I wrote a story, and I didn’t think it was ready enough to share. I got excited about it, and now I think I want to make it a lot longer than it was originally. So this week, I decided I would instead focus on my world-building. Most of my work thus far has been poetry and personal narrative. I figured it was about time I tried my hand at some post-apocalyptic story telling. Here you’ll find the introduction to a story that I will work on developing/completing in the coming weeks if I get good feedback on it!
I think I have the tendency to try to cram a whole lot of information into not a whole lot of space. I also have trouble leaving some things to my readers’ imaginations. Trust that in the coming weeks I’ll be reading a whole lot more short fiction in an attempt to discover the secret of balanced narrative! I’d love to hear some feedback from folks who have experience writing fiction. What do I do well? What do I need to work on? Is anything about my story unclear or confusing?
Even if fiction isn’t your forte, please let me know if you like it and would like to hear more! Thanks for reading!
It’s a wonder the kinds of questions that emerge around a fire at the end of the world.
An expectant mother.
It seemed so foolish to use these labels. None of them mattered in an underground bunker 8 years after The Incident.
People had been traveling from bunker to bunker, foraging for food as long as they could, hoping to make it to the next Source before their legs gave out. The mass exodus just prior to the Incident meant there were a number of well-stocked Sources left abandoned right before they were needed the most. By now, we were about a week away from the last of the food in this bunker, as long as another person didn’t find us. Or—what no one was willing to say—as long as we didn’t let them in.
We sat around the fire like we were at an AA meeting. It was almost funny to think I had attended those a lifetime ago, before the Incident. About a year ago, I’d begun introducing this activity to the people in each new bunker I found. Every Sunday after the food was rationed, we’d go around in a circle and remind everyone—mostly ourselves—where we’d been. It helped me keep track of time. It helped us get to know each other. It helped us keep stock of the bunkers we knew about, and showed us areas that weren’t worth searching. It showed us how far we’d come. It proved to us that we could make it a little bit further.
“This is my fifth bunker. My last one was about twelve miles southeast of here. It didn’t end well. There were three of us, and two of us got too sick to leave. I was the third. I got out of there with about three days’ worth of food. I don’t think those other two made it out. It’s not worth going back there to check for food.”
“This is my 5th bunker this month. I think. I had bad luck a few times. Woke up one morning in my last one and the people I’d been staying with had packed up with the rest of the food and gotten outta there without me. They were a married couple. They left me a granola bar.”
“I’m lucky, I joined Nurse here almost half a year ago. No one’s come across us but you folks. It got lonely, but at least we didn’t have to worry about rations much…”
Apologetic and grateful faces looked up somberly. Thank yous were muttered as our activity ended prematurely, painfully aware that our food stores were all but used-up.
We didn’t know how many Sources were left. Communication between bunkers was spotty at best. Most people who found bunkers these days usually weren’t willing to let many people in. We sat quietly, hoping someone would attempt to break the silence.
“Y’all ever been in love? You believe in soulmates?”
“That’s a depressing question.”
“I know. What a waste of time.”
“Oh, I’m sorry, are you in a rush? Running late? ‘Waste of time.’ Yeah, right.”
“Shhh. I know it’s tough. This is our last week here. Let’s not fight, please. I’ll answer the question. I’ve been in love plenty of times. Soulmates aren’t real, though. I can tell you that for sure.”
She fiddles with the wedding band on her finger.
“Let me tell you why.”
To be continued.