The beeping alerts roused Johann from his weightless sleep.
He floated to the control room, where alerts indicated the problem was the primary links with Earth. All monitors displayed the same message: ‘Signal Lost.’ Backup links were also down.
To all ground stations covering their present orbit? Strange, he thought. The International Space Station never loses comms to Earth at this location. It must be an issue on the Station. But then the redundant systems must also have failed. Now he was worried.
Johann glanced out the window at Earth, 350 kilometres below. He gasped. Then grabbed a telephoto lens. No it cannot be…
Maria and Andrei arrived to the control room, saw the alerts on the monitors then looked at Johann, who was fixated with a look of shock and disbelief on his face.
They too looked at the planet’s surface. At the mushroom clouds that covered the city below.
The 71 year old man stands in the blackened shell of the doorway. At an entrance that was bright and proud once. His eyes roam across the destruction in the aftermath of the fire. It can’t be true. How can it be? It is mid-winter. It is bitterly cold. It is snowing for god’s sake!
Walls, furniture, books. Gone. Photos. Gone. His wife. Oh god, his darling wife…He staggers, almost collapses. He just manages to support himself in the lee of the doorway.
It is still too raw, he shouldn’t have come. Waves of emotion, of hurt. Flash through him. Sadness and disbelief. Pain and…A horrible emptiness that he believes will never be filled again.
Now loneliness; unwelcome and until now unfamiliar, grabs hold. It frightens him. Consumes him in a powerful, enveloping embrace.
Is this how it is to be the rest of his life?
He slumps to the ground, into the residue. To weep. To welcome the cold. To say goodbye.
The below was composed for a “2 sentence story” competition. I never actually submitted it.
She glanced again at the table where she had left five delights from the chocolatier; then scrutinised her decidedly sheepish-looking husband.
‘Darling, I’ve misplaced the Bruyerre chocolates that I bought for Andrew – you wouldn’t know where they are, would you?’
I have read that one just needs to keep writing, no matter what. So I’ve been beavering away these last two months and eventually, there were two stories I was happy enough to release. Destined to become lost inside this vast Internet universe; I’m sure.
The most recent of the two was yesterday. I submitted a story to the weekly Ad-hoc fiction online competition. The criteria for this competition is sub-150 words and must include the prompt word for the week: ‘cold.’ My story is called “Residue” and it centres on an older gentleman who loses everything – and I mean everything – in a fire and how that devastation hits him.
Last month, I submitted “Futile” into the Bath Flash Fiction competition. Futile follows a small group of soldiers as they enter a ruined city.
No expectations that either will be published. I have to say though, I’m enjoying the process of scribing ideas and concepts.
Assuming the above don’t get published, I’ll post them here.