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

She stepped forward onto the grass. A crunchy sound. Leaning forward, she picks a blade of brown withered grass. Turning to look at her friend. "So John. Do you think we'll see Darren and Lilly again?"

   "I don't know Maggie." He says. Wiping the sweat from his brow. "If they return, it may take a little time, but with any luck, they'll have supplies."

The hunger pains have been a bit overwhelming, grasping at her side. "If only we could just find a little water." Lips dried and cracked.

   "We would have no problem starting a fire with everything as dry as it is," John says, staring into the murky grey sky.

   "No sunlight and no rain to fall upon us." Falling to his knees. "The water we had was covered in nuclear fallout, boiling water to drink was the easy part."

   "Yes," Maggie says with despair obscuring her face. "It seems God is displeased with us."

   "The whole world." John remarks. "I don't know what kind of luck Darren and Lilly will have. This condition we are living in is worldly. I don't know if they'll find supplies with all the rationing."

   "Speaking of rationing, I don't think we have seen anyone for weeks." "Yes, Lilly. I lost all track of how long it's been since the war ended."

Growing tired, they find a place to lay down for a while. Possibly sleep for a while. The only time to get a break from worrying.

   ``A returning vision of their eyes, a warm embrace. The sound of little children laughing. Memories from a distance. "John." The small voice whispered. "See me dancing?" The little child, his granddaughter, spoke.

Suddenly, a blast. He lifts his head. Looking out the window. "What was that Grandfather?" Looking down, he reassuringly touches her shoulder. "I don't know, Emily. Don't you worry, everything will be alright!" Upon turning to the window, the boards beneath his feet shake. A sudden blast, wood splinters, and shards of glass flying.``

   "John." Maggie comforts him. "It's only a dream, you're just dreaming."

"Maggie, it was horrible. It was when the war started and it took my little Emily, my little granddaughter." He reaches for his face to wipe the tears away.

   Suddenly, a presence of someone standing over them. Turning to look quickly, Maggie stands up.

Weathered and worn. Stringy hair. Malicious eyes stair upon her and John. "Give me your food and water." He shouts at them waving his knife.

   "Darren, how long have we been walking? Everything is devastated but with a city as big as LA, you would think that we would find something."

   "We just need to keep looking, we'll find something Lilly." Shoulders slumped forward. Mustering every bit of energy in his body to pull a radio flyer red wagon he found for carrying supplies.

   "I think our best bet is a grocery store I recall being within the vicinity."

Lilly looks at Darren with defeat in her eyes.        "That's a great plan if the store is still standing."

   "Having some sort of plan is better than nothing." He says. "We just need to find something and make it back to John and Maggie before it gets completely dark."

Lilly looks over her shoulder, spotting a place that looks like it could be promising.

   "Is that the supermarket that you were talking about, the building with a massive cinder block lying in front?"

Darren perks his head up and shows the first sign of enthusiasm he's felt all morning. "I think that's it. To think that we completely passed by it."

   "It's not that hard to believe, our surroundings all look the same, one big LA dump."

Picking up their pace, the enthusiasm needed to pull them out of the slump that has been draining them of the energy needed for their fight for survival.

Passing by debris, wrecked vehicles, and dead bodies. They eagerly make their way closer to possibly finding supplies.

   "Lilly, grab my hand." She reaches out, taking his hand. Climbing over large slabs of concrete. "It's amazing the market is still standing."

Windows smashed out. "The door is blocked," Darren says. "We'll crawl through the windows, just watch out for the shards of glass."

Lifting her through the opening, "I'm right behind you Lilly."

She stumbles to the floor. Startled by the sound of something growling. She looks up swiftly. Standing three feet away. "Lilly, don't move," Darren says softly.

   In fear, Maggie takes a step back. John speaks up. "We have no food or water. Our friends went out to look for some supplies."

The stranger's eyes become more sinister.   "How far do you think they're going to get? Everything's been destroyed."

"I'm warning you," John says. "I know martial arts."

The stringy-haired man drops his arm, laughing. "You're going to jump right over here and kick my ass? I'm shaking in my boots. I don't think you're man enough, hiding behind that pretty lady of yours."

   "It doesn't need to go down this way," Maggie says. "We can work something out."

Raising his knife in the air, the stranger points the tip of his blade at a duffel bag laying on the ground to the right of John. "What's in the bag?"

"Odd and ends, clothes."

Pointing his knife, "Do you expect me to believe that?"

   "I don't care what you believe," John says.

"Just pick the bag up and toss it over to me."

   Reaching over slowly to grab the bag by its handles, keeping his eyes on the stranger he takes the bag, swiftly grabs a handful of dirt with his other hand, and tosses it in the stranger's eyes. "Maggie, move." She lunges to the side in an attempt to flee from danger. The man grabbed her wrist and swung the knife towards her.

John came up with a right kick, knocking the knife out of his hand. Reaching down to pick the knife up, he thrusts the knife at the stranger slicing his throat wide open.

Dropping to his knees, his body quivers. Letting out one last breath. The stranger falls to the ground.

   "Are you alright?" John asks. A look of shock on Maggie's face. "What is it?" He asks. He looks to see what she's staring at.

Thirty feet in back of where the stranger stood, a young boy, maybe five years old, crying, "Daddy."

Tears run down Maggie's cheeks.

John drops the knife, in shock. Suddenly, light cast on the ground. They look up. The blanket of grey that had consumed the sky slowly started to dissipate, the sun began shining through.

A crack of thunder. A storm followed shortly behind. The rain started to clear the air and blanket the ground.

John drops to his knees. "I just killed a young boy's father." 

   The sound of thunder catches Darren's attention. The pitbull that was just feet from Lilly, terrified from the thunder, turned around and ran the other way.

A look of joyful surprise on Lilly's face. "Here, I got your hand."

Helping her up from the floor. "It looks like we have plenty of food and drinking water on hand," Darren says, just don't eat the perishable stuff." Lilly smiles. "As long as that shit has been sitting around, you couldn't get me to feed it to that pitbull."

They begin to load the cart with supplies. "Let's fill this cart and head back to John and Maggie."

"They'll be so surprised when we get back with all this food and water," Lilly says. "I hope they're still alright."

"Yeah, I think we'll be alright. It's raining and the air is starting to clear."

   They start to make their way back. "This is so crazy. "Lilly says. ``After so long of the haze blocking out the sunlight, a storm rolls in, clears everything up, and now the sun is starting to shine down on us."

"I think our friends will be pretty happy when we get back."

March 20, 2022 18:19

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Brian Stanton
01:48 Mar 31, 2022

Hi Neil, This was a fun story. I enjoy the post apocalyptic setting. Your strength is your dialogue, the conversation are believable. There are a few things that made it a little difficult to follow at times: Your tenses, switch from present to past tense several times. Also you used a lot of incomplete sentences, which I actually think works well sometimes. But I think you used them just a little too much, but used at the right time, and used sparingly, I think incomplete sentences and be powerful. As an example, you began one paragraph ...


Neil Brown
22:01 Mar 31, 2022

Thanks for your feedback, it's very appreciated. I've been wanting to get feedback on my writing. I feel I have been going a little blindly about it for too long.


Brian Stanton
23:17 Mar 31, 2022

I completely understand, until a couple months ago, I never shared any of my writing, with anybody, not even my wife. I watched a master class with Neil Gaimen, and he said two things that really stuck out to me, first, you don't become a better writer by writing, but by finishing. (Meaning completing work and getting to do the editing phase too.) But he also said, the the writing process isn't done when you finish, not even after you finish the first, second or tenth draft, he said the process ends when you SHARE it. When you expose it to t...


Neil Brown
18:47 Apr 01, 2022

Completely agree. Definitely a great place to continue writing.


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