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American Fiction Suspense

This story contains themes or mentions of physical violence, gore, or abuse.

Port Orford, Oregon

Spring 2040 (28 A.E.)

The winds batter the walls of the main house, causing them to rattle and jolt. Storms like these are never enjoyable, especially with Mona's fear of hurricanes and tornadoes. I often wonder how she managed to survive in the wilderness alone. Perhaps I've been too protective of her, though I've tried to provide only minimal comfort to help ease her fears of the world. After all, she's just fourteen and deserves some peace and security.

Sitting in the lighthouse's main cabin at our small dinner table, I struggle to find my way in the dark with only candles for light. It must be nearly ten at night, as Mona is already fast asleep. She finds solace in sleep, considering it a form of escape from the harsh realities of our world. In times of desperation, a good rest truly is a gift.

Arriving at the coast after weeks of travel on roads and through forests, we were both exhausted. Along the way, we encountered unfriendly individuals, desperate souls, and the general misery that pervades our world. Now, we take refuge here, enjoying a month of peace and solitude. No one else has ventured by since our arrival, and we've grown accustomed to the constant storms that batter the coast this time of year.

I've been fishing for food and setting traps for rabbits and squirrels to supplement our supplies. Lately, I've been considering the idea of setting up a small indoor farm. I found some tomato seeds in a packet and wonder if they'll grow in this environment. It's a hopeful thought, one that offers a glimpse of sustainability and stability in an otherwise uncertain world.

As the winds intensify, the walls of the house are pummeled even harder, and the rain turns to hail. Each icy pellet strikes the windows and roof with a resounding clunk, echoing through the empty rooms. Glancing toward Mona's room, I notice that the door is closed, and I can't help but worry that the hail will wake her from her slumber.

Suddenly, a flash of lightning illuminates the room, followed by a deafening clap of thunder that reverberates through the house. The storm's fury is on full display, and I can only hope that Mona sleeps soundly through it all, finding peace amidst the chaos raging outside.

With a sense of comfort, I retrieve my Bible and settle back in the chair against the sturdy table. Immersing myself in the words of the New Testament, I find solace in the life and teachings of Christ. Each passage brings a sense of peace amidst the tumultuous storm raging outside.

As the lightning flashes once more and the winds grow stronger, rattling the walls and causing the wood to creak, I remain undeterred. The rain beats down relentlessly upon the roof, yet within the confines of the cabin, I find refuge in the timeless wisdom of scripture, a beacon of hope amidst the darkness of the storm.

As I immerse myself in the pages of the Good Book, I hear the creak of Mona's door as she emerges from her sanctuary. Her bedroom, a haven of solitude where she often retreats for moments of introspection, prayer, or quiet contemplation. With a yawn and a stretch, she crosses the room to join me, her gaze fixed on the storm outside, a look of concern etched on her face.

I glance up from the pages of scripture to see her standing there, clad in her one pair of pajamas and old-world bunny slippers. Despite the chaos of the storm raging outside, her presence brings a sense of calm and reassurance, reminding me that even in the midst of uncertainty, we can find solace in each other's company.

"Hey kid, did the winds wake you?" I inquire as Mona takes a seat at the table.

"Yeah, I couldn't sleep with all of that noise," she replies, rubbing her eyes.

"This storm is bad," I remark, closing my Bible.

"What part were you at?" she asks, curious.

"Lazarus was just brought back from the dead," I respond.

"Can you tell God to calm down the rain?" Mona quips with a playful smile.

"I can try," I say, managing a smile of my own as I fold my hands and offer a silent prayer for calm and peace.

"What did he say?" Mona asks, her smile widening.

"Nothing yet," I chuckle, glancing out the window.

"Are we fishing tomorrow?" she queries.

"Of course. We need fish to eat; the traps are useless in this weather," I reply.

"I'm tired of squirrel soup anyway," she remarks with a grimace.

"Bah! Beats eating spare jerky, snails, and bloody mushrooms," I retort with a laugh.

"Why don't I go gather berries tomorrow?" Mona suggests.

"No, we need to fish," I insist.

Blowing a raspberry, Mona gets up and heads back to her room, leaving me alone with my thoughts and the raging storm outside.

She returns with her notepad, the one we found back in Idaho. Its pink cover bears her name written in bold letters. A diary of sorts, filled with stories of our adventures together. Mona is determined to release it in Denver, the Golden City. She fancies herself a writer or a modern-day castaway, chronicling our journey for others to read. I'm certain there'll be someone in Colorado who'll appreciate her tales.

As she scribbles away in her notepad, humming an old rock tune from the 1980s, her head bobs to the rhythm. I lean back in my chair and close my eyes, letting the sound of the storm outside wash over me. In my mind's eye, I picture myself on a sailboat, navigating the choppy seas. The wind whips through my hair, and the spray of the ocean kisses my skin, transporting me to a world of freedom and adventure.

"Hey Jim, wake up!" Mona's urgent voice jolts me awake.

Startled, I open my eyes to a distressing sight: two men, drenched from the rain, stand before me. One of them has a knife pressed against Mona's throat, and they both appear frantic and agitated. They speak rapidly to each other in what sounds like Italian, their faces obscured by masks.

My instincts kick in as I rise slowly, hands raised in surrender. I notice the glint of a pistol on the belt of the man not holding Mona hostage.

"What do you want?" I demand, my voice steady despite the adrenaline coursing through me.

"We want this cabin, the food you have stored in this cabin, and all of your goods!" The man on the right spoke with a thick accent, his knife pressing slightly against Mona's skin.

"Hey! Let's not hurt the girl!" I interject, my heart racing as I assess the situation.

"This cabin is ours! The food is ours!" The other man declares, his tone frantic and erratic.

As I take stock of the situation, I notice my knife lying on the kitchen counter next to the cutting board. It's a risky move, but I may need to act fast to protect Mona and myself.

In a swift motion, I dashed towards the counter on my left, grabbing the knife. As I turned around, I was met with a sudden punch to my face, the pain numbing. I pushed through it, focusing on the immediate threat.

Without hesitation, I lunged towards the more frantic man before he could draw his pistol. I stabbed him first in the side, then in the neck, blood spraying onto the floor. The scene was chaotic, but I had acted to protect Mona and myself.

The other man released Mona, his focus shifting to me as he prepared for a fight. Our eyes locked, his gaze darting between his fallen companion and me. Without a moment's hesitation, he bolted towards my room.

I chased after him, noting with anger that they had broken into the cabin through my window. Those bastards.

I return to Mona, who is staring at the lifeless body with wide, teary eyes. The once imposing man now lay still, his eyes frozen in a look of fear. Despite the lights being on, there was a palpable emptiness in the room.

I comfort Mona as she sobs, guiding her away from the grim scene. Leading her to her room, she sits on her bed, covering her eyes to shield herself from the sight.

Death is never easy; until it is. I feel numb about the situation, recognizing it as a matter of survival. It's a stark reminder of how things have changed, how the line between right and wrong has blurred.

It's as if I've become a stone, worn down by the harsh realities of this world until there's nothing left to feel.

"Listen, Mona. You need to stay alert, alright? We can't be sure if more of them will come looking to cause trouble," I tell her firmly amidst her tears. "You hear me, girl?"

"Okay, okay. I'll stay vigilant. I'll... help fix the window," she responds, wiping her eyes and trying to steady her breathing. It's tough for her, trapped in a world that offers little room for emotions beyond anger. I give her a nod of understanding.

"Are we still safe here?" she asks, her voice shaky with worry.

"I'm not sure. Just keep watch," I reply, before leaving the room to attend to the grim task of cleaning up the scene.

Facing the storm's fury, I drag the Italian man's body on the tarp behind me, making my way to the edge of the ocean cliff. The wind howls, the rain pelts down relentlessly. With each step, I fight against the elements, straining to push the body over the rocky precipice, into the unforgiving abyss below. I push and push, the wind and rain whipping against my flesh.

Exhausted and battered by the elements, I finally manage to push the Italian man's body off the cliff edge, watching it disappear into the churning sea below. As the rain continues to pour down and the wind howls around me, I let out a primal scream, a cry of frustration and desperation. Will the Lord ever heed our pleas again?

Dragging myself back to the cabin, I feel the cold rain soaking through my clothes, but I'm grateful for the life it brings to the surrounding plant life. It's a small comfort in this harsh world. The lighthouse stands tall, adorned with vines and leaves, a testament to nature reclaiming what was once man-made.

Stepping into the cabin, I'm greeted by the sight of the blood puddle where the man's body had lain. It's beginning to congeal, a grim reminder of the violence that had taken place. With a heavy heart, I set about the task of cleaning it up.

My hands ache from the work, and the smell of the blood makes me queasy. The water only makes it worse, and the sponge feels slimy in my grip. I grit my teeth and scrub harder, determined to clean up the mess before Mona sees it. With each scrub, the blood slowly fades away, but the mixture of water and blood is nauseating. I cover my mouth and nose with my shirt to block out the smell. I'm careful not to cut myself on the wooden floor, knowing the risk of infection from the blood.

"Jim?" Mona's voice interrupts my thoughts, and I glance up to see her holding a piece of plywood.

"I found this behind the stairs, in the little room underneath. I also found a cap gun," she says, placing the wood down and revealing a small plastic toy revolver.

"Huh. I used to have one of those as a kid," I reply, a distant memory resurfacing of playing with a similar toy in the woods behind my childhood home. “Let me finish cleaning up this mess. Then I can nail in the plywood over the window.”

"I can do it, Jim!" Mona insists, tucking the cap gun into her pants before picking up the plywood and heading back to my room. I sigh, noticing the man's pistol on the floor beneath the table. I pick it up, feeling its weight in my hand. It's a loaded Colt 1911, a fine weapon.

Carefully, I place it on the table before returning to finish cleaning up.

"The stain will never go away," Mona says, her voice heavy with solemnity as we both peer down at the faint but stubborn bloodstain. Outside, the rain is easing up, signaling the end of the storm. I've secured the window, shutting out the outside world.

I let out a sigh, sinking back into the chair and resting against the table. Sometimes, I catch myself yearning for a cigarette, but those days are behind us now. Perhaps in Colorado, we'll find both tobacco and safety.

Mona settles beside me, her presence a silent comfort. It seems she wants to speak, yet no words emerge. Together, we sit in quiet contemplation, grappling with the weight of all that has unfolded.

“Let’s make our way to Colorado,” I decide, hearing Mona swallow nervously.

“Are you sure?” she asks.

“Yes, it will be safer for you there,” I assure her, rubbing my eyes wearily.

“That’s a significant decision, Jim,” she remarks.

“Indeed, but it's the right one,” I affirm, crossing my arms and closing my eyes. “We'll leave on Monday to give us time to prepare.”

“We should stay vigilant,” she suggests.

“Agreed,” I reply, opening my eyes. “I'll take the first watch. You go get some rest.”

Mona nods, her gaze lingering on the bloodstain.

“Hey, kid. Don't dwell on it,” I advise, tucking the pistol into my waistband. “We just keep moving forward.”

As I ascend to the lighthouse, I cast one final glance at the room. Mona appears weary, anxious, and on edge. “Get some sleep, Mona.”

“Right. Well, goodnight, Jim,” she says softly.

“Goodnight, Mona,” I reply, watching as she retreats to her room and closes the door.

Antony “Tony” Ritchie – b. 12 June, 2014 (2 A.E.), d. April 11th, 2040 (28 A.E.) aged 25

March 08, 2024 02:42

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3 comments

Kristi Gott
03:18 Mar 08, 2024

The writing style and story drew me in right away. I live near Florence. Oregon Central Coast and have been to Port Orford many times. This is a unique story with a lot of suspense and action. Plus it has the spiritual elements. I am not sure what the name and date of death at the end means. Is he going to die soon or did he already die and his ghost was still there?

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Alexis Araneta
15:15 Mar 12, 2024

Lovely one ! Not the usual genre I go for, I must admit, but it was really action packed and full of lovely detail. Great job !

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David Sweet
16:47 Mar 09, 2024

I enjoyed the story. Has real elements of Cormac McCarthy's THE ROAD and elements of THE LAST OF US. I'm assuming the person and dates at the end of the story correspond to the person he killed, whether he found ID or knew him in some way from a previous encounter. I also enjoyed the spiritual elements. You have an intriguing tale here! I'm not sure what AE means or how the person's aged according to that system rather than the traditional calendar. You have my interest piqued. Thanks for a story with good pacing and keeps the reader wanting...

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