The Future

Fandango’s Flash Fiction Challenge

The factory had been billowing out toxic fumes for decades. So much pollution had entered the atmosphere, survivors sought refuge in underground bunkers and caves. Life was hard, but not as hard as it was for those who choose, or were forced, to stay above.

Each bunker and cave had its own admission criteria. I remember when we tried to be admitted to the first one closest to our home. The smirk on the man’s face as he said our kind wasn’t welcome still haunts me. Grandma died on the way to the second bunker. Walking through the ash and acid rain was just too much for her. Grandpa chose to stay behind with her. All I can hope is that his death was quick and painless.

Mom broke down after the second one denied us entry. Dad did the best he could to keep her spirits up but it didn’t work. We lost her crossing the bridge over the river before he got here. Had she just waited another four days, she would have been here with us.

Life here is rough. There’s not enough to go around and fights break out all the time. Dad was a nice guy and tried to break one up our first night here. They burn the dead. All Sarah did for a week was look into the sky and cry for Dad. I won’t cry here. Not for them.

It’s been six months and I am tired of being hungry, thirsty, and always looking over my shoulder. Some of the men are giving me that look I used to see in Mom’s mushy movies. They won’t get that from me.

I told Sarah she could come with me, but she said no. Whatever. It’s her choice. Live or die, it’s our choice to make. Anyway, I’d rather be out there on my own. I have six layers of clothes, stole a microparticle mask and a gas mask from the miners, and crafted a knife in the workshop.

If you find this letter, know this–there are survivors out there and we’re going to stop the factory. We’re going to take back what is ours. We’re going to survive forever.


It’s All In How You Look At It

Image by Diggeo from Pixabay

The summer sun shone through the open window, heating my face as I watch the men in the neighborhood mow their lawns to the prescribed height. New regulations went into effect last week, and everyone is scrambling to meet them before inspections tomorrow.

I don’t like the new rules. They changed everything at school too. Instead of the light blue and white uniform, I have to wear thick, scratchy brown uniforms. Mr. Harris interrupted lessons yesterday to give Miss Wilson the new approved lesson. We had to turn in our reading books because the new leader didn’t approve the one we were reading. I liked it though. We all did.

I wish things didn’t have to change. Mom says everything changes eventually. Maybe I will change things when I grow up and put everything back to normal.

Joseph Field sat in his office and listened to the sounds of the city around him — a city conforming to order. He smiled and leaned back in his chair. Everything around him was finally in order. The books he enjoyed alphabetized on their proper shelves, the pencils lined up by their length and sharpened to the best point. Not a single thing out of place.

“Everything has a place, and everything in its place.”

The portrait painter he requested arrived and was taken aback by the state of the office. He had never seen anything so clean since he had been in the hospital. Nor had he seen anything so tidy and pristine since his last trip to the museum. Even the hushed silence reminded him of being in a library. It was unnatural.

Mr. Field looked in the mirror and plucked a stray hair that was longer than the others. “Must look our best, mustn’t we?”

The painter smiled and nodded. “Yes, sir.”

When the painting was finished, Mr. Field issued a new regulation requiring his portrait to hang in every home in the city.

That evening, Mr. Field sat in his office, looking out over the city, and smiled. Finally, a world of order and conformity. A world shaped by his mind and command. A perfect world where he fits in.

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