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"No Shelter" (standard:horror, 2294 words)
Author: StraybulletAdded: May 11 2007Views/Reads: 1609/940Story vote: 0.00 (0 votes)
I came up with this when I lived in Tucson. Let me know what you think


BY The Straybullet 

Somehow my feet keep moving. My mouth is slack, my arms dangle uselessly
at my sides, my head now tilted back and staring at some nonpoint in 
the predawn sky....but my feet keep on. I stagger down the gravel slope 
of yet another foot hill, one of hundreds maybe thousands here in the 
Southwest. My head swims due equally to lack of sustenance and the 
night of travel I've been through running beneath the song of the 
coyote. In a fog of weariness I nearly blunder into a cropping of 
cacti. A large mutated specimen stands before me its gnarled form seems 
to reach out for me like a banshee. I have to stop these delusions; 
they will do me no good. I gather my thoughts and my breath as I see a 
blush on the eastern horizon announcing the arrival of the sun. My 
bleary eyes scan some of the higher hills for shelter. Nothing. I know 
how dangerous it is for me to travel in daytime especially in such a 
state as I am in. The world is not as it once was. I do not panic, 
though I do not know if it was exhaustion or will that held me. 

"I can't fall here." I whisper to no one. "So much depends on me." I
resolve to somehow find a way and double my pace. Within minutes I 
scale the highest foothill sapping the last of my arm strength to reach 
its summit. It is a panoramic view of what once was Tucson. I hadn't 
realized I was this far south. Tucson was one of the fastest growing 
cities in the U.S. when the end came. The ruined city stretches out 
beneath me like a rose of ash. The broken structures below me that used 
to be lived in and worked in look like nothing but litter from up here. 
Just within the range of my vision I can see where the blast hit first. 
Around it in circles the buildings fell, those that still stand lean 
away from ground zero. It has the queer effect of a frozen ripple.  If 
I remember correctly, there used to be an air force base in the 
southern part of the city. In any case that is where the blast hit. 

Finally I catch sight of what I was looking for. My heart leaps as I
scramble onto the road that leads to the city. Wind catches drifts of 
red sand and ash sending across the asphalt cascades like light 
reflected in water. This same wind also waves the yellow banner jutting 
from what used to be a shopping center. “Humanity still lives” is what 
this banner says. Somehow I manage to make myself run. 

The orange sign beneath the yellow banner reads Home Depot; I am several
yards from the place when a group of figures emerge carrying guns. I am 
at the mercy of these men. My pace slows and I raise my hands to show I 
am no threat. In the growing dawn I can make out but little. I cannot 
judge by simple appearance whether or not these men are mad or not. 
Since the war everyone that survived has lost something of themselves. 
When the poison and fire fell, many lost their sanity. My knees buckle 
slightly as my body nears collapse. More figures file out behind the 
guards. These are smaller and I take them to be the tribe's women 
children and elderly. They are each carrying things though I cannot 
tell what they are. They place them in rows and return to fetch others. 
I close some distance and can see finally that these are plants set out 
to nurture in the light. I smile. The guards move to receive me. They 
eye me warily. They yell for me to stop and turn around to which I 
comply. The sun is almost visible now; a jagged line of white etches 
itself around the black hills I have just come from. Just behind me one 
of them speaks. 

"Turn around and give me your name." Cautiously I obey. There are only
the two with weapons raised, behind them the work has halted and a 
dozen eyes bore into me. 

" name's Jacob." I say to the older and more reasonable
looking of the two, a shirtless gray haired man wearing jeans. The 
other man is younger and much taller, a beast of a man wearing a 
Hooters T-shirt. 

"What are you doing here?" shirtless asks. 

"Passing through, heading south." I wheeze from a fiery throat. My God
how long had it been since I'd spoken? The larger man moves toward me 
his weapon at the ready. I am ordered to remove my shirt, which I do, 
they inspect my torso. A sudden wave of nausea hits me and I sprawl to 
the ground. 

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