©2022 Michael Raven
Today’s bit of flash fiction is me trying to “unclog the pores” of my creative mind. While I had intended to follow through and take Anne up on her prompt/challenge to freewrite for ten minutes at some point in the week (easy enough), I had originally thought I’d keep in mind the novel I was working on while doing so. But, for whatever reason, I can’t seem to make words work for that project in spite of having great brainstorming sessions with myself, and I was pulling my hair out this afternoon about it, when I recalled her prompt.
Well, sometime the best remedy for a writing block is to forget about what’s blocking you and write something else, something entirely different. And so, I sat down with a timer on my smartphone and started writing for ten minutes with little or no consideration as to what I would write about during that time. What you read after this too-long introduction is the result.
A couple of confessions: I wrote for closer to eleven minutes to finish up my sentence. And then I spent another ten minutes or so cleaning up and editing the piece prior to smacking the publish button. I’m sure everyone will forgive me.
In case it wasn’t clear with recent posts, I am using more writing prompts to try and stretch out my creative muscles. I encourage the practice, as it helps you to think outside of your own head. Let me know if you do something similar as today’s effort.
The sun nearly blinded us as we crawled out of the hole, blinking at the brightness of the outside after several days in near total darkness. The three of us smelled none too good after crawling around in water and whatever else floated in and thickened the sludge we trod through in the the tunnels wending labyrinthine through the underbelly of the city above. I might have feared it carried raw sewage, but there were hardly enough people left in the remains of the city to justify the amount of whatever we crawled through after all these years since the war. And I tried hard not to think of worse things than sewage that we might have encountered if we’d taken the wrong turn and encountered the wrong denizen making its home below. A little whiff of stench was worth emerging alive and intact.
It could have been anything living down there these days, including something we had yet to imagine as a potential horror: The virus had done more than outright kill people when it was unleashed upon us in that madman’s one-sided war.
Plenty of people died, sure, most of them in the same breath as while complaining that biological weapons were against the Geneva convention, and an obvious, explicit war-crime. The rest of us quickly stopped worrying about that Pandora’s box being opened and donned whatever respirators we carried. Not those commonplace leftovers that everyone had a shit-ton of during the coronavirus pandemic that never quite became the endemic virus that everyone kept imagining it would, should have, become. Some of us had see the designs of the newest insane leader well ahead of time, heard about his fascination with airborne disease (and his absolute shriek-inducing germophobia; yes, he was caught on camera screaming) and we guessed quite correctly that respirators were something that we should maybe keep on hand. Just in case, you know.
Thank god the first wave of casualties included the idiot who had unleashed this upon us, thinking he could increase his popularity by “saving the day from the new coronavirus”.
Those people and things that weren’t killed outright sometimes… changed. That’s the only way I can describe it. Never for the better. And always… always… hungry.
And I heard noises in those disused sewers while we flailed about in the darkness. And I prayed as hard as I could that we never found out what those noises belonged to. You ask me, I think prayer was what got to the outside.