Tuesday, May 8, 2018

Exclusive Drabble: Just for You and the Apocalypse

Some Drabble Just for You

Drabble: (n.) a short work of fiction, usually not more than 100 words in length

For You in the Apocalypse

Young Joel Leen had never known the feel of the sun on his face, or the smell of freshly mowed grass after a spring rain. He had never bathed, had never known relief from the relentless hunger that was now a dull ache in his belly that he thought was normal. He knew no other children, he only knew that he was the last live birth in his tiny village. The next eldest person was Henry Call, and he was almost twenty.

In the last days of the planet Earth there were approximately nine hundred thousand humans remaining, spread out in small outposts situated in pockets of clean atmosphere. The sun was a tiny pinprick of light, barely visible through the clouds of ash that swept across the landscape. Water was a precious commodity, and none of it was clean. Recycled bodily fluids and whatever condensation could be captured from the heavy passing clouds sustained the last remnants of humanity.

Children rarely lived past infancy, so the ones who survived were cherished and cursed in equal measure. Caring for yourself in a dead world was hard enough, but caring for a life that could not care for itself was torture.

Joel stood on the rocky cliffs overlooking the vast desert that surrounded his village. He did not look up when his grandfather approached.

“What occupies your mind today, Joel?” Grandfather asked. He leaned on his cane and turned his brown leather skinned face toward the scant rays of the sun. Every day it grew darker and colder, and Grandfather cherished what little light he could find.

“What’s out there?” Joel pointed at the endless brown desert.

“Sand and death.”

Joel squinted at Grandfather and chewed on his lip. People said he looked like Grandfather, with his light blue eyes and fair hair. Grandfather was so old now, it was hard to tell.

“Tell me what troubles you,” Grandfather ordered.

Joel wondered whether or not he should tell Grandfather about the ideas in his head. Should he lie? He decided against it, because Grandfather could usually tell when he was lying. “I don’t want to die,” he said at last.

Grandfather looked into Joel’s eyes for a moment, and then he returned his gaze toward the sky. “Everything dies.”

“I don’t want to die. I’m afraid.”

Grandfather’s gnarled hand found its way to Joel’s shoulder and squeezed gently. “A man has many choices in his life, child. He can be afraid, or he can be strong. He can be gentle and kind, or angry and mean. What becomes of you is up to you.”

“I want to live. I want to save the world, but I’m afraid I don’t have enough time.”

Grandfather’s gaze locked onto Joel. “You can have eternal life, or you can make an eternal impact. You have the choice.”

Joel wondered how much time it might take to bring this barren planet back to life. More time than any of them could spare, he figured.

** A note from AR DeClerck

I wrote this part of Joel's story for our bi-weekly writer's meeting exercise and it stuck with me. What do YOU think happens next? Does young Joel get to see what lies beyond his village? Tell me in the comments!

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