All the Stars Don't Live Here, Anymore

Submitted into Contest #90 in response to: Set your story in a world living with the consequences of a climate apocalypse.... view prompt


Fantasy Fiction Sad

The train heads north and Minnie loses her grip on the handle, her whole body slams into the people in front of her. Coming in close contact with other people has always repelled her and she has to fight to keep her face from scrunching in disgust. She pulls out a wet wipe and sticks it under her nose. The carriage is full, and the heat mixed in with a strange musky scent causes bile to rise up in her throat. Her eyes trail left and right hoping to see a window open. Her heart sinks. They are trapped, just like they have been for 365 days. On a train going nowhere. On a train without promise.

The train does not stray from the course, but all the same, Minnie never drops her wet wipe from her nose as she carefully weaves through the bodies to a seat in the back.

Another sniff, another cough, and Minnie sinks her head down and whimpers.

She looks up when the intercom makes a clicking sound. Static fills the carriage, followed by a dull voice.

“Welcome to 365 days in Apocalypse Living, a train journey that you asked for and now you are stuck with. 365 days of riding through a land that has been destroyed by the apocalypse. Our journey destination time is forever. But do not despair, the scenery outside is a lovely, gruesome sight. If you are looking for beautiful trees, there are no beautiful trees, if you are looking for the sun, we hate it so we had it put down, and if you are looking for the stars to wish upon, fat chance. Our first stop is The Ruins, and it will take place in 45 minutes, followed by a picture simulated tour, called Where All the Bears, and so much more. You can of course disembark the train at any point, but know that it might leave without you as we wish to decrease the population”.

The voice clicks off with an unenthusiastic Yoohoo!

Minnie looks down at her hands, which are slightly trembling.

I am being punished. She thinks and with her eyes closed, she leans against the window.

“Mom, look at that bird!”

It was the summer of 2002. The sun was relentless, casting a heavy and hot curtain over the beach. Minnie was in the shallow part of the sea, and she had never seen such clear water before. 

The bird was on its back; its blue-green wings turned up to flight position.

 It’s a sign of distress, Minnie thought as she hovered over it; her shadow providing shade from the scorching sun. But it didn’t matter anymore. The bird was dead.

“Oh, Minnie, this is what happens when little birds are left without their mothers. But don’t you worry, my princess”. She felt her mother’s lips brush the top of her head. “I’ll never leave you”.

With her head lowered, Minnie grimaces at the word. The word Princess gives her images of golden cages. But birds do not belong in cages. They are born free. All animals are.

Now she is 12 years old, and she leaning on the balcony’s railing. The view is of the sea and if Minnie squints against the early golden sun she can see small dark shapes on the surface of the sea.

“I can’t swim. The sea is full of fish. They’re dead”.

The train stops abruptly. Minnie’s whole body lurches upright from her seat. There is a deafening silence in the carriage, which is interrupted by the crackling of the intercom, only this time the voice leaves Minnie’s skin prickled by goosebumps.

“Welcome to The Ruins”.

The Ruins was once a village. All signs of life are gone, and what is left is covered by moss, long weeds, decay and sadness. The putrid yellow sky has rejected all of its stars. What did the mysterious voice on the intercom say: If you are looking for the stars, fat chance.

Something moves in the distance, a big dark mass. Then she sees another mass. They join together and start thundering towards Minnie. She takes a step back, and then another until she feels her shoulder brushing up against a hand. Her whole body jolts. Ready to fight or ready for flight!

Memories, nostalgic, distant, cloud her memory as the train takes off again and the dark masses in the window are looking at her with their red eyes. Machines.

16 years old, becoming a volunteer for a local nature preservation team

Her stepmother wading through plastic in the sea

The sky outside the moving train changes color from acidic yellow to a dull grey. The landscape changes, reminding her of a documentary she saw when she was 14, of Antarctica, and polar bears.

Only the ice is almost gone; replaced by drifting slabs on a sea that have turned dark because of oil spillage.

“Welcome to this stark landscape, which once upon a time, was home to polar bears, but we hated that they were wild and free so we got rid of them by ruining their homes, and now nothing swims here”. 

Minnie shivers as the voice becomes a whisper, tinged with menace before it clicks off again.

“Only death lives here now”.

Dead seals bob in the water. Minnie gulps down a lump in her throat as the train gains speed again.

A cough steals the horrible, stunned silence from inside the carriage. Followed by a scream. Minnie jumps, bodies slam against each other once again, as they all push against the window on the right side of the carriage to see what brought on the scream.

Machines tall like skyscrapers with their giant metal clamps dig in the soil. It is a macabre image, one that brings tears to her eyes, and she remembers Mother Nature and the promise not kept.

The scenery changes and Minnie can hear the sea. But instead of beach, waves, and rocks, there is just darkness.

It’s like a big dark canvas.

The doors of the train swing open again and they step outside. With every step, Minnie hears a squelching sound like after rain. Darkness is all around her. She feels like she can’t breathe in this claustrophobic cloak, as her hand flies to her throat. Blindly, Minnie takes a few steps. After a few steps, she stands still and raises her hands in front of her, and then proceeds to pull them back to look at her fingertips.

No stars! She wants to run back and yell. But the train has gone. It is a distant and passing light in the ever-growing gloom.

What did we do to the stars!

April 22, 2021 16:29

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Mohamed Sarfan
17:52 Jun 17, 2021

Dear Writer, The character movement makes me imagine being in another universe from here. Recovering old memories for a minute and re-entering new moments is like the magic game of a clock that can discover countless secrets within this story. When I look at my face today in a mirror it is a magical feeling to see the withered face that is going to come in the future. My heartfelt compliments to the writer who made the reader emotionally travel in a great storyline. Write more Congratulations


Metaxia Tzimouli
09:27 Jun 18, 2021

I am the writer and I enjoyed writing it. Thank you for your kind words!


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15:25 Apr 26, 2021

Powerful, engaging story. The plot was creative. You imbued emotion into her thoughts and memories about the old world, and this made the story better. Keep it up.


Metaxia Tzimouli
09:29 Apr 27, 2021

Thank you for your kind and constructive feedback!


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