DragonSpark Speakeasy 169- Isolation

06 Jul

She woke up to a dull, grey, lifeless sky. It was as if the sun refused to cast its warm light upon the inhabitants of the quarantine zone. As for the birds, they’d been the first source of food to expire. How long had it been since the army had set up the particle field? Months? Years? It felt like eternity to her.

“Think of the devil!” She spat, as two white ships flew overhead, their hydrogen fusion core spiting neon blue flames from the reactors, looking for an excuse to drop fire and death upon the already broken remnants of a glorious city. She got up from the mattress, letting the two devils fly away. If she were to look in a mirror, she would see a face covered with dirt, dust and soot, she would see a girl dressed in a ragtag armour of leather and steel. Before the quarantine, she had been unsatisfied with her looks. It was the only thing she regretted. Now however, looks were meaningless. What mattered was strength, cunning, and food. Always food. After the appearance of the particle field, stores were raided. Then, birds were shot. The sewer rats were becoming rarer and rarer lately. Soon, people will stop caring what animal the meat comes from. “Good thing I’m skinnier than most!” She declared out loud, then laughed despite herself. Was she going crazy? Probably. She stepped out of the sewer pipe that housed her small home, and out into what used to be the city’s canal. Before her was a valley of concrete, rust, and broken glass. Several colons of black smoke rose to meet the grey sky.

The army said they created the field to keep a pandemic in check. Thing is, there never was a pandemic. She knew the real motives were political, but couldn’t be bothered to know the details. She had more important things to do. She left politics to those with too much time on their hands.

She headed downriver, battle knife strapped to her back, hoping to find rats. Three kilometres and two decomposing dead bodies later, she found another sewer pipe. She stepped into the darkness, allowing her eyes to get used to the obscurity. She drew out the battle knife. Her steps were slow, steady, and quiet. Her breathing was controlled and deep. All her senses were alert, waiting for the slightest sound, the slightest shift in the air, the smallest of movements. The field had turned her into an efficient killing machine. After what seemed like a long time spent walking in the sewers, she heard a distant sound, like a distant beep. She froze. Where did it come from? What was it? Silence and darkness were the only answers she got. Did she imagine it? The possibility seemed more and more likely when beep! There it was again. A regular sound. She followed it until it lead her to a locked door. What to do? Someone might be waiting behind that door with a gun. Or it might be a food stash. Or a weapon stash. She put her right ear on the door and listened. No sound came from inside. No footsteps, no breathing, nothing apart from the increasingly ominous beep. She took a deep breath, backed away from the door, and slammed her shoulder back into the obstacle. It didn’t budge. After three attempts, she felt the top hinge crack. After five, the door was giving in. On the eighth shoulder slam, she fell into a bright room, screaming briefly, the door falling beneath her. After the dust settled and her eyes adapted to the sudden light, she finally found the source of the beep.

Before her was a large, white, rectangular box. On top of the box were two dials with two key slots. In between the dials was a screen, with a timer. On the flank of box facing her was the army’s crest. Next to it was a set of symbol she recognised from her university’s physics course. Nuclear hazard. Explosive content. She had found a nuke. A big nuke, by the looks of it.

Panic rose in her. This thing will turn the city into a crater! Even if she survived the initial blast, the radiation would put her down in a matter of weeks. Thoughts of death and suffering flowed through her mind until a new kind of thought emerged.

What happens if you detonate a nuke next to a particle field?


So I remember reading some awesome post-apocalypse posts a few weeks back, and I remember making a mental note to try my hand at it eventually. Except I also made a mental note to redo sci-fi, because I wasn’t satisfied with my first  attempt, so I figured “let’s do both!” Dunno if the whole thing blends well, but it was fun to write.

Fun fact: Adrift was my first contribution to this blog, and this here is my tenth, but also the first I post with my own Gravatar (Instead of BW posting it for me), and, as you all know, the last before the Speakeasy’s summer break, so I guess this post is a little special to me. It’s a testimony to the progress I’ve made as a writer and a person, partly thanks to the SpeakEasy.

B00kWorm, thanks for dragging me into this gin joint!

As always, your comments and opinions are greatly appreciated. Thanks for reading!


Posted by on 6 July 2014 in Dragonspark, Speakeasy


Tags: , ,

31 responses to “DragonSpark Speakeasy 169- Isolation

  1. thewizardsword

    8 July 2014 at 19:01

    Wow. A truly chilling read and cool take on the prompt. Nice one!

    • DragonSpark

      8 July 2014 at 19:03

      Wow thanks! Not sure how I made it chilling though…

      • thewizardsword

        8 July 2014 at 19:35

        You took me there and I felt the feelings your character felt. Well, in *my* mind anyway…:-)

      • DragonSpark

        8 July 2014 at 20:32

        Ah.. you mean the confidence mixed with the partial lunacy/overdetachement from reality? It’s what I was going for…

  2. jannatwrites

    8 July 2014 at 20:43

    This was intense! She really has nothing to lose by trying to contain the possible damage, as death would meet her either way. This isn’t a world I’d want to survive in, though 🙂

    • DragonSpark

      8 July 2014 at 21:04

      I’m not sure you really choose to live in a world within which you occasionally run into armed nukes either 😉. Then again, the day you’re given several megatons worth of TNT to work with, might as well put it to good use!
      Thanks for reading Janna. I’m glad you liked it.

      • jannatwrites

        8 July 2014 at 21:06

        Hehe, well, I guess a better way to put it is, I’m not sure if I’d choose to fight for survival in such a world 🙂

  3. Love Happy Notes - Daily Fun and Inspiration

    8 July 2014 at 22:49

    What a world! What a write. So well summed up in this line. ‘It was as if the sun refused to cast its warm light…’

    • DragonSpark

      8 July 2014 at 23:33

      Funny you say that. Originally, the line was “… on the damned inhabitants of the infernal…” I cut it and was considering cutting it entirely. I kept it only because I sorta liked it, and found other, less meaningful words to cut. I’ll have to check, but I think I currently have 749 words. Maybe I can party restore it to its former glory.
      Thank you for reading, and thank you for the praise.

  4. J. Raven

    9 July 2014 at 00:50

    Really enjoyed this! I could feel and smell this world as I read it – kudos!

  5. Celine Jeanjean

    9 July 2014 at 11:20

    That’s a cool start to a story! And I like how gritty it is (with the fact that they’re surviving on sewer rats etc. Because ew). Nice take on the prompt!

    • DragonSpark

      9 July 2014 at 11:46

      I know right? Then again, when you’re hungry….
      Thank you for the praise and thank you for your time! I’m glad you liked it. See you ’round!

  6. Brian Benoit

    9 July 2014 at 19:57

    I like your sci-fi post-apocalyptic take, so I’m glad you decided to try your hand at it. The world you invented felt real, and that glimpse of the two planes so far away was one of my favorite parts because it gave you just the small hint you needed to understand what the oppressors are like. Well done!

    • DragonSpark

      9 July 2014 at 20:06

      Thanks a lot! I’m glad you liked this weird mix of ragtag and futuristic. If I can have fun with a post AND make it good enough for others to appreciate it, it’s a good day in my standards.
      Thanks for stopping by! See you ’round.

  7. Bastet

    10 July 2014 at 09:59

    Wow! What a write DragonSpark … chilling ’cause it feels real. And your heroine is just right for her world! Keep this up and you’ll soon be publishing.

    • DragonSpark

      10 July 2014 at 10:07

      Well, thanks for the praise but I doubt I’ll be publishing anything anytime soon. Why bother when you can just post them on the blogosphere, for all to enjoy? These comments are much more satisfying than publication will ever be. Besides, if ME, the newbie, the teen with a keyboard, is close to publication, then the rest of you should already be getting interviewed by “Reader’s Weekly” magazine or something.
      Thanks for stopping by Baset, and thanks again for the praise.

      • Bastet

        10 July 2014 at 10:41

        Well, technically you actually are publishing aren’t you, and I agree it’s great working for praise 😉 et, I think that teens with keyboards who are already writing as well a you are might take into the consideration of a possible future as a writer n’est pas? Some of the writers here do publish in mags perhaps and some may have published books too. Not I, as I’m a newbie like you, believe it or not, and at my age!

  8. Suzanne

    10 July 2014 at 17:36

    I love how versatile you are in your writing – and I love that you set these goals for yourself! Congratulations on your tenth post! This is a great dystopian/post-apocalyptic world you’ve created. I love your heroine and I hope she blasts the heck out of that particle field!

    I hope to see you over at the summer series – and if not, I look forward to seeing you back at the speakeasy at the end of the summer! 🙂

    • DragonSpark

      10 July 2014 at 19:13

      Thank you for the praise Suzanne. I may not take part in the Summer series every week, but I’ll try to drop by as often as possible. And thanks for welcoming me here Suzanne. It’s been great, and I hope to continue to take part in the Speakeasy (and perhaps the classical grid or gargleblaster) for as long as possible, till I’m “old and grey” to quote pink Martini.

  9. inNateJames

    10 July 2014 at 17:38

    You nailed the desperation and hopelessness of your heroine’s situation. Do you usually write using the same cast of characters? Or do you switch worlds a lot? This is only the second story of yours I’ve read and I can’t tell if you’re writing a series or if it’s just a similarity in tone.

    • DragonSpark

      10 July 2014 at 19:18

      Firstly, thank you for the compliment. I’m glad that you enjoyed it. As for your question, no, I don’t usually use the same characters, even if both protagonists in my last SpeakEasy posts were knife wielding women. I didn’t actually notice how similar they were until you pointed it out. I do have one ongoing story that I’m going to continue in future Speakeasy. If you’re interested here’s the last one (out of two so far):

  10. Kathy Combs (@Kathy29156)

    10 July 2014 at 19:11

    This was intense! You really rocked this one! ♥

    • DragonSpark

      10 July 2014 at 19:19

      Thank you very much! I’m glad you enjoyed it. Thank you for stopping by. 😏

  11. Blake

    10 July 2014 at 20:47

    I thought you handled the post-apocalypse grittiness really well, summed up for me in this line: “Three kilometres and two decomposing dead bodies later…” I also liked the way you used the “regret” prompt so early in the piece. I’m only starting to read through the stories but I’m expecting the regret element to appear at the conclusion, as a rule, where it’s a fairly natural fit. So it was interesting to see the regret as something this character had put behind them ages ago, once the situation became serious.

    • DragonSpark

      10 July 2014 at 22:32

      Thanks Sue! That line comes straight out of 90s Looney Tunes (*insert ridiculous number* days/hours later…). I’m glad you liked the prompt use. I like to remain flexible with the endings, so “getting rid” of the prompt early on is useful. I try to make it seamless but sometimes it feels forced… any tips?

      • Blake

        10 July 2014 at 23:11

        Ah Looney Tunes has all the best lines! Tips? Hmm well I’m kind of using the prompts to write little portraits of people – so the prompt brings to mind a character and then I see if a scene develops; if it does, then the prompt is already embedded, soda speak (sorry I just read that story and couldn’t resist lol). You’re using the prompts slightly differently, to explore different styles (e.g. post-apoc), so the character might arrive slightly later in the process, hey. But, like I said, I enjoyed how you used this prompt 🙂

  12. gem

    10 July 2014 at 21:13

    oh wow. I love your use of diction. I’m all into dystopian sci-fi so it piqued my interest there, too. I’d like it to be an entire book! I look forward to more.

    • DragonSpark

      10 July 2014 at 22:36

      Awesome! I’m glad it struck home with you. However, no way in hell I’m turning this into a book. Sorry but the longest I wrote was 10K words. It took me a year, a partner, and an exam grade that depended on the length/quality of the damn thing. 😪
      Joke aside, thanks for stopping by. 😉 See you ’round!

  13. Meg

    11 July 2014 at 01:32

    I think you’ve done a great job here — I could easily picture this dystopia. A society breaks down one step at a time…birds, then rats, then who knows? Your depiction of action is handled really well too — I could see her trying to break that door down. I want to know what happens next!

    • DragonSpark

      12 July 2014 at 15:11

      I don’ plan on writing more but it’s true that I love sequels. Who knows I guess…
      Thanks for stopping by and thanks for the comment. Sorry for the late reply.


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