One Hundred and Forty (Short Story)

One Hundred and Forty (Short Story)

A Story by Nicholas Duboe

So we are going through some troubling times. Things are pretty chaotic and sad but I like to write, so why not try to capture a feeling? Below is a kind of short story inspired by whats going on atm.


One Hundred and Forty

They told us to never go outside again and to stay in our homes where it’s safe. I’ve kept count and I’ve been home now for one hundred and thirty nine days. After the official order, most normal things in life continued. We stayed inside, we watched TV, we played board games and listened to music. Social media was comedic as it poked fun at our current situation. It was a form of care-free seriousness. We couldn’t bear to confront the ever-evolving changes that crashed like waves through our society.

After day seventy-four the TV stations stopped broadcasting. The radios stopped playing top 40 hits mixed in with pre-recorded commercials of hope. The buzz of social media came to an abrupt halt just hours after our power sources stopped keeping our lights on. Outlets were now just tiny holes in our walls, reminding us of the privileges we used to have. Then eventually the flow of water to our homes was cut as well when no one was left to maintain them.

… but the fear… people were afraid… stupid...

Some decided to finally venture out, my parents included after day eighty-six. I had to seal myself away in my room and was told not to come out again for three days. Enough time to kill whatever may be let in when the front door opens. My mother kissed me more times consecutively than ever before and my father’s embrace nearly cracked my spine. They left me in the hopes to bring back more and in the moments before they opened the front door I looked them both in their eyes and told them that I loved them very much and that I would really appreciate some toothpaste… Cinnamint if possible.

My Mom smiled and that made my Dad smile and knowing that made me smile.

So then I waited… and waited… and waited. I rationed the food I was able to keep and focused mostly on hydration. I watched the light shine through the boards on my windows and counted each day as it grew dark. I read every comic I owned and played Monopoly by myself using all the pieces but the top hat was my favorite. I sang to break the silence those same top 40 hits I used to make fun of for being stupid and generic but at that point just made me feel human again.

Then I finally opened my door…

I walked through our halls and into each room quietly searching for Mom and Dad. I felt like I was walking through a place frozen in time. The pictures were all hung the same, our smiles still intact, the furniture stuck in the same places my Mom had arranged them before and as little specks of dust flickered in the light that shined through boards I came to a conclusion… I was alone.

More days passed and I kept counting how many times it got dark. I looked through the cracks in the boards only to see an empty overgrown version of what my street used to be. I’d never seen grass grow so tall and all the weeds looked like bushes now. I wondered if my parents would emerge through them someday and I sang the same top 40 hits over and over and over again.

I watched the light recede one hundred and thirty nine times. My food rations ran out five days ago and the final drops of water from the very last gallon jug dripped off onto my tongue. My parents are dead. They have to be. They told us not to go outside. They knew that. They’re stupid. Why would they leave me? I think my father’s glasses were dark brown… or maybe they were they black?...

I think I’ve worn the same clothes now for eight days and I can’t even make it upstairs to my room anymore. The couch is fine though even though it has a few scratches in the leather. I can’t remember the lyrics to any of those top 40 hits anymore. I think my mom’s maiden name may have been Wilson… or was it Watson…

My eyes only open every so often as proof that I’m still alive. Every waking moment I try to relive life in my memories but they are all fleeting. I try to remember what it was like to go to the mall or have dinner with my family. My mind wanders and wavers from memory to memory. The school play. Breaking my wrist in the 4th grade… or was it 5th… damnit... Grandma and Grandpa’s funeral… they got sick before any of this began. I think the last time we visited them we left lilies… or was it peonies… I think Grandma would have appreciated either...

Hours are spent slipping in and out of consciousness playing home movies in my mind that I hope are still accurate. Specks flicker in the light shining through the boards we put on the windows and I start to feel its warmth fade. I think it’s August now… Summer’s almost over…

God, my brain is just pounding… Jesus make it stop!... no wait… I think that’s a noise. I open my eyes and I hear pounding coming from the front of the house. The door… I think I hear my name… Mom?... Dad?...

My body slowly rolls off the couch and I clumsily grovel to the wall. Using it, I brace myself up and stumble toward the door. Unlatching the multiple locks my Dad installed I can still hear the pounding and my name has turned into an ear ringing scream. Moving down the line of locks, I unbolt each one with more haste than the last. Upon the last one I swing open the front door and launch myself onto an empty porch. As the sun lowers toward the horizon all I can hear is the wind whipping through the grass I was supposed to mow months ago.

My body falls and crumbles down to its knees. Staring into the sunlight my eyes water with all the moisture I can muster. My mouth falls open and I whisper through dried and cracked lips, “Mom… Dad… is it… is this over yet… I wanna go back to school now… Can I?...”

Collapsing to the ground my chest hits the pavement and my face feels warm against the concrete. I think I’ll just lay here awhile.

As the sun falls behind the house across the street I close my eyes and try to remember the lyrics to a song I used to hear on the radio. It was stupid and generic but my Mom loved it. I think when I see her again I’ll try to sing for her… she always said I had a good voice.

I can't see the red in my eyelids anymore… it’s dark again.

One hundred and forty.

© 2020 Nicholas Duboe

Author's Note

Nicholas Duboe
Thanks for reading! I tried to correct as much as possible so let me know if you notice any mistakes. I would love your thoughts if possible. Much appreciated!

My Review

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This is a great way to have fun with this situation. I love how your story borders on realistic for our times, but you push things just a wee bit over the line with snarky exaggeration, so that we read this as a spoof on how people react & how they cope. "Toothpaste . . . cinnamint, if possible" -- this is how to say SO MUCH in so few words . . . we all know about supply chain problems, so there's no need to go into detail . . . this says it all. Can't remember mom's maiden name . . . another one of those brilliants ways to SHOW instead of tell how this miasma makes us stupid & we're forgetting what life used to be like. Love how you stretched this to include the power going out & everything else . . . you never know, it could get to that, but it's also a fun bit of exaggeration. I love how this narrator longs for life as it was & yet is also pretty accepting of his current state of BLAH, more evidence of how we flip-flop thru emotions & responses, not having any of our usual bearings. The only thing I felt was overdone is the paragraphs where he's opening many locks . . . (1) who cares if his dad installed them -- don't see how that contributes to your storyline . . . and (2) too repetitious in describing this scene . . . if you want the unlocking to go on & on, then instead of repeating the same words, use some made-up sound words to stretch it out. All in all, very fresh unexpected storytelling that transported me a gazillion miles from the hoards of whiny fomenting tirades being written & posted while people are indisposed! (((HUGS))) Fondly, Margie

Posted 1 Year Ago

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1 Review
Added on April 3, 2020
Last Updated on April 3, 2020
Tags: apocalyptic, short story, story, apocalypse, corona, covid19, outbreak, sickness, end of the world, stories


Nicholas Duboe
Nicholas Duboe

Denton, TX

Hello there, my name is Nicholas and I am currently 25 years old. I am a husband, a father and a son. I am also a poet and attempting novelist. I began writing years ago using Booksie, posting many po.. more..