The Eternal Summer of Somner

Submitted into Contest #53 in response to: Write a story about another day in a heatwave. ... view prompt

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Friendship Teens & Young Adult Fantasy

Kids waited in lines for a refreshing ice cream cone from a sweat-drenched vendor, only for their long-awaited treat to melt in the cone. I licked my parched lips, feeling thirst well up in my throat, and I greeted it like an old friend. From my hideout in the crook of the slide at the deserted playground on an near empty avenue, I tried to peel my perspiring skin from the plastic play-set. Halfway through the sticky ordeal, I gave up, slumping back into the sliver of shade. I contemplated trying to find a building whose air conditioning wasn’t broken but, knowing it was a fruitless endeavor, decided to remain in my cramped oasis and merely speculate instead. I wonder when the repairman will fix the grocery store’s AC? Even I’ve tired of asking myself that question, to the point that I crabbily snap at myself whenever the thought crosses my mind. Probably never. I sigh, completely sick of myself, the weather, the entire searing summer.

The entire town of Somner hopefully anticipated the blustery weather of autumn, but the four month summer was keeping everyone in suspense. One month in, I thought I was going to be cooked alive. Now I know people don’t cook, they melt. Heat stroke claimed several dozen people within May alone. I couldn’t tell you what temperature it is outside because almost every thermometer in Somner broke a few months back. Of course, people have theories about our scorching weather; divine punishment, global warming, lava flows beneath the surface of our town. Before we realized it wasn’t an ordinary heat wave, citizens puzzled over propane catching fire the second it hit the open air, planes crashing from malfunctions, and fires burning on the train tracks whenever one trundled over them. Walking from this forsaken place is a fantastic way to earn yourself a heat stroke, as many unfortunate people have proved. But I already know what brought this upon us...

In conclusion, the townspeople of Somner are completely and totally stranded. Nothing comes in, nothing leaves. So it caught the town completely by surprise when the new boy showed up. Unruly hair, gangly seventeen-year-old legs, and a car with working AC appeared that morning. A lady with a suspicious gaze spotted him first. She raised a gnarled, accusing finger and spoke three words. “Who is that?”

Suddenly, the boy found half-a-dozen pairs of eyes on him. I watched him shift uncomfortably from behind the steering wheel of his dark colored Toyota. With great effort, I unstuck my limp spine from the curve of the slide, immediately staggering under the weight of a cruel sun shining malevolently. From my new vantage point, I discovered that I was the closest to the unidentified vehicle. After months of the same faces, this new kid might as well have been a UFO. I approached him cautiously, feeling the heat pushing off the slick surface of his car. He rolled the tinted window down, his expression just as bewildered as we all felt inside.

I squared my shoulders and leveled him with a distrustful stare that I felt his sudden appearance warranted. I jerked my head in his general direction. “Who are you?”

He swallowed nervously, his throat bobbing. “Um, I’m Will.” He glanced anxiously at the rapidly growing crowd assembled before his car. I suddenly felt a twinge of pity for Will. Sweat-drenched and starved of cool showers for months, the people of Somner looked like the survivors of a zombie apocalypse gathering around fresh meat, and I probably looked no better.

I stuck out a hand after wiping my palm on my shorts and smiled as comfortingly as possible. “I’m Piper. Welcome to Somner.”

He tentatively accepted my hand and shook it, still obviously unnerved by the mob. “Uh, do you think you could get them to move out of my way?” Will stole a quick glance in the horde’s direction. “I have somewhere to be.”

My grin became apologetic. “Sorry, but I’m not through with you yet. How is your car still running?”

Will was clearly confused by my statement. “What d’ya mean?”

My welcoming persona fell away, revealing my confusion and desperation. I gripped the car door with white knuckles. “Your car! Everyone else’s overheated at best, but most exploded! Don’t you know? Where are you from? Can you help us?”

His lips twitched into a nervous smile. With one hand, he tried to pry my fingers off the door, reaching to roll up the window with the other. “I’m sorry, I don’t think I can help you. I’ve got to go! Really, I’m sorry!” Panic drew Will’s mouth into a tight line, and I’m sure it mirrored my own expression.

I tightened my hold on the Toyota, leaning into the blessed cool air inside. “Wait! You have to help us! We’re stuck here!” For a moment I saw a flicker of doubt in his eyes, and I knew he was thinking Do they really need help? I decided this was my chance. “Please. Can you just send one message for us?”

Will bit his lip. “Look-uh-Piper, is it? You seem like a nice girl but-” My face fell into genuine despair, which crumbled his resolve. “One message. That’s it, and quick, please.”

I swallowed hard. “Thank you so much!” My breath all wooshed out of me. What should I say? “Just-just tell Tom Wendelyn that Piper Karling said that the Mort has arrived in Somner with the Fléau de Flammes on its side and it was brought on by the Ravageurs among the flock.”

“Um, could you repeat that?”

I sighed. “Tell Tom Wendelyn that Piper Karling said that the Mort has arrived in Somner with the Fléau de Flammes on its side and it was brought on by the Ravageurs among the flock.”

“Okay, I have a lot of questions. First off: who’s Tom Windy-Lane?”

“Tom Wendelyn. He’ll come find you if you search him up on Google. He’s usually monitoring that kind of stuff.”

Will emitted a strangled cough. “That totally clears things up. Why might he be doing that?”

I shrugged, nonplussed. “You should ask him when you meet him.”

He still regarded me skeptically. “And should I be concerned about the wart that caught the flu?”

I scowled. “Do you need me to write it down?”

“Undoubtedly.” Will rummaged around in his car before producing some napkins and a ketchup packet from McDonald’s. “Will this work?” I shook my head. He sighed. “Then I’m all out of ideas and you’re out of luck.”

I paused, thinking. “I’ve got it! I can go with you!”

“Nonononono! That’s not happening. What about all them?” He gestured wildly at the crowd that had drawn ever-closer.

I folded my arms and set my jaw. “What about them?”

Will scowled, pinching the bridge of his nose. “This is not happening.”

Ten minutes later, I was bouncing up and down in the passenger seat of a Toyota Tundra with the all little AC vents pointed at me. “I can’t believe you said yes! I’m getting out of here!” I leaned out the window and hollered, “Good-bye Somner! See you in the fall! Au revoir!”

Will mournfully rubbed his temple. "I've got a bad feeling about this."

August 06, 2020 23:21

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1 comment

A. S.
15:46 Aug 14, 2020

Great job! You should make this into a full length story! I would love to read more about this.

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