Friday Fictioneers – The Past in the Present

Begin the Route

Photo Copyright – Jean L Hays

Friday Fictioneers is organized by Rochelle Wisoff Fields. Please visit her page to see the rules and look at other entries.

Some areas of the old Mother Road are undergoing a revival, but I don’t see it happening for this God-forsaken place. Abandoned for decades, the battered tarmac stretches ahead of my car’s lights.

I wonder if this is what the whole world will look like after civilisation ends.

I stop the truck and get out. This place has no features to identify it, but I know I’ll be found, even in the dark.

I hear the sound of gravel crunching underfoot, but after all these years, I don’t dare to turn around and face him.

“I’m not afraid,” I lie.

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Friday Fictioneers – Pollution

Here’s my Friday Fictioneers piece for this week. Please check out Friday Fictioneers Central to submit your own 100-word piece and to read other submissions.

“The water is dirty,” I tell my mother, who stands next to me on the bridge.

“It is,” she agrees, looking over the waters we’d paddled in on hot summer days. The once clear brook is now a filthy brown. “The soldiers upstream are muddying the river.”

“When will they move? When will the river be clean again?” I ask, impatiently.

She doesn’t answer immediately. Her frown firms up as she stares at the horizon, making her jawline and cheekbones appear as a sharp silhouette against the sky.

“When the soldiers move, we will not be worrying about the river.”

Sunday Photo Fiction – Base

42 01 January 12th 2014

Copyright – Al Forbes

Sorry that this is so long. I’ll be stricter with my editing once exam season is over. To submit your own piece based on the prompt, click here.

The shed was the safe place, always had been. They played all kinds of games in the yard around it, but the shed was base. You couldn’t be “got” in the shed.

Alice curled up in a little ball in the half furthest from the door. The dust irritated her lungs, but she was too exhausted to cough. She scratched the scabs on her legs until they were sore pools of red. The stinging accompanied her into her dreams, where it turned into nettles that whipped against her shins as she forced her aching legs to run and duck through the undergrowth, the pain nothing in comparison to the vice of fear around her heart and throat.

She could hear the men thundering through the bushes behind her, their gleeful taunts becoming frustrated insults as they tired of the chase.  Eventually Alice was out of the forest and on the abandoned streets, littered with empty cars and silent houses. There was no time to be nostalgic when she recognised the house of a childhood friend, only enough to climb over the locked gate into the neglected yard.

Alice let go of her dream at the same time as she gave up the absurd hope that her pursuers would recognise the sacred status of the shed; when the door was kicked open.

The Killer Question – Part Eleven

See the first letter here.

I have to pull over shortly before I reach the prison. My hands leave sweat marks on the wheel. I rub them on the rough fabric of the seats and try to keep my breathing even. I can’t decide if I’m glad the road is quiet or not. On the one hand, it means I don’t have to worry about curious passers-by. On the other, the silence means the only thing I can hear is the ringing in my ears. The worst thing of all is the way the fear makes my gut clench.

What am I afraid of? Him? A little, I guess, but security at the prison is tighter than it’s ever been, and the interview will be closely monitored. Am I scared of what he’ll say? He’s just a damaged man, what he says doesn’t matter, especially not now. Those letters, what was I thinking? They’ve invalidated everything I’ve worked for. Even if my supervisors don’t find out, how can I hold my head high while knowing this research is useless? This interview is a sham. I’m only here because my main supervisor thought it would be a good idea. I was too nervous to think of an excuse.

My mother was so proud when I told her I was going to become a PhD student. “We’re going to have a Dr Atkinson in the family!” She was ecstatic. I stayed over at her home last night. She knew something wasn’t right, but I told her I was just tired after the long drive from Exeter. I couldn’t rest in that place, I never can. It’s so different from our old house, but I’m still scared that if you peel back the wallpaper, you’ll find the same dirty kitchen, the same stains on the walls, and then you’ll hear the shouts, the crashes, and the screams…

My father was never a pleasant man, and the arrest was not surprising. Despite the violence we had endured, my mother made sure we visited regularly. She couldn’t just cut loose like I very much wanted her to. I have to lay my head against the steering wheel as I recall that last visit. They called it the worst prison riot in history. There was a well-publicized enquiry. Gross negligence and failure from the prison staff, ill-thought out policies and procedures were to blame. Heads rolled and the media vultures feasted on the carcasses for weeks.

All I remember were the sirens, enough to make a young, foolish girl so hysterical she runs into the arms of trouble.

I start the car. These memories will be painted over.