She had been summoned to her family home in the forest. Only her mother lived there now. She hadn’t seen her in over twenty years. There had been a falling out between she, her mother, and her sisters.
She stumbled up the plank path to the door of the house. She was frightened, not knowing what she might find. She opened the door and walked in.
Her mother was sitting in the living room. Beside her was a suitcase and surrounding her was all the family valuables and heirlooms. Furniture, silver, gold bars, stacks of money and more. When she saw her, she stood up and cackled, sweeping her arm around as if showing her the bounty. Her eyes looked wild. Then she picked up the suitcase and walked out without a word of explanation.
She walked over to all the heirlooms her mother had gathered and she noticed a note tied to one of them. The note said that it was all her’s and her sister’s. It further said, “Ruth, I would rather have had you for these twenty some years than all the money in the world. How I wish you had known that.”
PHOTO CREDIT TO MIKE VOR
The boys loved it when the city park was closed. The fence was easy to climb. They hid the car they had “borrowed,” waited until no one was around and scrambled over the fence, pitching their dads’ rifles down to each other.
They were each 14 and knew where their dads’ kept the keys to the gun cases. There were deer that grazed in the trees in the park. They used them for target practice. Their parents were busy. They never knew the boys, or the guns, were gone.
They ran for the cover of the trees and decided to spread out. One of the boys ran to another tree about 100 yards away. The rifles had scopes. They were both poised to shoot a deer. One of the boys saw movement in the brush and fired. He heard a noise and knew he had hit something.
He had hit his friend who was motionless on the ground. The boy kneeled beside him. All he could think of was how mad his parents were going to be. They would take away his phone and his privileges. He wouldn’t get to play soccer. He might as well go home and face the music.
Photo Credit Sasha Darlington
The nursing home was like new and the two ladies were old. They had come to see their sister. They were triplets and the nursing home had only been remodeled in places. When they looked down at the old brick floor, they twittered to each other that it was not only old but dirty. They thought their sister was in a nicer place. The bright young lady behind the desk directed them down a hall to the left when they gave her their sister’s name. Halls ran off the dank lobby in every direction.
Huddling together, they turned and walked down the hall. The young lady had said Pearl was near the end of the hall. They noticed the doors had no names on them and wondered how they would know which door she was behind. They paused where there were only four doors left although one door seemed to go to the outside.
One of the sisters didn’t know what to do but call out, “Pearl?”
She called out louder, “Pearl, answer me!”
The door at the end of the hall was flung open and there was Pearl.
”Catch me if you can,” she answered the call.
Photo Prompt by J Hardy Carroll
”Daddy, what are those whirly things sticking up toward the sky?”
”Daniel, those are a new kind of antenna to listen for signs of life on other planets.”
”You mean like when you found life on Mars, Daddy?”
Daniel was twelve years old and his Daddy was an astronomer at the U.S. facility in Flagstaff, Arizona. It was 2030 and they had just finished transporting people to a facility they built on Mars after receiving permission from a small colony of Martians they discovered.
”Remember what I explained to you, Daniel? See the funny color of the sky? Our air will not be breathable very soon. We’re trying to transport the people of the Earth to other planets. Mars can’t hold them all. Here are the listening devices that go with the antennas. Do you want to listen?
Daniel placed a set of ear buds in his ears. He watched the display. He heard a screech and jerked the buds out as he called his Daddy over.
“I just heard a loud noise.”
Daniel’s dad grabbed the ear buds and started looking at the data. A planet was trying to contact them!
It was a working class neighborhood on the outskirts of the city. For the news media, it was made to look as if it were 1950’s America. Neat rowhouses indicative of northern cities, with mudrooms in front and widow’s walks. Coach lights. The snow was heavy that winter and you even saw the tracks of cars. Fortunately, for The Autocrats, the snow covered up how rundown those rowhouses were getting. He wondered, peering out the window through the draperies, if the news media realized there were no cars parked along the street or in the driveways. Those car tracks were made by The Autocrats’ cars. The news media had been brought there to see and report how normal everything was since The Autocrats had taken over. They had imposed a news blackout in the areas they had overtaken earlier in 2019.
The people had been warned to stay inside their homes. The Autocrats had allowed a few to be out walking, but only if they were white and known sympathizers. There weren’t many mixed race people left in decent places anymore. He had heard they had all been herded to ghetto-like neighborhoods. But, you couldn’t believe the news allowed on television by The Autocrats. The rumors were that their DNA had been tested and they had been sent to the areas of the world from which their ancestors came to America. The Autocrats were gradually asking for DNA from everyone.
There had initially been protests by the people when The Autocrats troops arrived. They were quickly extinguished with guns with real bullets. Tens of thousands of citizens of the city were murdered in the streets. The Autocrats, he’d heard, were living in Washington, DC now. Not yet in the White House, but he figured it was only a matter of time.
Able-bodied men were put to work in ammunitions factories. Women were employed in either sewing factories or were made to cook and sell food. Any other type of commerce was gradually shut down.
The news media were furiously scribbling in their journals. Cameras had apparently not been allowed. They had disembarked from cars in front of his house.
Suddenly, a journalist turned and saw the fence. By the direction of the overhang, he could tell it was meant to keep people out. He ran over to it and called out to the others in the media. One of them grabbed a fence pole and was immediately electrocuted. Some of the media pulled out tiny cameras and started taking pictures of the fence and their fallen colleagues.
The Autocrat’s guards jumped out of their cars and killed them all on the street. He could barely see for the tears in his eyes. He mourned for them and his country.