On Friday evening, the Facebook page Writer’s Relief posted this image and asked readers to tell the story of the place. I was going to save this for this week’s Snippet Sunday but decided I didn’t want to wait with this one
So this is what my warped mind came up with:
We thought it would be alien invasion, a giant fireball, a supervolcano, rising sea levels, nuclear attack by religious fanatics of some description – hell, even zombies or some other disaster fiction cliché that would destroy us.
But we were wrong.
How can you correctly say what happened and not describe it as a natural disaster? It was the one thing we least expected, something we never made special plans for. You could fortify your house against zombies or live on an island, you can hide from aliens, go underground to escape the toxic atmosphere of a supervolcano or a fireball but this… there was no getting away from it.
Even now I can barely bring myself to write it because I can’t quite come to terms with what finally did destroy us. We may even argue that we destroyed ourselves in the end.
It started – or so we were told – simultaneously in China and in the USA. Nobody would link the two events and so it took a while for anybody to realise what was happening. A young girl in rural Ohio drowned in a lake and an elderly man in Beijing died by strangulation. Those two events did not alert the world to what was happening but then somebody posted a video to a popular video site and everything changed.
It appeared to show a group of teenagers somewhere in England being attacked – yes attacked – by a tree when playing football in a park; one of the boys was badly injured. Most of the comments stated “hoax” but the Police must have taken it seriously enough to close the park to the public. The BBC World News said that the investigation had only just started when reports began to pour in that people were being attacked by plants and trees. People laughed.
Millions died in the first few days and we stopped laughing at the thought of killer plants very quickly.
Here in Cambodia most people I knew were dead in the first week; months later, I am the only one left in this city. I live on the roof of this tenement eating what little food I have left: dried rice, tinned meat and fruit, dried biscuits… and little much else. Yet just three floors beneath me is a sea of torment… trees full of inviting fruits and seeds that I must not eat, even if I could get close enough to pick without being attacked. We used to eat those fruits and seeds too, we all did, but what was once part of our daily nutrition is now poisonous. I said that millions died in those first days, I did not say that they were attacked like those boys in England.
The trees know I am here, they have surrounded the building and every day I move to find somewhere untainted by greenery, I wake up the following morning to see the forest of vines, plants, flowers and trees around me again. Sometimes I think I hear them whispering to each other. They are winning the war and I imagine them mocking me, knowing that there is no escape when Mother Nature fights back.
I have two days of food left. After that I will starve to death unless I can find more. There cannot be much left and now the lower floors of the buildings are closed to me. over-run with vines and other creeping plants. This morning made my way downstairs and saw some vines creeping up to the second floor – they are coming for me. I could burn out one of the buildings to clear it of them but I have only three matches left – the only weapon I have against the creeping greenery – and I should not waste them.
Time is running out but first I must sleep. Perhaps tomorrow I will find some shelter?
8 thoughts on “Horror Flash Fiction 14/6/14. How Will It All End?”
Dear, God! This short story captivated me, and really got me thinking. I’ve imagined living in apocalyptic worlds, fighting for survival, but I never want to live in this one. Great job. I loved the idea, the tone of voice, the way you played with reader assumptions. This was fun to read, and a blast to read again. I wonder; how long before the poisons seep into other food sources?
I’d given thought to that – especially to the meat supply – but couldn’t come up with a satisfactory explanation for what their role in this new world would become. There’s a lot to think about if I ever decide to expand it.
Yeah, but you certainly don’t need to. The piece works as it stands, allowing the reader to think further on it if they decide to. I am seriously impressed with this bit of fiction.
Reminded me a little of The Happening by M Night Shyamalan, A scary prospect indeed if all the fauna in the world turned against us.
Thanks! I’ve not seen The Happening. Sort of gave up on Shyamalan after the one about the water nymph
I actually liked Lady in the Water (I think that’s what it was called), but I generally don’t enjoy his films. Sixth Sense was good but everything from then on was not as good.
I sort of liked The Village but agree that most of every else was a bit underwhelming, especially the lay-it-on-thick religious message in Signs. But then, I am an atheist so I suppose I was always going to find it hard to care that a priest was losing his faith.