After the Apocalypse

Big snowstorm here last night. No, that’s not the Apocalypse in the title for this week’s post, just a feeble excuse for getting this post out later than I hoped.

New this week is a 350 story I have posted in an active contest on Voice.Club. The one-word theme for this contest was ‘Dawn’ and I tried, as I usually do, to come up with an unusual take on the theme.

The story’s up on their website. Here’s the link to my story, but viewers of my Facebook page and this website have had trouble in the past visiting the site and voting for my story (liking it is a vote), so I will post it here.

After the Apocalypse

Alan Kemister

Evelyn shed her hazmat suit and stepped from the rover’s isolation chamber. She immediately noticed the faraway look on Oliver’s face.

“Something wrong?” she asked.

He shook his head before checking their robotic decontamination vessel’s control panel. “It’s nothing. Dawn was three minutes ago. Makes me feel nostalgic.”

“Now there’s an alien concept in our screwed-up world. At night, it’s almost dark, but the sky still has an orange glow. In the daytime, it gets somewhat brighter and a great deal hotter, but we never see the sun.”

She watched the Gamma decontamination team leader approach the isolation chamber where he’d don his hazmat suit. For the next four hours, he’d trudge through the hostile environment, babysitting the robots manipulating the black maws sucking up the toxic dust covering the barren ground. She’d drive the rover, constantly watching for hazards looming from the glooming.

She checked the controls as she waited for him to emerge from the isolation chamber. He appeared, giving her the thumbs up. She turned the lumbering rover in a broad arc and headed toward Contamination Station Gamma, her temporary home with Oliver and ten other conscripts.

Seven months venturing out every night from midnight to eight a.m. and lumbering for four hours at five kilometres per hour, only to turn and trundle back to the station for another four hours. Two hundred and thirteen days taken from her young life, and another one hundred and fifty-two to go before she could return to the domed ecosphere she called home.

The industrious robots sucked up the dust in a one-hundred-metre-wide swath. One hundred metres times forty kilometres times three rovers times two shifts yielded twenty-four square kilometres decontaminated per night. During her year of servitude, they’d cover eight thousand square kilometres after allowing for time they’d spend repositioning the station—twenty-five percent of the single valley they’d been assigned.

She saw nothing but the hopelessness of their task, while Oliver dreamed of the first morning he’d see the sun rise over the eastern horizon.

*****

Readers who want to be brave and view the story on the Voice.club website and hopefully like it, can use the link to the story. I suspect it will take them to an opening page where they must sign in using their google identity or some similar online identity. The site managers use this mechanism to prevent anyone gaming the system and voting repeatedly for a story. If they persist and sign in, they may have to navigate through the site via ‘Contest’ to ‘Writing Contest–2021-Flash-01-Dawn-Shortlist-Vote’, then to my entry, ‘After the Apocalypse’ (the first one on the second row on my computer), and finally, click ‘Like’.

Lot easier to read it here, but then, sigh, I don’t get the votes.

That’s it for today. I must go shovel last night’s gift from the gods of winter. I’ll try to get back to my Environmental Armageddon story next time.

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