Thursday, January 28, 2010

The Man Looking Back At Me

Rolling into what used to be a subdivision but was now just masses of wind swept rubble, Rob noticed the stranger sitting on the side of the road. Cutting the engine and coasting to a stop, Rob opened the door and got out. Walking around the car he stood above the man who sat idly drawing random runes into the dirt.
"Seems to me you're all alone, my friend." Rob stated matter of factly.
"What makes you think I'm all alone?" The stranger replied opening his duster to display a sawed off shotgun without even looking up.
"It just seems odd, you sitting here, in the middle of nowhere."
"It's because all that I ever had and all I will ever have is here. Here in the middle of nowhere, amidst this rubble and decay." Replied the stranger solemnly as he slowly raised his head to look at Rob. "Besides, why the hell do you care? I didn't ask you to stop. You could have just cruised on through heading out to wherever the hell you're heading to with no mind to me!"
"Listen, fella. I didn't mean anything by it; I was just stopping to see if you needed anything, a ride, something. You just looked like somebody that needed something, that's all."
"Where you headin' to anyways?" The stranger asked sharply.
"Rumor has it there were more survivors of the holocaust and that they are gathering out west. That's where I'm heading, hoping to find my family there. You got family? Maybe you could head out west, see if they are there?"
"They're not there. They're here." The stranger said pointing behind him amid the rubble of a collapsed home. "They survived the holocaust, same as I. Those that survived with us, left, looking for god knows what. But we stayed because this was our home, our life. Then one day while I was out scrounging for food, a marauding gang came, murdered my family for what little we had left. I came back to find them all dead. All I had left was gone. I buried them myself back there and I have no intention of leaving them. So I will sit here, and I will grieve until I have had my fill."
"We've all lost." Rob replied. "Everyone alive today has lost. In this we are kindred spirits, destined to try to find some semblance of what was. I hope to find my family and to find some piece of my former self. It is this hope that I hold on to. This hope is my beacon that I must follow to the end."
"And what happens when you get there and all you see it this!" the stranger exclaimed sweeping his hand across the scene of devastation surrounding them. "Then what? Then where will your hope get you?"
"I have to go. Why don't you go with me, try to find some hope for your own life?"
"Because I am a shell of a man. My spirit is broken; I am empty yet filled with agony. There is no hope left, no reason left. Every night I go to sleep I wish that I never wake, but every morning I am here. In my own hell. No, you go on. Do what you have to do, seek what you have to seek. I'll not be joining you." With that the stranger returned to scribing his random figures in the dirt as if Rob was not even standing above him.
Slowly turning, Rob walked back to the driver seat and got in. Starting the car he drove away, watching the stranger slowly disappear in his rear view mirror hoping who he just met, was not his future self.

Written for 3WW. The three words used are in bold. Thanks ThomG!


CJT said...

Wow! I really liked this one, especially the end where he hopes that he didn't meet his future self. Great, great use ofthe prompts.

Attendance Optional

Ann (bunnygirl) said...

I liked this, and not just because I like post-apocalyptic fiction. You could tighten it up a bit by removing some adverbs and changing some of your concurrent-action sentences (Rob likely didn't open the car door while at the same time cutting the engine and coasting to a stop), but those are just nits. Good bones here. And a cool pic, too!

Scott Clawson said...

Thanks Ann for the critique, I will see if I can't tighten it up a little! ;-)

Thank you CJT for your kind comments! :-)

Stan Ski said...

Strangers, future selves - I wonder how many times we've passed ourselves in the street and ignored us because we'll never be like that.

Anonymous said...

Enjoyed the read and the music was a pleasant stop here.Hope to come around....have a great weekend.

Andy Sewina said...

Phew, I think I've turned into the person I always didn't want to be!

Great dialouge in this flash, neatly penned!!

Tumblewords: said...

A great read - realistic enough to be today but with a powerful look at our tomorrows.

ThomG said...

Very powerful stuff.

Marcia said...

Ending was unexpected by me, but I liked it.