Everlasting

Submitted for Contest #60 in response to: Write a post-apocalyptic romance.... view prompt

46 comments

Sep 19, 2020

Drama Fantasy Romance

       James clawed his way out of the hole, grabbing at bits of crumbling earth. Barren trees creaked overhead, their boughs bending and twisting like his rigid joints. The sky was empty, no clouds, not even a bird. Silence covered the cemetery like a blanket.

           He emerged, brushing himself off. Dust billowed from his tattered clothing. He reached into his front pocket and brought the letter to the place where his nose used to be, remembering she always sprayed her letters with perfume. He fingered the decaying edges and looked up at the stars. Expressionless. He had kept the letter for what seemed like eons, it was the last letter she had ever written him. “We are not two halves, for our love makes us whole. Ours is a love that will transcend time. Yours from now until eternity, Clara.” Half walking, half dragging he made his way out of the cemetery.

           His shredded grey clothing matched his sallow skin. He dragged one foot behind him, its leather shoe ripping at the seams, as he made his way through the abandoned town. A single stoplight blinked to direct the nonexistent traffic. Wind howled through the abandoned buildings and empty stores, their shutters swaying back and forth. The houses were ready to give way at any moment, like his fragile bones. Weeds grew wild in the front yards, covering the front doors. He walked until the road came to the rocky shore. The waves crashed and seagulls swarmed above him. Swooping down to grab bits of his macerated flesh as it peeled away from his bones.

           He let out a low growl as he walked. Bits of his scalp were missing, as well as pieces of his hamstring, exposing his femur. He came upon an old harbor, and found a small motorboat roped to an abandoned dock. He climbed aboard and motored his way to the island in the distance, the barnacled bow leading the way. The salty brine had rotted the hull from years of neglect. Rust covered every metal surface like a disease. But the tinny engine still chugged its way across the water, leaving billows of black smoke behind it. The vessel bobbed up and down on the crested white peaks. The ocean breeze blew salt to the place where his lips had been. He pulled his hood up over his decaying ears.

           He pulled up to an empty dock and stepped onto the broken wooden planks. One of his eyes had been gauged out, but he could still make out the high-rise building and spires in the distance. Past the empty mosques, churches and temples, past the once full stadiums and theatres. The city was now devoid of all warmth, like visiting an ancient civilization. Or like his own body. The colorful city now muted tones, no pinks, reds or oranges. Bikes stood in bike racks, chains clanging. Abandoned cars and taxis were left on the road, doors still open. The fumes and car exhaust were now over taken by the smell of unrefrigerated meat. Some storefronts were boarded up and others were smashed in.

           Litter blew like tumbleweeds through streets. The silence so deafening he would have been able to hear his heart beat, if he had one.

          Grates puffed up steam, a rotting stench permeated. There was an occasional lost soul running towards him for help until they came too close. Wincing, they would run away screaming, sometimes becoming visibly ill.

           He made his way through the city, shuffling along until he came to a train track. He followed the track into the night, lampposts lighting the way. He went up through the mountains and through the dense forest. He was getting close now. He kneeled at the river edge and scoped a handful of water into his mouth, but the water escaped through the hole in his cheek.

           He walked until he came to the familiar town. The road barely discernable from the fields of yellow grass. Deserted homes lined the street, doors left open, the inhabitants lost. He went to the old hardware store on the corner, he climbed over the broken glass and left with a shovel, dragging it behind him.

           He pushed the gate open with a slow creak. He walked past rows and rows of crumbling stones until he came to her stone under the leafless oak. The engraved words weathered by years of seasons. He began to dig, their wind chime coming alive overhead. He had hung it the day of her funeral. It had been a wedding gift. She loved watching the birds, listening to its sweet tintinnabulation.

           He had been digging for hours before he hit it. He brushed the dirt off the rotting cherrywood and opened the casket. The polished sheen and shiny gold handles were now dull, the faux silk lining brown and raggedy. But there she lay, beautiful as ever. Her now lipless mouth hung open, insects burrowing in and out. Maggots nestled feverishly in the gaping holes of her torso. He climbed in and lay down next to her. His dog tags still hung from her cervical spine. She had been his only motivation during the war, he had wanted her buried with them. They belonged to her, as did he.

Clara smiled and caressed his cheek, a layer of skin peeling off in her hand. He smiled and the earth welcomed him back home. Finally they could rest. 

You must sign up or log in to submit a comment.

46 comments

Thom Brodkin
16:51 Oct 02, 2020

I've been meaning to come back to this story and tell you I read the winning story for this week and yours was better by far. It's one of the best I've seen on this site in the two plus months I've been writing. Just had to tell you that.

Reply

17:19 Oct 02, 2020

Well that’s better than winning any contest anyway. Thank you Thom so very much !

Reply

Show 0 replies
Show 1 reply
Thom Brodkin
18:12 Sep 26, 2020

How is this story possible? How can you make the undead so tragically beautiful? Only a beautiful heart, a talented mind and a dedicated writer could create this masterpiece. I absolutely think this is a weekly winner. Fantastic job, again.

Reply

18:53 Sep 26, 2020

Thanks Thom.That is so nice. That's better than winning any contest right there. You made my day

Reply

Show 0 replies
Show 1 reply
D. Jaymz
02:19 Sep 23, 2020

A great story that was well-written. Tenderly creative with a macabre slant. Your descriptive words colored the story, giving it a life of its own 👏 Keep up the great work 😊

Reply

02:28 Sep 23, 2020

Thank you D Jaymz! That means so much coming from a writer like you

Reply

D. Jaymz
02:30 Sep 23, 2020

You're welcome 😊

Reply

Show 0 replies
Show 1 reply
Show 1 reply
Kristin Neubauer
12:34 Sep 22, 2020

Stunning, Sarah....that last sentence left me with chills. My heart broke for the poor zombie as he searched for Clara. There were so many incredible lines in your story that I can't pick just one. I really admire how you managed to tell so much much in so few words. I wish I could do that. Truly amazing.

Reply

02:33 Sep 23, 2020

Thank you for your kind words Kristin. That means so much coming from an excellent writer like you

Reply

Show 0 replies
Show 1 reply
Charles Stucker
00:01 Oct 06, 2020

"The houses were ready to give way at any moment, like his fragile bones." sometimes simile works better with a reverse order. Here teh protagonist is the main point, so " Like his fragile bones, the houses were ready to give way at any moment." might carry a different impact. But the tinny engine - tinny or tiny? I can see both words fitting... The fumes and car exhaust were now over taken by the smell of unrefrigerated meat- so it has been just a few days/couple of weeks? It does not take long for meat to reduce to a smear and little...

Reply

02:24 Oct 06, 2020

Thank you Charles! I did mean tinny. And not everyone died at once, hence the ongoing rotting smell. And It ‘Addams’ not Adams 😁

Reply

Show 0 replies
Show 1 reply
K. Antonio
20:49 Sep 29, 2020

I just loved how the main character's a zombie and that there was a romantic side to the tale. The plot and the ending were great and I really enjoyed reading it. I like how you made the prompt your own and roped in the emotional side to it. Your "undead" descriptions... NICE!

Reply

00:44 Sep 30, 2020

Thank you so much K. I had a hard time with this week prompt but I appreciate you taking the time to read and comment

Reply

Show 0 replies
Show 1 reply
Jessie Nice
08:37 Sep 29, 2020

The descriptions of the scenery in this story are incredible - I really felt the desolate, apocalyptic emptiness . Wonderfully written and a lovely ending. I am glad they are together again :)

Reply

18:03 Sep 29, 2020

Thank you, Jessie!

Reply

Show 0 replies
Show 1 reply
Chris Stewart
01:41 Sep 29, 2020

Sarah - loved this story. Clear, building momentum as he made his way to his love. Cool imagery and fun to make us like the zombie. Found myself wondering why they didn't get up and go somewhere together, but it was kinda nice to see them rest together and Clara's smile made it welcoming. Very well done. It interestingly had a lot of the same images as the one I did (including initial lines with missing appendages..), although mine was meant to have more humor, if you want to take a gander. Great work.

Reply

02:14 Sep 29, 2020

Thanks Chris! I had a hard time with this weeks prompts. It's hard to write about zombies without zombie cliches. And yes I'll be over there soon to read

Reply

Chris Stewart
02:22 Sep 29, 2020

Thanks. Yeah, I am with you. Not my favorite type of material, but that made it a challenge for sure!

Reply

Show 0 replies
Show 1 reply
Show 1 reply
Pamela Abwao
19:14 Sep 26, 2020

Tintinnabulation WOW! A big vocabulary words for me

Reply

Show 0 replies
Jonathan Blaauw
08:03 Sep 26, 2020

Holy moly! This got me thinking of one of my favorite books – The Road. There was also a movie, but it was rubbish compared. For me, that’s the ultimate post-apocalyptic tale, so the fact that your story, very different but with a similar overall feel, reminded me of that shows how well you captured the atmosphere. I really enjoy your diversity, you go to many different places in stories and it means we never know what to expect next. Keep doing that. I also like reading your stuff a lot because I think we’re on similar levels in our writin...

Reply

Jonathan Blaauw
09:22 Sep 26, 2020

Forgot the hitchhiking bit, sorry. Here: 👍👍👍👍👍👍👍👍👍👍👍👍👍👍👍👍👍👍👍☠👍👍👍👍👍👍👍👍👍

Reply

10:12 Sep 26, 2020

Jonathon I’ve been worried sick! There you are thank goodness. Welcome back 😁

Reply

Show 0 replies
Show 1 reply
Show 1 reply
Laura Clark
13:54 Sep 22, 2020

So I made the mistake of sitting down with a cup of tea and a slice of cake to read this. The cake was pushed to the side quite quickly. This was hauntingly beautiful. The contrast between his rotting, decayed form and the love he had for his wife emphasised both. The descriptions were visceral and disturbing, which gave the story the perfect horror feel that you need from a zombie tale. Couple of quick and easy fixes: It was the last letter she ever wrote him. - she had ever written one if his eyes - of But he knew where to go, ...

Reply

02:31 Sep 23, 2020

I want cake! Lol sorry for ruining your breakfast Laura. Thank you for all your wonderful input per usual!! Tintinnabulation- I challenge to use that word in a sentence today. Go.

Reply

Laura Clark
07:14 Sep 23, 2020

I love that you think I have cake for breakfast but sadly it was a mid-afternoon treat. I’m going to introduce tintinnabulation to my class today and see if I can get them to use it in a story.

Reply

07:28 Sep 23, 2020

Excellent!

Reply

Show 0 replies
Show 1 reply
Show 1 reply
Show 1 reply
Corey Melin
02:55 Sep 21, 2020

Quite the macabre tale. I loved it as the dead seeks out his love to unite. Romantic. You have succeeded in tje romance/horror.

Reply

03:21 Sep 23, 2020

Thanks Corey!

Reply

Show 0 replies
Show 1 reply
Sadie Black
15:27 Sep 20, 2020

This was unexpectedly tender. Thanks for sharing - and for teaching me the word "tintinnabulation"!

Reply

18:13 Sep 20, 2020

Thank you, Sadie! I want you to use tintinnabulation in a sentence today

Reply

Sadie Black
19:07 Sep 20, 2020

Challenge accepted! I'll find a place for it in my next submission.

Reply

Show 0 replies
Show 1 reply
Show 1 reply
A.g. Scott
08:00 Sep 20, 2020

Awww. “James clawed his way out of the whole, grabbing at bits of earth as his fingertips crumbled beneath him.” – This is a really intriguing image to start with, but if I were to nitpick, I’d say that using the word ‘crumble’ to describe the decay of the fingers is a little bit confusing because it’s a verb often associated with ‘earth,’ which appears in the same sentence. I had to reread to make sure it wasn’t a mistake. Furthermore, if he’s clawing up, his fingertips wouldn’t be “beneath him.” But that’s me going too deep. “Barren ...

Reply

11:33 Sep 20, 2020

Thank you A.g. Ugh i have such a problem with fragments! Thanks for your help. I'll do some editing! Appreciate you

Reply

Show 0 replies
Show 1 reply
Aveena Bordeaux
03:09 Sep 20, 2020

Wow, these descriptions were super vivid I felt like I was right there trudging along with James through the abandoned town. You nailed the sensory details in this. I loved the entire story! Phenomenal.

Reply

11:39 Sep 20, 2020

Thank you Joy!

Reply

Show 0 replies
Show 1 reply
James Offenha
01:42 Oct 01, 2020

I loved your descriptions in this story. You also did a great job of using similes. I’d recommend developing this characters more so we understand how what the characters want is affected by their environment. Great job!!!

Reply

11:47 Oct 01, 2020

That’s great advice James thanks. I’ll tinker with it.

Reply

Show 0 replies
Show 1 reply
Gip Roberts
20:00 Sep 30, 2020

That was the sweetest gory story ever. Very apocalyptic and very emotion-heavy.

Reply

Show 0 replies
Lb Rinker
15:12 Sep 29, 2020

I love the ending! The perfect balance of sweet and creepy!

Reply

Show 0 replies
Pamela Abwao
19:11 Sep 26, 2020

You are creative so much that you beautify death and a rotting corpse. Giving life to the dead should l say?

Reply

23:25 Sep 26, 2020

Thank you so much Pamela!

Reply

Show 0 replies
Show 1 reply
Keerththan 😀
02:45 Sep 25, 2020

The ending is sooo touching(creepy too) You have got the most amazing descriptions. The details you gave were wonderful and I could imagine the whole thing. Amazing story. Keep writing. Waiting for your next.... Would you mind reading my new one too?

Reply

Show 0 replies