Plugs

David Kopaska-Merkel’s book of humorous noir fiction based on nursery rhymes, Nursery Rhyme Noir 978-09821068-3-9, is sold at the Genre Mall. Other new books include The zSimian Transcript (Cyberwizard Productions) and Brushfires (Sams Dot Publishing).

Jason Erik Lundberg‘s fiction is forthcoming from Subterranean Magazine and Polyphony 7.

Ken Brady’s latest story, “Walkers of the Deep Blue Sea and Sky” appears in the Exquisite Corpuscle anthology, edited by Jay Lake and Frank Wu.

Alex Dally MacFarlane’s story “The Devonshire Arms” is available online at Clarkesworld.

The End, Five Months Later

by Luc Reid

Every few weeks I checked the mail, because we didn’t use the shortwave, and who knows? There might be something some day.

And this time, there was something: a bible-sized envelope stuffed with pictures. George was in the garage, working on the backup generator, so I took them into the kitchen, poured myself a cup of coffee, and sat down to look them over.

They were just of people, with no explanations or labels except the date printed on each one. They were all recent pictures: everyone in them was still alive.

People in a walk-in freezer among hanging corpses of cows and pigs. People watching a movie. Half a dozen people having a dance in a ballroom the size of an airplane hangar. Someone waving from the cockpit of a twin-engine plane. People playing monopoly. People kissing. Children on a playground. A whole series of shots of people playing at a water park that apparently someone had started back up for the occasion.

Of the few tens of thousands of people left in the world, as far as I could tell, most wanted to join others and rebuild. George and I had kept to ourselves for years and years, and we liked our lonely house out at the end of a lonely road with our well water and George’s lonely job fixing cell phone towers. We hadn’t had neighbors or cable or an Internet connection before the End, so we didn’t miss them when they were gone: we just expanded my garden into a tiny vegetable farm, erected a small barn so we could start keeping goats, filled the basement with chest freezers, and hooked up two big generators that we powered from a gasoline delivery trucks we kept down the road at the turnaround, so we wouldn’t have to look at it every day.

George came in from the garage, looking grim and satisfied, and went straight to the refrigerator for a glass of lemonade. He noticed the photos as he was pouring.

“What’re those?” he said.

“People.”

“What do they want with us?”

I shrugged and pushed the photos toward him. “Everything, I guess. What do you think?”

He looked the top few photos over carefully, then flipped through the rest to see if they were the same kind of thing. Then he tossed the whole pile into the “to burn” garbage can. “We already have everything we need,” he said, and headed back out to the garage.

I went over to look at the tiny, flat faces shining on the glossy photo paper atop the “to burn” pile. For a long moment I scanned their faces, looking for reasons, for why this all happened, for any reason we had to all come together now that it was over, even if we didn’t want to.

I didn’t pick the pictures back up. Instead I turned and went back out into the corn patch to weed. Half an hour later, I think I’d forgotten about the pictures completely.

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2 Responses to “The End, Five Months Later”

  1. Jeff Swanson Says:

    August 30th, 2010 at 7:40 pm

    Nice work! Very affecting.

  2. Luc Reid Says:

    August 30th, 2010 at 11:37 pm

    Jeff, thanks much! Especially since before I wrote it I realized I’ve been writing a lot of lighter stuff lately and wanted to try for something with a little more weight.