Where There's Water

Submitted into Contest #60 in response to: Write a post-apocalyptic story triggered by climate change.... view prompt

11 comments

Funny Drama Adventure

Leeroy Altman was on his fourth Mountain Dew of the day. All he had to drink was that sickly yellow liquid. It dribbled down his chin and settled on his protruding collarbones, with a stickiness that could only be removed with a shower. Too bad that wasn't an option either. 

He had the major hots for his neighbor, Fiona Royal, but he smelled too gross to approach her these days. He tried drenching himself in cologne, coating himself with a hefty layer of Fabreeze, and even rolling around on dryer sheets. But nothing can take the place of a long, hot shower. 

He had adapted to the smell of his apartment, for all that he could tell. The stench lingered in the air because the windows had to stay shut at all times. It was the 715th day without rain, and Nevada was in a state of emergency. These were the new rules. So Leeroy settled for the headaches that the Mountain Dew gave him and the body odor that wouldn't be resolved anytime in the near future. That is, until Fiona Royal knocked on his door. 

He paced back and forth, wondering what to do. Law stated that he could only open his door for the amount of time necessary to receive delivery services. But what if Fiona wanted to have a long conversation? Leeroy began to sweat, cringing as he imagined the droplets mingling with the soda residue. 

“Hey, it’s Fiona!” A muffled voice, unmistakably that of Fiona Royal’s, interrupted his cyclical thoughts. He stared out the peep-hole at her. Underneath her protective helmet and net, he could see that a few lone strands of her strawberry-blonde hair were framing her face. She was also carrying a rather large fish tank, which seemed to be home to a family of gleeful goldfish. Of course, she was also wearing her thick, plastic hazard suit complete with filters. Leeroy felt himself begin to salivate at the thought of the fresh—albeit salty—water tank she held in her possession. He scolded himself internally for fantasizing about stealing the lifeline of those poor fish. They were trying to survive just as he was.

Again, the voice interrupted him, “Hey, Leeroy Altman, it’s your neighbor, Fiona Royal.”

He scrambled to climb into his hazard suit and helmet, attaching the proper face filters. He took a deep breath, let out a final Mountain Dew flavored burp, ensured his protective vent was in place, and flung open the door.

“Fiona,” he acknowledged her, out of breath. “I’m here.”

“Good, we have a plan.”

“We? Who’s we?” Leeroy would have scratched his head in confusion, but it was covered in 6 inches of plastic.

“The fires are going to reach us tonight. We’ll burn alive if we don't leave tonight. Seriously. We have to leave now if we want to beat not just the flames but the toxic chemicals.”

Out of the corner of his eye, Leeroy saw a small explosion in the distance. It must have been another gas station succumbing to the flames. He winced as he imagined the people who must have been fueling up in hopes to flee the fires. It was time. Leeroy had to leave the only place he ever called home. 

“Nevada is burning, Leeroy. I can’t do this alone. Please,” Fiona begged.

“Okay. I’m in.”

The sky was a deep maroon the next morning, and the clouds hung low as if they felt ashamed of the tragedy beneath them. Ashes were beginning to flutter in from the north. Leeroy imagined the Grim Reaper scratching his scalp, carelessly allowing flaky black dandruff to fall to the earth. He felt weak as he sipped his Mountain Dew and watched the dark fragments pile up on his favorite balcony chair. For a while, he thought Fiona might have to carry him out of his house.

When she came to knock on the door, she’d already pulled her SUV outside. She handed Leeroy the large fish tank before he could protest. She put her hands on his shoulders and stared into his soul, “Leeroy. We may have to drink this water. It’s all I have.”

Leeroy just nodded and climbed in the front seat. Fiona was inspecting a large, crinkled paper map with a generous coffee stain. Cell signal wasn't the best these days. 

“So we have either 360 or 500 miles to go,” Fiona finally spoke. They were traveling from Reno, Nevada to Big Sur, where ships were supposedly still accepting out-of-state residents fleeing the fires. Because of the fires blocking the back roads, they ended up spending the night in Bakersfield, where they dipped into the fish tank reservoir.

“Do we at least have a water purifier?” Leeroy looked at Fiona with disgust as she pulled out two styrofoam cups from her backpack. The murky water reeked of saline and Captain D’s. Leeroy cautiously dipped his pointer finger in the tank and shuddered at the slimy texture. It was worse, much worse, than Mountain Dew. 

Bakersfield's air was less toxic than Reno’s, but they still had to wear their hazard suits. They folded down the seats in Fiona’s car to sleep, and Leeroy felt his stomach drop. Even though they had a total of 6 inches of thick plastic between their bodies, he still felt the pressure of being close to Fiona Royal. But truthfully, there wasn’t much on his mind besides escaping the fires. 

The next morning, after stopping at a mostly burnt down convenience store to snag what was left of the edible inventory, they drove for what seemed like miles of red dirt. They looked like series of ghost towns, side by side, and Leeroy felt more like a ghost with every breath he took.

At 1pm, they finally reached the Pacific Ocean. Even the water looked sick. Its waves seemed to be revolting, fighting to protect its creatures from inhaling the deadly fumes from above. Dead fish speckled the shore, and the rare pelican that could still tolerate the toxic air swooped in to snatch one up. A large cruise ship was docked. The passenger line was at least 1 mile long, and people had resorted to physical violence to cut in line to increase their chances of evacuating. Fiona and Leeroy exchanged expressions of horror. There was no way they were getting on that ship. They stood at the back of the line, feeling utterly hopeless. The horizon was coated in haze, and they barely saw another ship approaching. The captain of the first ship must have known ahead of time because he made a firm announcement. 

“Attention, everyone! The back half only of this line will move to the new ship. I don’t want to see any stragglers.”

Fiona grabbed Leeroy’s hand, making his stomach feel queasy, and practically dragged him to the makeshift line of stones the captain pointed to. It must have looked like a Pillsbury Doughboy family reunion from afar when everyone scrambled about in their heavy suits to reassemble in new lines.

“Attention, passengers,” the captain said loudly into his microphone. “We have come to a deal with London to take this cohort to stay. You will be the last group heading to the UK, so do not inform your friends and family that they can join you next.”

Leeroy and Fiona did not look back when the ship left the makeshift harbor. There wasn't much of anything to leave behind. But they eyed the ocean in front of them with hope. Where there was water, there was hope. 

September 24, 2020 03:58

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11 comments

Andrew Krey
02:04 Sep 29, 2020

Hi Iris, I liked your story, the descriptions are really vivid and placed me directly into the action...even I felt thirsty. I also liked that the story was just a snapshot in their life, and we're left with the feeling that their story will truly begin when they step on that boat. Hope the feedback was helpful. Happy writing

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Iris Silverman
19:09 Sep 29, 2020

Hi Andrew! Thanks so much! I'm so glad to hear that you felt the feelings of the characters (thirsty!). That's definitely what I was going for. Also glad to hear that the ending worked. Thank you for your feedback, and I will check out some of your work! Iris

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Andrew Krey
02:33 Sep 30, 2020

You're welcome Iris, I'm glad my feedback was helpful :)

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Maggie Deese
16:03 Sep 24, 2020

This was wonderful, Iris! You had incredible and detailed descriptions throughout this which made your story come to life. Your characters were well developed and really took a life of their own. Beautiful writing style. Well done!

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Iris Silverman
04:44 Sep 25, 2020

Thanks so much Maggie!! Thanks for taking the time to read and comment:)

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B. W.
15:09 Sep 24, 2020

Hey i really enjoyed this and you did a great job with it ^^ ya know what this gets? 10/10 :)

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Iris Silverman
04:47 Sep 25, 2020

Aww thanks so much:)

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B. W.
04:51 Sep 25, 2020

No problem ^^ i hope you make more stories

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I like your colourful descriptions. Good job.

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Iris Silverman
14:50 Sep 24, 2020

Thanks so much:)

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Echo Sundar
21:32 Sep 30, 2020

Great Story! I'm glad they didn't have to drink the fish water :)

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