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Science Fiction Fantasy Drama


Jeremy glanced out the window of the downtown public library as the first meteor entered the Earth's atmosphere. He watched it streak across the afternoon sky as the librarian handed him his book, oblivious to the drama unfolding behind her. He felt the earthquake-like vibration through his feet and heard the massive boom when it hit moments later, but by then he was too excited about the treasure in his hands to give it much thought. 

As the other patrons of the library started running around and screaming like maniacs, Jeremy made a beeline for his favorite reading nook. He bobbed and weaved through the mass of people with little thought or concern. All he could think about was Roland and his quest for the Dark Tower. 


Jeremy had started Stephen King's The Dark Tower series at the beginning of his summer break, following his junior year of high school. He'd finished the sixth book only to find out that all copies of the seventh (and final) book were already checked out. The final chapter of the Dark Tower series had temporarily slipped through his fingers. He’d put his name down to hold the first copy to be returned then spent the next nineteen days in agony. 

Then - finally! He had it in his hands. There was no way he was going to waste time driving home, especially if the world was ending. 

When he finally turned the corner at the bottom of the stairs, he found a girl, about his same age, sitting in his spot. He was so certain he would find it free and waiting for him, that he just stood there, blinking at the girl for a minute. She was sitting in the comfy armchair all wrong. Her back was against one arm rest, while her knees were draped over the other. Her converse sneakers beat the drum of the upholstery mindlessly as she read. 

After coming to terms with the situation, Jeremy settled on the floor next to the chair. It would have to do.

He opened the book and felt excitement tingle down his spine as he prepared to join his old friends on the final stretch of their adventure. 

As he turned to the first page, the lights began to flicker and the floor rumbled from the force of another impact. 

"Ugh," the girl mumbled to herself. "I hope the lights stay on."

"Me too," Jeremy responded without thinking. 

The girl twisted in the chair to look at him. 

"If you don't mind me asking, why are you sitting down there?" 

"Well… that's my usual reading spot," Jeremy said, pointing his book at the chair. "And when I saw it was taken, I guess I didn't want to waste time looking for another chair, so…" 

Jeremy shrugged, leaving his sentence unfinished. 

"Ah, okay," the girl nodded, as if Jeremy’s logic made perfect sense. "Is it pretty crazy up there?" She pointed towards the staircase leading to the upper levels. 

"Yep. You know what's going on, right?" Jeremy asked. 

"Of course I do," the girl answered. "So, I know I'm basically doing the same thing, but why are you hiding out down here with everything happening out there?"

Jeremy tipped his book up, showing her the cover.

"I've been waiting forever for this to come in. I need to find out what happens."

Her eyes lit up at the sight of his book.

"No way!" she said, showing him the cover of the book she was reading.  

Jeremy sat up straighter, taking in the familiar cover of The Gunslinger - the first book in The Dark Tower series. 

"Is this your first trip to the tower?" the girl asked. 

"Yes!" Jeremy answered. "Wait, so… you've already finished the whole series?"

She nodded, her eyes bright with secret knowledge. 

"I'm kinda envious of you. I wish I could read it again for the first time. I can't wait to hear what you think of the ending."

Both teenagers braced themselves as the building shook from another assault. The lights flickered off and on again, this time taking longer to stabilize. 

"Do you want to try to call your parents or something?" Jeremy asked when things returned to normal.

The girl shook her head sadly, "My foster parents have bigger things to worry about. What about you?"

"Nah," Jeremy replied. He didn't want to think about his dad, who'd already finished half a bottle of whisky by the time Jeremy left for the library. 

"I'm Olivia, by the way. And you are?"

"Jeremy," he said, smiling at her. "Nice to meet you."

"You too, Jeremy. I better let you read now."

Olivia twisted away from him and opened her book. Jeremy was torn. He wanted to return to his book, but he also wanted to keep talking to Olivia. He liked her immediately, despite her stealing his reading spot. He'd been longing to discuss the Dark Tower series with someone - anyone. 

Jeremy cursed his rotten luck. He finally gets the last book and meets this pretty, quirky girl who is also a Dark Tower fan just as the world decides to end. He sighed in resignation and turned back to his book. 

He barely made it through the first page when a much more intense blast interrupted him. Instinctively, he reached out for the chair and his hand met Olivia's on the armrest. She took his hand and held it tightly as the ground shook them around violently. Chunks of plaster from the ceiling, loosened by the blasts, began to fall on their heads. The dust and debris made them both cough.

"That one was close," Olivia said between coughs. 

The lights flickered again, then went off and didn't come back on. 

"We better get out of here," Jeremy said. "Hopefully it's cleared out a little upstairs and we can make it to my car." 

Still holding his hand, Olivia pulled Jeremy to his feet and they started up the dark stairway. They walked slowly, hand in hand, each carrying their book in one free arm. Dim sunlight met them at the top of the landing. Visibility was low between the smoke and plaster dust. The library had gone eerily quiet. Everyone else must have left.

They were almost to the front door when Jeremy stumbled over something soft, yet solid in his path. He let go of Olivia’s hand in order to catch himself from belly flopping on the floor. His hands landed on the soft, sturdy object and he knew exactly what it was a moment later - a person’s back. 

“Jeremy!” Olivia gasped. “You okay?”

Jeremy jerked his hands off the fallen body in terror and disgust.

“Yeah, don’t move okay? Can you hold my book?” Jeremy worked to keep the horror out of his voice as he handed his book up to Olivia. He saw the bulging eyes and terrified expression on the elderly woman’s dead face, turned as if looking right at him. He checked to make sure there wasn’t a pulse, though he already knew the woman was gone. 

He made his way back to standing and took Olivia’s hand again. He could feel her trembling. 

“It’s okay, alright? We’re almost to the door. I’m going to guide you, just keep your eyes on me.”

Jeremy kept his eyes on the ground and his free hand out in front of him as he led Olivia around the woman and out the front door. They both took a deep breath once outside. It was still smokey, but the slight breeze made it less dense. 

They walked the three blocks to Jeremy’s car in silence. Some people were still running through the streets, calling the names of their loved ones, trying to be heard over a multitude of sirens going off at once. 

As they moved further away from the library, the wind shifted and suddenly they could see more clearly. The horizon was littered with fires and smoke. The sun was low in the sky, looking enormous and undefined through the haze. 

“Where are we going?” Olivia asked once inside Jeremy’s ancient Volvo wagon. 

“I’m not sure…” Jeremy said, thinking. He glanced in the rearview mirror and saw his camping gear, which gave him an idea.

“There’s these woods southeast of the city,” he said, turning to Olivia. “I camp out there a lot. Got all my gear, too.” He used his thumb to point to the back of the wagon. Olivia turned in the passenger seat and saw the tent, the sleeping bags, the cooler and Coleman lanterns. 

“Well? What do you think?” Jeremy asked.

“I’m going to trust your judgement,” Oliva responded. “I just moved here.”

Jeremy nodded and started the car. The drive out of the city was slow. They had to turn around several times when they came across streets blocked by accidents and abandoned cars. When they were almost to the edge of the city limits, they saw a large ball of light falling from the sky in the distance. Jeremy pulled over, and they watched it make its way toward the ground. 

He had a death grip on the steering wheel, but felt only a slight tremor as the ball of light touched down. Olivia exhaled the breath she'd been holding. 

"Maybe they're moving away from us now," Olivia said hopefully. 

Jeremy put the car in gear and hoped she was right. He avoided the highways as he left the city behind them, assuming that frantic people had driven themselves into thirty car pile ups going that route. Instead, he took one of his favorite back roads through a small suburb. The winding two lane road was free from other travelers. Jeremy felt the panic start to loosen its grip on his insides. 

The wooded area was technically on the rural edge outside of the suburb's town limits. For the first time he wondered if someone actually owned the land where he camped on a regular basis. He’d spent most of the summer out there - reading his books by lantern and sweating in his tent wearing nothing but his boxers. Anything was better than dealing with his dad’s drinking and volatile mood swings lately.

“You know what we need?” Olivia said, interrupting his thoughts. 

Jeremy turned and took in her mischievous smile with pleasure. 

“Tell me,” he responded. 

“We need a magic door,” she said.

“Yes!” Jeremy said, laughing. “We totally need a magic door to another world!" 

"Come save us, Gunslinger!" Olivia bellowed and chuckled. 

Jeremy’s unease disappeared entirely at the sound of her laughter. 

"You know how Eddie's magic door said The Prisoner on it?" Jeremy asked. 

Olivia nodded and he continued, "If Roland were to find a door to us, what do you think our door would say?"

Olivia considered the question for a moment. 

"Maybe The Last Readers? What do you think?"

"I like that. It's better than what I came up with," Jeremy said. He immediately regretted his words, knowing she would want to know what had popped into his head. And of course, she did.

"Tell me," she said. 

"It's stupid. I was thinking our door would say The Orphans. I mean, I don't know if that upsets you though, I just remembered you saying you were living with foster parents."

Jeremy's mouth seemed to want to continue running, but he overruled it with effort. Embarrassment and fear flooded this body as he waited for Olivia to respond. 

"It's fitting for me, that's for sure. But you?" 

Her voice was soft and full of tenderness. Before Jeremy could think, he was spilling his guts. 

"I guess it's really not the same, but sometimes I think I'd be better off if my dad gave me up to another family or to the state or whatever. I think he'd be better off, too. My mom died almost three years ago. She was on her way to pick me up from soccer practice when she got in a bad accident. She died before they even got her to the hospital. Things were so different when she was alive," Jeremy said, wiping the pooling tears from his eyes before they could spill.

"Anyway, when she died, my dad just couldn't cope. I took care of him at first, but then he started drinking. When he drinks he gets really angry, usually at me. Starts yelling about how I should've died instead of her."

"Oh, Jeremy…" Olivia started, but he cut her off. 

"Then he tried to choke me in my sleep a couple of years ago. I don't think he even remembers doing it. After that, I started camping out whenever he drinks. Which means I've basically lived in my tent the last couple of years."

"Jesus," Olivia murmured. "I'm so sorry."

"Well, at least it made me more prepared than the average kid for some sort of apocalypse scenario."

"Way to find the silver lining," Olivia said. “Can I tell you something super embarrassing?”

“Yes, please!”

“I’ve actually gone around opening random doors, praying that one would lead me to Mid-World. Isn’t that ridiculous?” 

Jeremy took his eyes off the road for a second to look at her. His heart broke a little seeing the sadness she was trying to hide with humor. 

“It’s not ridiculous at all,” Jeremy said softly. “Some nights I lay in my tent and try to todash - you know, travel in my mind to another world. I probably would've been trying doors, too - if there were any out there in the woods.”

Jeremy turned onto a gravel trail. They were almost to the woods now. He let out a sigh of relief as they approached safely. 

“Almost there,” he said. 

“I’ve never been camping,” Olivia admitted shyly. “Is it pretty easy?”

“Oh yeah! It’s all about the equipment,” Jeremy said excitedly. “I’ve spent every penny I've made the last few years investing in good gear, so we’ll be set.”

He pulled off into a clearing that was not really a parking lot. This was his favorite spot these days. There was a perfect place to set up camp not far from the clearing. A small stream close by and lots of dead brush for fires. 

Olivia and Jeremy lugged their supplies to Jeremy’s spot by the stream. Olivia stood on the bank and watched the sun starting to dip below the treeline while Jeremy expertly erected the tent. 

“It’s so beautiful here,” Olivia almost whispered. 

Jeremy joined her, saying, “It really is. Do you think the worst over?”

Olivia shrugged, then turned to Jeremy, “I doubt it. I mean, even if the rocks have stopped falling, the worst may just be beginning.”

“What do you mean?” Jeremy asked. 

“People. In my experience, the worst begins with people. Especially scared people.”

Jeremy hesitantly reached for her hand. She let him take it, giving Jeremy a sad, yet beautiful smile. 

“At least we have each other,” Jeremy said. Olivia nodded. 

“And we have the beginning and end of The Dark Tower,” he added, hoping to lighten her mood. 

She brightened, “That’s right! You still need to finish it so we can discuss the truth of what you just said.”

Jeremy looked at her, puzzled. 

"Nevermind. I'm not going to ruin it for you." She ran to the tent and returned with their books and one of the lanterns.

“I’ve got a reading nook here, too,” Jeremy said. “Let me show you.”

He led Olivia to a bunch of large boulders near the stream, worn smooth by water and time. 

Olivia giggled in delight as she saw his spot - this one large enough for two - where two boulders sat perpendicular to each other, looking like a throne overlooking the stream. 

They both settled in to take advantage of the dying sunlight. They opened their books and read in content silence. 

After a few minutes, Olivia turned to Jeremy with a huge smile.

"I've got it! The Dodgers," she said. 

"Wait, what?" Jeremy asked, utterly confused. 

"For our magic door - The Dodgers." 

He smiled back at her, but not in understanding. It was just an instinctual response to seeing her big smile and the way her eyes lit up.

"I don't get it," he said, still smiling. 

"Because we dodged all those falling meteors?" 

Understanding finally dawned and Jeremy let out his first true belly laugh in years. Olivia looked surprised and pleased by his reaction and started laughing as well. 

For several minutes they laughed, then tried to stop, then set each other off again with a look. 

"It's not even that funny," Olivia said. "I don't know why I keep laughing."

"Me either, but it feels good. Actually, I feel better than I have in a really, really long time. Sorta like, everything might just turn out okay. Does that make any sense?"

"Yes! I know exactly what you mean. Even when we were trying to get out of the library, I felt this strange calmness, like I had total faith we'd be okay." 

"Yeah," Jeremy responded. He didn't know what was going on, but he was all for it. 


*****************



The Gunslinger watched the boy and girl return to their books through the door, which was now marked The Dodgers

He smiled to himself. His plan had worked perfectly. All he'd had to do was enter Olivia’s world and make sure she saw the door at the right moment.

The girl left her world and entered Jeremy’s without hesitation. From there, they'd saved each other, leaving Roland free to pursue his true goal - the Dark Tower. 

Roland closed the door and returned to his fire. As he laid down for the night, he thought of The Dodgers and chuckled to himself. They were good kids, even if they were a bit strange. They would be okay. 




August 27, 2020 16:22

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28 comments

Jonathan Blaauw
08:03 Aug 30, 2020

What a brilliant story! Here I was expecting baseball but, even better, I got Dark Tower! You’ve dealt with some powerful, relatable themes here. Children with troubled home lives escaping into fiction as a coping mechanism is something you portray excellently. I love how you have Jeremy mention that his struggles have prepared him to deal with the apocalypse, and also how the meteor stuff is used as a backdrop and becomes a powerful extended metaphor. Also, weaving the book into your story like that was brilliant, and the cherry on the ca...

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Katina Foster
13:09 Aug 30, 2020

Thank you so much, Jonathan! I'm so happy to hear from a fellow King fan. Your comments totally made my day. :)

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Jonathan Blaauw
15:49 Aug 30, 2020

I'm so glad, it's a really good story. I apologize for Laura hijacking your story comments. What was she thinking? Some people... 🤣

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Elle Clark
15:51 Aug 30, 2020

So very rude! See what I put up with on here, Katina? If it makes you feel any better about having to sit through Jonathan’s ramblings, I think you’re getting karma for every comment we put on here!

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Jonathan Blaauw
16:40 Aug 30, 2020

See!?! She's doing it again! Katina, I think you should look at a virtual restraining order - Laura is not allowed to comment within a 5 story radius of your submissions. I can handle the paperwork, my fees are very unreasonable. Actually, Laura is a great story consultant. Usually. I don't know why she's misbehaving today. Maybe it's a Sunday thing? Doing everything but writing a story, maybe...

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Elle Clark
21:13 Aug 29, 2020

I really enjoyed this! I loved the premises of wanting to finish a book even though the world is ending - I can relate to that feeling wholeheartedly. I also think I really love a story where something dramatic is happening but that’s not really a big part of the story. I didn’t realise that was a thing I enjoyed until this story. The camping thing felt a little quick to me - I was quite surprised that the girl agreed to go live in the woods as quickly as she did and I was also a bit confused about how quickly the meteors stopped being r...

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Jonathan Blaauw
08:11 Aug 30, 2020

Laura, you haven’t read The Dark Tower??? Wow… It’s okay, these painful admissions are necessary. Shame dies on exposure, as they say. Better to get it out.

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Elle Clark
09:25 Aug 30, 2020

Should I read it? Accessing other worlds through door portals definitely sounds like something I’d enjoy. But the last Stephen King I read (is it by SK or am I making that up?) was about a pandemic and now I don’t trust him.

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Jonathan Blaauw
09:35 Aug 30, 2020

Okay, in the interests of full disclosure, I have not read all of the Dark Towers. Only the 1st. They’re the only King I’ve yet to read. If you’re talking about The Stand, then that’s one of my all-time favorites! But he has so, so many that are unbelievably good they’re too many to list. He also has brilliant short stories. So, maybe, if writer’s block is set to continue for another week, that’s a place to look for inspiration. Am I asking for a new story? I am not. Am I hinting, ever-so-subtly in that direction? Perhaps…perhaps. Oh, tr...

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Elle Clark
09:42 Aug 30, 2020

I am having incredible writers block at the moment. None of these prompts are speaking to me. Give me a storyline - I have been thinking for days now! I am indeed talking about The Stand. Weird book by the end, it has to be said. Wasn’t expecting the religious aspect when I started reading. I will put Dark Tower on my list but you need to read the last few before you start admonishing people! Hypocrite, thy name is Blaauw.

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Jonathan Blaauw
09:59 Aug 30, 2020

A wise piece of wisdom – don’t make a story to fit the prompts. Make the prompts fit the story. I don’t know if that really helps. Or even makes sense. But still… It’s just one of those things. I think the best thing to do is not force it. Prompts and the ticking clock add a lot of pressure, and the more you think about it, the harder ideas are to come up with. Just keep the prompts vaguely in mind and then, one day when you’re doing something completely unrelated and normal, like walking the cat or something, wham! An idea will strike like...

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Lynn Penny
02:51 Sep 01, 2020

This was great! It was sad that I knew none of the books you referenced but in no way did that ruin the read. Oliva and Jeremy gave me Eleanor and Park vibes, it was perfectly done.

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Katina Foster
18:46 Sep 01, 2020

Thank you! I'm glad it still made sense without knowing the Dark Tower story. I had to look up Evelyn and Park. I'm going to have check those books out now. :)

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Vanessa Marczan
23:53 Aug 30, 2020

Hey Katina, this was a great story. I really felt bonded to the characters very quickly. Although I haven't read the Dark Tower series, I do appreciate how you've woven it into the narrative and themes. The dialogue is really natural. Awesome work 👍

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Katina Foster
00:58 Aug 31, 2020

Thanks Vanessa!

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Andrew Krey
18:04 Jan 06, 2021

Happy 2021 Katina, hope you’re well and staying safe! I had to comb through the archives for a fix. I liked this story, was cleaver how the end of the world become a sub-plot to your story. I really liked the idea that when people are worried about the end of the world, ‘normal’ people worry about the things and people they love and have to protect, yet a reader’s priority would be to find out how a book series ends! Lol I also loved this line -“ She was sitting in the comfy armchair all wrong”. It said so much about his routine, familiari...

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Katina Foster
03:31 Jan 07, 2021

Happy New Year, Andrew! Thanks for kind words and checking in. I've been a little out of the loop, but I'm trying to catch up with my Reedsy reading - do you have a favorite from your recent ones I should start with? Nanowrimo went well, though I didn't use it the way it's intended I think. Re-plotted and started the re-write of my novel and did some shorter pieces for a few other contests/publications. Hoping to get back to writing on Reedsy in the spring once I have the book done. Until then, still trying to read my favorites on here from...

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Andrew Krey
04:52 Jan 07, 2021

Glad to hear all is well, same hear too, cheers :) I started nanowrimo with the intent of a 50/50 split between my novel and short stories comps, but with editing and deadlines only for the short stories, it all fell apart and I gave up. I've not been particularly active on here tbh, and for this year I'm going to focus on the book, so I'll be doing the same as you and just checking in (unless a prompt really inspires me ;) ). Glad I reached favourite status, I saw the recognition in your bio too, thaaanks :) Talking of favourites...I can'...

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Katina Foster
23:04 Jan 07, 2021

Ctrl+Z is definitely still my favorite. And I only remembered that we'd discussed Dark Tower when I saw "Wastelands" in your story again. I should just assume I've talked about Dark Tower with everyone because... yeah, it's a problem. Lol I need to find a support group or something.

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Andrew Krey
01:26 Jan 08, 2021

Haha if in doubt...yes you did! Lol it feels like Reedsy has become this support group :)

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Mary Lydick
02:32 Aug 31, 2020

Having read all the Darktower books I loved your weaving them into this story. Especially enjoyed your very clever ending.

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Katina Foster
03:23 Aug 31, 2020

Thank you!! ♡♡♡

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