#FridayFlash: The future’s not bright

The Future’s not Bright

Sometimes I wonder what it was like before.

I sit and stare, and my mind will drift. I can paint greenery over the skeletal trees, fill them in with leaves. My mind’s canvas plasters a rich jade color over the dry yellow straw in the fields. The sky’s the hardest. There are so many different pictures to choose from. Some are cerulean, others a more cadet blue. Wispy clouds drifting on gentle zephyrs cast shadows over children on their backs forming imaginary animals and shapes from their amorphous forms.

Sometimes I wonder.

For the most part though, I don’t participate in those flights of fancy. Instead I pace along the transparent wall, and watch them when they come. I know the pus-buckets can’t see through the mirrored surface outside — and I wonder how many lives it took to install — but it’s still unnerving when they put their faces so close.

Faces … ha! That’s a laugh. Those pus-riddled, worm-infested compost piles they stare out of make me sick. It’s even more disgusting when they open their mouths and show those white pustules oozing yellow slime and filled with rotted, broken brown teeth and black flesh when they bite at their reflections. Nauseating. I remember eating in here once, leaning on the glass, when one of them slammed into the window, saw its reflection, and tried to bite. I got a good look at the inside of the mouth and vomited, right on the rich, hunter green carpet.

It’s not bad here. Pretty nice, really. The building is a squat dome connected to identical domes by arched causeways. It’s concrete and steel, but spacious and airy inside. The sleeping quarters … well, they’re for sleeping. An eight by five cubby hole situated with lots of other cubicles at the western end of the hive. You have about four feet of head room. You don’t spend time there unless you’re lying down. It always surprises me when someone leaves the hatch open and reads in there, or has a bunch of pictures hung over the bunk with gum tack. The piss-poor lights buzz and flicker too much for anything but finding the bunk. If I want to read or write a letter or stare at pictures, I’ll find a sitting area or a privacy booth.

Communication with other hives is sporadic at best. Most broadcasts run on a closed loop and play the same things until the machinery transmitting it fails. As fewer and fewer people know how to take care of these things, as fewer and fewer people are educated, learn how things work … well, the future’s not a bright place.

The smoke-choked sky gets to people after a while. Fires smoldering everywhere make the sky black and orange at night, a shade of dingy gray in the day. We’re too close to the ruins of a city for clean air, so it’s either wear SCOBA or stay inside. The suits are good for about three hours of air. Nobody knows how long it keeps the rads off. But that’s long enough to clear the zone and breathe air if you want. Of course, it’s a one-way trip if you do that. Once you’re past the desolation zone, the DZ, vegetation and maybe even some wildlife begin to appear, but you’d have no air left to make it back to the compound.

And who knows how many pus-buckets have found their way beyond the DZ.

Pus-buckets aren’t fast enough to catch animals. They might get an occasional rat or something, but that’s not their primary food source. We think — and it’s only a theory — they stick close to compounds like ours or to urban areas, where survivors might hide. They don’t have enough brains left to make traps or plan ambushes. Still, sheer numbers play in their favor. And they eat frickin’ anything — garbage, mostly, but stragglers too.

Nobody knew when the satellites started firing lasers the consequences would be so catastrophic. Anyone near a target could kiss it goodbye. The radiation cooked surface brain parts and left anyone not disintegrated a twitching blob of flesh.

Until the biologicals launched.

Microbes from the biologicals mutated. Laser radiation did something. Before anyone knew it we had a mess. A walking mess, made of those blobs of flesh reanimated and infecting people as they attacked.

That’s what Stella says anyway. She says her mom was there. I think it was more like her grandmother, but what do I know?

Water’s precious, and not easy to come by. We have a pump system connected to a big reservoir not far from here. It’s covered and underground so there’s no danger of contaminants, but the supply has to last … well, forever, I guess. We could filter water from a lake or something but it’d have to be a damned big one. Oh, and people would have to know how to connect our pump system to that lake, and how to operate and maintain the system. Good luck with that.

Not to mention going outside, in the DZ, to do the work. Amid the hiding, starving pus-buckets.

But last I heard water’s low. Real low. That reservoir’s been our only supply for … well, ever. Since Stella’s mom and that original crew managed to finish construction and come inside, seal the pus-buckets out. I guess they started the compound when they saw it coming, before the lasers went off. They didn’t know the compound would be in a hot bed for pus-buckets later. I guess they thought they were far enough from the city. Damned lasers, stronger than anyone guessed. Even the guys who built them.

Anyway, someone has to figure out how to get more water soon. We figure we have a year — maybe less — left.

No, the future’s not a bright place. Not a bright place at all.



All original content copyright 2010 J. Dane Tyler

9 thoughts on “#FridayFlash: The future’s not bright

  1. Brilliant! Love how we think the future is going to be bad and your characters living in the bad future think their future is going to get really bad (What happens after that?). I wonder for what group in the distant past that we have reached the point of their ‘future’ nightmare? Thanks for this.

    Thank you for the read and comment, Patience! I’m very glad you enjoyed it. I went to your blog and read your piece Pest Control and greatly enjoyed it! I loved the twist. But you must have disabled comments on it because I couldn’t tell you there how fun that story was to read. A great entry piece and I hope to see more of your work soon!

  2. Very good writing. I was in that hive, and the pus-buckets… ick.

    Excellent story.

    Gracie, thank you very much for taking time to read and comment on my story. I’m privileged! I appreciate the kind words. 🙂

  3. Well there JDT, you had me on cerulean or cadet blue sky choices and my grin dug right in to a fella who can call a zephyr a zephyr when it’s blowin’ in … but then … whew! You sure kicked in a lot of pus-buckets (which gets more fun to say each time one realizes your writing can carry past time and zones as we know them).

    Well, thank you Kate! I appreciate that. I’m glad you enjoyed the piece. 🙂

    Definitely a dark night when the future’s not bright and “in character” you paint that right, DarcKnyt. Man oh man, when those blobs of flesh get reanimated … I just run for cover. Thanks for scaring me, I think.

    I’m glad to know you had fun with it. It was my privilege to scare you. 🙂 Thank you for taking the time to read and comment. Much, much appreciated. 🙂

    ~ Absolutely*Kate

  4. Yes, germs always have the winning hand. A hive collective that is protecting itself from reanimated walking blobs, and only a year before there’s no water does point to a bleak future.

    Well, thank you Marisa! I’m glad you enjoyed it!

    You present this dystopia in quite a vivid way. Nicely done!

    I’m flattered. Thank you so much for making time to read and comment on my piece. I appreciate it. 🙂

  5. Nicely done!! Some pretty gag-worthy description in the third full paragraph, but in a good way. 🙂 Cool concept.

    Thanks, Vanessa! I’m glad you liked it and thank you for taking the time to read and comment. Much appreciated!

  6. It does seem rather grim, doesn’t it? Great story… I was really drawn in and eager to read more.
    [email protected]

    Thank you 2mara! I’m flattered and glad you enjoyed the piece. Thanks for stopping by and letting me know what you thought!

  7. Doomed teen angst. Awesome.

    Well, I didn’t intend to communicate teen angst but I’m certainly glad you enjoyed it, Ganymeder. Thank you for taking the time to read and comment.

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