Altered state


Eddie wasn’t happy. She had fought for the last piece of cornbread and it had turned out to be dry, hard and mouldy all at the same time. It was black mould and she had a vague memory of being told that it was the dangerous type – but what was more dangerous than dying? She sighed, sitting in the ground, still shocked at how they could all have fallen so far.

A few weeks ago she had been safe in her house, even though there had been holes in the roof, none of the doors would shut properly and most of the windows were broken. It had still been hers, her haven. Now it was buried under an avalanche of scree, the detritus of the mountain above dumped on them all. She was now homeless and the sheer horror of it, the death, the destruction, was incongruous with the looming monstrosity that now reared above them, Pythagorean in its order, for the mountain was now glass-like, a pyramid, perfect in its horrific proportions. No houses, trees, people or animals blotted its smooth features. The weather had also turned, the water that had destroyed the mountain in torrents a mere memory these days. The sun burned down on them incessantly, relentless in its ferocity.

Where would she find water now? At the very least, she needed to moisten the cornbread in order to be able to chew and swallow it. The stream had dried up, the puddles had hardened to smooth, oily, sunken eyes. There was nothing for it. She lifted up her skirts and released the bright yellow stream of piss. She stared at the soggy bread lying limp on the ground and just as she was about to pick it up and force it into her mouth, she heard a twig snap behind her.

“Whatchoo got there?”

“Gemini'” sighed Eddie, trying to conceal the fear in her voice. “Where’s your sister?”

He waved nonchalantly, loose-limbed as ever. “Oh, back there.”

Eddie assumed that he was referring to beyond the shadowy trees, back to where the mercy truck had deposited its spoils. “But there’s nothing left, all the food has gone.”

“Well, not quite all. Driver’s dead,” said Gemini, his eyes cutting into her like blades. He grinned, menacing.

“Oh.” What else could she say? All she knew was that she needed to keep him talking, otherwise he would start thinking. Thinking was bad these days, but even more so for Gemini, he who constantly whittled away at pieces of wood with a wicked, curved blade.

“So why aren’t you with them?” she asked.

“S’boring there. They’re still hoovering the ground with their eyes, fighting over the last scraps.” Gemini tossed a pebble up and down, eyeing up Eddie meditatively. Sex was on his mind, even now, even in this world. He was terrifyingly calm, nonchalant.

His hand reached out like a striking serpent. He gripped Eddie’s wrist, yanked her towards him. She could smell his rancid breath, wanted to recoil, knew she shouldn’t.

“We need to repopulate the village. You and me, we are the ones,” he said. Strands of livid flesh shivered wetly between his incisors as he spoke. An image flashed before her eyes, of him sinking his teeth into the dead mercy truck driver’s leg, tearing, glorying in the horror of it all. He grasped her between the legs, pinching hard. “Let’s do it.”

Or maybe the driver hadn’t been dead, screaming for his own mercy as Gemini wrought his mad version of justice. Maybe, he hadn’t been dead.

“Yes, Gemini. We are the ones.”

The Feasting – Magpie Tales

image 101

He stalked the land.

Times such as these were glorious for him. Borders meant nothing, language was no barrier, he fed where he saw fit, feasting on awkward limbs of souls reduced to a parody of their former spirit.

He rejoiced in the ease of it all, striding along the metal tracks that had been so kindly, so helpfully laid out for him. A ragged column of smoke and cinders rising high towards the clouds, a solid brick archway, wrought iron gates and the legend ‘Arbeit Macht Frei’ told him that he had arrived at his dining place once more.

His only regret, if it could be called that, was that his earth-bound compatriots were so very efficient at their own method of destruction. It robbed him of even more gluttony, if truth be told. Still, one had to be satisfied with what one received.

And anyway, time was on his side. He could wait for them to destroy themselves with their own greed.

It had happened before, aeons ago. It would happen again.

Hoist by their own petard.

History repeating itself.

His lips salivated at the thought.


Here’s this week’s entry into Magpie Tales. Yes, it’s morbid, I know. If you’re a long-time reader (thank you!) of mine, you’ll not be surprised. By way of background, I am Jewish, and the train tracks that lead into Auschwitz sprung to mind as soon as I saw the image above, hauntingly irresistible. Industrialised death is, unfortunately, no longer a shock to us, although it should be.

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Revival – Friday Fictioneers

Here is this week’s entry into the weekly challenge brought to us by the lovely Rochelle Wisoff-Fields. Here are the rules: Use the photo as inspiration, write a hundred(ish) words – and share! Here goes my offering for this week – and I welcome your comments again!

Copyright - Dawn M. Miller

Copyright – Dawn M. Miller

– Revival –

“This is how it used to look. Before they ripped its heart out.”

I take the picture from him, one that he keeps in his wallet next to a photo of his wife and daughter.

It’s a cutting from a magazine, the paper soft with age – I hold it as if caressing a butterfly. He is in tears; men are not afraid to show their pain here. Life has been too hard to pretend otherwise.

I stare up at the bones of the building, black against the blood red of the setting sun.

“We will rebuild your museum, I promise.”

His smile is radiant.


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