Still Alive

Still Alive

A Story by Amber Tasch

I hope that you can enjoy this



Still Alive



                A rusted hub cap rolled down the dusty and abandoned street. It rolled over pebbles and down the road until it came to a halt at a building. With an echoing clang, it hit the side of a decaying building. From behind one of the decrepit walls, a small girl emerged. Dust clung to her body and her clothes were tattered. She peered around the corner of the destroyed wall to see where to rusted object had come from. It gave her a small hope that perhaps she was not alone. Perhaps Penelope was not the last one. Not wanting to investigate, in fear of disappointment, she simply sunk back down to the filth covered ground and picked up an old photograph. Penelope held it gingerly in her fingers because she knew that is was quite old. It depicted an old man and a small girl, not unlike her, who was frowning as if she could not smile. The man in the photograph was Dr. Graph. Her mind became lost in the photo as she tried to remember who he was.

                Dr. Graph was an older man, an older man with a younger sister. Graph became a scientist while his sister became a house wife. The siblings never spoke to each other, but they were aware of the others life. The sister was the proud wife of a military sergeant who Graph often read about. Graph had made many discoveries which his sister had read about. They lived like this for thirteen years. Dr. Graph’s hair became as white as snow and his sister’s cancer became deadly. With her husband in the army preparing for World War Four, she had to leave her daughter in the hands of her brother. Despite some protest Graph had to take the girl in. His sister had died of cancer, and the husband had died of grief. Reluctantly he hired an escort for the child to be brought to his house.

                In a little pink coat, Penelope waited at the gates of her old uncle’s mansion. Graph watched from the window and noted the somber expression on Penelope’s face. She waited for someone to greet her but when no one came she simply let herself in. The child seemed interested in the upcoming war and only looked for its gruesome details. Dr. Graph, though scarcely seen, had a strong love for the child. Penelope resembled her deceased mother which made r. Graph’s love for her automatic. Penelope surprisingly returned the love to her uncle. She often called him “Father” and was close by whenever he was around.

                After a while, the inevitable happened. The war broke out around their little paradise that they had managed to build. Fearing that the war would soon be brought to them, Dr. Graph tried to create an invention so extraordinary that he would be able to bring peace. During the first few days of the war Penelope did not see her dear uncle. She worried for his health and hoped that the war would not hurt him like it had her father. This was a silly thought however because the war had not killed her father, grief had. To occupy her time she began to grow food for the soldiers. Since she no longer saw her uncle, this could act as a good way to spend time. She tended to the garden night and day. As they got later into the war and the battle lines drew ever closer, Dr. Graph decided it was time to spend his last days with Penelope. He walked into her garden and complemented her on her work. She smiled wider than he had ever seen her smile before. It saddened his heart to know that it would all be gone soon.

                The morning after, the two were awoken by sirens in the distance. Penelope put on her usual dress and went to her uncle, calm as anything. She did not fear death, in fact, she welcomed it. It would rejoin her with her family. Dr. Graph grabbed her and sat her in a chair across the room. It was a dusty, old, uncomfortable chair that she remembered with much disdain. The room was bare except for the chair and a small table with chemicals on it. It shook with every explosion that drew nearer. Dr. Graph cursed as some dust flew into what he was working on. Then, looking out the window, he beckoned Penelope closer. They peered out the window to find destruction all around them.

          Dr. Graph spoke slowly. “Penn, did you know that our bodies are constantly making cells?”

          “No, I’m sorry I did not.”

          “What do you suppose would happen if we could kill the new cells at a constant rate so that we would continuously have the same number of cells?”

          “I suppose we would remain the same. We would never grow old.”

                The Doctor sighed. He took the child into his arms and grabbed a syringe. While she was fixated on the soldiers now dying on their front lawn, he shoved the needle into her pale skin. He whispered into her ear but the words were lost in the drowning boom of the cannon on a tank. A yellow smoke clouded the air and put the pair into a deep sleep. When Penelope woke up she had a splitting head ache. It was as if something large and terrible was inside of her and was trying to claw its way out. This pain was nothing, however, compared to the searing pain on her arm where the injection had been placed. She held her arm and looked around. There were no bodies, living or dead, to be seen and there was rubble everywhere.

                Penelope had realized it years ago. Dr. Graph had saved her, or rather intended to. He didn’t know that the human race would kill itself and all other species on the planet. He didn’t know that Penelope would be alone forever on the forgotten battle zone once called Earth. The memories used to bring tears to her eyes but she was now growing tired of remembering. She stood slowly and dusted off her dress. With one last look at the photograph, she placed it beside the other photographs that she had collected from the ruin. Though she did not know these people, it made her feel like they were still alive and around her. Briskly she walked the streets looking for some wood. Wood could provide a fire, and food. Though she no longer needed food to live, she did not like feeling hungry, so she ate wood in small pieces. Penelope staggered after a few paces. The pain that once consumed the injection site now held the right side of her body captive. Knowing that if she whimpered or cried no one would take pity; she simply sucked it up and continued her walk.

                After some time she came to what used to be a park. The trees where now on the ground and were a sickly color. Penelope walked up to one and pulled off a long strip of bark. Now used to the taste, she nibbled on a section of it. Suddenly, out of nowhere, came a small noise. This was not the usual noise that one hears when they are alone, but the one makes when they want to be seen. Penelope’s eyes darted up towards the noise. Though no one presented themselves, the noise came once more. Then again and again until finally Penelope stood. She crept towards the direction of it with excitement and anticipation. Not watching where she was going, she stepped on a piece of glass. Penelope howled with pain and stumbled back. There was now the noise of someone fleeing. Unable to chase after them, Penelope turned all attention to the large gash in her foot. It was hard to see the glass that had made a new home in there through the blood. She took a deep breath and thrust her dirty fingers into the wound. Unable to suppress it as she dug out the glass, she cried.

                Once the glass was happily out of her foot she wrapped it up with some bandages that she had managed to keep clean. Thankful that she had kept them on her in case of an emergency, she wrapped the wound just as gingerly as she had held the picture that morning. Once finished, she bundled up some wood for food and fire and slowly limped home, determined to search for the source of the noise tomorrow. Though she planned on returning “home” it was far from home. Penelope had set up some sticks against the corner of a crumbled concrete structure and hung a tarp over it. Beneath it was a pile of pillows and a cracked basin that was full of filthy water. It was a mansion compared to the state of everything around her. She searched for days trying to find a new home, but everything was in ruin. After a month of searching she ended up making camp here.

                After eating she decided to sleep the pain off. This did not help though, because she could not stop thinking of the noises. Once she found the source of the noises what would she do? Penelope tried to speak but found that it was hard after so many years of not talking to anyone. Perhaps they could not talk either. Perhaps they weren’t even a “they” at all. Perhaps it was an animal, in which case talking would not matter. Perhaps it was not friendly. Not wanting to think further into the possibility, Penelope tried once more to sleep. Again she found it useless because the pain in her foot was too much to bear. She dipped it into some water again and fell asleep at last. Dreams filled her head that afternoon and they were not pleasant. They were dreams of before the war, before everyone had been killed by the choking gasses.

 She woke from these to find that it was nighttime. She winced at the pain that still clung to her foot. Finding it hard to stand, she picked up a metal pole from nearby and used it to prop herself up. Penelope had developed a bit of night vision from spending her first few years under the dark cloud of dust that hung in the atmosphere after the war. Seeing was easy for her so she decided that tonight she would go back to the park and try to find the source of the noises. She was about half way there when she heard it. It was a sound that she had heard many times when her uncle had failed on a project. The cursing grew louder and was followed by the sound of stumbling. So it was another human, but the question still remained, if they were friendly. Penelope braced herself as a shadow emerged from beneath a tangle of dead vines. It was a girl, about her age, with long and tangled ginger hair. Her dress was in tatters and ill fitting. She looked at Penelope from under uncut bangs and smiled at her with yellowed teeth.

“Hello,” she said in a friendly voice, “who are you?”

Struggling, Penelope told her name to the stranger. She was cautious of the girl but still relieved that she was not alone. The girl said that she liked Penelope’s name and decided that her own name would be changed to Penn. Penelope wondered why she didn’t tell her real name to her, but decided that she only wanted to start over and change her name. Trying to speak and using many hand motions, Penelope asked why she hadn’t seen Penn for all these years.

 “Well I have been in the area, but I keep moving. I’ve been looking for a suitable home.” She answered.

Penelope nodded in understanding. Suddenly the pain in her foot began to shoot through her leg. She winced and Penn bent over to examine the foot. She removed the bandages and shook her head. Penn told her that it was infected. She asked why it wasn’t scabbing over or healing. Penelope knew the answer. She couldn’t make cells so the skin could not grow over. It would continue to stay an opened wound. Penn grabbed her under one arm and helped her over to a little pond. The water was dirty but not was dirty as the water from her basin.

“We need to wash this out. Judging by the dirt and dried blood on your fingers, you took the glass out without cleaning your fingers.”

Penelope was about to wonder how she knew it was from glass when the pain shot up her leg once more. Penelope gasped for breath in order not to scream. It hurt worse than anything she had ever felt. She looked down and discovered the reason why. She had noted that there were black spots covering the injection site days earlier. Now these spots covered that whole side of her body. This included the foot with the glass in it. This reminded her, how did Penn survive? How was she able to live for these past years, just like herself? She was just about to ask when Penn thrust her clean fingers into the wound, causing Penelope to black out from the pain. When she awoke Penn was gone. Still groggy from the black out, she decided to sit a little longer by the pond.

On her way back to her camp, Penelope noticed something on the wall of what was a cottage by her camp. It had some red writing all over it. She could only recognize the name Penn scrawled at the bottom. Not at all surprised that she had forgotten how to read, Penelope simply walked by it and went to her camp. She sat and ate in order to be occupied. She did not want to find Penn again, not right now. She ate until she was full and decided that she would sleep the few hours of the night left. She dusted off her pillows and pulled a blanket over herself. The blanket was torn in many places from so much use. She lay on the side that did not have the black spots and fell asleep.

She awoke what she thought was minutes later in a cold sweat. It was still dark out but she noticed that it was darker than before, not lighter. She had slept into the next night. Now there was the problem of the cold sweat. Penelope felt horrid. She looked around to find that she had thrown up several times in her sleep. Trying to stand was no good because she felt like she was going to fall back down. She called out for Penn who came by the fourth call.

“Look at you! What happened?” She looked Penelope over twice before she realized that Penelope was staring intently at her injured foot. Penn uncover it to find that it was as black as charcoal. It was infected and festering. Penelope gasped in pain and kept her eyes closed for fear of seeing what ailed her. Penn grabbed some Tylenol out of a pocket and gave it to Penelope. She then wet a pillow and lay it on Penelope’s forehead. This lulled her back to sleep. When Penelope woke up, Penn was again gone and her whole leg was nothing but a dull throb. She did not attempt to stand but simply called for Penn. This time, when Penn came over, she looked like a mess. She too was covered in vomit and looked as if she was about to faint.

 “Help me…” She whimpered. “Someone, anyone, help me. Uncle…”

And with those words Penelope picked up the pipe and threw it at Penn. She felt that Penn was mocking her and was furious. There was a loud crash as the mirror shattered. Penelope was confused. She stepped over to where Penn had been standing and found that it was no more than a mirror. She picked up a fragment with shaky hands and gasped. She had not looked in a mirror in quite some time and found that she looked like Penn. She threw the mirror away and realized something. She was Penn. Penelope ran back to where she first heard the noises and realized that the noises were made by some rusted objects rubbing against each other  in the wind. She ran to the pond and realized that Penn was her reflection in the pond. She sank to the ground and curled up into a ball. She was always alone and now the one thing that saved her, the cancelation of cell production, would kill her. Penelope lay there by the pond and felt the wound begin to rot and tear away at her body until one day, there was no one left alive on the battle field once called Earth.


© 2011 Amber Tasch

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Posted 10 Years Ago

This story is very interesting, it was very enjoyable to read. One of my only places for concern is here: "During the first few days of the war Penelope did not see her dear uncle. She worried for his health and hoped that the war would not hurt him like it had her father. This was a silly thought however because the war had not killed her father, grief had." This is one of the few places in the story that seems unnecessary. This is because you mentioned that "His sister had died of cancer, and the husband had died of grief." Honestly, the only thing you'd need to drop there would be: "because the war had not killed her father, grief had." Stating that the thought was silly is fine, it makes a good inference, but it seems unnecessary to me. That is my only qualm with the story, though, and I can't stress how much I enjoyed it. The world you created was believable, and the characters deceptively deep. Great story!

Posted 10 Years Ago

Amber Tasch

10 Years Ago

well it was more of the fact that it was such a breif mention before that it needed to be brought up.. read more
Awesome job with this story!!! I like the descrpition and detail! Keep it up :)

Posted 10 Years Ago

wow. very descriptive. keep writing!

Posted 11 Years Ago

wow love ti keep going !!!!:)

Posted 11 Years Ago

Really good! and ur gonna hit me, but i think it should be called Still Alive :) a few spelling errors but otherwise good!

Posted 11 Years Ago

This hooked me right away. Incredible job!

Posted 11 Years Ago

How interesting. That poor girl.
About the title, why don't you just google a generic title generator? That's normally what I do when i can't think of a title. Even if I don't take the title from there, it normally helps me think of one.

Posted 11 Years Ago

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8 Reviews
Added on July 21, 2011
Last Updated on July 25, 2011
Tags: preview, title, last, alive, destructio, end, of, the, earth, death


Amber Tasch
Amber Tasch

Not in one!, RI

i would rather draw but my friends wanted me to get one of these look me up at [email protected] more..


A Story by Amber Tasch

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