Monday, April 25, 2011

The Beginning of Exodus

I'm working on a new story for the Winter '11 issue of the online sci-fi and fantasy magazine Strange Weird and Wonderful. Here are the first three paragraphs of a story with the working title, "Exodus":

The sun came up red and angry. It glowered through the gauzy fog, washing with a frail pink light the collapsing bridges and broken, graying asphalt that lay in chunks where highways had once been. While three of the small travel party still slept, protected from immediate sight by an overpass, Tina was awake, and so was Bible. She watched him sitting on the ledge some twenty yards away, looking east and staring with calm concentration into the sun. His braids, grown fuzzy at the roots, filtered the light around his skull so that it looked like a nimbus. Tina shuddered and turned over on her side, looking away from Bible.

Tina had known Bible before the apocalypse. That’s what they all called the invasion. It had come at the end of a very grim economic time. Even the Americans, who were fighting an endless war with sand colored tanks and ground harrowing missiles, were unable to muster the resources necessary to produce suitable weapons. But it did not matter, American science was not yet a match for the baffling nuclear arsenal the invaders had arrived with. Nearly everything around them had been either heavily irradiated or vaporized. In fact, at least two of the people lying near Tina snored quietly in front of human-shaped shadows burned into the concrete.

Tina again turned to look at Bible’s thin back. The sun had shifted. The red halo had disappeared. She could see his vertebrae, his humanity. Her nausea passed, and she remembered the man she had known. His birth name had been Leonard, and once, she and his other girls called him ‘Rayray’. As Rayray, he sat deep in his Cadillac Fleetwood, like it was a velveteen throne, and slowly wet his thumb and forefinger while he counted out twenties, fifties, hundreds. His girls took turns visiting him, went with their money to the Fleetwood at different times. Tina remembered how she drank in the air conditioning while she sat there and he counted, the motor humming beneath them.  Most of his girls hadn’t survived the apocalypse.  When the invaders landed, incinerating most of the inhabitants of buildings that burned and fell, the population in the Metro area fell by three-quarters. The survivors, before dying of radiation sickness or other equally fatal wounds, moved like cockroaches in the darkness, finding shelter for the daytime. Now, most of the city lay in quiet ruins that gently phosphoresced by night.   -- from "Exodus" (in progress)

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