockroaches seem to be the only living creatures left, besides her – and she preferred the rats over the roaches.
    Not able to catch one as her new flat-mate, she starts walking back to her new beautiful home, she inherited from an Asian-American family, she jealously adored.
    But before, she stops at the fancy matcha-oriented tea store, she was never allowed to go in. They hushed her out more than once because the employees thought she was a cheap, homeless person, not able to afford the ten dollars for a cup of tea. Now she owns the dusty store and can sit down in it to look outside onto the now none-busy streets.
    Sitting there and finishing the rest of her water, she misses the busy and noisy times, but wonders if her life might have changed for the better after the glow came and took all life away.

  5. Avatarjhowe

    Inspired by Pete’s story

    Addison crouched behind a stand of scrub brush as the group of raucous children passed. They all carried various weapons, laughing and tormenting anything in their path. The oldest boy, probably 10 or so, wore a jeweled tiara and brandished an assault rifle.

    Addison would be 11 tomorrow, if she’d estimated the date accurately. Her last day on earth. Nobody yet had lived past their 11th birthday. It was unknown why. She suspected the radiation that killed the adults wouldn’t allow the children to live longer than that. As if it had intelligence, which it probably didn’t.

    When it was safe, she resumed walking. The streets swarmed with blowing trash and filth. Every glass window had been smashed. Addison scrounged for anything edible. It was getting harder and harder to find food. When she reached the edge of town, she decided to leave. What did it matter?

    On a path off the main road, Addison removed her coat and enjoyed the meager warmth of autumn. She froze when she saw a boy ahead, standing awkwardly, as if undecided if he should run.

    “I won’t hurt you,” Addison called out. She walked up to the boy and smiled. He smiled back.

    “My name is Everett,” he said.

    “My name is Addison. I’ll be 11 tomorrow.”

    “You’re serious? Me too.”

    “I’m so sorry,” she said, her head down. “Do you live around here?”

    “Yes, but I can’t tell you. The other kids will ruin it.”

    “Show me,” she said. “After tomorrow, it won’t matter.”

    Everett held out his hand and Addison took it. Together they walked the path, deeper and deeper into the woods. The sky darkened and the terrain became difficult. Ducking under a pile of downed trees, they emerged into a valley filled with warm sunshine.

    “What is this place?” Addison said, astonished.

    “I don’t know. I found it by mistake, I think, right after the big blast.”

    “Can I stay here tonight?” She kicked the ground. “I have nowhere else to go.”

    *****
    Addison awoke to the sound of birds and rushing water from the stream. Everett had returned the night before. He confirmed that all the children were gone, at least as well as he could surmise. It had been 11 years since they’d met. Carly cried from her bundle of cloth and Abner darted along the bank, chasing frogs. When the baby kicked, Addison put Everett’s hand on her swollen belly and they both smiled.

  6. Avatarkhoward

    Humanity?

    I crossed Grand Centrals main floor, passing the clock heading towards the west staircase. Then I stopped in mid step. People where hurrying to were they needed to be. The clock was at 9 am. I felt a sense of urgency come over me. Everyone else was going about their business. The loud speakers chimed about the next departure, but was cut off. We all heard three loud beeps and then the emergency broadcast system came on. A quarter of the people stopped. The others kept going. All the cell phones rang at the same time. Now everyone was stopped and looking at the text they received.
    It had all the bells and whistles that a emergency broadcaster could have. Then the last sentence was, stay calm! Everyone started for the exit at the same time, but now pushing their way. A roar of noise came to my ears. Unintelligible voices replaced the standard noise of the day. I found a place by the southern wall. This was like a bar fight, but on a much grander scale. As in a bar fight you stay out of its way, for it is going to morph into ugliness.
    People were being knocked down and trampled upon. The ones that tried to help were knocked down and trampled too. Soon no one was helping anyone. A pregnant woman crawled toward me with her hand outstretched. I grabbed it and started to get her to stand up. Then we heard fighter jets flying low down the avenue. People now became animals of the worst kind. They now started to punch and kick people out of their way. The woman I was helping, started to rise to her feet. Then a kick came her way. She crumbled to the floor. I was still holding her hand. Our hands were sweaty. My gripe started to slip from her fingers. Her eyes widened. The expression on her face will haunt me for ever. Her arm was kicked and our hands came apart. She laid in a heap about ten feet to my left. She did make it to the wall, but dead. A bright flash came through the skyline. I slid down the wall and sat like the dead humps that were the landscape of the floor now. Waiting for the gate to open.

  7. AvatarPete

    I arrived at the Sunshine Market #2 around seven. The morning was golden, the broken glass glinting, weeds glistening, even the trash scraping across the street had a rhythm to it. Near the back, where the crates were stacked, Marvin Jenkins sat hunched on milk crate, a tattered sleeping bag draped over his shoulders, working on his breakfast.

    “Morning, Jesus,” he said between chews, some stringy egg dangling from his beard. A grease-stained bag between his feet.

    Jesus. They got a kick out of it.

    I stretched, took in the sun. Once again I wondered if today was the day, or just another meander through the slog. Again. Why this city? Why this world? Sure, I had more answers than most, but rhetorical or not, the questions—like the grafitti on the wall–kept popping up.

    “Good morning, Melvin.” The stairwell reeked of tale smoke, malt liquor, urine. Of soggy dreams and abandoned hope.

    “Got some saving to do?”

    “Well,” I said, finishing up my morning pee and zipping my pants. I found a spot beside him. ” I would start with you, if I thought it was worth the time.”

    Marvin cackled, showing gums, biscuit flakes falling as he doubled over. “You ain’t right man, ain’t right at all.” He straightened up, found the bite of food he’d lost on the pavement and picked it up. “Little bit of advice, though. A black man claiming to be Jesus is asking for trouble, just so you know.”

    A blast of sunshine as the few strands of clouds cleared out. “A picture-perfect day,” the forecaster had predicted. Prophecy. Predictions. Weather. Even the son of god knew it was all a gamble.

    The Market was anchored by an abandoned factory, a carwash/garage, across the street, the lot filled with the old husks of rusted out cars. Two kids passed, hopping on their heels, talking loud and tossing trash to the collection on the curb. I studied my hands, making a fist then spreading out my fingers, grimacing as Marvin went on about which one of us was crazy.

    What if they were right? What if I wasn’t the son of god? What if it never happened, the cross, the sins, the betrayal. What if it was all in my head?

    “What if today’s the day, Marvin?”

    Marvin stopped his humming. “Well,” he said, fishing in the bag, coming out with the home fries. “I guess I’m packed and ready.”

    “Do you ever go to church?”

    “Oh yeah, course so. First Pres on Rivermont, those folks run a buffet on Thursday nights. Church of Zion on Brent has free breakfast every day. Baptists make the best pies, for sure. I stay clear from the Pentecostals, though. They’re about as crazy as you.”

    I set my head against the wall. Every day was supposed to be THE day. Only it never was.

    Two cars raced to the stoplight, both honking and yelling and screaming. Wishing death upon the other. Each day was never the day.

    “Yo, Jesus. You’re looking, down, today.”

    I put a smile on my face, closed my eyes and turned upwards, wondering, daring my father to make a move. Why wasn’t I in Gaza, Syria, Israel? Instead of wandering. I’d slept under overpasses, at bus stations, camped with hikers, even dated a bartender. Now, I looked for a sign. Which hung crookedly from the window Sunshine Market $2.

    Lotto Scratch Instant Jackpot. 10,000

    “Hey Marvin,” I said, reaching in my pocket. “Go get a scratch ticket, the three fishes one.”

    Some gray clouds approached from the hills. Deep, silvery evening clouds, the kind that usually take a full day to work up a thunder. Marvin licked his fingers, his face still suspicious but perking up at the sight of cash. “Hey, get your own ticket, young buck. I just spent my last buck on breakfast.”

    “No,” I smiled, bowed my head. The way I’d done for Paul. “For you.”

    “Yeah?”

    He shuffled to his feet. Took the dollar and started for the door, looking back at me over his shoulder. I leaned against the wall as a breeze hit my face. A grumble overhead.

    What are you doing?

    I’m helping.

    No you’re not.

    I am.

    This is not why you’re here.

    So tell me why I’m here.

    A jingle of the bell. Marvin comes ripping across the lot, waving the ticket he’s already scratched. “You’ll never—Hey Jesus Christ. You’ll never believe this. I won. I won. Ten grand. I won.”
    I stood up and got to my feet, checked the sky.

    Maybe today was the day.

    1. AvatarKerry Charlton

      Pete, I stepped right out of reality in the first sentence. I’ve dreamed I might learn to write as you do, because you write with your soul, You probably know by now, you were born for this. If not please let this old geezer, tell you. I never miss. Let you wings spread into other’s hearts.

      1. AvatarPete

        You guys are too, too kind. I learn every week from reading your work and trying to come up with something decent. I see some tense changes and grammatical errors, happy you could look past it!

  8. Avatarwriter_sk

    With two more hours until his shift ended, TJ couldn’t believe the woman from last weekend hadn’t come back. Drying the last of the glasses and absently restocking the tray of garnish, TJ took pride in making his bar look pristine and his customers feel comfortable. His uncle owned the place but rarely set foot in the “Loyal Bird.” Funny and complex, Joe had taken to travel alone in his van. He’d call or email TJ with a list of inventory here or to check in on the daily totals but for all intents and purposes he’d relinquished the business to his nephew in favor of a physical journey that looked to TJ to be a soul-searching journey.

    TJ popped the record out of the player and selected a new title from his growing collection of new and old: The Beach Boys. Over the tarnished railing that ran parallel to the bar countertop, past the bicycle shop window TJ could see the early autumn horizon and he watched as the six o’clock sun backlit the tiny sliver of sky a deep orange. He snapped a bar rag over his shoulder and tightened his apron as the bell jingled and the wooden screen door whacked back. The woman from last weekend looked beautiful but messy. Even disheveled.

    “I thought I’d try one of those special margaritas you described last week.” She recited her line as she smoothed her hair back into a quick ponytail. TJ felt his heart speed up and mouth become dry. He hadn’t felt nervous about a women in a few years. College was a blur. He had kept his head down and completed all his core requirements to transfer to a four-year and major in business. He had gotten the job as bar back at the Bird and moved up to bartender within a month. It all happened so fast and now he found himself captivated by this beauty’s brown eyes and long lashes.

    “I’m glad you came back.” He grabbed a margarita glass, “salt?” She nodded, smiling. “Yea I have been thinking about,” He faltered, looking down, “you.” She smiled again so he added, “and your beautiful smile.” He placed a tiny umbrella in the drink and garnished it with an orange rind. Placing it on a bar napkin, he allowed his fingertips to brush her other hand. At that moment a beam from the ceiling cracked and fell. TJ felt the searing pain of his arm being trapped. He lay on the bar. Anderson Cooper, normally the picture of reason, flailed his arms on the flatscreen over the bar “Go to the footage!” he turned in his chair unable to comprehend the copy he was to read. “We’ve received word a meteor has hit upper Manhattan. So far, the damage is extreme. The Hudson is flooding. Evacuate the city.” TJ’s mystery date tried to lift the beam as the man began to convulse in pain.

    “I’m going to pass out.” The fire began out front and overtook the trash area then the seating. The woman fainted before TJ and he had imagined a life they could have – he running the bar while she worked in one of the large skyscrapers. He couldn’t see his uncle and didn’t remember him ripping his body from his arm but when he woke up in his van with one arm he saw out the window multiple meteors streaming across the night sky. If he wasn’t dreaming this he was living a nightmare and the only orange left in the sky was fire.

    1. AvatarDMelde

      Good story. I liked the premise of the dream of a future being built together suddenly turn into a nightmare. I also liked the link back to the orange sky. That was a nice touch.

    2. Avatarjhowe

      It’s works when a disaster story is made personal by how it affects certain individuals. Nicely done. I hope Joe managed to save the woman as well, though it might not matter, with all those meteors coming down.

  9. AvatarDMelde

    Piglet and Pooh went to Rabbit’s house as fast as a bear could run, where they found Rabbit in the garden tending to his carrots. Rabbit hummed softly and he looked up when he heard the noisy Piglet and Bear approach. “Shush!” Rabbit said, “Do you want to scare them?”

    “Hallo Rabbit. Scare who?” Pooh asked, looking around.

    “Why, the carrots, of course!” Rabbit said.

    “We’re sorry, Rabbit. We came here because you’ve got Brain. We need your help.” Piglet said.

    “Let’s pretend I can’t help and start from there. What, exactly, is the kind of help that you’re looking for?” Rabbit said.

    “The helping kind.” Pooh said. “They’re coming to take away the trees.” Pooh looked up at the clear, blue sky and continued- “They’ve already taken away the clouds.”

    “Trees? Clouds? Piglet, what is Pooh talking about?” Rabbit asked.

    “Humans. Men are coming to cut down the trees. It will be the end of our world.” Piglet said.

    “But if they cut down the trees, then we won’t have our homes, and I won’t have my garden … or my carrots.” Rabbit said. “Tell me what happened.”

    “Pooh and I were walking along out by the highway. We came upon a big sign that said ‘Coming Soon Condominiums’. It had a picture of a big building, but the trees were gone.” Piglet said.

    “We have to find Christopher!” Rabbit said.

    They all left to find Christopher. Meanwhile, Eeyore had been sitting in his usual spot looking out at the river, and he had been listening to everything everyone said. He looked down at his reflection in the river. “I don’t suppose they’ll ask me what I think.” Eeyore said. He got up and looked around.

    “It’s not much of a place, but tail calls it home, and I’m attached to tail.”

    Eeyore knew exactly what to do. “Come on tail, if we’re going to save the world, which I doubt, we might as well get started.” With that, Eeyore left in search of Tigger.

    He found Tigger bouncing in a tree.

    “Hallo Long Ears.” Tigger said.

    “Hallo Tigger. The Hundred Acre Wood is in need of a hero.”

    “A hero! That’s what Tiggers do best!”

    “Men are coming to cut down all of the trees.”

    “I’ll bounce them!”

    “No, they’re more dangerous than heffalumps and woozles. Besides, you won’t have to. We’re all endangered here in the wood, but you, Tigger, are more than anyone. If you were to show yourself to the humans, they might leave us alone.”

    “Hoo-hoo-hoo-hoo! I’ll do it!”

    Eeyore and Tigger got to the highway just as the men were arriving. The press was there too, to film the cutting of the first tree. Tigger crept up close, because crepting is what Tiggers do best, and when he was close enough, he bounced and began to sing-

    “Oh, the wonderful thing about Tiggers, is Tiggers are wonderful things. Their tops are made out of rubber. Their bottoms are made out of springs. They’re bouncy, flouncy, trouncy, pouncy, fun, fun, fun, fun, fun. But the most wonderful thing about Tiggers, is I’m the only one. Yes, III’m the only one!”

    Then Eeyore and Tigger left. The men stood around with their mouths open. The press was doing high fives because no one had ever seen a Tigger before and they had one bouncing on film. The humans had no choice. In order to save the Tigger, they stopped operations and posted the Hundred Acre Wood as a restricted area. The wood, and their homes, was saved.

    When Eeyore and Tigger met up with the rest of their friends, everyone decided to celebrate, and although Tigger was the hero, it had been Eeyore’s idea. He was the real hero. Everyone wore funny party hats. Eeyore got to sit at the head of the table and cut the cake. The humans even returned the clouds to the sky. As Eeyore looked up at the clouds, he turned to his friends and said-

    “Don’t blame me if it rains.”

    1. Avatarwriter_sk

      This was written in the same style as the real Pooh.

      I like how it was still a very cohesive story with a solid message and to the prompt even within the Pooh world.

      Now the Tigger song will be stuck in my head although Piglet is my favorite.

  10. Avataruser613

    Three months we’d been living in the underground shelter and today we could leave.
    I knew what to do when the hurricane alert came, because we’d practiced so many times. My cousins had also known. But they’d never told us what to expect afterwards, once we could leave the shelters. After the hurricane came and ended the world we’d known no one knew what would remain. I was afraid of finding out.
    “Aviyah, can we go outside yet?” Jordan grabbed Lev’s bottle and Lev toddled after him, shrieking.
    The clock on the wall had counted the days until we could leave, and now flashed zero, I glanced at it. It wasn’t fair to keep them in here anymore.
    “I’m coming, Jordan.” I sighed. “Go open the door.”
    Lev picked up his bottle from the floor, where Jordan dropped it, and silence resumed, though I could feel eyes on me, and the cousins’ baseball game had gone quiet.
    Jordan stood in the shadows of the door, and I looked around the shelter and tried to make myself understand that it was over. Today was the end of this nightmare.
    I hadn’t thought it would come to this. I’d always imagined my parents, or an aunt or uncle opening the door a few days after the alert sounded, saying it was a mistake, the world wasn’t ending.
    But that never happened. It was real, this reality. And somehow, we’d survived.
    I closed my eyes and pictured my grandparent’s house, and all of us walking back inside, like our family planned in case of an emergency, and waiting until the rest of the relatives arrived.
    “Aviyah, if you don’t come now I’m going first.” Jordan turned, hands on his hips and I ran over.
    He’d opened the door and I took a step out, stared at the cement wall for a moment, then closed the door gently, so they wouldn’t follow, and turned the corner. Then I froze. Gone were the houses and streets and cars and trees. There was only sand.
    “Where is everyone?” I whispered. This wasn’t what the world was meant to look like. I felt tears falling down my cheek.
    There was no one, only the sound of the cousins clamoring for the door, and a deathly silence outside. I shaded my eyes and spun around. There were piles of sand all around. My legs shook and I leaned against the wall and stared.
    The nightmare wasn’t over yet. How could I break it to them, that outside our grandparents house didn’t exist? No trees to climb, no pool, no world. There was nothing. It had all gone world.
    I couldn’t hide this. It’s was their life too.
    “Aviyah, where are you? It’s safe. Can we come yet?” Behind me, I heard the door bang open and Jordan running.
    “It’s safe now,” I nodded and leaned my head on the wall. They’d have to be strong.

  11. AvatarEric Miller

    — A Good Run —

    “Dad! Dad! We are leaving now! Please come with us!”

    Nelson sat in his favorite deck chair, watching the sunrise over the mountains, “I told you son! Go. Do what you think is best. I’m good.”
    One by one, Nelson’s children and grandchildren came and hugged him. Some cried. Some just looked sad. They were all hurried with their affection and goodbyes. Jenny was last. She sat on his lap and hugged him as hard as she could. Tears streamed down her face.

    “Grandpa. I know you don’t want to come. But I want you to know that when its all done and we rebuild, we will make a deck facing the mountains and we will put a chair on it and no one will sit in it because it’s grandpa’s chair.” She started to sob and Nelson held her tight, smelled her hair one last time. She whispered, “I love you, grandpa,” in his ear as she stood to leave.

    A few minutes later, he heard the two trucks descend the gravel drive and turn west. West towards the mountains. West towards what they thought was safety.

    Nelson knew there was no safe place.

    An hour or so passed. Trixie came out of the woods, climbed the stairs, and flopped down next to Nelson. He scratched the golden retriever behind the ears. “They looked for you girl. You must have hidden well. Thanks for staying with me. Good girl. It will be nice to have someone to talk to in the end.” The dog sighed and rolled onto its side, letting the late morning sun warm her old bones.

    In the background, pundits dispensed wisdom and advice. Nelson turned to look. Nothing had changed. The crawl across the bottom gave brief news about riots and blocked roads. In the upper right, the clock counted down. Time till impact. 4:13:25. 4:13:24. 4:13.23.

    Somewhere up in the sky on the other side of the world, a piece of rock and ice sped towards the earth.

    “Girl, did you ever take physics, girl? No. No, you didn’t. Good girl. Well, let me tell you. That is a lot of energy. No. It’s not good. But you are a good girl.” He looked at the mountains again and said, “that is a lot of energy.”

    When he planned things out two days ago, when the news hit about the end of the world, Nelson had mapped out what he would drink. What he would eat to celebrate the end. It all sat in the kitchen, untouched. He realized it really didn’t matter. He was happy looking at the mountains and thinking about all that he had accomplished, all that humans had done.

    He heard the anchor crying behind him. “One minute, everyone.” She was in a bunker deep underground, but she knew it didn’t matter. Life on earth was done. “Fifteen seconds.”

    He gently stroked Trixie’s fur and counted down with the anchor. “Ten, nine, eight, seven, six – goodbye girl. Thank you for being my friend. You are a good dog. We had a good run. Didn’t we.”

    Nelson reached under his chair and grabbed the pistol and shot Trixie in the head. “Sorry girl, the shockwave won’t be here for a while, but I’m done waiting.”

    He put the pistol in his mouth and pulled the trigger.

    1. Avataruser613

      I enjoyed how you gradually upped the tension towards the end, and the goodbye scene was very emotional. I’m thinking maybe it would’ve been better without the first paragraph or two, which didn’t feel so tense to me, because there was so much tension later so why not start with that?

    2. AvatarDMelde

      Good story. I liked the countdown quite a bit. Personally, I would have taken a selfie of me and the impact for when the space aliens come to do an archeological dig. and have a beer. or two. or three…

  12. Avatarfreelancewriter0972

    Tara Compote looked at her watch as she stopped at a red light. She had a busy afternoon and evening on tap. First she had to pick up her 15-year old daughter Monique, and son Jasper, 13, from school. Then it was off to the grocery store so she could fill her ailing mother-in-law’s pantry with food. A tutor would be coming to the house in about two hours to help Jasper with geometry.

    Just thinking of all she had to do made Tara mentally exhausted. As she pulled into the parking lot of the school, Tara listened to the hourly news update on NPR. “This weekend, an asteroid will come closer to earth than one ever has,” the announcer said.

    What’s the big deal, Tara wondered. It’s the same routine. The news media hyperventilates over an asteroid expected to come close to earth. But never close enough to have an impact. What’s the point in these announcements when the asteroid isn’t going to hit us? Give us some real news that impacts us, Tara thought.

    As Tara climbed into bed that night, she was thankful the weekend was upon them. After Monique’s dance rehearsal and Jasper’s spelling bee practice on Saturday, the rest of the weekend would be for them to do whatever they wanted.

    Everyone was enjoying their rest when pandemonium ensued around 4:00 AM. What felt like a rocket jolting the house, woke Tara from her sleep. Her first thoughts turned to her children. Tara jumped out of bed. She was in utter disbelief at the scene before her. Her bedroom had turned into something that resembled a war zone.

    Jasper screamed like there was no tomorrow. “Mom, hurry! A tree cut a direct path into our rooms. Monique is trapped under it. I can’t get to her.”

    Tara grabbed her cell phone to call 911. “All circuits are busy. Please try again.”

    “Damn it!” she cursed. “We need help!”

    There were sirens going off all around Washington, DC. Tara kept trying 911, to no avail. Her phone buzzed with a notification from the Emergency Management Agency. “Washington, D.C. has had a direct hit from a large asteroid. Emergency officials are unable to assess damage until it is safe to do so, but we expect a high number of fatalities and injuries. First responders have also been impacted, and if you need help, an ambulance may not be able to reach you for some time. Updates will be forthcoming.”

    “Mom. Jasper. Please help me. I’m bleeding everywhere and I can’t move.” Monique’s voice was weak.

    Tara continued to dial 911, but the system was overloaded. She felt helpless. Her daughter needed her, and Tara couldn’t even get to her to stop the bleeding until an ambulance arrived.

    Nighttime soon fell. It had been two hours since Tara heard her daughter’s voice. Every few minutes, Tara would cry out “Monique, hang on sweetie. You’re a fighter. Just hang on until help arrives.” But Monique had stopped responding. Tara feared the worst.

    Jasper was still with her, but Tara had never felt so alone. My daughter needed me, and I couldn’t get an ambulance for her.

    Fear gripped her. Who knew how many people were dead? The asteroid may have wiped out half the city, if not more.

    How would she and Jasper rebuild their lives without Monique? Where would they go?

    1. Avatarwriter_sk

      Hm especially enjoyed the beginning- very realistic going through the list tasks within the daily routine.

      Your story shows juxtaposition between the mundane and severe

  13. AvatarShamelessHack

    “Hi Jeff, hi Mable. Thanks for stopping by.”
    “Thanks for inviting us, Tim. Hi Brenda.”
    “Come on in and make yourselves comfortable.”
    “Thanks. Hey, nice place you have here.”
    “Thanks, Jeff. Brenda here decorated it herself.”
    “Love the artifacts on the wall. What are these, Permian?”
    “Devonian period actually. This little skeleton is from the Carboniferous.”
    “Nice.”
    “Hey, did you hear about Harold?”
    “Yeah, too bad. You’d think he could have outrun that allosaurus, but well, it happens to the best of us.”
    “Mmm, Brenda. These snacks are very tasty. What are these?”
    “Oh, just some pterodactyl wings I threw together.”
    “You have to give me the recipe. Yum.”
    “How about those rumors about Eddie and Sam? What do you make of that?”
    “Oh, that they’re gay? Well, I say live and let live. If two male raptors want to be a couple, It’s really no business of mine.”
    “That’s how I feel. But of course the stegosaurus community down the road is all up in arms about it.”
    “Those old fossils? Jeez, their outlook is positively Cambrian. When will they wake up that we’re in the Jurassic Age, not the Paleozoic.”
    “Hey guys, come outside here for a minute. You have to see this.”
    “What on earth! What is that in the sky?”
    “I don’t know. Looks like a giant ball of fire and its heading straight down at us from the stars.”
    “Yikes, it’s growing bigger by the second! Do you think it will hit us?”
    “Yeah, it sure looks li

    1. Avatarjhowe

      And I thought the dinosaurs all took up smoking and met their demise that way. At least Gary Larson said so in one of his cartoons. Clever story Hack. The old fossils aren’t so tolerate… one of my favorite parts.

      1. AvatarKerry Charlton

        I enjoyed this, especially your wordage. What they used to call” Florida Crackers”, was dese kind of people. Never met one myself, guess I was too busy chasing skirts. When your’e in a groove, there’s no stopping you.

          1. AvatarKerry Charlton

            Hack, you have any recipes for any of this stuff? Like over easy? Where or where do they come from? Enjoyed the ‘u know’ out of it.

  14. AvatarReathaThomasOakley

    When the Trumpet of the Lord shall sound…….

    Ebenezer Higgenbottom was a wicked man. He knew he was because his mama’d been telling him so since she pulled him out of school when he was eleven.

    “Three years schoolin’s all anybody needs. You can add, subtract, divide numbers, make change, and read the Good Book. ‘Sides, too much school makes boys wicked, hope I ain’t waited too long.”

    Eb hadn’t cared much about no more school, he figured he’d learned about all there was to learn and walking two miles downhill every morning and two miles back every afternoon in blazing sun in September and snow in January was getting tiresome. He did often wonder about that book teacher was reading to the class, wonder if Black Beauty ever got home.

    When at age fifteen Eb started trading whole raccoon hides, tails intact, something about somebody called Davy Crockett, for cash money down at the settlement store, he’d discovered moonshine and fast women, and his wickedness blossomed into fist fights and occasional visits from the sheriff.

    “Tried my best,” Mama’d wail, “never spared the rod. Trusted in the Lord to deliver him from sin. Named him Ebenezer like Samuel did that stone. Samuel got blessed, I got wickedness.” The sheriff’d shake his finger at Eb, head back to town.

    Eb was wicked, but he wasn’t lazy. Kept his mama in firewood and fresh water, hunted for meat and for trade with the .22 rifle his daddy, another wicked man, left behind when he ran off before he was born. That was why Eb was a long ways off with Sal when it all came to pass.

    It was Sal heard it first and let out a low growl like nothing he’d heard before. Then she’d slunk down like she did right before a big thunder storm.

    “What you hear, girl? Bear? Ain’t seen no bear ‘round here…” Eb stopped. “Oh, Lord,” he whispered. “Oh, my Lord.” There was no mistaking the sound of a trumpet being played from a long ways off, getting louder and louder before fading away. Eb dropped his rifle and the string of rabbits shot for supper and ran.

    When he got home the house was empty, just as he expected it would be. His mama was gone, a half empty cup of coffee on the table, by the door a basket of dirty clothes most likely on the way out to the wash tubs.

    “Why, why didn’t I listen, stop my wicked ways,” Ebenezer sobbed as he gathered up matches, shells, cans of tomatoes and beans put them in the big cook pot. He knew enough Bible to know what was coming next. He yanked clothes from the basket, stuffed them and his wool coat into a croker sack along with a plate, a fork, and all the candles he could find, looked around the three rooms that had been his home for eighteen years and ran.

    If he’d been a little slower he’d have heard the voice of his mother calling from the privy. “Eb, that you? I’ll be out in a little while, got them runs agin. Can you bring that clothes basket out to the wash house? Don’t go back to the woods today, need you to walk me down to Dismal Creek Baptist tonight. Revival’s on, some Nashville preacher, does his own music. They come by today to give me a personal invite, he even played his trumpet for me. Eb? You listenin’ what I’m sayin’? Ebenezer?”

    (Loosely based on a true story, mid-fifties, Tennessee hills)

    1. AvatarDMelde

      Great story. I like your regional dialect. It’s not overdone and easy to understand. Sometimes the end of days happens on a smaller, more personal level.

      1. AvatarKerry Charlton

        I enjoyed this, especially your wordage. What they used to call” Florida Crackers”, was dese kind of peoplle. Never met one myself, guess I was too busy chasing skirts. When your’e in a groove, there’s no stopping you.

    2. Avatarwriter_sk

      Wow. As per usual, you captured time and place wonderfully, Reatha.

      Ominous ending, strong body and the beginning drew me in.

      The idea that MC *knows* he is wicked really works.

      (I wonder if this guy could make an appearance with Annie Marie or the girl?)

      Great character. Great read.

  15. AvatarKerry Charlton

    A WOMAN Of PROAMANCE
    CHAPTER TWO
    {Forward and chapter one are posted in prompt “So I Heard”

    Blue calmly laid her two, four barrel derringers to the floor at her feet and Bill followed with his still smoking Glock. During the panic of the customers storming out and with both mafia who lay in an ever spreading pool of blood, she had secretly contacted the head of the FBI in Philadelphia. He immediately left his office to join her and help if necessary. Before he arrived two SWAT teams showed up along with the chief of police, Bob Beverly. As he walked in, he recognized the general immediately and introduced himself. He also knew who Blue was as having met her earlier in the year at an open forum, but still asked,

    “And who are you Miss?”

    “Name’s Veronica La Rue. May I have yours?”

    “Certainly, Bob Beverly. Which one of you would like to explain two bodies blown to pieces. Who wants to tell me how this happened?”

    Bill spoke, “Look close chief, two mafia killers and they were after us.”

    “And who fired first?’

    “We did, or we wouldn’t be here,” Blue answered.

    “Perhaps we should talk downtown…”

    He was interrupted, “Hold off chief,” John Handsworthy, chief agent FBI said who had just walked in.

    After Bob Beverly and John Handsworthy had a private talk and since the bodies were so riddled with destructive gun fire, and after searching both, they found enough weaponry to bring down a large group of people, both decided to meet at the FBI office and of course they took Blue and Bill with them along with Frank Anderson, owner of the restaurant.

    Police detectives and reporters from the Inquirer had mingled with the few customers who had remained. Cameras were busy photographing the pool of blood left when the bodies were removed, photos of Blue and Bill were taken standing together, while his hand rested lightly across Blue’s shoulders.

    It was two in the morning before the conversations were completed. Bill hailed a cab and he dropped Blue off in front of a million dollar town house on Lancaster Pike. When Bill reached his hotel room, his hand settled on his smart phone not once but twice to call her, but he thought better of it to not get too involved. There would be much explaining to be done and it needed to be impartial, so he went to sleep.
    .
    At least he thought he did but at the same time, he realized he wasn’t sure. With two top killers from the mafia eliminated in what appeared to the police, as defending themselves from sure death, for once in his life, he realized there was someone he had really cared for. And that confused him as it never had happened to him before. Their actions, while defending themselves, had set of an apocalypse that neither he nor Blue might not be able to handle or survive from. And with that reasoning he did realize the scope of his military life would come in handy.

    1. Avatarjhowe

      Nice, KC. You’ve created some really likable characters with Blue and Bill and I look forward to more of their adventures if you keep going with it. I think he should have called her; one only lives once.

  16. AvatarJennifer Park

    87. The Apocalypse

    [Follows “86. The Haven” under “Abecedarian”. This is the last planned chapter of the Darth Barbara Saga; please click on my name above for the complete list of all 101 chapters, all of which are all posted under Writer’s Digest prompts.]

    The Kukej were besides themselves with consternation and fear. They knew that Barbara and her consorts were being doggedly pursued by the Kryzlamei and their allies, which was why they had valiantly and futilely tried to keep them off their planet. Now that the Fasciola and its crew were burrowed deep under the planet’s crust, with the three-hundred-odd Union crafts under its command preparing for their last stand, it was certainly the end of times for the proud species that had invented the wheel barely a thousand cycles ago.

    “Ambassador, surely you must have some compassion,” pleaded the Delegate. “Your species have been civilized for seven or eight or ten thousand cycles. We have just learned what it means to be civilized. You have had quantum technology for longer than we have had written language stabbed into wet clay.”

    Barbara was trying to enjoy a rare day of rest on the beach, and had very little compassion for the interruption.

    “You have had interplanetary travel for longer than we have had domesticated animals. You have had unified governance for longer than we have had codified laws. You have…”

    Barbara sat up.

    The Delegate sat up as well, alert with hope.

    Barbara adjusted her pillow and reclined back down.

    The Delegate collapsed, dejected.

    “Contraceptives. You forgot about contraceptives,” Barbara noted.

    “Pardon?”

    “Birth control. We have had birth control longer than you figured out how reproduction works.”

    The Delegate blinked.

    “Changed our species forever. Copulation for entertainment.”

    The Delegate had no idea what Barbara was talking about. The expression did not apply to her species.

    And that was Barbara’s point. “You fear there will be a great battle.”

    The Delegate’s ears started to leak waxy globs; Kukej equivalent to sobbing. “We fear that our civilization will end before it finishes beginning.”

    Barbara sat up and looked at the Delegate. “Your civilization is about a thousand years old, you say?”

    “Indeed.”

    “How do you know this?”

    “The records. The Chronicles… chronicle our history.”

    Barbara grinned. “What do you know about life before civilization began?”

    “Nothing. No records before there was writing, you see.”

    Barbara pointed at a protruding rock in the water, about fifty meters away. “And what do you call that?”

    “That island? It is the Pumpegn… the cone…”

    “An island?”

    “Yes.”

    “Have you been on it?”

    “Oh, yes. It’s a popular spot for kids.”

    “It’s not an island, you know.”

    “Pardon?”

    “It’s… It is a remnant… encrusted by barnacles. Of a projectile.”

    The Delegate blinked rapidly. Confusion.

    “It is what we Earthlings call a missile. ‘Intercontinental ballistic missile’.”

    “…”

    “It’s a bomb… capable of destroying civilizations.”

    More blinks.

    “Your species have completely destroyed your own planet twice already. Every single civilization, each time.”

    “…”

    “The Kryzlamei are the least of your problems. Your problem is… you.”

    “…”

    “Don’t worry. We’ll be gone before the Kryzlamei arrive. This is not where the Union dies.”

    Indeed, the fleet departed two days later, a day before the Kryzlamei arrived.

    1. Avatarjhowe

      Hello Jennifer Park, creator of Darth Barbara. I have a feeling this final chapter is tentative. You won’t be able to resist continuing it. Or maybe you can. Regardless, I’ve enjoyed it. Nicely done.

    2. AvatarDMelde

      Good story. I liked the apocalypse within an apocalypse vibe. I’ll have to check out the other chapters as I haven’t done that yet. Thanks for sharing this story.

  17. Avatarwriteroftheking

    “Run, Tara!”

    My heart hammers in my chest, pounding, if it’s even possible, louder than my feet. A swish of wind tickles the back of my neck, and I know that yet another gnarled, barely human hand has missed me by millimeters. Hot and putrid, the breath of the undead behind me invades my nostrils, stealing the air I so desperately need right now. Only fifty feet to safety. Fifty feet to where Desirae waits in the doorway, screaming my name, standing helpless as the automatic bay door continues descending to the ground.

    A jagged fingernail just barely scrapes the back of my neck, more like an inspiration to run faster than an actual injury. And run faster I do.

    The door is two feet from the ground now, threatening to strand me here with these zombies, to close me off from escape, to leave me to be eaten alive. I can’t even hear Desirae anymore. The rush of blood in my head, combined with the pained screeches of the horde of rotten flesh behind me, is too loud.

    Something clamps onto my ankle, and I crash to the concrete floor, hysterically kicking the hand off my foot before launching myself up again. Fifteen feet left. Only a gap of about a foot remains for me to clear the door. Ten feet.

    One of the monsters tries to grab my hair, but only ends up with one ripped off lock from my ponytail. Five feet.

    I hurtle myself to the ground, swinging my legs in front of me in a baseball slide, flattening my back to the concrete as the door moves ever closer to its destination. The momentum from my sprint sweeps me under in the nick of time, slides me through the ten inches of clearance. Groping hands push their way under the door, but it’s too late for them to get through. One by one, the gash-riddled arms disappear before they are crushed, and the door finally clangs shut, leaving me and Desirae alone in a silence that is permeated only by my heavy breaths.

    I made it.

  18. Avatarjhowe

    “…and may God have mercy on your souls,” the priest said as he limped away from the podium. He waved off Guido’s graft envelope.

    Feeling rebuffed, Guido looked for one of his henchmen to take care of the priest as he walked away. He cursed when he remembered they were all dead.

    “Nobody disrespects a Braganini,” Guido said and shot him in the back of the head. It didn’t matter really; he’d have been dead in a week anyway. They all would.

    Guido kissed the casket, one of many lined up with nowhere to go. A woman came to him and spat in his face. He shot her, of course, and then tried to kick the smile off her dead face. “Goddamn contagion,” Guido said with an untidy cough.

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