Tag Archives: survival

Survival. Short Story.

Vincent walked through the scattered corpses, around them dying fires were smouldering, a thick haze filled the air. He didn’t pause or look at their faces, it was better not to know. When it had began all those long months before he had seen his first dead body, it haunted his dreams, but these bodies were nothing now, just part of the backdrop. It had been a teenage boy who was running just ahead of him when one of the monsters grabbed him. Vincent hadn’t paused, hadn’t stopped, he just kept running, it was the only thing he could do. He made it another twenty steps before something sailed over his head and landed in front of him with a heavy thud. It was the body of the boy, his head ripped from his shoulders, a gaping hole where his stomach should have been. Vincent had been sure he was next, kept expecting something to grab him but nothing did. That night the scene played over and over again in his dreams, the boys body crashing in front of him. When Vincent finally woke from his nightmare he’d just enough time to turn and vomit onto the ground beside him rather than over himself. How many people had he seen killed since? How many bodies? It was an endless parade of death and destruction. He’d seen people torn limb from limb, screaming all the while, he’d seen people killed in the blink of an eye, a giant stone falling from above and crushing them. He’d seen buildings collapse and burst into flames and somehow he’d managed to survive it all.

Vincent kept walking as the military moved in, this was the truly dangerous part. If they noticed him, noticed that he was broad shouldered, that he was still strong, he would face a seemingly simple choice, join the army or die. The truth of the matter was it would be a death sentence regardless of how he chose. The army had been throwing men at the things since it began and still they kept coming. It was all humanity could do to stay ahead of them. He ducked into a dark and half collapsed alleyway, two children, a boy and a girl, were picking through rubble, the girl glared at him as he past while the boy kept rummaging. Vincent kept them in sight until he rounded the corner, it was always better to have your guard up around the kids, they tended to move in packs and didn’t mind using the knives they liked to carry. He moved through an old apartment building, it was leaning drunkenly against its neighbour, looking as though it would collapse any moment. As he moved through what was once the lobby he could hear the noise of people above him, those too stupid or too poor to go anywhere else. Not him, so far the only thing keeping him alive was being on the move. He’d met plenty of people in the last city who told him it was safe, that he should stay, find somewhere and hunker down until it was all over. Three weeks ago it had been destroyed entirely, last he heard there was nothing left but a smoking crater. He picked his way over bits of concrete and rubbish, it looked like someone had attempted to move it all to the side but had given up partway through. Vincent paused at the front of the building, looking out at the rubble strewn street, people were already coming out to scavenge after the last attack, some were crying and shouting as they dug, but most worked silently, looking for food or anything valuable. At one end of the street stood a tall, gangly boy in a green, ill-fitting uniform, it looked as though he had borrowed the clothes from his father and the tightly gripped gun was almost comically oversized, he had wide, staring eyes that were starkly white against his grey, dust covered skin, Vincent guessed he couldn’t be older than thirteen. Vincent stepped from the building and headed off in the other direction keeping himself hunched over, the kid wasn’t exactly threatening but when dealing with someone that young, that untrained and that scared, you never really knew what you were getting into. Somewhere to his left there came a deep, throaty cry and Vincent froze, already people were beginning to scatter, someone ran past him, knocking him down as they went. Vincent scrambled to his feet and started running.

Vincent watched the city burn, people streamed past him in a steady flow, he could still make out people fleeing the city, dark shapes lit only by the leaping flames behind them. The gunfire had stopped, the army had abandoned they city around the time Vincent had made it to the outskirts. Vincent turned from the city and started walking again, he had lingered too long here, growing complacent, he needed to keep moving, needed to stay ahead of the things. Some people were talking, but most trudged forward with their heads down, many of them carried nothing having no time to grab any of their meagre belongings.

Vincent stopped and sat against some rocks. His feet were tired and sore, around him he could smell food cooking over the campfires that dotted the area, his stomach grumbled sullenly. He hadn’t eaten since the day before, but he had gone longer without food. He had been moving with the others from the city and they swarmed across the countryside, picking everything clean. He didn’t know where he was heading, he wasn’t sure if anyone really knew or if they were just following the signs to the next city. A small family huddled around a fire nearby, he watched as the mother passed food to her children, the mother looked up and caught his eye, he saw a flash of fear and she moved closer to her children, Vincent looked away. He wouldn’t take their food, he wasn’t a thief and he wasn’t that desperate, not yet. He stood from the rock and started walking again, ignoring the protesting pain in his feet. If he kept following like this he’d never get anywhere, he’d just be another desperate refugee, penned into a resettlement camp or conscripted. Besides, there was safety in numbers, but it could also attract the wrong kind of attention, all those people, weak and frightened, would make easy pickings for anyone or anything that decided to come along. Vincent spotted an apple on the ground, a glint of green that had mostly been buried in muck, he pulled it out of the mud and quickly wiped it down, the green skin was smooth and unbroken, though he knew he’d have eaten it even if it was half rotted. Vincent ate it quickly, trickles of juice running down the side of his mouth, already things were looking up.

Survival of the Fittest. Flash Fiction.

Hope everyone had a good weekend!

Sorry for missing Friday, I wasn’t having the greatest day Crohn’s wise and thought I posted to let everyone know, won’t happen again!

__________________________________________________

“How long have they been down there?”
“thirty-five hours, there’s still four left.”
“Four? Are you sure?”
“Yes, we’re positive, they’ve lasted much longer than any of our predictions. They might even beat the record.”
“We’re still a few hours away from that, but anything could happen.”
Ben looked down at his screen, he could see a man and a woman, covered in muck and streaks of blood, she was being half carried, half dragged by the man. Both of them looked haggard and weak, nothing like they had when they arrived a week ago, he brought up their profiles and shook his head, unrecognisable. He switched back to his view of them, they’d been separated from the others by what he almost affectionately referred to as the “Hell Beasts.”, they wouldn’t be around for much longer. Almost on cue a Hell Beast came into frame, it was about seven foot tall and bulged with muscles, it had two arms and three legs and ran with an awkward, loping gait. Its face looked similar to that of a bulldog, large, flapping jowls around the mouth, its nose jutted out in a small snout and its four eyes were grouped on either side of its head. Ben watched as the beast hunted them, though it was more playing than hunting. He winced as the Hell Beast lunged at the couple, he glanced away from the screen, “Two more down.”
“Confirmed, two remaining.”
Ben flicked his screen to the other two, now it was just sitting around until they were dead then they’d have all that data to go through. Ben didn’t really understand the point of this, but the company was paying them well enough that he didn’t question it. The people on the planet below were volunteers and while they may not have knew exactly what they were really getting themselves into, they were told of the dangers and risks.

Ben yawned and stretched, they last couple had been going now for four hours, only half an hour away from the record, everyone was on edge. The pair were hiding out in a cave system, one which they hadn’t been able to map fully, a few people suspected there was some colony of godawful creatures down there destroying the probes and cameras. The trackers on the pair still worked though, so maybe they’d get some kind of a map at least. The lights on the screen flashed twice, then went dark, someone called out “final two down.” a frisson of disappointment moved through the room, they had been so close. Ben stretched and stood up from his station, everyone else was doing the same, as he walked out of the room he heard a few people talking about getting drinks but he was far too tried, he’d been up since it all began and had popping stims to keep himself awake. All he wanted to do now was collapse on his bed and sleep for a few hours before they had to start shifting through the data, they only had a week before the next batch of twenty arrived.

Survival. Short Story.

So the storm has past and everything was pretty ok. Thankfully there was no major damage around us, no cars destroyed or trees pulled down, unfortunately my sister and brother-in-law werent as lucky, they’d a few roofing slates pulled off the roof and there’s a hole in it. They did keep their power though which was great!

_______________________________________________________

Keith listened to the radio, straining to hear what was being said above the heavy static. “Anyone… Don’t…Think.” he shook his head, he couldn’t make any sense of it, but hearing another human voice did give him some measure of relief. It felt like an eternity since he had last heard someone speak though in reality it had only been four days. He stood from the small desk and went to the window, the sky was carpeted in thick, heavy clouds and the rain was still falling heavily. They had talked about weather disruptions before it all went to shit, he had been sitting on his couch, watching TV when in the distance he could hear a rumble, the TV flickered once, twice, then the power went out. A few seconds later the entire house was shaking, he could hear glasses smashing in the kitchen, things falling in his bedroom. He stayed where he was, paralysed with fear, when the shaking finally subsided, he stood and went outside. He couldn’t see it, though he knew what the swirling vortex looked like, he had seen it on the news the day before, some new kind of weapon they were saying though it was still unclear as to who was attacking.

He had tried to get into town but his shitty car wouldn’t start, not that that held any great surprise, it had been on its last legs for almost three years now, hell he was surprised he had gotten this long out of it. He had enough food supplies for another two weeks, that was when he’d normally make the next trip into town. The nearest neighbours were about a two hour walk, he hadn’t gone to them yet, he was afraid of what he might find once he got there. The McKenna’s were nice enough people but they were religious nuts, he didn’t want to think about how things were playing out over there. It seemed better to just wait until things settled down a bit. After all it couldn’t be the end of the world, there were too many people, it was a disaster, a tragedy that would scar humanities conscious for millennia, but it wasn’t the end of the world. People would rebuild, they always did.

Keith had taken to keeping himself busy, there was no TV any more, his power had never come back and the generator was only big enough to keep the fridge and chest freezer going. The radio would do for now, he had plenty of batteries stocked up, though he limited his listening to a few hours in the evening. He would sit, fiddling with the knob, searching for any voices until eventually he would end up where he always did, with the garbled and staticy transmission. He figured that it was just someone out there talking for the sake of talking. There seemed to be no real narrative or repetition to what they were saying. They didn’t sound overly distressed either. Everything would be fine, it was just going to take some time, that was all. A voice came through, it was only for a second, “taking people from their homes, I don’t know where they’re taking them, I-” the static came back, stronger than before. He frowned, it was a different voice, it wasn’t like the one he usually heard. He quickly grabbed the radio dial and started turning it slowly, searching for the voice but it was gone. He sat in front of the radio for hours, easing the dial back and forth, every time he caught a hint of a voice he felt his heart jumping into his throat and his fingers would grip the dial so tightly they hurt, but he couldn’t find it again.

Eventually night came and he decided to stop, it was too dark to see much of anything in the room, the clouds were obscuring the moon and the stars outside, rain still hammered against his windows. He got up carefully and made his way to the small kitchen table, there he felt along its surface until he found the box of matches. He struck one and looked away as the match flared to life, carefully he lit a candle, then another, the two would have to do, he didn’t know when, if ever, he’d get his power back. The broadcast earlier on had rattled him, more than he was willing to admit even to himself. For the first time since this all began he moved around the small house and closed the curtains making sure there were no gaps as he did so. It was dark outside, too dark to see much of anything and he was afraid now that the light from his windows, however faint, might act as a beacon to anyone outside. He told himself it made sense to close the curtains, there were plenty of people who had lost their homes, everything they had, they’d be on the move and god only knew what desperate people might do. He was out here alone and he wasn’t in the best shape of his life either.

The night passed without incident, in the morning he opened the curtains again and stared out at the grey, rainy day. In the distance he could see thick plumes of black smoke rising into the air, despite the rain it was fairly still out with little to no wind. The smoke was coming from the direction of the McKenna’s. He wouldn’t be able to get to them in time to do anything, all he could do was wait and see if any of them had made their way to him. It was probably just an accident, that was all. Their kids were always rough housing with one another, it wouldn’t be a surprise if one of them knocked over a candle or lamp. Besides, the youngest one had gotten in trouble before for playing with fire, he’d managed to set an entire field of grass alight two years ago, they’d just barely been able to get the blaze under control before it managed to do any real damage.

Keith tried to keep himself busy through the day but he kept finding himself staring out the window at the smoke, which now looked like nothing more than a dark smudge across the sky. The voice on the radio was completely gone now too, there was nothing but static. He spent the afternoon looking out towards the McKenna’s, the smoke had disappeared but still, he couldn’t seem to look away. He expected to see the family of six walking along his road at any moment, tired, wet and perhaps soot stained, but otherwise unhurt. They didn’t arrive that evening, nor did they arrive the next day or the next.

On the third day after the fire he saw someone on the road, they were crouched slightly and moving slowly, at first he thought they were injured, he went outside, raised a hand in greeting and yelled, at the sound whoever it was crouched down lower and ran off into a patch of trees. Keith scrambled backwards into the house and locked the door, he had expected whoever it was to call out for help, not run away. He checked that the windows were locked too, though they wouldn’t do much to stop someone who was determined to get inside. Keith kept circling the windows, moving from one to the other and peering out, it would be dark soon and after that he wouldn’t be able to see anyone approaching. The rain had finally died off, but it was still cloudy outside, once it darkness fell it would be almost absolute. He looked out the front window again and his breath caught in his chest, there was a group of men marching down his road, they wore all black, even their faces were covered by masks, each one held a gun. Keith s heart started hammering in his chest, they weren’t moving incredibly quickly but they were moving steadily, they’d be at the house in no more than ten minutes. He grabbed a bag, the biggest he could find, and stuffed it with some canned food, he threw in a box of matches and some clothes. He didn’t have any real survival supplies, no tent, no sleeping bag. There wasn’t time to grab anything else, he slipped out the backdoor, not bothering to lock it behind himself, then he took off running.

When he finally stopped he was gasping for breath, he looked behind himself and was relieved that he couldn’t see his house. Once his breathing had slowed he started walking, who ever they were he had to stay ahead of them. Occasionally he would look behind himself to make sure there was no one following. He turned and looked again, he stopped and stared at the large plume of thick black smoke in the distance. He felt a bolt of nausea, he hoped that the McKenna’s had seen those men coming. A gust of cold wind shook him from his thoughts, he turned and kept walking. He couldn’t think about the McKenna’s, he couldn’t think about his house. None of it mattered now, the only thing that mattered was surviving.

Into the Woods. Short Story.

Stephanie shivered, it was getting dark and she was getting cold. Bruce had told her to wait here, but he was supposed to be back hours ago. He had promised her he would be back before dark and they’d find somewhere safe to bunk for the night. She took a slow breath, she needed to stay calm. He was probably just delayed, or maybe he needed some time to himself. They had been arguing more and more lately, though that was to be expected. Maybe Bruce was right, maybe she was spoiled. They had been sleeping outside for the last few weeks and she was getting sick of it, and she let him know. It had been an argument that was building for a while now. They both needed to blow off steam. She knew she was right though, and Bruce would see things her way soon. It was getting too cold to be sleeping outside, if they weren’t careful they could easily freeze to death, or worse, be caught. At least if they were in a house they’d hear someone breaking in, it’d be a bit warmer and they could plan a few escape routes. Outside like this they were vulnerable, they could be surrounded and she didn’t know why Bruce couldn’t, or wouldn’t see that.

Stephanie was getting nervous, shapes started appearing in the gloom, what once were trees became menacing figures, bushes became crouching forms. She knew she was on edge from the week before when she had almost been caught. She had stupidly allowed herself to get cornered by some feral looking kids, it was only through blind luck that she was able to get away.

It was fully dark now and Stephanie had moved to the trees. Where she had been felt too exposed. Here she could wait for Bruce and make sure it was really him before revealing herself. Maybe he wasn’t coming back. She pushed the thought away, no, he had to be. They had already been through so much together. Besides he was the only one she knew from Before. She knew she could trust him and he knew he could trust her. It was the only way to survive out here.

Stephanie snapped awake, at some point she had dozed off. The day was beginning to start, dawn giving light to the dark world. There was still no sign of Bruce, no evidence that he had been here at all. How long could she afford to wait? It had been two days since she had last eaten, she’d need to find something soon. Bruce had been the one to suggest the forest. He had come here every year as a child and he knew what was and wasn’t safe to eat. Without him she was lost here. She froze as someone stumbled into the clearing, her heart started beating faster. It was him, it had to be. The figure was moving slowly, weaving slightly as though drunk with one arm clasped tightly around his stomach. She watched as he fell against the tree stump she had been sitting on. Every part of her screamed to run and help Bruce, but she couldn’t. It wasn’t safe. The figure groaned, a weak noise, barely heard over the rustling of the leaves. She still couldn’t tell if it was Bruce, whoever it was seemed to be badly injured, she could probably get closer without being in too much danger. Unless it was a trap, designed to lure her out. Carefully she stood and started moving.

She had circled around the clearing, trying to move as quietly as possible. She had made some noise but the figure didn’t notice, she wasn’t sure if he was even still conscious. She saw no one else, no signs that any one was preparing to attack her. She studied the figure, she needed to make a decision, she had wasted enough time already. Stephanie took a deep breath then stood and strode into the clearing. Her heart thudded wildly in her chest but she needed to appear strong, confident. She stood a few feet away, she could make out features now that she was closer, it wasn’t Bruce.
“Who are you?”
There was no response. Was he conscious? She leaned in a little closer, his breathing was shallow, weak. She could see the blood now, it had run through his fingers, soaked into his clothes. If he was faking he was doing a damn good job. She kicked his foot, almost gently, there was no response. She leaned a little closer and reached out slowly, ready to snatch her hand back if she needed. Stephanie grabbed his shoulder and shook. He felt cold and thin, the baggy clothes hid how emaciated he really was. He groaned but didn’t open his eyes. She glanced around then squatted beside him, carefully she pulled his hand away. The wound was ragged and deep, it needed stitches at the very least and was probably already infected.
“Hey, can you hear me?”
His head moved slightly, almost bobbing up and down.
“What happened to you?”
Silence. She needed to get him talking, make sure he was awake. Or was it sleep that he needed? She sighed in frustration, she was way out of her depth.

A few hours later he was bandaged, she had used one of her t-shirts. He still hadn’t said much of anything, just random words and gibberish, though now his forehead felt hot to the touch and he was sweating heavily. She had managed to give him some water, tiny little sips that seemed as though they were making no difference.

He opened his eyes ,they were wide, fearful and a deep shade of blue. Stephanie rested her hand on his shoulder, “It’s ok, you’re safe here. What happened to you?”
“Stabbed.”
“By who?”
“I don’t know. It happened really fast.”
He took a sip of water, Stephanie had to pull it away from him before he downed the entire bottle.

He frowned at her, “Are you Stephanie?”
a ball of dread formed in her stomach, “Yeah.”
“I was with Bruce when we were attacked. I don’t think he got away. I didn’t look, I just kept going. He told me about you, about his plan.”
“Oh?”
“Yeah.” He closed his eyes and took a slow breath, “I’m in a bad way. I don’t think there’s going to be any coming back from this.”
“You’ll be fine, you just need to rest a little.”
“No, they’ll be coming. Sooner or later. They know which way I went, you need to get moving. Leave me here.”
“I can’t do it by myself, I don’t know anything about surviving out here. Bruce was supposed to teach me, we were supposed to be out here together.”
He shook his head, “You’re going to have to learn quickly. I had a book. I don’t know where it is. I think I dropped it. It was for foraging, maybe you could find it.”
His breathing was getting heavy. The makeshift bandages were already soaked through with blood. He looked her over once, “You’ll be all right. You’ll survive.”

Stephanie went to the trees and took her backpack from its hiding spot. She needed to get moving. After he was dead she removed the bandage she had wrapped around him. It couldn’t look like anyone else helped. She searched through the woods, following his path, but there was no sign of a book. There was a library in town, was that where they had been caught? Maybe one of the bookstores on the outskirts. There, a flash of blue. She stooped down and pulled the book from the bushes. She turned off the path and started walking into the woods. She had some supplies, not many, but enough. She knew she could die out in the wilderness, but she was just as likely to die anywhere else these days. At least with the book she now had a fighting chance.