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Urban Fantasy Horror Science Fiction

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

           Frayed around the edges, crinkled through the middle, and faded with time, dirt, and blood, the map sat next to her on the edge of the rooftop as she looked through her binoculars and kicked her feet in the hot summer wind. There had been a time when the city below bustled with life, but now there were only rotting cars, rolling fields of trash, and tornados of smog as far as the eye could see. When the land was alive, there had been smells of cooking meat, car exhaust, body odor, and heavy perfumes. But now there was only musty decay, rusted metal, and an occasional scent of wild roses. 

           Nothing moved as she scanned the horizon and, sighing, she set the binoculars aside to pick up the map. With delicate fingers, she opened the flimsy paper and took out the ancient pen that she kept in her pocket---for luck. She crossed off the city and worked out how to get to the next town on the map. Nodding, she tucked the map and binoculars into her holey bookbag before snatching it up and jumping from the rooftop to land with a thunderous crash onto the pavement. 

           Shaking off the vibrations, she walked out of the city and towards her next destination. She lifted the hood over her short blonde hair to stave off the relentless sun beating down on her delicate skin and kicked a crumpled piece of rock from her way. She had searched twenty states already and was halfway done with this one. Despite that, there were no signs of life other than her own. She clung to hope like a lifeline. Because she refused to believe that she was the only one left alive. 

           The apocalypse came with a vengeance and although the humans claimed to be prepared---nothing could’ve stopped the mother and her perfect design. Once the humans and animals were gone all that remained were the monsters, but without a food source they too died out. All that was left now were the trees, wild plants, and… her. She tucked her hands into the pocket of her sweatshirt and ignored the loneliness that plagued her. 

           She continued on the road past the crumbling building with cracked out windows and faded paint. Once she’d thought to save the history of humankind. She used to collect things that seemed important to preserve and kept it all in an underground bunker that she’d made into her home. However, as time went on, the process seemed pointless and ridiculous---who would ever care again about the lost human culture? No one. 

           She took out a cucumber she’d found in a random garden and nibbled on it as she continued her adventure to the next city. The only sound was her own breath, the shuffle of her feet, and the crunch of her jaws. But she didn’t mind the silence, as she had adapted to the soundless land. So instead of dwelling on it, she let her own thoughts entertain her. 

           What was the point of this endless search that she was on? What would she do if she found something with lungs and a heartbeat after all this time? Would be it a monster or a human? Which would she prefer? How much longer would she continue this fruitless search? Why did she torture herself this way?

           The answers to those questions were the same now as they were when she first asked them in her own mind. The only thing keeping her sane was the hope that she wasn’t alone and, as long as she searched for life out in the barren wasteland, she could continue to fool herself into the belief that she wasn’t alone. 

           Days past, and night fell, before she stepped foot into the remains of the newest city circled on her map. It was much the same as the rest with derelict buildings, ghostly remnants of life, and hollowed out carcasses of automobiles. But something felt off and she frowned as she took another step onto the street. She was flung up into the air with a rope tied around her ankle and she snarled as she clawed at it. 

           “You’re alive?” A harsh murmur came from the darkened eve of a stoop. 

           She froze at the noise she hadn’t heard in many years. A foreign voice.

 “Hello?” she whispered back. 

           “I thought I was the only one.” He stepped out of the blackness and smiled at her. 

           “As did I. Can you cut me down?”

           He smiled again. “Sure.” The knife glistened in the moonlight as he sliced the rope. And he laughed as she crashed to the ground with an oof. 

           “Thanks,” she muttered as she climbed to her feet. “How are you alive?”

           “Unlucky, I guess. Are you alone?”

           “Yes. Are you?” She tucked her hands into her sweatshirt pockets and gripped the knife she always carried. 

           “Yes. Come on in.” He turned without looking back and walked into the crumbing high rise. 

           She glanced around but followed the human into his home. He’d amassed quite the collection as all the silver and gold glinted in his fire light. He grabbed a mitten from the counter and pulled a pot from the fire. He held it up to her. “Just in time for stew.” 

           “I’ve not eaten cooked food in sometime.” 

           He poured the stew into a chipped and stained porcelain bowl and handed it to her. She sipped and eyed the human over the rim of the bowl. It had been some time for other things, as well. The human was dirty, greasy, but who wasn’t after years of no running water? Under the filth, he had a strong, handsome face with rich, brown eyes. His arms were muscular, and he seemed healthy enough. 

           She caught his gaze, and he slowly lowered the bowl before glancing around, uncertain. Standing, she held her hand out for him and quickly he took it. She shoved him onto his decomposing mattress and climbed over him. She kissed him and he didn’t get hesitate to meet her passion with his own. They rolled around through the night, over and over, till the sun broke out of the darkness.

           As the beams of light jutted through the cracks in the brick, she smiled down at him before leaning in to nuzzle his neck. He sighed and ran a hand down her back, then screamed as she sunk her teeth into the rich artery of his neck. Having been famished for years, she purred as he thrashed and fought against her hold. As his life faded, so did his fight. 

           She laid him down once his heart stopped beating, wiped her mouth with the back of her hand, and closed his eyes. She leaned down and pressed a gentle kiss to his still warm lips. “Thank you.” 

           She took out the worn map and crossed the city off before circling the next one. She gathered all the food she could fit into her backpack, tossed one last look at the human’s corpse, and patted her now full womb. “Time to continue our adventure, my pups.”

December 11, 2021 20:47

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4 comments

Jon Casper
01:04 Dec 19, 2021

I love a good post-apocalyptic story. Great sensory details, and lots of intrigue. Nice work!

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Lyndsey La Van
21:33 Jan 06, 2022

Thank you!

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Bruce Friedman
20:59 Dec 11, 2021

A shocker but very well written. A perfect fit for the genre.

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Lyndsey La Van
23:03 Dec 12, 2021

Thank you!

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