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!