Previous Challenge Entry (Level 3 - Advanced)
Topic: The Book Store/Library (06/03/10)
By stanley Bednarz
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My wife had been on her way to see her parent's when the event happened, and no one's heard from her since. I don't want to tell my daughter she can't be found.
Anarchy spread throughout cities of bombed buildings, and burned districts. The rural communities with less technology and basic power, like old generators, and much older cars ruled the horizon. Roving gangs ruled at night, and disrupted any chance for local authorities to secure the streets. Our suburban neighborhood was no longer safe for my daughter, Meg and I. It was time to leave.
They called us EMP Nomad's. We heard of a group, a tent city in a clearing beyond our town. We heard they were like a Rescue Mission.
On the edge of town, we found our old library, still smoldering from vandals. I imagined a gang of young people, having taken their frustration out on books, since their precious I-Pads and MP4's were useless. A kind of techno-revenge, I figured.
The air was heavy, and a constant haze choked the sun. Half the roof was gone, and it afforded a dim-light to scrounge for books to read.
Next to wishing for fresh fruit to eat, like strawberries, Meg complained the most about needing something to read, something to steal moments from worry over her mother.
"Look here." I turned to Meg, finding a soiled book, while she sidestepped smoked and soaked debris. She was still a child at eleven, but had her mother's emerald eyes. "It's Chicken Little," I said. "The one who said the sky was falling."
She gave me a puzzled look, until it stirred something in the undertow of her mind, a smile grew, and I knew she got it. "Oh yeah, wicked cool. Let's put it in the sack."
"Turned out Chicken Little was a prophet after all," I said.
She froze into a blank look.
We rummaged for about a half hour, when the skies weighed heavy as soot, and darkness scrolled across the sky toward us. "We better find this camp," I said.
At the last minute Meg found a "Little House on the Prairie" book.
I stumbled on a black leather bible. It had red letters in it. I decided this time it was important I read the bible. I never thought I would enjoy a trip to the library so much.
We walked through a skeleton of trees. Something had happened to the vegetation, and all the green leaves of summer fell, dried up, crunching beneath our feet.
As darkness unraveled, I spotted a large bon-fire. Its yellow tongue licked the sky.
Meg wanted to run. She had a long jacket, but would look like a giant moth if she ran. Her brown hair caked in mud; it was hard to tell what belonged on her.
I held my arm out as a bar. "We can't surprise them, they won't know who we are?"
It was the edge of a clearing, and we stood clamped down, listening. No birds singing, no rustling of leaves in the wind, only a faint chorus of voices.
"Yes daddy. People are singing."
We walked into the clearing, and all fear melted as the chorus grew louder.
"Alas and did my savior bleed, and did my sovereign die. Would he devout that sacred head for such a worm as I. At the cross at the cross where I first saw the light and the burden of my heart rolled away..."
It seemed we were drawn into it. Faces glowed in a wellspring of joy. "...It was there by faith I received my sight and now I am happy all the day."
They welcomed us, shared their food, and opened to us the scriptures. They said it wasn't too late; it was the final outpouring of God's Holy Spirit.
We sat by the fire under soft blankets, knees drawn, warming our broken hearts.
But as I looked up through the pulsating fire, I saw what looked like my wife, stumbling out into the open from the other side of the woods. A flood of joy poured from my broken heart.
This could be a new beginning.
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