On the Edge of Darkness - Act 1: If I Become But A Memory...

On the Edge of Darkness - Act 1: If I Become But A Memory...

A Story by Dr. Robert
"

An Anthrax in the Pantry short story. Enter the post apocalyptic world where the hardest struggle isn't staying alive but keeping your humanity.

"
INTRODUCTION

    “It is a fact that cannot be denied: the wickedness of others becomes our own wickedness because it kindles something evil in our own hearts.” A wiser man than I once said that but that was long ago, long before I was born, long before the world passed us by. How does one justify the wicked things we are forced to do to survive? First they called it desperation, now we call it life. We’ve all done wicked things, some ask for forgiveness, some write about it, some bury it deep in their hearts and some revel in it. We have fought for so long not to become what we all fear - heartless. We’re standing on the edge of darkness and for once I think we all realize that we gave each other the strength to pull through.

    If we become but a memory. Let it be a good one.


ACT I
IF I BECOME BUT A MEMORY...

Four months earlier...


    The cold wind that blew over the dark, choppy waters of the lake nipped at my face and neck as I held the tattered blanket around my body. Even with the rags around me and the small fire at my feet, the November winds had a way of cutting into me like the winters past. Besides me, Logan laid peacefully. Though his burly figure had begun to show the signs of starvation, the black pelt that clung faithfully to him was enough to shield him from the biting winds. If only I could be so lucky. My hands trembled as I reached down and picked up the warm tin can beside the fire and scooped at it with a weathered spoon. Though the beans once inside it had long been eaten, the sweet juice inside was the only thing that helped fight my aching stomach.
    “Here boy, enjoy,” I dropped the can next to Logan’s snout and with slow movements he moved to lap up the last of the juice. “God I wish I was as care free as you, Logan.” I smiled to him as my icy fingers ran over his neck and head. As I laid down on the cold sand, I let my mind wander to better days.
    I had found the dog three months earlier, outside of Youngstown, Ohio. I would have put a bullet in him but imagine my surprise when I realized he was a trained dog - a rarity you don’t see in this world anymore. I found the remains of his last owner hanging in the closet of an old two story house. Logan, as I named him, laid quietly at his feet. I guess even with a friend like Logan, the poor man couldn’t take it anymore. Logan was the closest thing I could call to a friend.
    That’s how everyone I’ve ran into felt. We carried the guilt of this ruined world on our shoulders. We might have been survivors but we were survivors without hope and so we all danced on the edge of a knife. I tried to take my life once, a week before I found Logan. The gun misfired. I don’t bother to think about that night anymore.
    The survivors I did find offered little more than an exchange of goods. Most were too skittish to stay and talk, let alone offer companionship. I know what they were thinking. We were all thinking it when we came in contact with others. This world had turned once good men and woman into monsters. Heartless animals that killed without regret or remorse. Whether it for a bottle of water or to strip the meat off your bones, one thing was certain - we did not want to become one of them. I would rather take my own life then lose myself like those monsters.
I wished I had awoken like the mornings before - the warm sun dancing over the lake and Logan nestled in the sand next to me. Not this morning though. I awoke to Logan barking and tugging eagerly at my coat. As I quickly sat up I realized it was still early morning, nearly dawn.
    “Shhhh. It’s ok boy. What is it?” I muttered as my hands stroked his pelt. That’s when I heard what Logan had been barking at - the roar of engines in the distance. Suddenly, the cold wind phased me no longer and I found myself scrambling to my feet. I quickly kicked dirt into the fire to smother it’s bright glow. How could I have been so stupid?! To me, engines meant only one thing - trouble.
    As the fire died out, I grabbed at Logan and pulled him close, trying my best to keep him quiet as my eyes darted to the old beach house and playground behind us. Beams of light pierced the darkness and I could hear rough, muffled voices in the distance. I quickly gathered my things up, shoving them into the old backpack that laid behind me. That was when the first beam of light hit me and Logan and my heart skipped a beat.

    

   To tell about the profanities that oozed from their mouths as they gave chase to me would be a waste of time. What would forever stick in my mind was the sound a bullet makes as it nearly hit its mark. It’s a sickening sound " a high pitched whizzing sound that could only mean one thing " death. I’ve been shot at before but that was the first time I heard that heinous noise. The sand by my feet had kicked up in a thin spray that peppered my face as Logan and I made our break towards the darkness of the woods.

   The reason I attribute the sound of engines to trouble was that in the recent months, the roads had become plagued with gangs of madmen. Like the rampaging Vikings of old, they took to the streets in machines of metal and gas in search of their next victim. These were the same people so many swore to not become. They were the monsters that haunted our waking hours. They were the worst part of each of us.

    Now in times of great stress, time does funny things. Once I read of a soldier in combat that watched expended shells float from his rifle, even to the extent of reading the lettering on the casings. For the most part I couldn’t tell you exactly what happened or even in the order it happened for I was in a place where time had no meaning. By the time my pace had slowed, I was utterly alone. Not a sound in the still of the morning…only my breath.

    That was when I felt the pain. It coursed through me like hot embers, pulsating and biting to my soul. Coupled with the sheer amount of crimson that ran down my side, I took a stuttered breath as I collapsed against the nearest tree. The world was spinning around me, doing cartwheels and back flips and at that moment I prayed. The bullet had torn clean through my left side. I assure you, I’m not a religious man. I didn’t pray for salvation. I prayed for my only friend, Logan.

    I remember the days of old, back to the movies I watched as kids. The fantastic heroes we wanted to be. Nor bullet or explosion was enough to put them down. These were the stories we grew to love; the lives we wanted to live. It was in that sheer moment that I saw the irony of it all. The real world has a terrible way of being cold and honest. I wasn’t going to simply stand and shrug this off. Not like the heroes I desperately wanted to be. This was the truth that flooded over me " I was going to die cold and alone. Perhaps then I would find peace.

    The morning rays had finally broken the tree line and still only silence. My body trembled as I struggled to stay awake.  Suddenly, the sound of my chaotic breathing was accompanied by a short, high pitched whine as well as the rustling of foliage from behind me. My heart broken when I saw the truth of the situation " Logan limped heavily around the tree and towards me. The b******s managed to tag him good through his flank. With a sullen gasp, tears fell as my only friend dropped down beside me, placing his dirty maw onto my thigh. There weren’t words to express the pain I felt right then. The pain of watching your world die before your eyes was far greater than any bullet.

   It was on a crumbled piece of paper I fished from my pocket that I scrawled these words in blood before darkness took me…

If I become but a memory…may it be a good one
       

© 2010 Dr. Robert


Author's Note

Dr. Robert
2nd Draft. I didnt like the original ending to this one and I opted to go for a more artsy ending. I re-read it outloud and fixed the mistakes I thought plagued it and I'm much more comfortable with this one one, especially the ending.

My Review

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Featured Review

Good first draft. The story is set-up well, visual, cerebral, emotional. It's all there. When working on each draft, read the story out loud, or record yourself reading it and play it back as you follow your written words. This accomplishes many things. First, it will show up any editing errors. Second it gives you a chance to examine the story's flow. Third, it helps you discover a "voice" or "style" to your writing. It's a great start, let's see more.

Posted 10 Years Ago


2 of 2 people found this review constructive.




Reviews

This is a really good piece dude. You have an excellent use visual and audio descriptions. The story is also dripping with emotion which is wonderful. You also have a great grasp on how to apply the stream of consciousness style of narration.

I agree with the previous reviewer that you should read it out loud to yourself. There are several spots where I got tripped up by wording. For example:

Had Logan given his life for me to get away? I would never see my best friend since that morning.


I might consider revising it to: Had Logan given his life for me to get away. After that morning I would never see my best friend again.

Or something similar.

There are a few spots where I would have liked a bit more description to an area, like when he got in the woods. Some physical descriptions may have helped draw me in more, however that is a personal preference issue I believe.




Posted 10 Years Ago


1 of 1 people found this review constructive.

Good first draft. The story is set-up well, visual, cerebral, emotional. It's all there. When working on each draft, read the story out loud, or record yourself reading it and play it back as you follow your written words. This accomplishes many things. First, it will show up any editing errors. Second it gives you a chance to examine the story's flow. Third, it helps you discover a "voice" or "style" to your writing. It's a great start, let's see more.

Posted 10 Years Ago


2 of 2 people found this review constructive.


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Added on December 11, 2010
Last Updated on December 13, 2010
Tags: Post-Apocalyptic, Short Story, Anthrax in the Pantry, post apoc, fiction, fantasy, sci fi

Author

Dr. Robert
Dr. Robert

Kalamazoo, MI



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