Friday, July 7, 2023

2 Minutes. Go!

When he wakes up, he takes stock. Not of what he has, but of what he has lost. He imagines a tail waving behind him like a kite, pulling wayward possessions, old epiphanies, and even misplaced relationships - a billowing train for an abandoned bride; it follows him everywhere. 

There is a certain uneasiness when he realizes he has lost so much that he can no longer calculate the losses. His memory isn't strong enough. The most recent indignation takes priority. The tail is always shedding its hide, but it always feels the same to him.

He asks questions. He expects answers, but how can you tell a man that is barely holding on that there is no point to it. Nothing lost matters. Man, he's hanging on by fingertips as it is. 

It is what it is. One more desperate human doing desperate human things. Smile as you walk past, or avert your eyes. Don't look too close, or you might turn your stock-taking inward.

And who wants that?


  1. Count the wins before you tally the losses.


    The trees were slowly dying, their leaves falling as though it was already autumn. There weren't any birds nesting in their branches and none flying in the skies. Our country was sliding into its grave.

    There’d been hardly any warning. One day it had been business as usual. And then the next it was World War III.

    There’d been decades of unrest in what had been Russia, the addled, malevolent Bear snapping at the threats it had perceived, both real and imaginary. There'd been posturing and infighting within the upper ranks, the cocksure and the intimidated watching one another, the upcoming and the established seeking a new balance. And on the front lines the innocents were dying, dragged into a war nobody wanted.

    Until someone loosed off a nuclear missile. That was all it had taken to light the fuse.

    In the fifties, it would have over in seconds. Back then, there’d been little finesse; their payloads measured in kilotons instead of the megatons now available. And yet, the one deployed in February had been a small one, a tactical device used to destroy selectively instead of obliterating a country.

    But as always, it was the reaction that produced the telling blow.
    The Hudsons lived near Harrogate, midway between the country’s capital and the submarine bases hidden in the Scottish lochs. The fallout and the destruction here had been localised; there were plains of glass scoured free of life in London, Portsmouth, and in the Midlands, the head of the nation blown clean from its shoulders and its body mortally wounded. Everywhere else, our demise was less dramatic, the rural counties slipping into a terminal decline they’d not recover from, their infrastructure shattered, and their lifeblood ebbing away as their fauna and flora continued to die.

    But still, our stiff upper lip persisted. There were worse things that could have happened, although it depended on your point of view.

    “The Militia are rising,” Evelyn said, opening a can from the limited stock we’d managed to squirrel away. It had been dented, but had retained its integrity, the peaches it contained a surprise to us all, its label missing, and its outer metal unmarked other than from the rust it had accumulated since the nuclear attacks that had brought us into the War.

    “It’s to be expected,” said Henry, helping himself to a slice, letting it rest in the mismatched dish he had before him. It was a meagre treat, but more than most had, looting rife in the towns that still stood.

    “I wonder how long we’ll all have,” Evelyn mused, her skin already beginning to flake away. “Maybe we need to reconsider our options; before it gets too late.”

    Henry had had a habit. A few years ago, he’d enjoyed recreational drugs, his stash fluctuating depending on his mood and the availability of his favourite products. And then the world had banana crazy, and he’d wavered, not knowing when he’d get more.

    Maybe it was time to fall off the wagon one last time and not worry about anything again.

    1. JD here, this is super powerful. A dystopia that doesn't sound at all farfetched which makes it all the more chilling. This is a nightmare scenario. The even storytelling makes it like fiberglass insulation. Gets right under the skin.


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