Us

March 9, 2012 at 4:48 pm (Short Stories)

This is in response to Chuck Wendig’s flash fiction challenge “Song Shuffle part 2” It can be found here.

Us

We made a statue of us. It wasn’t much but it was something. Mostly we just piled up old trash cans and various litter and taped and hammered it into an edifice vaguely resembling a human shape. We needed something to lift our spirits and tell us that we were somebody too, and that helped. We could look up at our statue and tell ourselves that someone loved us, that someone looked up to us, even if that someone was us. We admired that image of ourselves sparkling in the bright sunshine of the salt flats and if we could squinted hard enough we could imagine that the mop bucket head on the statue bore our likeness and that everyone else around us could see the same thing.

We’d been sent away when we’d gotten sick, out here in the heat and the desert. We’d been given blankets and shelters and some awful food that most of us ignored. It was hot and barren but with the fevers most of us had we didn’t notice the heat too much. They had talked about putting us down, relieving us of our misery, but an uproar went up. The “Sick Not Dead” campaign swept the country through text message, Facebook and twitter and the law makers swayed to the demands of their constituents. So we were relegated to a place that no one would be likely to catch the disease. It was silly, really, it wasn’t even spread through the air. We didn’t think it was at least, and the Sick Not Dead people made that case too, to little result.

                Most of polite society wouldn’t have anything to do with us. We couldn’t blame them.  Most of us were the same before we got sick. We’d heard horror stories of the tremors that shook your body, the slow aching gnawing of hunger that couldn’t be satisfied as your body devoured itself, the slow rot of mind and flesh. Those things all happened and it wasn’t something we would wish on anyone. It wasn’t all bad though, you got to be surprisingly good at smelling things. We just figured our bodies were trying to make up for all the other horrors they were inflicting on us.

                Sometimes people tried to come see what our encampment was all about. Some enterprising fools or drunken college kids would sneak out to the salt flats and look to see the city of the diseased. Late at night they would come, so we couldn’t see, and point and laugh and joke. They forgot about one thing. Even though our city was made of cardboard and garbage and scrap wood and tarps we shared one thing in common with New York City, our city never slept either. At night we couldn’t see them any better than they could see us, but we could smell them. It was surprising, that even with the shakes that wracked our bodies, how many college students could walk right past five or six of us sitting in the shadows. That was when the hunger was at its worst and that was when the population of our city would grow by a few more the next day.

They named a city after us. It was called Necropolis. The city of the dead. A living cemetery. It was kind of fitting really. 

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2 Comments

  1. edrevets said,

    ah, apocalyptic/post-apocalyptic fiction. refreshing.

  2. Louise Sorensen said,

    Great story! I could see it perfectly.

Go ahead, make my day.

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