Stranded Hope Forward
By Blake Caliguiri
(Editor's note: This is the first part in a series of installments. Please check back weekly to see updates to this fictional story.)
In the coldest months of winter, steam rises from bodies in the Montana snow. The steam floats up and is carried over the small house sitting alone on the side of what used to be Interstate 90. There isn’t much variety in the landscape anymore. Most abandoned homes have been reduced to rubble or kindling.
The one-story shack stood only ten feet above the soft ground. A starter home is all it was. No lights were visible from the outside of the home. The windows were draped in black, padded with thick black fabric. Within the walls sit the last of the survivors in a hundred mile radius. In the center of the room is a metal trash receptacle; a fine gift from the parks department of Montana.
The fire roared within the metal container, throwing red, orange and yellow light on the somehow smiling faces of the home's tenants. There were six of them sitting around the fire that night. It used to be seven, but in this new reality, the dead are no longer mourned, but envied. Death is a goal for the living to reach for; a goal without running, hunger, thirst and terror. Compared to this world, death is a welcomed change of scenery.
Our survivors have little chance of making it to another safe house; as long as there is snow beyond those little walls, moving would be difficult. These people can smile tonight because despite the daily nightmares, they aren't alone. Tonight is the night that everyone tells their stories, the stories of how it happened to them. These are the stories of that faithful day that the whole world died. When the living became the minorities.
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Published October 29, 2009
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